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UCF Graduate Programs in Engineering, Computer Science Highlight Research in U.S. News Rankings

Fueled by world-class faculty with groundbreaking research and strong industry partnerships, UCF serves Florida as its premier engineering and technology university.

College of Engineering and Computer Science faculty are leaders in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), hypersonic travel, energy, next-generation computing hardware and aerospace, fields that are major economic drivers for Florida and that are critical to our state and nation’s future.

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report‘s ranked nine of UCF’s other graduate programs among the top 50 on the 2024 Best Graduate Schools list.

This pioneering engineering research by expert UCF faculty prepares students to thrive in their careers, as does UCF’s longstanding relationships with industry partners who are eager to hire talented students. Partners include Electronic Arts, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Northrop Grumman, Siemens, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

Collectively, UCF’s cutting-edge, high-impact teaching practices and partnerships have drawn many recognitions, including the latest from U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools rankings.

Today, U.S. News & World Report ranks three of UCF’s engineering and computer science graduate programs among the top 50 in the nation. The industrial/manufacturing/systems engineering program is ranked No. 43, aerospace is No. 47 and computer engineering is No. 50. Two other programs — materials engineering and electrical/electronic/communications engineering — ranked just outside the top 50, at No. 52 and No. 53 respectively.

A total of nine engineering and computer science programs rank among the top 50 among the nation’s public universities.

“Our outstanding engineering faculty are conducting impactful research that is advancing our knowledge of space, modeling and simulation, virtual and augmented reality, and many other high-tech fields,” says Michael D. Johnson, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “They are innovators and inventors fueling our region’s economy and our society’s quality of life, healthcare, energy and transportation systems, and they excel at preparing our graduates to thrive in their careers.”

Twenty-nine percent of Kennedy Space Center employees and 25% of Lockheed Martin’s Orlando employees earned UCF degrees. Aviation Week Network has named UCF the No. 1 supplier of graduates to the aerospace and defense industry for six consecutive years.

Bringing More Brilliant Minds Together

UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science produces 25% of Florida’s engineering and computer science graduates, according to the State University System. The college’s goal is to educate 25,000 engineering and technology students by increasing capacity by 50%.

One important path to achieving that goal is to expand the college’s faculty. Last year and this year combined, the college has hired 55 new faculty members, including many with expertise in the strategic investment program areas identified by the university, such as AI, energy, next-generation computing hardware, space-aerospace, digital twin and infectious diseases. The new faculty hires will further strengthen the college’s research initiatives and opportunities for students to learn alongside talented faculty in the classroom and in research labs.

Plans for this fall also include one new degree program. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will launch a master of science in robotics and autonomous systems program. Students will learn to analyze, design and develop robotics and autonomous systems including self-driving cars, drones, medical robots and even mechanical dogs.

The new faculty and degree program join a host of current UCF engineering and computer science faculty who are conducting groundbreaking research:

  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Kareem Ahmed received Department of Defense funding that’s establishing UCF as a leader in hypersonics and space propulsion research. Hypersonic propulsion would allow for air travel at speeds of Mach 6 to 17, or more than 4,600 to 13,000 miles per hour, and has applications in commercial and space travel.
  • Carolina Cruz-Neira, the Agere Chair Professor at the UCF Department of Computer Science and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, is a pioneer in the areas of virtual reality and interactive visualization, having created and deployed a variety of technologies that have become standard tools in industry, government and academia. In a few weeks, she will be inducted into the inaugural Augmented World Expo (AWE) XR Hall of Fame, joining an elite international group of 100 researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, advocates and others. Cruz-Neira was one of just 22 researchers selected. “It is not well known that UCF has one of, if not the, largest concentration of VR researchers in the U.S.,” she says. “Of course, the strong reputation of UCF as a leader in modeling and simulation ties very well with the ecosystem.”

In addition, the internationally recognized Collegiate Cyber Defense Club at UCF won first place at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in April. The club has been sending student teams around the world to compete against other universities since 2013. In all, UCF cybersecurity teams have earned 87 first place awards — including five NCCDC titles — 29 second-place and 25 third-place awards. The competitions allow UCF students to sharpen their skills before cybersecurity professionals and are hosted by companies from private industry, such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Raymond James, Raytheon and several federal agencies.