Logo: University of Southern California

New Technology Spurs Rapid Growth of School of Engineering Distance Education

February 06, 2003 —
The University of Southern California School of Engineering's Distance Education Network continued its record of strong growth in the Spring 2003 semester, with more than 800 enrollments recorded, most by employees in technology and aerospace companies.
"We have seen a 27 percent increase in enrollments over the past year," said DEN Executive Director Kelly Goulis. The growth promises to accelerate in coming semesters, she added, as pending improvements to the Internet-based program come on-line.
Through DEN, students can earn master of science degrees in 13 engineering specialties without setting foot on USC's campus. In 2002, 99 DEN students earned M.S. degrees this way.

To be admitted to candidacy for degrees, DEN students must meet the same requirements as on-campus graduate students in the USC School of Engineering, ranked eighth among graduate engineering schools in the 2002 U.S. News & World Report evaluations.
DEN will launch six more degree programs in 2003, including specializations in cybersecurity and engineering management.
"We expect that when these degrees are added, USC will become the largest provider of online graduate engineering degrees in the country," Goulis said.
Most DEN students currently are employees of major technology corporations, which pay all or part of their tuition. Participating companies include: Aerojet, Aerospace Corp., Boeing, Ericsson, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Intel, JPL, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, NASA, Northrop Grumman (including the former TRW corporation), Qualcomm, Raytheon, SAIC and United Technologies Corp.
Infrastructure is now in place to accommodate independent students, without corporate affiliations, with the first already admitted. "We are marketing the availability of this program, and we expect major growth in this area in 2003," said Goulis.
A 2003 grant from the Lord Foundation is now funding efforts to improve DEN e-learning technology, using the expertise of USC’s Information Sciences Institute, an internationally known research center for the creation of computer systems, and USC’s Integrated Media Systems Center, the National Science Foundation's exclusive center for Internet and multimedia research.
Plans call for integrating immersive audio, automated assessment tools and intelligent agent technology into the DEN interface to encourage more interactive and participatory learning by DEN students.
ISI Executive Director Herbert Schorr, who also serves as associate dean of the School of Engineering, said that USC's interface is already one of the most advanced in the distance learning community.
"DEN is negotiating with other programs about licensing the package that we have developed," said Schorr.
"Distance learning is a reality, not a dream at USC Engineering," said Dean C.L. Max Nikias.
"We have used our strengths and experience to create a program that has attracted international recognition, said Nikias. “DEN is part of our plan to take USC Engineering to the next level of excellence, and so far it is performing far above expectations."
Contact: Jacqueline Williams
(213) 821-2475