New Engineer Degree Program Has Its First Grad

Posted: September 11, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Last fall the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E) offered an innovative graduate program called the Engineer Degree in Information Technology, and this summer its first graduate walked away with the degree in hand.

Combining the course work of the Ph.D. in IT program with an applied project, the degree offers advanced study with a project of shorter duration than a doctoral thesis. Aimed at working professionals seeking post-master’s training who are not planning a research career, the degree provides challenging study for IT professionals, says Stephen Nash, IT&E associate dean for graduate studies and research, who is program director.

Although not the first of its kind–it was modeled after similar degree programs at Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other universities–it is the first offered in Virginia.

Hadi Rezazad, who heads his own IT consulting company, Orchid Technologies & Management, is the first graduate. He did his applied project on using artificial intelligence tools for network configuration design, under the direction of Gheorghe Tecuci, Computer Science. Rezazad, who has a master’s degree in computer science, initially enrolled in the Ph.D. in IT program, but found the demands of running his company didn’t allow time for a dissertation, although he had completed all the other requirements for the degree. When the Engineer degree was introduced, he turned the work he had done on the dissertation into a project that he was able to finish within six months.

“Hadi Rezazad is an ideal example of the type of person we had in mind when we created this degree,” Nash says. “He has completed a sophisticated project that meets his educational goals, applying state-of-the-art techniques in artificial intelligence. His accomplishments will serve as a model to future students in the Engineer program.”

“[The degree] will enhance my technical and analytical know-how and will add credibility to my credentials, which will be helpful in my technical as well as executive efforts,” Rezazad says. Of his project, he adds, “To the extent of my research, there is no past or current research effort that addresses this particular problem domain utilizing this specific approach. As an IT solutions provider, my company would benefit from this work, as one of the main tiers of the services in my company is systems integration and networks design and management.”

For more information on the Engineer degree, visit the IT&E web site.

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