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Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department
Graduate Assessment Report
Updated February 2003

I. Applicant Pool for 2002-2003

  • Graduate applicants total 272;
  • 225 B1 campus and 47 B2 (CATECS)
  • Total of 165 accepted; 139 B1 campus and 26 B2 (CATECS) - which is 61 % of applicants
  • Total 74 Enrolled: 45% of the total accepted applicants and 27% of the total applicants considered.

The ITP was founded in 1971 as the first graduate level, interdisciplinary program emphasizing telecommunications studies in the United States. On Thursday, October 11, 2001 the Regents voted to elevate the ITP to department status, housed in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). The name has now changed to the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department (ITD). This change in status will allow us to plan for a Ph.D. Program and work with the university to improve and update our curriculum and enlarge our student body.

We are currently collecting information from the new "Apply Yourself" computer application, a pilot program in CEAS. This information will be used in our recruitment program to encourage prospective students to apply to the ITD. Our updated strategic plan calls for us to begin actively recruiting students for the first time in our history. We have relied on the "word of mouth" method in the past. We are currently planning marketing strategies to encourage telecommunication industry and information technology professionals to return to earn their master's degrees during this "down-turn" in the telecommunications marketplace.

Admission requirements include: 3.0 equivalent or higher cumulative GPA for under- graduate or other graduate work; GRE test required in the fall 2003 semester going forward, satisfactory TOEFL (600) scores for international students, three letters of recommendation, A one-page statement of purpose; resume listing honors, achievements and work experience and original official transcripts showing a degree awarded from an accredited college or university.

Through CATECS (Center for Advanced Training in Engineering and Computer Science) many students are able to obtain a master's degree from ITD using various courses accessed via our distance learning option. We currently have 34 international CATECS students. Some are completing their degrees in their home countries. For example in Venezuela at the present time we have 12 students, six of these students have been accepted for the fall 2002 semester. We continue to attract a significant number of qualified students who are introduced to our program through advertising in Peterson's Guide.

II. Current Grad Population for fall 2002

  • Total number of graduate students: 305(175 B1 and 130 B2), (CATECS) (289 TLEN; 4 MBA/TLEN; 12 (BS/MS)
  • Number of Male: 240 (79 %) number of Female: 65 (21 %)
  • Number of International: 116 (38 %)
  • Avg. Undergrad GPA: 3.23
  • Avg. GRE scores: Verbal: 521 Quantitative: 723 Analytical: 665

These results are based on a total of 69 scores. GRE scores have not been required if the GPA is above 3.0. Many students are not required to take this test. However, beginning with the students admitted the fall 2003 semester all students will be required to include a GRE test score in their applications.

Students enter the program from a variety of educational backgrounds: Sixty-six percent of the total current population of ITD students enter with a technical degree and 34 percent entered with non-technical degrees. This gives the department a good mix for our interdisciplinary curriculum. With this diversity of degrees most students find the curriculum challenging and rewarding. Those students with a technical background find the social science classes, including law and regulations and economics a challenge to complete. The engineering technical classes, such as wireless communications, data communications, digital telecom networks and satellites, challenge the social science students.

Our degree and non-degree students have an interesting mix of cultural backgrounds, gender and experience. Our student population includes students from almost all US states and 26 other countries. We currently have 56 active students from India and 88 of our applicants for the 2002 are from India. A large section of the student body is composed of working professionals in the telecommunication industry returning to the university to improve their knowledge in the rapidly changing field of technology advances. These students take classes both on campus and with the distance learning option (CATECS). The military continuously supports six to seven men and women working on their advanced degrees full-time. We have a concurrent BS/MS degree with Information Systems from the Leeds Business School with 12 students and a dual degree with Business, MBA/MS, with four students currently enrolled. The faculty has recently approved a joint MS/Law degree program. The department has approached the Graduate School for approval of this dual degree and major code. The Law School dual degree will take four years to complete.

The average age of our student body is lower than it has been in the past, because of the addition of the concurrent degree students and a number of Asian BS graduates who have just completed their BS degrees. A recent TSO (Telecom Student Organization) survey shows the average age of students at 31 years. This diverse population makes the department stronger and acquaints the students with a rich cultural and professional experience.

We have an average of 42 CATECS/ACCESS students who take two to three classes before they seek admission into the department. This gives them the opportunity to try out the program before they decide to continue and get their degrees. The majority of these students do seek admission. We have found this process to be a marketing tool for the distance-learning program. With the nine (9) transfer credits that the graduate school accepts it is possible for students to take three classes before being admitted into the degree program. The total number of non-duplicated students who took TLEN classes in the 2001 year, the spring, summer and fall semester of 2002 is 921. This shows the popularity of the curriculum in the department and with students from other disciplines.

Many of our graduates go on to complete their Ph.D. at Harvard, Oxford, MIT, University of Pittsburgh, or other engineering departments on the CU campus.

