The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith has received approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer four new degrees and certificates this fall.
UAFS will offer new bachelor’s degree programs in geoscience and electrical engineering technology, in addition to an associate degree in engineering and a certificate of proficiency and technical certificate in early childhood education. Following is a summary of each new program.
• Bachelor’s degree in geoscience
The bachelor’s degree in geosciences was created in response to a national shortage of employees working in the field, a need that is also felt locally, according to Dr. Dave Mayo, associate professor of geoscience.
“Prior to this program, there were only three bachelor’s degree programs in geology in the state. And after we talked to some employers in the geoscience profession, we realized we could provide qualified employees to get jobs in the geosciences, both locally and statewide,” Mayo said.
Course requirements for the new degree include foundational math, chemistry, physics, a broad core of geology courses that include an intensive summer field camp, and upper-level electives. Course credit will be available for undergraduate research and internships with private industry and government agencies.
• Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology
The degree was created partly as an option for students earning the associate of applied science in electronics technology to continue their education, but it also addresses the growing need for a developer program more specialized in applied engineering technology at the baccalaureate level, according to Dr. Leroy Cox, associate dean in the College of Applied Science and Technology.
While most engineering programs focus on the theoretical aspects of the field, Cox said this program will utilize a more hands-on approach.
The curriculum will include courses in circuitry, electromagnetics and electronic system design, as well as classes in project management and finance. The program will culminate in a senior capstone course that tasks students to design a device or system to achieve a task.
“I see graduates of this program performing as technicians and in any major capacity where electricity is concerned,” Cox said. “Ultimately, the skillset taught by this program translates to plenty of industries, most notably engineering, automotive, robotics and even telecommunications.”
• Associate’s degree in engineering
The associate’s degree in engineering offers students a flexible, two-year degree option to decide which field of engineering they would like to pursue, according to Dr. Jim Belcher, associate professor and department head of physics.
The programs will offer introductory engineering courses in design, physics, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, and mathematics to provide the key skills needed for success.
Belcher said the program would also improve the university’s retention and graduation rates by giving the option for an early credential transitioning to a bachelor’s degree.
• Certificates in early childhood education
The certificate of proficiency and technical certificate in early childhood education offer professionals working in the childcare field an additional credential that serves as an “indicator of quality,” according to Shelli Henehan, associate professor and coordinator of assessment for the School of Education at UAFS.
The 13-hour certificate of proficiency and the 26-hour technical certificate will meet the paraprofessional qualification requirements set by the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE), according to Henehan. Furthermore, both options meet the requirements for an early childhood practitioner to be on the intermediate level of the Arkansas Early Childhood Professional Development System.
In the certificate of proficiency program, students will receive a “good working knowledge” of child development for children ages birth through five and learn theories behind early childhood education and how to write “developmentally appropriate” lesson plans. The technical certificate takes the learning a step further, teaching students of the program how to teach mathematics, science and language to early childhood students.
“The certificate of proficiency is an introduction into why we plan learning opportunities for even the youngest learner, and the technical certificate gets them more deeply into the content areas,” Henehan said.