SAN MARCOS — Cal State San Marcos officials did not have to look too far to find a founding partner for its fledgling engineering program.
Carlsbad-based communications giant Viasat recently gifted the university $1.5 million to become the founding partner in the university’s engineering program. The university will begin its Bachelor of Science in software engineering this fall and will offer a degree in electrical engineering anticipated in fall 2019.
University President Karen Haynes announced the gift during her annual report to the community on Feb. 7.
“Their visionary support will create the future Viasat Engineering Pavilion,” Haynes told attendees, “with funding to renovate classroom and lab space, purchase new equipment and instrumentation, and support the work of our faculty and students — quite literally creating pathways to educate the next generation of talented engineers.”
The university has been developing its engineering program since 2017, after a 2015 feasibility study conducted by the Educational Advisory Board on behalf of the university showed that the region badly needed an engineering program.
Viasat was involved in that study, part of a task force that structured the study along with General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and representatives of the university and MiraCosta College.
The study showed that local employment postings for software engineering-related positions jumped more than 72 percent between July 2013 and June 2015 and that postings for electrical engineers increased by more than 34 percent during the same period.
“Viasat is engaged with CSUSM and our community for the common good, moving forward together to enhance the intellectual and economic life of our region and the state,” said Katherine Kantardjieff, dean of CSUSM’s College of Science and Mathematics. “Viasat believes in the University’s importance in our region’s success.”
In addition, San Marcos-based Hunter Industries recently made a $100,000 gift to fund a design lab that, according to a news release, will be a hub of collaboration, hands-on design and innovation.
“Viasat and Hunter Industries are sending a strong message that an investment in CSUSM is a strong one, with qualified, workforce-ready graduates as the almost immediate return,” Haynes said. “Together, we are stepping forward to expand the boundaries of what is possible, for our university and for our region.”