Monday, August 20 , 2018, 12:29 pm | Partly Cloudy 77º


CSU Channel Islands Announces New Engineering Program

CSUCI’s engineering program will focus on mechatronics, a multidisciplinary field of engineering that combines mechanics, control theory, computer science and electronics.
CSUCI’s engineering program will focus on mechatronics, a multidisciplinary field of engineering that combines mechanics, control theory, computer science and electronics. (CSUCI photo)

After years of work and planning, CSU Channel Islands has announced the launch of its own engineering program.

President Richard R. Rush and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, will make the formal announcement from 4-5:30 p.m. July 20, 2016, in Sierra Hall on the CSUCI campus.

“We could not be more proud to announce the addition of an engineering program at CI,” Rush said. “This university exists to serve the needs of the surrounding community, and now CI can deliver quality graduates to fill hundreds of engineering jobs available each year in Ventura County. On a personal note, I consider it privilege to welcome this long-anticipated program before my last day as president of this university.”

Rush, who retires Aug. 8, worked with Irwin as she sought support in Sacramento. Locally, Rush met with community leaders who stressed the need for an engineering program in Ventura County.

After Irwin was elected in 2014, the two began laying the groundwork to meet that need.

In 2012, university officials conducted a needs assessment study and discovered that about half of Ventura County companies planned to hire engineers.

In addition, the state Employment Development Department indicated that almost 300 new engineers are needed any given year in Ventura County. 

“I really pushed it last year in the Assembly,” Irwin said. “I was able to talk to budget chairs about the need in Ventura County. We have a military base and all of these companies in need of qualified engineers. But what really made the argument is that Channel Islands is heavily female and has a significant Latino population, and both of those groups are under-represented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.”

In May of 2015, Irwin proposed that $1.5 million be allocated with roughly $500,000 per year used to cover three years of start-up costs, such as hiring faculty members and lab support. In June, the state legislature approved the use of $500,000 in the $117.2 billion state budget for CSUCI to begin its engineering program. 

According to Computer Science Chair Michael Soltys, Ph.D., the new major will be called “Mechatronics Engineering” and will be housed under the Computer Science Department.

“Mechatronics is a fast-growing area of engineering that is interdisciplinary by nature, as it combines aspects of mechanics, control theory, computer science and electronics,” Soltys said. “This knowledge enables engineers to optimize the design and functionality of systems as well as making them more economical and reliable. Industrial robots and drones are quintessential examples of mechatronics systems as they include aspects of electronics, mechanics and computing.”

CI is strategically located on the so-called “101 Tech Corridor,” which includes companies such as Amgen, Haas, Teledyne Technologies, HRL Laboratories and many other tech companies, not to mention Point Mugu and Port Hueneme Naval bases, as well as Lockheed, Rocketdyne and other companies in the greater Los Angeles area. 

Irwin said this investment in CI’s program is an investment in the entire region as these will be home-grown engineers who are more likely to stay in the area, strengthening Ventura County’s business environment.

“Ventura County becomes an ecosystem,” Irwin said. “Not only are they going to stay here, they will likely start their own companies and this ecosystem will attract outside companies who would like to come into this area.”

The program is targeted to begin accepting applications for fall of 2018. Graduates in a specialized engineering field can expect median annual wages of $92,680 as of May of 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Irwin said she is pleased to be joining President Rush as he makes this announcement.

“It is so fitting this is his last major announcement,” she said. “He should get full credit. He is the one who reached out to the community and learned there was a great need. His leaving is bittersweet, but he leaves on a very high note.”

Kim Gregory is a communication specialist at CSU Channel Islands.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >