FAU Engineering in the Top Three Fastest Improving Colleges in U.S.

by Gisele Galoustian | Monday, Oct 11, 2021

Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (COECS) is rapidly rising in U.S. News & World Report rankings, and is now one of the top three fastest improving engineering colleges in the nation (2020 to 2022). The college also is ranked No. 111 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges Rankings” 2022, among public engineering colleges whose highest degree offered is a Ph.D.

This rise in rankings is due in large part to numerous achievements during the past four years, which include a 2.6-fold (164 percent) increase in external research funding, a 5.8-fold (480 percent) increase in student internships, and a 40 percent increase in M.S. and Ph.D. degrees awarded.

“Our College of Engineering and Computer Science is soaring to new heights and our latest ‘U.S. News & World Report’ rankings is evidence that we are getting noticed by peers for our research and development output and for our robust engineering programs, which are continuously progressing, evolving and ascending to align with national priorities for workforce development,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, the COECS. “Our graduates are sought by leading engineering firms in industry and government, and our innovative programs are preparing both undergraduate and graduate students to be leaders in engineering disciplines.” 

Research efforts in the COECS are supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Education, the state of Florida as well as industry. Eight faculty members have received the NSF Early CAREER award, and two have received NIH MIRA awards, all in support of early-career faculty.

The COECS is trailblazing a path in cutting-edge research and technologies focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy, data science and machine learning. This year, the college launched the Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (ca-ai.fau.edu), a revolutionary effort on networked AI and connected robotics that combines expertise in AI, computing, sensing solutions, big data analytics and autonomous technologies. Supported by the Schmidt Family Foundation, this one-of-its-kind center already has garnered more than $9 million in basic research federal funding. Center projects cover underwater, surface, air and space applications that are supported by autonomous resilient machine-to-machine wireless networking.

The college also is home to several state-of-the-art institutes and centers including the Freight Mobility Research Institute, a Tier 1 University Transportation Center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, established in 2017. The institute has received more than $15 million in funding to date to help strengthen the nation’s economic competitiveness. The college’s Industry/University Research Collaboration Center for Advanced Knowledge Enablement (CAKE) supported by the NSF and industry and established in 2009, enables close and sustained engagement between industry innovators, academic research teams, and government agencies in the areas of information technology, multimedia and data mining, and cloud computing. CAKE members include companies such as JM Family Enterprises; Motorola Mobility (powered by Google); LexisNexis; Tecore Wireless Systems and Florida Solar Energy. FAU CAKE has received more than $9 million in federal, state and industry funding.

At the forefront of research in sensing technologies is the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), established in 2016 and housed in the COECS. One of the university’s four research pillars, I-SENSE is focused on infrastructure systems and smart cities, marine and environment and smart health and behavior. 

Located on FAU’s Dania Beach campus in Broward County, FAU SeaTech – The Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering was established in 1997 as a state-funded Type II Research Center. Focused on acoustics, marine vehicles, marine materials, ocean energy technologies, among others, SeaTech has established a long-term partnership with the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock Division and its South Florida Testing Facility. SeaTech is consistently funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

The COECS offers 24 graduate degree programs (M.S. and Ph.D.), 13 undergraduate degree programs and 12 undergraduate and graduate certificates. In just four years, the college has launched several future-focused programs including Florida’s first Master of Science program in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI). The college is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, and has recently received $1 million from the NSF to provide scholarships to high-achieving low-income engineering undergraduate students to pursue an M.S. degree in AI.  

The college also has established Florida’s first Professional Master of Science and Ph.D. degree programs in computer science for working professionals with flexible schedules and offers a M.S. and B.S.  degree program in data science and analytics. New programs in the college also include a Ph.D. degree program in transportation and environmental engineering and a co-op B.S. degree program in computer science.

The COECS recently secured $3.4 million in graduate student training grants in data science and AI, as well as $4.3 million in grants focusing on population genomics with advanced machine learning and AI tools. In addition, the college hosts a number of undergraduate research scholarship initiatives to enable students to participate in federally-funded research projects, which creates a pipeline for its graduate degree programs.

The most recent point of pride for the COECS is a state-of-the-art Fab Lab (rapid prototyping and small production facility) that officially opens its doors next month to the entire University and broader community.