III. Graduation Rates & Placement for 1996 to 2003

  Number of degrees awarded
in the last five years:
MS Degrees: 1041
MBA/MS 39
BS/MS 41
Doctorates 0


Academic Year Graduations Exits without Degrees / Inactive
1996/97 98 42 (all but thesis)
1997/98 189 15
1998/99 190 8
1999/2000 155 N/A
2000/2001 143 N/A
2001/2002 136 3 students withdrew and left country due to 9/11
2002/2003 Expected (130) Approximately 5

The "Capstone Option" premiered in the fall of 1997 making it possible for many students who had not completed the thesis requirement to graduate. The capstone option consists of two additional three-credit classes and a one-credit research/writing requirement. The capstone option continues to better serve the needs of both campus and distance-learning degree-seeking students, who often accept internships or permanent positions prior to formal graduation. Our "backlog" of students who are working full-time and still finishing the program has dropped. We intend to contact the recent "All-But-Thesis" (ABT) students and encourage them to finish their degrees, using the capstone option as part of a recruitment program that we will be implementing. The Telecommunications industry has recently incurred a drop in demand for graduates. We feel this is a temporary problem with the industry and will be marketing our program for those experienced in telecommunications as an opportunity to improve their status in the job market. In addition, we are adding courses in network and internet security to provide new direction for our students.

Placement: Our Alumni Group has an active job placement program. This group gathers student resumes for input on the ITD web page each semester. We enjoy frequent visits from alumni and industry representatives who make regular trips to Boulder for the Career Fair, student competitions and targeted recruiting efforts. Faculty and staff are contacted by phone and fax weekly with job opportunities, and we have implemented hard-copy bulletin board postings, web, and e-mail notification procedures to keep students and alumni informed regarding them. We work with Career Services and the Minority Engineering Program and refer students interested ininternship, co-op and long-term opportunities.

IV. Quality of Graduate Program

The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program (ITP) was founded in 1971 with a grant from the National Science Foundation under the leadership of three men: Dr. John Richardson, Director of the US Department of Commerce's Office of Telecommunications, Professor George Codding, Chairman of the CU Political Science Department, and Professor Frank Barnes, Chairman of the CU Electrical Engineering Department.

Worldwide, telecommunications issues involve economics, policy and law, sociology, business and finance, and technology. The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department (ITD) has responded with a healthy and evolving mix of courses involving Arts and Sciences, Business, Law, Journalism, and Engineering. ITD master's students graduate from the department prepared for management level positions in telecommunications and related fields. Since telecommunications issues are of high priority in every developed and developing nation on earth, it is understandable that nearly 38 percent of our student body is international students.

As stated in our latest strategic plan the ITD will implement a PhD degree program within the next three years with the guidance of our responsible deans. We have been able to add four new tenure-track professors this year with the change in status to department. In the fall semester of 2002 we have added additional classes in the network security field and hope to work with local industry to enlarge our role in this vital area. The strategic plan calls to increase the enrollment and add more faculty lines within the next three years.

The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department has the largest distance-learning program on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus with about 130 additional students. The distance learning student population equals the number of on-campus students. This gives the department a different challenge to provide these students a quality education. Our faculty and staff have become adept at producing distance learning instruction and working with off-campus students and responding to their needs.

We are in year five of a five-year Program of Excellence award from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The award provides $1.25M in funding for significant lab enhancements in the areas of optics, switching, radio frequency (wireless) and modeling, development of the International Center for Standards Research, and creation of a Visiting Fellows program. Recently the upgrade of the lab was accomplished with donations and purchases, giving ITD a laboratory technologically equal to many of the local telecommunications companies.

The International Center for Standards Research (ICSR), formed by the CCHE grant awarded four years ago, held an international standards conference (SIIT) on the Boulder Campus in fall 2001. Standards leaders from around the world attended and presented many important papers for publication.

With the addition of tenure track faculty we are actively searching for research grants and will continue to work toward the approval of a PhD degree. A report is included on these grants.

In 2002 Dr. Douglas C. Sicker was awarded grants in the following areas. Internet 2 awarded $6,000 to develop a federated Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) based video conferencing client. Cisco awarded $90,000 for a study of broadband demand. CCHE provided $67,000 to develop an Internet Applications laboratory, now housed in the Discovery Learning Center. SIPCOMM granted us source code worth $40,000 to develop and test SIP based emergency services (E911). Intel donated $110,000 worth of secure web servers to the Internet Application lab.

Professor Tim Brown has an ongoing grant as a Co-PI on NSF ITR/SII Energy and Quality of Service aware Ad-Hoc Networking for $500,000 for 2000-2003. He is also a PI on Concept Airborne Wireless Communication for $40,000 in 2002. Tim is a joint appointed associate professor. His funding must go through Electrical Engineering at this time. He is program director of the Interdisciplinary Conference, International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies 2003.

