Varying Degrees

LIBERAL ARTS PLUS STEM PROVIDES STRONG COMBINATION TO EMPOWER TODAY’S COLLEGE GRADUATE

A Valparaiso University graduate receives more than a piece of paper to culminate their academic journey. In addition to a truly memorable Valpo experience, students also gain critical life skills that carry them forward for their successful personal and professional futures. At Valpo, a student’s potential receives the total commitment of faculty, staff, and all members of the Valpo community who want to see each student be the best version of themselves.

About 2 million students will graduate college with a bachelor’s degree this year in America. Another 780,000 will earn a master’s degree. The kinds of skills needed to usher in the next wave of professionals as the world  economy continues to shift digitally have been highlighted by the ever-expanding degree choices at universities across the United States. As a leading liberal arts university, Valparaiso University is well positioned to adapt to these ever-changing needs. The University strives to be great stewards of its mission serving both community and student by meeting market demand while providing a caring environment for students to pursue their vocations

A comprehensive university with a liberal arts curriculum at its core, Valpo provides its students the opportunity to pursue a variety of degrees and receive an innovative, rigorous education. Their time spent at Valpo broadens students’ understanding of the world and prepares them to think critically, communicate clearly, and tackle complex problems with creative solutions. In fact, 97% of Valpo graduates are either employed or in Graduate school after earning their degree.

“The integration of a traditional liberal arts education with technical STEM majors like environmental engineering ensures student success, and perhaps more importantly, develops women and men of great knowledge and character committed to leadership and service for the sake of the world,” says Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

 

Providing for the world by providing
for the students

Valpo offers more than 70 undergraduate, career-focused degree programs and interdisciplinary options throughout five colleges, giving students the opportunity to push their limits and reach their full potential.

In addition to the standard business, engineering, teaching, and nursing degrees that position a new graduate for a career, the new world economy is looking for additional skills. That’s why Valpo also offers degrees in supply chain and logistics management, environmental engineering, aviation, public health, and music therapy to name just a few.

“The faculty champions behind these new programs have provided outstanding leadership during their development and implementation,” Provost Biermann says. “These faculty leaders have ensured that these programs are of the highest quality and rigor, while also ensuring that they are engaging for our students.”

One of those faculty champions is Sanjay Kumar, Ph.D., Richard E. Meier Professor of Management and associate professor of information and decision science, who led the initiative to bring a program in supply chain and logistics management to Valpo’s College of Business. The degree will prepare business leaders to manage complex operations across myriad industries, from technology and manufacturing to consultancy and retail.

In December 2018, the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council endorsed Valpo’s program. Conexus Indiana is a forum of hundreds of Indiana executives and leaders from Indiana-based companies representing nearly every industry, with a focus on advanced manufacturing and logistics companies.

“The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals reported that supply chain and logistics management careers provide high-paying jobs, with the demand of graduates exceeding the supply six to one,” Professor Kumar says. “The opportunity is there. And, this endorsement makes our program much more relevant to industry and job-market needs, preparing our students with the skills employers are looking for and connecting our students to hundreds of companies within the region and beyond.”

Supply chain and logistics is one of the fastest growing markets within the business discipline, with an extreme shortage of proficiency and good salaries. In fact, a study from Supply Chain Insights states that 25–33% of the supply chain workforce is at or past retirement age, creating increased opportunity for skilled logisticians in this high-demand field.

“Valpo’s program is a unique model based on today’s business world rather than on some antiquated academic principles,” Professor Kumar says. “This is a program that the industry stands behind. So not only do we have a curriculum that meets industry needs, the industry knows our program
has what they want.”

Recognizing that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are at the forefront of innovation in the United States economy, Valpo has launched several inventive, market-driven STEM programs including statistics, data science, and aviation — plus minors in neuroscience and forensic science — to build upon the countless opportunities to pursue passion at the undergraduate level. The University also has expanded upon its premier engineering programs to offer a bioengineering program.

Bioengineering began as a popular minor in the College of Engineering and quickly grew to a full-fledged major in 2017 with three concentrations — bioelectrical, biomechanical, and biomedical. In this program, students develop a strong foundation in engineering and design principles, which they will rely on to solve a diverse range of problems in biology and medicine. These skills are augmented by the development of interpersonal skills, experiential learning, and an appreciation of lifelong learning. Graduates are prepared to apply their knowledge to society’s needs and help shape the future.

“A strength of many of these new programs is that they build on programs of traditional excellence at Valpo, while addressing areas of great need in our world and great interest among students,” Provost
Biermann says.

