Penn State introduces online software engineering master's degree

April 26, 2010

Professionals in aerospace, defense, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries can learn and apply new knowledge on the job while earning the degree

Computer technology touches nearly every aspect of daily life, from our smart phones to cars to ordering coffee online for pick up on the way to work. The demand for computer software engineers who can develop and manage these technology networks is projected to increase 32 percent, creating more than 295,000 new jobs through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Penn State’s new online Master of Software Engineering program is designed to educate and train this workforce.

“Computer systems have gotten so complicated,” said James A. Nemes, division head and professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies. “Automobiles, for example, now have a hundred million lines of computer code running everything from the brakes to the radio.”

To prepare software engineers for a rapidly changing technological world, Penn State Great Valley has taken its well-recognized, 36-credit software engineering program online.

“We have offered the master’s degree at the campus since 1998 and at the Philadelphia Navy Yard since 2008. Now, we have an opportunity to reach working professionals outside our region,” Nemes said.

Jason Ladley of Oxford is enrolled in the on-campus program.

“Earning a master’s degree in software engineering will essentially add two years of work experience to my résumé. It will help propel my career,” he said. Currently a system integration/test engineer associate with Lockheed Martin IS&GS in King of Prussia, Pa., Ladley joined the company after earning a bachelor of arts degree in Computer Science-New Media from Taylor University. In May, he will move to the company’s Gaithersburg, Md., site, to take a software engineering position. Ladley plans to continue his master’s degree in the new online program.

Software engineering is becoming global in nature, said Raghvinder Sangwan, associate professor of software engineering at Penn State Great Valley.

“It’s very rare to see projects that aren’t on a global scale. Downstream development tasks (computer programming and code-writing) are being outsourced to low-cost centers primarily in India and China,” said Sangwan, who also is a consulting technical staff member with Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, N.J. “Our software engineering graduates can expect to work in virtual global teams as project managers, chief architects and lead designers guiding downstream development tasks. The challenge for them would be to effectively manage communication, coordination and control across these geographically distributed software development teams.”

Penn State’s program will prepare students to meet these challenges. Applications for the online Master of Software Engineering program are now being accepted. Visit the website or call 800-252-3592 for information.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University’s 25th campus serving more than 9,600 students in all 50 states and 62 countries. For more information, visit online. Penn State World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010