WVU biometrics program featured in guide to unique college programs

By The West Virginia Record | Mar 9, 2006

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University 's biometric systems major, the only one of its kind in the nation, is featured in a recently published guidebook to interesting, lucrative and cutting-edge college majors unknown to many.

"They Teach That in College!?" – published recently by College and Career Press – includes a chapter on WVU's bachelor's degree program in biometric systems, a multidisciplinary major housed within the University's College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

The book also includes an interview with Larry Hornak, a professor in WVU's Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

According to Hornak, biometric identification is the science of establishing human identity through the use of systems which capture particular traits of an individual – such as iris pattern, fingerprint, face, hand or voice – then process that information and compare it to previously captured information to see if there is a match.

The use of biometric systems is growing rapidly in banking, law enforcement, health care and a wide variety of other fields, and the rapid advance of technology promises to extend these applications further.

"Biometric identification is a highly interdisciplinary field," Hornak said. "Students receive a firm foundation in electrical and computer engineering and computer science, along with a background in mathematics, statistics and physical sciences -- complemented by general studies."

Engineering design experiences begin in the very first semester, and conclude with a two-semester design course in the senior year in which students form teams to plan and build biometric systems and subsystems of their very own.

"Career prospects for biometrics systems graduates are excellent," Hornak said. "There is tremendous opportunity for our graduates to shape the future, as biometrics technology is being used in more and more areas of our daily lives."

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