The ITD appointed a permanent Chairman for the first time in August 2002. Dr. Ray Nettleton's experience both in academia and in industry will be valuable to the department. Dr. Nettleton has been a leader in the telecommunications industry for over 30 years, during which time he has served as an engineer, manager, consultant, entrepreneur, corporate officer and educator.

He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1978. His thesis, on using CDMA techniques for cellular telephone systems, was controversial at the time, but has now won worldwide acceptance with the advent of third-generation cellular systems (3G). He was granted the first two patents on the technique.

Dr. Nettleton has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics, probability theory and electrical engineering full-time at Michigan State University and part-time at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. He is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and symposia, and has published some 80 papers and presentations. Dr. Nettleton's career has also encompassed work for the US Armed Forces on marine and airborne radio and satellite communication systems and for NASA on scientific satellite systems. He has advised the FCC and many regulators worldwide on matters pertaining to spectrum allocation. He came to Colorado in 1991 to direct the wireless R&D efforts at US West Advanced Technologies, building the PCS National Test bed in Boulder. He has worked with many graduates of CU's Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department. Most recently he was a co-founder of Formus Communications, a broadband fixed wireless loop company operating in Europe and Latin America.

V. Diversity of Graduate Population & Program

Men: 79%
Women: 21 %
Minority students: 14 %
International: 39%

The Department is fortunate to enjoy a rich mix of students in terms of academic background, age, nationality and number of years of work experience. Our degree and non-degree students are an interesting combination of cultural backgrounds, gender and experience. A student survey done recently by TSO (Telecom Student Organization) reported an average student age of 31 years, which makes our student body non- traditional in many respects. This average is dropping somewhat at the present time, with the addition of a five -year BS/MS Information/Telecommunications option for Business students. We currently have 12 concurrent BS/MS students earning this degree. In total we have had 40 concurrent degrees awarded at this time. Curricular requirements include technical, non-technical and programming/networking classes for all graduates. Students with very diverse undergraduate backgrounds work cooperatively to fulfill course assignments, using expertise in their respective fields to "coach" each other and explain unfamiliar concepts.

Almost half of the student body consists of working professionals in the telecommunication industry returning to the university to improve their knowledge in changing technical advances. These students take their classes both on campus and with the distance learning option (CATECS). The students admitted through CATECS receive either a MS or ME. We have added several classes in the evening that makes it possible for the working professionals to attend classes on campus and have the "in class experience" with their fellow students. Many of the students enter the program with eight to ten years of industry background, which enhances the educational experience for all.

Students from South America, the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia form study and support groups, which increase their retention and graduation rates and aid in recruitment of more students from their areas of the world. Once a month in conjunction with the weekly seminars the department sponsors a cultural dinner bringing more than 100 students together. These dinners are hosted by different ethnic groups within the department e.g. India, Latin America, China, and Taiwan. Students from all over the world share their food, culture, and music with a large group of students, faculty and staff. This event is very successful and both the faculty and staff attend and visit with the students.

VI. New Graduate Academic Initiatives

With cooperation from the Leeds School of Business we have created a five-year concurrent degree (BS/MS). We have had a total of 71 applicants for this degree and currently have 12 students enrolled and have graduated a total of 41 since the BS/MS degree was approved. We continue to receive applications for this successful program, are investigating the possibilities of similar BS/MS degrees with the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. We have in place a dual MBA/MS degree and will be marketing this degree jointly with the business school. We hope to obtain final approval for our joint JD/MS degree plan with the law school before the start of the 2003-2004 academic year.

With the addition of tenure track faculty we are actively searching for research grants and will continue to work toward the approval of a PhD degree.

The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Department has solidified its relationships with the Law School with tenure-track joint hire of Associate Professor Phil Weiser in January 1999. In the fall semester 2001 we added to the tenure-track faculty in the social sciences area, with Dr. Tom Lookabaugh (business/ engineering) and Dr. Scott Savage (economics). Dr. Savage is a native of Australia and adds to our diverse cultural environment. Dr. Douglas Sicker joined the department in January 2001, with a joint appointment in ITD and Computer Science and is experienced in the technical and networking aspects of telecommunications. With the addition of Dr. Nettleton this completes our new faculty.

Each semester we sponsor seminars on such topics as resume writing, job interview and follow-up techniques, effective writing and speaking skills. We have recently implemented a new course on research methods and writing to better prepare our graduates for the marketplace and more advanced studies. We are at the present time offering on-line courses to distance students, which provides additional support to all students through access to the web, leased lectures and educational materials. The web delivery encourages more interaction between faculty and students. The implementation of ITD Online, a web based application, gives the students a chat area to discuss questions on classes and additional access to the courses and professors.

The department is investigating presenting a summer program for local industry executives. This project is in the planning stage at the present time.

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Last revision 02/21/03


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