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STEM Focus

by Monica Smith

Jun 17, 2019, 9:00 AM.

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FIU adds bold and in-demand science, technology, engineering and math degrees to its online programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, few university degrees are a matter of national security like those in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The agency estimates that 80 percent of our future jobs will rely on STEM. This assessment is coupled with a shortage of students graduating with STEM degrees and the urgent federal-level call to strengthen the “backbone of American ingenuity.” Florida International University is advancing solutions. With 26 fully online STEM degree programs, FIU is preparing graduates for the jobs of tomorrow.

Impacting Areas of Need

Classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as R1: Doctoral Universities- Highest Research Activity, FIU leads the U.S. in awarding degrees to minorities in the sciences and engineering. This ranking includes the broad fields of physical sciences, geosciences, mathematics and computer science, engineering, life sciences, social and behavioral sciences, science and engineering technologies, and interdisciplinary and other science degrees.

“Part of FIU’s mission is to increase access to quality education through online learning, and this includes new STEM degrees,” said Vice President of FIU Online Joseph Riquelme, who highlighted the bachelor’s degree in the internet of things (IoT), the undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, as well as the bachelor’s degree in crime science.

Vigilant of our nation’s skills gap, FIU Online launched its new bachelor of science in the internet of things and the bachelor of science in crime science. Both fully online programs are the first of their kind in the U.S. Together with more than a dozen online undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, the university’s online offerings are positioned to graduate cohorts of qualified STEM professionals.

“We will continue to add valuable STEM programs that have direct impact for areas of need.” offered Riquelme.

IoT Degree

The bachelor’s degree in IoT, a technology degree, fills a void in one of the fastest-growing segments in computing. IoT refers to the integrated system of everyday electronics that connect and communicate through the internet.  

“IoT is an emerging field that is growing faster than its workforce. We simply do not have enough professionals who understand how to maintain and secure IoT devices,” explained FIU IoT Program Coordinator Kemal Akkaya, Ph.D. In fact, FIU received a $300,000 grant from Cisco to help develop IoT for the hospitality trade—with a specific focus on the cruise industry.

A crucial factor of the IoT degree is that it addresses new territory in cybersecurity and the maintenance of smart devices. The degree is geared toward those who want to be experts in the technological areas of energy, transportation and medicine. The program helps students develop expertise in IoT programming, cybersecurity and hardware design.

“The IoT degree is designed for students interested in smart devices, how these devices interact and connect to each other, and how the data they collect can be secured,” Akkaya added.

Crime Science Degree

With raised fears of terrorism and cyber threats, the demand for crime intelligence, worldwide, is significant and urgent. Digital footprints have become just as important and valuable as fingerprints. Science and technology are ubiquitous in our new reality, but skilled professionals competent at leveraging the full capability of these areas are few in number.

According to the National Security Agency and DoD, STEM degrees like FIU’s bachelor’s degree in crime science will help defend our nation. And with agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation increasingly accessing the sea of information available through social media to assemble intelligence on potential suspects, the necessity for the degree is clear at the federal level, but also locally where the program is endorsed by the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police.

“Every industry is finding new ways to use technology. This degree fills the gap in crime intelligence, so we can work as fast as and smarter than criminals,” insists Associate Professor Stephen Pires of the department of criminology and criminal justice.

Degrees in Engineering

FIU’s online degrees in engineering management offer the focus required to drive production, systems, sustainability and processes used to secure and grow U.S. ingenuity in the global marketplace.

“We must stay relevant all the time—you have to—you always adjust,” said Program Director and Professor Chin-Sheng Chen, Ph.D., of FIU’s college of engineering and computing. He also mentioned the online Logistics Engineering master’s degree, as he believes logistic engineers keep the U.S. functioning.

“All of the physical things we use require physical movement. Logistics engineers are the conduit,” stated Chen, who believes that without logistics engineers, the world “stops.” The biggest trend that may disrupt the industry is cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, which he said, in time, will probably revolutionize the money flow. Knowing this, Chen and his colleagues are constantly looking at trends to bring the most current STEM thinking to students.

While most logistics degrees currently offered nationwide focus on supply chain management, Chen explained that FIU’s master’s degree in logistics engineering incorporates various aspects that affect the global community, from different products and methods of transporting them to the software, hardware and engineering components involved in doing so.

“Competition forces us to where we need to go. We have to be ahead of competition and that focuses us,” proposed Chen.

As the largest producer of STEM degrees awarded to minorities, FIU is particularly well-positioned to play a major role in addressing the challenges facing our nation by preparing a greater number of STEM professionals. Indeed, from the federal government to online education and STEM, FIU is focused.

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