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New engineering degree, certificate programs approved

UND’s College of Engineering & Mines to offer bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, three new cybersecurity certificates

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To meet strong employer demand, the College of Engineering and Mines (CEM) at the University of North Dakota will now offer a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering as well as three new certificates for master’s students.

The four new academic programs, which include graduate-level certificates in cyber security, ethical hacking and secure networks, received approval by the North Dakota University System in early May. Students will be able to pursue the new offerings as early as Fall 2022.

“Our new biomedical engineering bachelor’s degree, as well as our new grad certificates, complement our existing programs and offer more opportunities for us to serve students and meet the needs of employers in our region,” said Brian Tande, dean of the College of Engineering and Mines.

Biomedical Engineering

The bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering (BME), a discipline that applies engineering principles to improve human health, is the first such program in North Dakota. It is the latest embodiment of CEM’s years-long focus on BME.

Currently, the  College offers a BME minor as well as a BME-focused electrical engineering program, which collectively serve more than 20 students. The College also has a graduate-level BME program, which since its inception four years ago has graduated six master’s students as well as two Ph.D. students who will defend their dissertations this year. Today, there are more than 30 students in the graduate BME program.

The bachelor’s BME curriculum will build on the courses CEM already has and incorporate new classes such as “Computational Biology” and “Biomedical Imaging.” Students will also study biology, chemistry and electronics, among other topics.

“Biomedical engineering is highly interdisciplinary, and we envision this program leading to many collaborative student projects with industry and across UND, including with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Kouhyar Tavakolian, associate professor and director of the program.

The goal is to provide a BME program that helps stimulate economic development in the medical device sector in the state at large, and Grand Forks in particular. The program will use an innovation-based learning pedagogy to prepare engineers who will tackle real-world problems and work directly with established companies while at UND. A BME bachelor’s degree can also serve as a launching pad to medical school.

Cybersecurity certificates

Focused on the latest developments in cyber security, the three certificate programs will equip students with the skills required to meet the ever-increasing needs of government and private employers operating in a digital-first world.

For example, the certificate in secure networks will cover topics such as cryptography, communication protocols and application-layer security, the importance of which has risen with the advent of 5G broadband services.

The certificate in ethical hacking will teach students how to identify and assess the vulnerabilities of different computing systems through penetration testing and secure software engineering, among other tools.

The cyber security certificate will also hone on digital risks posed by emerging systems and human factors. It will prepare students to respond to the growing presence of cyber threats in private and public business activities as well as the nation’s defense industry.

CEM anticipates that nearly 200 UND students will pursue at least one of the certificate programs at any given time. All three certificates build on the cyber security programs available to undergraduate and graduate students at the University.

These new certificates reflect the changing landscape of higher education credentials, largely driven by students and industry. “On their way to earning a master’s degree, students will be able to complete these three industry-recognized certificates that can differentiate them as they enter this rapidly growing industry,” said Ryan Adams, professor and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.