Science / Technology and Health

Preparing Professionals

Written by Dean Forbes

March 9, 2015

Exterior of Bannan and Engineering Building

SU's new master of science in structural engineering is accepting applications.

Seattle University is accepting applications now for the fall-quarter start of its new Master of Science in Structural Engineering degree program. The 12-course program, which can be completed in one academic year of intense coursework, is only the third such graduate program available in Washington state.

A master's degree in structural engineering is becoming a requirement by employers for entry-level employees, according to Katie Kuder, PhD, PE, associate professor and chair of the civil engineering department in the College of Science and Engineering.

"There is not enough technical preparation in a four-year undergraduate civil engineering degree to practice structural engineering," said Kuder.

Only the University of Washington and Washington State University offer a master's degree in structural engineering. What will make SU's offering different is "our program is more professionally focused. The coursework is how to practice in the industry as opposed to being more theoretical l on the research side," said Kuder. Neither a thesis nor a final exam is required to graduate.

The choice of the 12 courses, nine in technical mastery and three in professional skills, was based on industry feedback and an advisory board comprised of representatives from a variety of structural engineering firms.

Kuder said the professional skills courses, engineering communication, ethics in engineering and project management, are unique requirements that are not required by other universities' programs. This is in keeping with SU's Jesuit mission to educate the whole person by "training well-rounded engineers, not just someone who can design something."

The nine technical mastery courses were chosen to give entry-level engineers the breadth and depth needed to practice. The performance-based design course represents the wave of future in structural engineering, versus prescriptive-code driven ideas, said Kuder.

The new master's degree can be completed in three quarters with classes scheduled from approximately 8 a.m. to noon, which leaves time for study and work. Employed professionals can also complete the degree in two years by taking two morning classes and maintaining their jobs.