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UMD Master's in Civil Engineering Builds Towards the Future

engineering students
The Master's program students demonstrate their hard work in action.

The James L. Swenson Civil Engineering Building on the east end of the UMD campus opened in 2010.  Recently the facility became the home to the Master's of Science in Civil Engineering program. The advanced degree was added to the school’s list of academic options this fall.

Andrea Schokker, head of the Civil Engineering Department, said that, "The demand for graduate work in Civil Engineering is high. The American Society of Civil Engineers considers the master's degree the professional degree for Civil Engineers. Our Bachelor of Science students have a very applied program and tend to have a good deal of lab experience before graduation through courses, UROPs [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program], and URA [Undergraduate Research Assistant] experiences. They are uniquely prepared to move straight into our MS program and begin their research and graduate level coursework."

The newly admitted graduate students are excited and proud to share what it is about the program that swayed them to remain at UMD for a short while longer.

The five young men did not start out as Civil Engineering students; but a few years later, they have become the pioneers of the two-year master’s degree. When asked why they chose the newly emerging program above others, the resounding responses were the integration, the professors, and the hands-on capabilities.

The integration between classroom study and real-world experience is a key component to instilling confidence in students who share the common worry of being unprepared for the real-world. The faculty oversee the students' projects, teaching their classes as well as working beside them in the workshops.

Chris Bruhn, a student in the program said, “What’s great about this new program is that the faculty have taken their experiences and are now guiding us in the direction that the field is going to go. We have the opportunity to learn new things and do them in a new fashion.”

Matt Fournier, another student of the program said, “We can’t learn everything about the field in school, but what our professors do really well is they teach us how to learn. Then we can adapt and change as the field moves forward.”

The building’s facilities are state-of-the-art. With their hard hats and goggles on, the students maneuvere machines and receive hands-on experiences which they value highly.

“My prediction is that UMD is going to be the school to go to,” said Bruhn, “The faculty in conjunction with the facilities we have - - I don’t see what would stop it from becoming very successful.”

The program is new, but the confidence and motivation is high. The civil engineering master’s degree at UMD should have no problem building the bridge between its students and a successful future.

Written by Jessica Coffin, 11/28/11

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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