Vanderbilt School of Engineering offers new master of cyber-physical systems degree

A new master’s degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering is designed to prepare students to meet the dramatic rise in workforce needs in such high-profile fields as the Internet of Things – the advanced connectivity of devices and systems – the security of cyber domains, the smart grid and defense.

The new Cyber-Physical Systems professional master’s degree program is scheduled to begin classes in August 2017. The 12-month, 30-hour interdisciplinary program aims to put graduates on a fast career path in companies of all sizes and in a variety of industries related to IoT that are critical to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.


“This master’s engineering program is ideally suited for STEM professionals already working in industry who want to accelerate their careers and pursue a career path in CPS, and students with a baccalaureate degree in engineering or math or physical sciences,” said Xenofon Koutsoukos, faculty director of the CPS master’s program and professor of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering.

“We envision a flexible academic curriculum that allows students to tailor their studies to personal interests and goals by selecting not only foundational computer science courses but also courses in mechanical, biomedical, and civil engineering – engineering disciplines profoundly impacted by the IoT,” Koutsoukos said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment of computer systems workers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in cloud computing, cybersecurity, and mobile networks is increasing demand for these workers. In the cybersecurity sector, more than 209,000 jobs in the United States are unfilled, and postings are up 74% over the past five years, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

CPS technologies employ sensors, processors and actuators to enable computers to perform dynamically in the physical world. They are used in cruise control mechanisms in passenger cars, auto-pilot systems in aircraft, control mechanisms in prosthetics, and futuristic robotic devices for search and rescue. CPSs also are core to the functioning of medical devices, energy-efficient structures, and advanced manufacturing.

“Vanderbilt University is a global leader in CPS research, receiving substantial funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health, among others, for significant research projects in energy, transportation, health care and defense,” said Philippe Fauchet, dean of the School of Engineering. “CPS-related research at Vanderbilt has been truly interdisciplinary, integrating efforts across multiple engineering departments and institutes.”

Beyond courses in computer science and engineering, students will acquire leadership skills by selecting graduate engineering management courses and completing a capstone project in institutes and laboratories that conduct research in CPS, such as the Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems, Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering, and the Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability.

The Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems hosts the CPS Virtual Organization (CPS-VO) – the national hub and portal for CPS research. Currently the site has more than 10,000 users from academia, government and industry. A number of engineering faculty hold leadership positions in the global CPS community, including professional organizations, conferences, steering committees and editorial boards.

“Systems today – everything from pacemakers to remotely piloted aircraft to the power grid – are complex, and the processes used to build the software platforms that make them work are surprisingly creative. More importantly, these processes leverage decades of R&D on innovative tools and methods – the kind of innovative software design work going on at our institute every day to ensure software and hardware integrate together successfully,” said Janos Sztipanovits, Director of Institute for Software Integrated Systems and E. Bronson Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering.

The admissions requirements for the CPS master degree program include an online application, academic performance in previous degrees, resume or curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and, if applicable, GRE and TOEFL scores.

The online application will be available January 2017, and the deadline to apply is March 15, 2017. Candidates are encouraged to contact Michele Cedzich [] at 615 322-3838.

For more information on the CPS master’s program, visit the program’s website (

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering