Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi School Signs Unique Accelerated M.S. "VIP" Agreement with Cal Poly

EE Emeritus George Bekey, now a research scholar in residence at the San Luis Obispo school, catalyzed the cooperation
eric mankin
July 04, 2008 — Dean Yannis C. Yortsos of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Dean Mohammed Noori of the California Polytechnic State University College of Engineering have formally initiated a unique collaboration, the Viterbi Integrated Masters of Science Program (VIP), that will offer exceptional students at the central California institution a faster path to USC MS degrees.

Vitterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, left, shakes hands with Cal Poly College of Engineering Dean Mohammed Noori after signing the VIP agreement.
Beginning in September, qualified Cal Poly undergraduates will have the option of taking USC-equivalent courses in electrical and biomedical engineering at Cal Poly that will subsequently allow them to complete Viterbi masters degrees with six fewer units. The reduction eliminates redundancy in undergraduate and graduate course requirements, without compromising educational goals.

"The object of the program from the point of view of the Viterbi School," said Yortsos, "is to enlarge our school applicant pool of quality domestic master’s students. We could not have found a better partner for this than Cal Poly."

"We see this as an opportunity for collaboration among the faculty of the two institutions," said Noori. "We will explore the possibility of expanding it further, perhaps to doctoral programs. This would offer an opportunity for us to work with the outstanding faculty and research facilities of USC."

The July 2 agreement signing took place on the USC campus under the smiling gaze of George Bekey, USC Emeritus University Professor and former Viterbi associate dean for research.  Bekey is now a research scholar in residence at Cal Poly and played a key role in bringing the two institutions together.  Both deans paid tribute to his presence.

All together now: from left: Sullivan, Goulis, Sawchuk, Noori, Bekey, Yortsos, MacCarley, O'Brien, Suckow, and Khoo.
Under the terms of the memorandum, Cal Poly engineering faculty will nominate outstanding juniors with 3.5+ averages at the 5300-student college to the program. These students must complete the regular graduate application program to the Viterbi School in either electrical engineering or biomedical engineering.

VIP students will have to complete the equivalent courses in their senior year. When they continue to USC, course requirements for Viterbi MS degrees will be reduced to 21 units (in EE) or 22 (in BME).

The agreement also calls for the Viterbi School and Cal Poly faculty and staff to collaborate on program materials, recruitment visits and advisement sessions. Accepted Cal Poly students will be able to do coursework either in person on the USC University Park campus, or using the Viterbi School's Distance Education Network.

No more than 5 students will be in the initial group, a maximum that is expected to  increase to 20 by 2011.

Associate Dean for Master's and Professional Programs Kelly Goulis, who attended the signing, emphasized that the program was a first for the Viterbi School: "We've never done this before," she said, "But we have high hopes."

Also attending the signing were Viterbi Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs John O'Brien; Viterbi Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering co-chair Alexander Sawchuk; Viterbi Department of Biomedical Engineering chair Michael C. Khoo; Viterbi Director of Student Affairs Carolyn Suckow; Cal Poly Associate Dean of Engineering for Research Ed Sullivan; and Art MacCarley, chair of the Cal Poly Department of Electrical Engineering.