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Mar 24th, 2023

Premier Engineering Experiences

This story is featured in the Fall 2022 edition of the HPU Magazine.

HPU’s Webb School of Engineering equips students with hands-on experiences, life skills and technical knowledge, preparing them to excel in all areas of their careers.

As a mathematical economics and computer science major at HPU, Kelsey Quinn, ’20, leveraged every opportunity presented to step outside her comfort zone.

“At HPU, I was exposed to many skills, such as being able to effectively communicate, not only with engineers but also with business counterparts,” says Quinn.

Her exposure to HPU’s emphasis on life skills was thanks to many hands-on experiences.

“I took part in the inaugural data analysis course, had research published in the cybersecurity space and got exposure to artificial intelligence prior to entering the workforce,” she recalls. “I was also part of the Woz Project, where I gained project management and leadership skills working alongside students and Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and HPU’s Innovator in Residence, to build an autonomous golf cart.”

Quinn knows these experiences, and many others, were instrumental in helping her land her current position as a municipal securities team leader at Bloomberg LP.

“There is not a day that goes by where I do not use something that I learned in the mathematical economics or computer science programs,” says Quinn. “These programs, when utilized to their full capacity, set you up for success, whatever you choose as your next steps after college.”

Achieving Ambitious Goals

Quinn’s experience reflects the goals upon which the Webb School of Engineering was formed in 2018: To prepare HPU graduates to compete successfully in a competitive job market.

In these formative years, Founding Dean Dr. Michael Oudshoorn and his team have intensified their work to strengthen the program. The school’s offerings include three degrees in computer science, two degrees in electrical and computer engineering, and four degrees in mathematical sciences.

And with a diverse team of expert faculty, particularly with a strong representation of women among electrical and computer science faculty, every student benefits from valuable, relatable mentors and role models.

Students and faculty in HPU's cybersecurity lab
Roger Shore, associate professor of computer science, leads students through class in HPU’s state-of-the-art cybersecurity learning facility.

A Practical Approach to Success

Dr. William Suchan, associate professor of computer science and department chair, whose expertise is in digital privacy, cybersecurity and IT education, believes HPU’s educational philosophy encourages students to follow their passions with an entrepreneurial mindset.

“I tell students and parents, ‘Don’t look at graduation as the finish line — that’s the starting line,’” says Suchan. “We want to set students up to be successful when they graduate, so we teach principles that will hold no matter what they’re doing.”

It’s an approach that yields results.

“Our students are getting jobs immediately out of HPU,” says Suchan.

These results are evidence that HPU successfully strikes the balance between theory and practice.

“The industry isn’t looking for engineers who are strictly theoretical or strictly technical; companies are looking for people who are job-ready,” says Suchan.

“HPU’s engineering programs prepare you for a variety of career paths,” says Quinn. “I didn’t go into the field of my major. Instead, I chose to go into data analytics and leadership. HPU’s Webb School of Engineering set me up for success in all areas of my professional journey.”

Bringing Theory to Life

Engineering students have access to highly equipped makerspaces and a state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab that enables students to build and test security systems so they will be up to speed on the latest tools.

To Dr. Sean Johnson, assistant professor of electrical engineering, the impact is undeniable.

“The hands-on experiences our students get as undergraduates really set them apart,” says Johnson. “It makes our offerings unique, and it ensures that our students graduate with both the theoretical and applied knowledge needed to be practicing engineers.”

It’s not an approach seen in most undergraduate programs. And students notice.

“The opportunity for hands-on learning is one of the main reasons I decided to attend HPU,” says Ashlinn Corcoran, ’25, a double major in computer science and neuroscience from Hamilton, Virginia. “Everyone here places great emphasis on learning to gain experience rather than to just accumulate knowledge.”

Corcoran has her sights set on a job in artificial intelligence, and she’s confident that her HPU experience will give her an edge over graduates of other institutions. Like when she worked with Wozniak on a special project that involved reading brainwaves through a headset and then converting those thoughts into commands that control a device.

“Graduates from other schools may have the same degree by name, but I’m getting so many extras in my courses — from guidance on handling interviews to insights on landing internships and jobs — that I feel confident I can get my foot in the door,” she says.

HPU is known as The Premier Life Skills University. And Corcoran has experienced the truth in that title.

“Our professors are constantly teaching us things we’ll use in real life rather than just encouraging us to memorize for a test,” she says. “They really want us to succeed.”

Engaging Internships

To Johnson, internships are an important means of developing students’ toolkits.

He encourages students to try both an industry and research internship to gain a better understanding of their likes and dislikes. And he’s there to help students explore opportunities and complete the application process.

“We’re setting expectations for students,” says Johnson.

Luke Schooley, ’23, is a perfect case in point. The computer engineering major has leveraged every opportunity to apply the knowledge he’s gained, and he’s certain his education will translate to greater marketability.

“These programs, when utilized to their full capacity, set you up for success, whatever you choose as your next steps after college.” - Kelsey Quinn, ’20 Municipal Securities Team Leader at Bloomberg LP

The Woolrich, New Jersey, native will be among the first graduates to receive a degree in computer engineering from HPU. But he says the impressive resume he has built during his three years at the university is just as important.

“All core engineering classes have a lab section, so you immediately apply the knowledge you learn in class in a lab,” says Schooley.

Then there are the summer research opportunities. Schooley spent the summer after his sophomore year researching biophysics in the HPU physics department.

“I created a neural network that performs mathematical parameters from an EKG in order to predict if someone is going to start experiencing arrhythmias,” he says.

And over the summer, Schooley interned with the medical technology company Siemens Healthineers, exploring ways to control and automate the systems that create lab diagnostic tests.

“I’m confident I’ll be graduating with more hands-on experience than students from other institutions,” he says.