Santa Clara University

A Tradition of Academic Excellence at SCU:

Engineering a Career Perspective 

The School of Engineering, now in its 92nd year, strives to educate students to fulfill the Jesuit mission in tangible ways. In addition to a rigorous program of scientific and engineering fundamentals, hands-on experience, and multidisciplinary teamwork, the program has an earnest emphasis on the world in which the engineer will work. Students‰ exposure to philosophy, ethics, political science, literature, foreign languages, economics, the arts, and other cultures gives them important perspective on their role in that world. And students work with faculty to produce scholarship so that they experience not only the conveyance of knowledge but also its creation.

Professor Ruth Davis

Professor Ruth Davis works with the Virtual Development Center to give voice to women‰s ideas about technological issues.

For example, Professor Ruth Davis, in the computer engineering department, understands the proliferation of information technology in society but also how selective that proliferation can be. One of her devoted undertakings is a program called the Virtual Development Center (VDC). The VDC is a forum for women in local communities to make their views on technological developments known to major research and development organizations; to generate new and unique ideas for technological changes and developments that would be of benefit to women and families; and to discuss their needs and increase their skills in expressing their views on technology. Co-sponsored by Santa Clara‰s Center for Science, Technology and Society and by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, the VDC has provided female engineering students SCU with a vehicle for seeing the positive impact of technology.

Engineering students, under the guidance of Davis, have created community-based project to help the women in HomeSafe, a nearby transitional housing community for survivors of domestic violence. The students have helped to outfit the facility with computing and networking facilities suitable for the women and their children and have taught the women how to use these technologies to seek employment and gain access to information.

The VDC has not only helped community members, it has given the department great insight into how best to recruit, engage, and teach female engineering students, who are a minority in the profession.

The future is now

Assistant Professor Chris Kitts

Students in research Assistant Professor Chris Kitts‰ Robotic Systems Laboratory work on satellites, airships, robots, and telescopes.

Mechatronics, the integration of mechanics and electronics, is an intriguing new area of engineering at SCU. The Robotic Systems Laboratory (RSL), under the direction of Research Assistant Professor Chris Kitts, is a magnet for undergraduates and even high-school students. The RSL is an aggressive, integrative research and education program in intelligent robotic systems, and it has earned national recognition for SCU.

Each year, teams of undergraduate students completely design, fabricate, test, operate, and manage high-quality robotic systems for performing a variety of scientific investigations. Past and ongoing projects include spacecraft, underwater vehicles, terrestrial rovers, airships, telescopes, and industrial robots.

Beyond being "cool," the projects are often devoted to beneficial causes. Scientific teams from nearly every marine research center in the West regularly deploy the RSL‰s marine robots, which are operated by our students. The lab has an extensive partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, but its robots travel far beyond Monterey Bay. The robots and SCU students have been from Lake Tahoe to Alaska and have been featured on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Weekly.

 

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