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New Degree: B.S. in Software Engineering

For the fall semester, Georgia Southern University will offer a new Bachelor of Science in software engineering. It will be the only software engineering degree offered by a public university outside of Atlanta. “It was a few years in the making,” says Andrew Allen, Ph.D., interim chair and associate professor of the computer science department.

Dr. Andrew Allen, interim chair and associate professor of the Department of Computer Science at Georgia Southern. Photo: Hillary Kay

Previously, software engineering was available as a computer science elective certificate. Georgia Southern took the step of making it a degree for two reasons, explains Allen. For one, many students chose it instead of other electives. For another, industry advisory committees and professionals in Statesboro, Savannah and along the I-16 corridor who work with computing students on their capstone project say graduates would benefit from having stronger software engineering skills. “After we synthesized this, we realized that what was needed is a program more focused on preparing students for software engineering jobs. The new degree is focused on the skills and the professional practices needed to design, implement and maintain software systems,” Allen says.

The software engineering program will launch this fall, producing the first graduates of the four-year coursework in 2027 – although some students transferring into the program may graduate sooner. Georgia Southern is recruiting high school seniors in the Statesboro-Bulloch County area and beyond for this new degree. Plenty of regional job opportunities await the program’s graduates. “We want to make sure that there are enough people trained in skills that are needed by companies that currently exist along I-16 and the Savannah Logistics Corridor and new companies that are coming in,” says Allen.

Hyundai will be one of those major employers, he says. The carmaker expects to open its first fully dedicated electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in the U.S. on the Bryan County megasite in early 2025, creating 8,100 new jobs. As of March, 4,546 jobs have been announced from suppliers to the plant. “Georgia Southern University graduates will be integral to meeting the workforce needs of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America and the suppliers that will be locating in the Savannah region,” says Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison. “Along with graduates from other programs like Georgia Southern’s manufacturing engineering, software engineering graduates will have the skill sets these companies are looking for.”

This isn’t the first time companies have sought engineers with software skills. In fact, the field of software engineering that is so critical to many of these jobs recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, Allen notes. “It was introduced as a discipline in the 1960s,” he says, “as an answer to a software crisis of the time when there was this exponential growth in the need for larger and more complex software systems.” The current needs are much the same as they were back then: coping with huge amounts of data, seeking interconnectivity and addressing the vulnerabilities they present. “Maybe that was a time,” he says, “we never left.”

This article appears in the June 2023 issue of Georgia Trend.


Posted in CEC News