IT School to Watch: San Jose State University

San Jose State University's charter is to produce educated workers for the local workforce, and that means Silicon Valley.

As a result, says Sigurd Meldal, chairman of the school's computer engineering department, students going for a master's degree in computer engineering or software engineering are expected to graduate with practical skills and hands-on experience. But it's important that they get good grounding in theory as well, he says. "You have to have the foundational theory or you die after five years in the workforce," he says.

All students must undertake a "capstone experience" that includes requirements definition, design, implementation and deployment, Meldal says. "Most do it with a local industry partner," he says. "It's a real project." In addition, about half of the faculty members come directly from the IT industry.

"My employer was very impressed with the designing, the application area and the technology that I used in my [master's degree] project," says SJSU graduate Deepti Lalwani, now an analyst at AT&T Inc. "Many companies are still trying to adopt the technology that I used. The program is oriented toward problem-solving, and each course gave me a lot of experience in thinking out of the box and approaching problems."

This version of this story appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Next: Stanford University: Students are given hands-on experience through a work/study program.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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