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Morgan State to debut unique STEM programs, partnership

If approved by MHEC, Morgan State University will debut a partnership dual degree program and a mechatronics engineering program next fall. (Courtesy of Morgan State University)

If the two are approved by MHEC, Morgan State University will debut a partnership dual-degree program and a mechatronics engineering program next fall. (Courtesy of Morgan State University)

Two new STEM programs have been approved by the Morgan State University Board of Regents: a dual degree program in partnership with Purdue University, and an engineering program that is the first of its kind in the state. If approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, both programs will be available in fall 2021.

The partnership with Purdue allows students to study at Morgan for three years and Purdue for two in order to graduate with two bachelor’s degrees: a B.S. from Morgan in either civil engineering or engineering physics, and a B.S. from Purdue in aeronautics and astronautics. The program, along with Morgan’s existing Base 11 rocketry program, will serve as a step towards the development of Morgan’s own aerospace science and engineering program down the line.

For the first three years of the program, students will attend Morgan, taking general education classes and the majority of the courses needed for their engineering degree. Then, they will study at Purdue in Indiana, where they will fulfill any remaining general education credits and engineering electives as they work towards the aeronautics and astronautics degree.

Purdue was the natural choice for this partnership, according to Oscar Barton, Jr., the dean of Morgan State University’s Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., School of Engineering, who said that the university is “probably one of the leading institutions in all things aerospace, all things astronautics, all things aeronautics.” He also noted that the school has developed similar dual-degree programs in the past.

In addition to acting as a step towards Morgan’s eventual development of an aeronautics and astronautics program, it will also bolster the existing engineering physics major. Unlike certain other engineering programs, this major does not always have clear career prospects, Barton said; pairing it with the Purdue degree will help fix that.

The regents also approved a bachelor’s program in mechatronics engineering, an emerging multidisciplinary field that combines mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. If approved by MHEC, MSU’s bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering will be the first in the state of Maryland, as well as the first at a historically Black college or university in the nation.

Barton is excited to bring such a high-demand branch of engineering to Morgan. 

“There has long been a conversation between industry and academia about the misalignment in skills and abilities that students graduate with and are expected to have,” he said. “We are preparing students to work in the industry of the future.”

Morgan also plans to premiere its doctoral program in secure embedded systems next fall; it was approved by the regents over the summer but, like the other two programs, is awaiting approval from MHEC. Secure embedded systems is a field that focuses on protecting digital data and information.

Barton said that the creation of these programs is rooted in Morgan State University’s dedication to developing groundbreaking programs and to positioning technological innovations at the forefront of its academic offerings. 

“We want to be sure that we’re developing programs that lead our students to be able to solve societal problems,” Barton said.

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