Students programming.

More BYU-Idaho students are looking to land a career working with computers than ever before. The university’s computer science and electrical engineering program has grown from less than 300 to more than 3,000 majors over the last 10 years, making it one of the fastest growing major on campus.

Courses in this area provide a valuable education in many ways, including giving students the ability to marry diverse skill sets, resulting in a unique bag of skills.

Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department Chair Richard Grimmett explains the continual growth of software engineering is a product of the program’s versatility. 

“We operate in lots of different industries. Whether you want to create the self-driving tractor, or drone delivery service, we provide some classes that are pretty basic, we also provide a number of classes that will allow students to take their interests and go further,” Grimmett said.

More qualified workers are needed to fill the increasing number of computer-related jobs in the nation’s workforce. Jobs such as robot psychologist, nostalgist, or even a garbage designer are all novel jobs that need talented software engineers to help businesses operate smoothly.

Of the 3,000 majors, nearly a third are online students. Many campus students also enjoy the flexibility of taking many of their major classes online as well. The online option makes it much easier for those currently working in the field to supplement their skill sets by giving them the option to go back to school and earn certificates, all without having to leave their home.

Cole Panike, a current BYU-Idaho online student, noted, “When I was hired by a Fortune 500 company before graduation, the opportunity to switch to an online degree was amazing! I’ve been able to get my degree attending part-time online courses, without need for any further student debt. I have been incredibly blessed by this program.”

“A lot of our students that are online are going back to school, and they are looking for employment, and this is a great place to do that,” Grimmett said.

In the new Bachelor of Technology degree, two certificates in the program stack into an associate degree, while a third certificate comprises the basis of a student’s bachelor’s degree.

Greg Roach, dean of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, adds that targeted skill sets help students stick ou to employers.

“There are certificates, there are courses, there are little pockets of skill sets that you could take to augment what you are doing in whatever major you’re in that will make you a stronger candidate in this economy we are heading into,” Roach said.

These majors give students many opportunities to follow their passion and bring their talents and skills to the workplace.

“Almost all of our junior and senior classes have projects,” said Grimmett. “Whether it’s building R2-D2 that can roll around and talk and do video stuff or build a robotic hand, it kind of depends on the students’ interest and where they would like to go with it. These hands-on projects help them to gain needed real-world experience.”

Elements of software engineering are found in a wide variety of industries throughout the world. Whether a student is majoring in music, business, or anything in between, some knowledge in software engineering will round out their skill set and add value wherever they go.

In his 2018 Devotional talk called Preparing to Lead,  President Henry J. Eyring emphasized the importance of students building a diverse skill set outside their major classes.

“As you settle into the right major, begin to think about another academic discipline that could complement your major,” Eyring said. “Your resume will come to the top of the interview pile. You’ll also be more likely to rise quickly in the organization for which you ultimately work.”