A STRENGTH OF MANY OF THESE NEW PROGRAMS, IS THAT THEY BUILD ON PROGRAMS OF TRADITIONAL EXCELLENCE AT VALPO, WHILE ADDRESSING AREAS OF GREAT NEED IN OUR WORLD, AND GREAT INTEREST AMONG STUDENTS

Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs

Building a world of difference

Valpo’s College of Engineering, ranked among the top 15 undergraduate engineering programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report, continues its trajectory of growth with the addition of a degree program in environmental engineering. Environmental engineering is an exciting, emerging field with strong demand, good salaries, and satisfying work, not to mention significant societal need. Graduates of the program are global leaders who are engineering solutions to prevent and solve environmental challenges affecting current and future generations. They truly are building a world of difference.

“The new environmental engineering program at Valpo will provide undergraduates with an education structured around hands-on laboratory, collaborative design, and interdisciplinary research experiences,” says Anne Raich, Ph.D., department chair and associate professor of civil engineering. “The knowledge and experience these students gain will help prepare them for engineering careers solving complex regional and global environmental problems in service to the public good.”

While there certainly is need worldwide to improve the sustainability of the environment, there are plenty of places Valpo environmental engineering grads can make a different much closer to home. Due to the presence of heavy industry, specifically steel mills, and the resultant challenges surrounding clean air and water, there is a critical need for environmental engineers in Northwest Indiana.

The environmental engineering program is interdisciplinary in nature with a strong link between the natural sciences and engineering. It provides significant opportunities for research collaboration between students and faculty in engineering and other programs across campus.

Students in Valpo’s environmental engineering program will be equipped with the professional skills needed to work collaboratively with others to engineer solutions that protect the environment and use resources in a sustainable manner. Through integrated classroom and lab experiences, they will learn how to prevent, reduce, and treat pollution in the air, soil, and water, and how to communicate their findings to create positive change.

Recently, the College of Engineering also introduced an engineering plus program that will allow students to graduate in four years with a bachelor of science in one of its core engineering programs, plus a complementary major or minor. The program has several tracks, offering opportunities to combine engineering disciplines or even pursue options outside the college such as a minor in business analytics, entrepreneurship, or computer science, among others. And, the College of Engineering has partnered with the College of Business to offer a degree in integrated business and engineering, opening opportunities for students to pursue careers in technical sales or support, new business development, brand management, production planning, purchasing, operations analysis and management, plant accounting, and project management, as well as fields that are still developing. Being able to think creatively and analytically is a skill employers look for, and this program will equip graduates with the ability to succeed in the changing workforce landscape.

I currently work as a data scientist and data curator for biologists and ecologists. My time at Valpo studying biology, statistics and computer science has been an integral part of discovering my passions. Valparaiso University has provided me with the knowledge and tools required to overcome challenges and make a difference.”

CRAIG GARZELLA ’18, ’19 M.S. BIOLOGY, ANALYTICS AND MODELING

AI begins with data

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are driving much of today’s advances in products and services. Consumers worldwide are benefiting from the capabilities companies have to provide personalization and relevance based on their data. In many ways, AI starts with data and understanding that data. That need to use and understand data has led to approximately 2.7 million job openings in data and analytics. The U.S. Department of Labor has projected an increase in a myriad of data science-related jobs.

To meet this growing need, the College of Arts and Sciences now offers data science and statistics degree programs.

According to CNN Money, the data science field will grow 18.7% in the next 10 years. Students in the data science and statistics programs learn machine learning, statistical modeling, data mining, and experimental design as well as focus on specificniches of the data market.

In addition to the bachelor’s degree offerings, students enrolled in the data science program can pursue a 4+1 option with a master’s degree in analytics and modeling through Valpo’s Graduate School.

Health care tops hottest job trends

It’s no surprise that two of the more recent additions to the degrees at Valpo are in the health field. Occupational therapy and music therapy are key roles in the growing health care field and offer new exciting opportunities in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in health care make up more than half of the top 10 jobs and 12 of the top 25 jobs for the future.

Valpo’s College of Nursing and Health Professions recently expanded its degree offerings with the development of an online, post-professional occupational therapy doctoral program.

“This program builds on a strong legacy of success in health care education at Valparaiso University and continues our commitment to providing student-focused, market-driven academic programs that lead to lifelong success,” Provost Biermann says.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions plays a significant leadership role in developing tomorrow’s health care professionals today. Valpo was the first to offer a doctor of nursing practice in the state of Indiana, along with accelerated master’s programs in physician assistant studies, public health, and health administration. The addition of the post-professional occupational therapy doctorate (PP-OTD) creates paths that prepare occupational therapists for roles in mentorship, scholarship, academic communities, and health care organizations.

Offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, the music therapy program adds another dimension to Valpo’s thriving music curricula, offering a professional degree in a field expected to see 12% growth
in the next seven years. The mission of the music therapy program is to develop compassionate, mindful, social, and culturally conscious music therapists. Valpo’s music therapy students will be empowered to bring hope, healing, recovery, support and beauty through music to some of the most vulnerable in society. Ultimately, students will be prepared for national board certification and to work in a range of settings including mental health clinics, religious institutions, and more.

As a senior nursing student at Valparaiso University, I am a step closer to being a registered nurse and someday a family nurse practitioner. Valpo allowed me to fall in love with my journey and provided a safe place to conquer my fears.

OLAMIDE M. ODUKALE ’20 NURSING

Flying above the rest

It was on more than a wing and a prayer that Valpo’s College of Business launched an aviation program two years ago. The industry, and program, aren’t just for those interested in sitting in the pilot’s seat. While many future pilots get their start at Valpo, the program also helps fill flight crew positions, jobs in aviation management and airport management, and other areas of the aviation industry with graduates. The looming shortage of pilots has already impacted the industry through canceled flights nationwide, and 20,000 cockpit seats are expected to open over the next six years due to Federal Aviation Administration-mandated retirement requirements. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, by 2026, airlines will need 480,000 new technicians to maintain current and new aircraft and over 350,000 pilots. In addition, between 2005 and 2015, almost three in four American air traffic controllers hit retirement age.

The interest in aviation is not new to campus, as Valpo was the site of pilot training for the Civilian Aeronautics Authority in the early 1940s. There was a flying club in the 1970s, which in addition to piloting, allowed students to explore interests in ballooning and sky diving.

Valpo is uniquely positioned to prepare students in aviation, thanks to the proximity of an airport and a partnership with Eagle Aircraft’s Flying School at Porter County, which has the highest rating the FAA awards. The University also has an advisory council of flight crews from all major air carriers.

“For me, joining the aviation program at Valpo was not only a fulfillment of a childhood dream, but also an opportunity to pursue an exciting and rewarding career in aviation. It has been great to see the University’s commitment to answering the demand for pilots in the growing aviation sector and promote a broader understanding of STEM education. I am forever thankful for the pilot and individual that I have become as a result of my education at Valpo.

KEITH NAGEL ’19 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND GEOGRAPHY

The tools to succeed

The faculty, staff, and administration all play a vital role in the success of the programs and the students. But it also takes state-of-the art facilities. Valpo has those, too. Valpo students receive one of the finest STEM Educations within a liberal arts setting with access to advanced technology and resources as well as state-of-the-art facilities. The Center for the Sciences: Chemistry and Biochemistry is a 55,800-square-foot laboratory facility that has expanded opportunities for undergraduate and faculty research.

By combining liberal arts and professional studies as in the STEM fields, Valpo engenders both personal and professional growth, preparing  Graduates with the technical competencies needed to gain employment and the soft skills necessary to earn promotions and excel at higher levels to go above and beyond. It has been noted, due primarily to those soft skills, Valpo engineers manage everyone else’s engineers.

Developing academic programs that provide strong career opportunities for students is one of several strategies outlined in Valparaiso University’s strategic plan, aligned with the priority to model high-quality holistic education. Valpo’s holistic view of education links rigorous learning in the liberal arts and professional disciplines through curricular and co-curricular programming.

“The curriculum and degree programs must continually evolve and include
cutting-edge academic areas that meet student needs and align with student career opportunities, but also continue the long tradition of liberal arts education,” Provost Biermann says. “The liberal arts, which include the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences, give students a broad range of skills and abilities, freeing them to think for themselves as conscientious, informed citizens.”

Some may call it educating the full student both for a career and for life. That’s where Valpo thrives.

Spotlight on the Future of STEM

Valparaiso University is committed to preparing students for the changing world they will encounter upon graduation. The introduction of multiple new STEM majors provides students with innovative programs, faculty invested in their future, and maximized opportunities after graduation. With a job and graduate school placement rate above 90% for more than 20 years, Valpo is embracing the future with STEM.

  • +5.2% Net Job Growth
  • Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent net growth in non-STEM occupations
  • 500,000 New computer science related jobs projected over the next decade
  • 344% Increase in demand for data scientists since 2013
  • 93 out of 100 STEM occupations had wages above the national average

THE CURRICULUM AND DEGREE PROGRAMS MUST CONTINUALLY EVOLVE AND INCLUDE CUTTINGEDGE ACADEMIC AREAS THAT MEET STUDENT NEEDS AND ALIGN WITH STUDENT CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, BUT ALSO CONTINUE THE LONG TRADITION OF LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION