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Thursday, January 07, 2010

A&T seeks Ph.D. in computational science & eng.

The UNC Board of Governors today will consider approving a new doctoral program at N.C. A&T that is unique in the state’s 16-campus system.

N.C. A&T wants to establish a doctoral program in computational science and engineering. Not only would it be the first of its kind in the state, university officials said, but only nine colleges in the country have a doctoral program in the field.

The planning committee discussed the matter Thursday, and the full Board of Governors will consider it Friday. The system’s general administration has recommended that the board approve the program.

Computational scientists and engineers are employed in fields that require modeling and simulation work, said Ajit Kelkar, director of A&T’s computational science and engineering program.

One area where they are employed is the automobile industry, which uses the scientists to make models and conduct performance simulations in the manufacturing of cars, Kelkar said.

The university started its master’s program in the spring of 2005. Since that time, Kelkar said, more than 40 students have enrolled in the program and 17 have received degrees. All are employed, he said.

The companies that have hired the students include General Motors, Ford and IBM.

“Once they get this master’s degree, they’re in really high demand,” he said.

The university has been planning its doctoral program for three years. Pending approval, Kelkar said, A&T will begin recruiting students this semester, and students would start in the fall.

Kelkar said he hopes to enroll six students in the initial class.

The university already has begun recruiting three new faculty members, he said.

The university also recently received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a high-performance computing system for the program, Kelkar said.


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