Engineering colleges around the world are constantly adapting unique approaches to their curriculums. While a few strive to provide effective learning programs with cogent career management procedures, a handful actually succeed. Jacksonville University is a leading private institution truly committed to combining the field of engineering with robust career management programs. Located in northeast Florida, the university integrates effective, career-building learning experiences with its engineering curriculum.
Established in 1934 and recognized as an “America’s Best College” in the South for more than 15 consecutive years by US News & World Report, the university’s main campus stands on a beautiful riverfront setting in suburban Jacksonville, across the St. Johns River from downtown and just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. The 250-acre campus harbors a half-mile of riverfront, oak-lined paths, and a mix of historic and new campus buildings.
Jacksonville University is home to an ethnically and geographically diverse, predominantly undergraduate student body, including adult learners, in select undergraduate, master’s, doctorate, and professional certification programs. The university’s effectual learning experience emphasizes applied skills, co-curricular career opportunities and the combination of professional preparation with a strong liberal arts foundation. It offers more than 100 majors, minors and programs, including degrees in distinctive fields of study such as Business, Marine Science, Engineering and Nursing, as well as degrees in the more contemporary and specialized fields of Aviation, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Film, Animation, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Along with a vast array of educational programs, Jacksonville University also offers many pre-professional and honors programs, as well as a vast number of extracurricular activities. There are more than 100 clubs and organizations on campus, as well as a thriving NCAA Division I athletics program and numerous varsity sports teams. In addition, students are also encouraged to participate in the many undergraduate research and hands-on learning experiences that are available in and out of the classroom. For example, the Marine Science Research Institute and brand new Psychology Lab at JU offer unique research opportunties for students across diverse disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Along with its future-focused curriculum and career programs, Jacksonville University offers numerous forms of financial assistance to students. Financial aid at the undergraduate and graduate levels is available through a number of generous institutional scholarships; grants awarded based on academic ability, talent and/or financial need; and federal and state financial aid programs.
Challenging and Nurturing Learning Environment
Encouraging strong academic and professional ties, Jacksonville University provides an environment where each student is valued and appreciated, where individual attention is provided, and positive relationships are formed. This is a university that strikes a beneficial balance between challening and nurturing, and that welcomes students, not just academically, but as part of the larger JU Dolphin family. As a result, JU students are encouraged in every way to pursue their interests and excel in their chosen career fields.
With a mission to prepare each student for life-long success in learning, achieving, leading and serving, the university accomplishes its goals in a collaborative and inclusive learning environment. The educational setting lends itself to personalized learning services that allow for plenty of encouragement and interraction among students and faculty.
Spearheading the STEM Domain
Under the direction of Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu, Jacksonville University is spearheading an evolution in STEM education that incorporates applied creativity into traditional STEM degrees. The resulting STEAM initiative focuses on the applied aspects of engineering, design-and-build opportunities, service learning, creative problem-solving and critical thinking.
The addition of the “A” in the STEAM acronym stands for the “Arts” and is reflective of the growing importance of soft and creative skills in STEM fields. A well-rounded knowledge of the arts, including design and writing, helps STEM professionals leverage their technical and creative skills to solve problems in more innovative ways, and at JU, students are given plenty of opportunities to do just that.
As the university’s executive vice president of STEAM initiatives, Dr. Tiryakioglu’s creativity-infused approach encourages active, experiential learning. It also allows students to take full advantage of the hundreds of corporate and community partnerships JU has cultivated across the state and the region as they participate in an unprecedented eight-semester design sequence.
At Jacksonville University, engineering students are learning more than basic career skills. They are being challengd to think critically and creatively, to be more agile and adaptable, and to think in different ways. They are learning to see opportunities for improvement, new businesses, new products — to keep thinking critically every day and keep developing solutions. In turn, this will broaden their career horizons, unlock multiple career opportunities or give them an idea for their own businesses as engineer entrepreneurs.
Robust Career Management Programs
Over the years, Jacksonville University has actively sought to expand its connections to industry and today offers an impressive career management program. On campus, the JU Student Success Center serves as a one-stop shop for career-oriented opportunities, and co-locates the university’s educational high-impact practices. These include internships, study abroad trips, international student services, undergraduate research, and service-learning experiences. Providing students with one place where they can access resources and opportunities that position them for success beyond graduation has resulted in increased participation and the development of professional skills that further prepare graduates to enter their field of choice.
Unlike most universities, the Student Success Center integrates multiple student-focused support services, which ensures that career-building opportunities are pursued hand-in-hand with course selection, co-curricular activities, resume building and the entire college experience.
Pivoting Amidst Challenging Times
Thanks to the breadth of its corporate partnerships and its decades of experience with online adult learning programs, Jacksonville University was uniquely positioned to weather the academic challenges of COVID-19. Using the same creativity prized by its STEAM program, the university was able to pivot quickly, moving many programs online and adopting a remote-ready approach alongside the rest of the business world. By working closely with corporate partners, many experiential learning experiences were also moved online, not just in engineering, but in many other programs as well. The ability to quickly adapt is now a prized quality in today’s workforce as well as a quality instilled in JU students through a variety of experiential learning opportunities.
As an institute of higher learning, Jacksonville University strives to produce graduates who are not only career-ready, but who are ready to excel and accelerate quickly in their chosen career fields. That is why, ingrained in its curriculum and throughout all of its degree and certification programs, is a commitment to real-world experience. Whether it’s offering a major engineering design experience every year or providing internship and networking opportunities with its numerous industry partners, Jacksonville University is increasingly bringing the real world into the classroom and vice versa in some very progressive and cutting-edge ways. From its standard majors, minors and advanced degree programs to its Pathways of Distinction option which allows students to customize their education, the University is truly committed to assisting and encouraging students in the best ways for them. Its growing alumni base, strong industry contracts and devoted faculty and staff are all a part of that, but the real rewards are the lifetime ties that this approach fosters. Preparing each student for life-long success in learning, achieving, leading and serving is not just a mission of the university, it is a way of life, every day and in every way.
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