Computer Science Program Benefits from Close Relationship with Ford Motor Company

University News, Summer 2002

The Computer Science degree program at UDM is benefiting from a close working relationship with Ford Motor Company.

Several years ago Ford selected UDM to provide onsite instruction in Dearborn for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) program. The program began in 1999 with 17 Ford employees. Currently 80 Ford employees are pursuing a degree.

In August, UDM will begin using its new Ford Distributed Computing Center, funded by a $750,000 grant from Ford Motor Company. The Distributed and Parallel Processing Lab and the Networking Lab will bring state-of-the-art computing equipment to the Engineering Building.

College of Engineering & Science Dean Leo Hanifin says Computer Science and the related field of Computer Engineering are growth areas for UDM. Employment in this sector is expected to double by the end of the decade. Enrollment has increased in these areas of study, and many international students come to UDM to pursue graduate degrees.

Computer Science concentrates on the theory, design, implementation and development of software systems and applications. It includes the study of the basic principles and tools used by computer software professionals and covers a variety of fields, including internet programming and design, artificial intelligence and data mining.

Computer Engineering concentrates on the theory, design, implementation and development of hardware systems and applications. It covers the basic principles and tools used by computer hardware professionals, including computer architecture, microprocessor design and intelligent embedded systems.

There is a strong collaboration between the two degree programs, and students in one must do extensive coursework related to the other.

UDM computer graduates have many job opportunities. Internet programmer, software engineer, data mining engineer, network engineer and computer systems engineer are just some of the jobs UDM graduates will take following graduation.

"We try to be responsive to the needs of the community that will be hiring our graduates, and that's why our degree program at Ford is working so well," says Hanifin.

The BSCS program at Ford prepares its employees for career advancement within the company. In addition to meeting all the requirements for graduation from UDM, the program also meets special requirements established by Ford. Every year, UDM faculty members meet with a panel of computer experts from Ford to review the curriculum.

"We develop new courses to meet the company's needs, and we also remove courses that they have found are no longer needed," says Associate Professor Kevin Daimi, director of the Ford BSCS Program.

UDM's close working relationship with Ford led to the $750,000 grant to fund the Ford Distributed Computing Center, which will be housed on the second floor of the Engineering Building.

The Distributed and Parallel Processing Lab will have 30 PCs with a distributed database management system and data mining software. Students will gain experience in technologies such as transaction processing, security and encryption, asynchronous messaging, real-time systems and audio-visual streaming.

The Networking Lab will have seven networking groups, each with three workstations, and current network development environments. Students will be able to design, set up, configure and manage network devices and their applications. The lab also will provide researchers and educators with a controlled environment to evaluate research, education, and training programs.

The addition of state-of-the-art equipment will strengthen the learning environment for both the Math & Computing Sciences Department and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

"UDM has demonstrated competence and leadership in computing education that prepares our graduates to immediately contribute upon graduation. We are making major investments in personnel, facilities and equipment that will allow us to remain a leader in Computer Science and Computer Engineering," says Hanifin.

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