College of Engineering now has free remote access

Students in the College of Engineering will no longer have to be on campus to work on computer assignments.
That’s because the implementation of Virtual Academic Computing (ViAComp) provides free remote access to all the specialized engineering software used in teaching undergraduate and graduate engineering courses.
ViAComp is compatible with iPhone apps, including its newest tablet computer, the iPad.
“I can work on my senior project while I’m backpacking throughout Chile,” said Giro Samale, a recent graduate in  industrial engineering and economics.
Students in the College of Engineering are required to have their own computers so that they can interface with ViAComp. With need-based financial aid packages available through UM, they can either purchase a new laptop or upgrade their current one to meet the required ViAComp specifications.
Founded in 1947, the College of Engineering is located on the west side of campus.
It offers bachelor of science degrees in aerospace, architectural, biomedical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial and mechanical engineering, as well as engineering science, and masters and doctoral degrees in a number of disciplines, with several specializations in each field of study.
With students from 50 different countries spanning each continent except Antarctica, the College of Engineering has an impressively diverse student body. The college is 28 percent female (double the national average) and ranks among the top 10 nationwide in female enrollment.
It is also seen as having one of the most intense and demanding curriculum on campus.
“The biggest challenge you might have is balancing your social and academic life,” said Ya-Ning Peng, a graduate student majoring in industrial engineering.  “Time management is the most important skill that you should have if you pursue a program in the College of Engineering.”
To help its students succeed, the College of Engineering gives personalized attention to students immediately after enrollment. Freshmen are matched up with peer counselors, who have been carefully selected from the school’s sophomore and junior classes.
These counselors offer tutoring during a student’s first year. They usually work with five to seven students, ensuring that engineering students receive information about on-campus resources and important dates.
In addition, Engineering Dean James M. Tien, who has an open-door policy for his students, hosts a monthly “STEM (second Tuesday of every month) Coffee with the Dean” session. Students can ask questions and discuss their ideas with him over a cup of coffee and biscotti.
The college provides many opportunities to its students to learn from research and collaborate with professionals from a wide spectrum of disciplines. The three primary areas of research are healthcare and technology, informatics and risk and sustainable systems.
Also, the college provides some free specialized engineering software, such as Minitab and Maple, which students can download to their own computers.
“You don’t need to pay a large amount of money to purchase the software,” Peng said. “The college is providing us with lots of useful tools.”
To supplement UM’s Toppel Career Center, the College of Engineering operates its own Career Service Center to provide its students with information on job opportunities. The college also has its own placement program that works with industry partners, including Microsoft, GE, Johnson & Johnson, among others.
Students in the College of Engineering also enjoy their extracurricular activities. The Society of Woman Engineers mentor high school students and host an annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Engineers Without Borders travel internationally to establish safe water and other infrastructure systems. Even Salsa Craze, a UM dance team led by two engineering students, helps engineering students dance their stress away.

Danni Zhao may be contacted at dzhao@