A Tale of Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication Systems Engineering
Two decades ago an interdisciplinary undergraduate program for Communication Systems Engineering was planned and suggested by Ben-Gurion University and approved by the Council for Higher Education of the State of Israel. Since then, hundreds of students have enrolled in this program and graduated successfully, and graduate programs in CSE were offered. The interdisciplinary nature of the undergraduate program enabled students to resolve their uncertainties over whether to study hardware- or software-oriented engineering programs. Many considered the CSE program a remarkable success during its early years, as it responded to the Israeli high-tech industry’s requirements and the students’ expectations. The graduate engineers of this program met the industry’s desperate requirements for skilled engineers in networking, communication equipment, and software during the pre- and post-bubble era of the Internet boom. However, a few years after its inception, this undergraduate program, or the department running it, or both, started to decline in many respects, mainly in the demand for this program, to the point where the department even considered closing it down. The decrease in demand stands in contradiction to the satisfaction of both students and graduates. This paper briefly describes this interdisciplinary undergraduate program, and the factors that could have influenced its success or failure.