(January 24, 2002, Gazette)
Jagan Seshadri spends a lot of time working with
a team of researchers at C-Cores Intelligent Systems Lab.
Encouraging students to pursue graduate studies is a challenge
for most universities. The process is complicated by lucrative job offers,
or students just feeling burned out after years spent completing an undergraduate
degree. Memorials Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, however,
has thought of an incentive to increase the number of students entering
into the masters of engineering program. The fast track masters
program has been very successful since it began in the fall of 1997.
The fast track program for masters students exempts undergraduate
students from their last work term, said Dr. Mahmoud Haddara, associate
dean of graduate studies and research. Instead of working they take
two or three graduate level courses. They then go back to finish their
undergraduate degree in the winter and continue on with graduate courses
in the spring.
Otherwise, they would be finished in the spring and would have to
wait until September to start a graduate program. Taking the fast track
route saves them two terms.
Since the program began in the fall of 1997 it has grown steadily from
one student to seven students in 2001. And while the program has increased
the number of students who have gone on to graduate studies in engineering,
the real test of its success lies with the students.
Jagan Seshadri began the fast track masters program in the fall
of 1999 after hearing about it through his professors.
Until then I had not given it much thought. The fact is the undergraduate
program is very hard and long. Having graduated from high school in 1994
and from university in 2000, you would think that six years ought to be
enough, said Mr. Seshadri. But the fast track program appealed
to me. As I got to the end of my undergraduate degree, all of a sudden
I realized I was almost finished this goal and I did not have anything
definite lined up. I could have gone into telecommunications, which I
did most of my work terms in, but I did not want to limit myself.
I knew there was more out there and I wanted to try something else.
I started to notice, as well, that most of the interesting jobs listed
a masters of engineering degree as preferred.
Mr. Seshadri went on to say, The thing that was initially holding
me back the most was that I was tired of school. But I did recognize graduate
school, in the back of my mind, as an edge. And being able to complete
a masters degree in a shorter period of time was certainly an advantage.
According to Mr. Seshadri this was just one of many advantages. I
went through undergraduate and did very well. I had good marks and great
work terms, but I still felt like I had not tied it all together. I knew
a lot of subject areas. I knew if I had a problem in electromagnetics
and a problem in microprocessors, I could solve them. But when did the
two meet up? And how do you formulate the problem? I felt I was missing
this and I wanted to integrate all the things I had learned in undergraduate.
Having an option such as the fast track masters program available
certainly persuaded Mr. Seshadri to begin a graduate program. He went
on to call the fast track program a brilliant idea.
It certainly clinched a lot of people from my class who probably
would not have gone on to graduate study had it not been for that program.