published on April 12, 2016 - 2:51 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Fresno Pacific University (FPU) will begin offering a software engineering major hosted at Bitwise Industries’ South Stadium facility next fall. 

The building is home to many of businesses within Fresno’s developing tech-sector and FPU students will also be exposed to various training programs. 

“Hopefully, it knocks down the division between the ivory tower and the work world,” said Karen Cianci, dean of FPU’s School of Natural Sciences. “I tell students there are two things you need—knowledge in your major and a professional network. You need to meet people already working in your field. If your goal is to be a computer entrepreneur, you’re going to meet those people in our program at Bitwise.”

Simon Sultana, the FPU faculty member developing the new software engineering program, said the partnership with Bitwise is meant to help expose students to the realities of the degree. The program will be available starting in August and has a goal of helping graduates learn to balance communication with theory and application. 

“I talked to local industry leaders and one thing that kept coming up was the need for employees who understand how to develop software and know how to work with other people, how to communicate their ideas and how to communicate with a customer,” Sultana said. 

FPU faculty and administrators approved the software engineering program in December 2015 and students will be offered both a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science track. The latter will have a heavier mathematics component. 

Curriculum will include two semesters of projects and students will volunteer for one semester with a nonprofit, such as a church or school, and one semester for a business to develop a needed software product. 

Projects may include designing a website, collecting feedback from customers or connecting online customer orders with inventory and then processing payments. 

“We don’t want to have classes where we’re talking about something as an abstract concept only and never do anything with it,” Sultana said. “We are going to push learning by doing.”

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