Harvard College students will now be able to pursue standalone S.B. degree programs in Electrical Engineering (EE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME) offered by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).
The programs, which will debut in the Fall of 2012, were unanimously approved at the May 1st Faculty Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).
SEAS currently offers A.B. and S.B. degrees in Engineering Sciences. The A.B. in Engineering Sciences requires 14-16 courses while the S.B. degree requires 20 courses. The S.B. degree is ABET-accredited and currently the only S.B. degree at Harvard.
SEAS plans to seek ABET accreditation for both S.B. degrees in EE and ME in the coming years. (ABET provides specialized, programmatic accreditation that evaluates an individual program of study, rather than evaluating an institution as a whole. Harvard first received ABET accreditation in 1962 for Engineering Sciences.)
The accreditation is retroactive, hence, once the programs are accredited, SEAS graduates can seek licensure. Accreditation typically requires the program to have existed for at least 4-5 years and demonstrate students that graduate from the program. However, given the current accredited S.B. in ES already exists, it may be possible to accelerate the process.
With the newly created Biomedical Engineering concentration already in place and new EE and ME concentrations approved, the existing Engineering Sciences concentration (which allows students to specialize in one of the following tracks) will evolve, de-emphasizing separate tracks in favor of a highly interdisciplinary integrative program that the Engineering Sciences concentration is ideally suited to provide.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the rationale for the new degree programs?
We have singular advantages in defining new Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering concentrations relevant to today’s student and today’s challenges Moreover, both degree programs are standard at peer institutions and our own students and faculty have voiced significant and growing interested in developing stand-alone S.B. degree programs. The aim is to broaden our technical offerings while staying true to our liberal arts core.
A focused Electrical Engineering will help to solidify basic underlying scientific and engineering principles and allow our students to hone life-long skills to question, analyze, and develop solutions to all of the challenges that they and the world will face. Likewise, the S.B. degree in Mechanical Engineering, a field that underlies almost all advances in engineering and science, addresses an obvious desire voiced by our students and faculty.
Both degrees will require 20 courses and will provide in-depth study on a broad scope of topics. The new degrees are positioned to become robust concentrations from their inception. Roughly 20% of our current Engineering Sciences concentrators will likely switch to the Electrical Engineering concentration once it is available and nearly half of our current Engineering Science concentrators are already pursuing the Mechanical and Material Science and Engineering track.
Further, we plan to seek ABET accreditation for both S.B. degrees in EE and ME in the coming years. (ABET provides specialized, programmatic accreditation that evaluates an individual program of study, rather than evaluating an institution as a whole. Harvard first received ABET accreditation in 1962 for Engineering Sciences.) The accreditation is retroactive, hence, once the programs are accredited, our graduates can seek licensure. Accreditation typically requires the program to have existed for at least 4-5 years and demonstrate students that graduate from the program. However, given the current accredited S.B. in ES already exists, it may be possible to accelerate the process, which we will discuss with ABET.
Engineering has evolved more deeply into specific fields, while continuing to seek out solutions to real-world problems by combining concepts from a broad range of scientific inquiry and innovations. With the future Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering concentrations, we aim to modify the existing Engineering Sciences concentration to be broader and more flexible. The revised program will provide a flexible framework that allows students to assemble courses that better accommodate interdisciplinary study and interests, while still maintaining a close connection to the broader liberal arts experience.
What are SEAS’ plans for advising?
We believe there are several components to advising: (i) helping students understand the different SEAS concentrations and requirements, and guidance at the time of declaring a concentration; (ii) guidance through the concentration; and (iii) how to move between concentrations.
As the number of concentrators in ES (and SEAS overall) continues to grow, we have plans for (some already in place) a solid support structure to ensure thorough student advising through the newly proposed and existing concentrations. Advising will rely heavily upon DUSes, ADUSes, and the broader faculty.
- Each concentration has Directors of Undergraduate Studies (DUSes) that play a leading role in student advising. Due to the broad scope of the current Engineering Sciences concentration, we also have consulting DUSes for the mechanical, environmental, and biological engineering tracks within ES. The co-DUSes for ES are currently both from EE.
- DUSes are usually senior ladder faculty (with some exceptions).
- We have Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies (ADUS) positions whose primary role is student advising, but who also teach intro-level courses. SEAS currently has two wonderful ADUSes in AM and BME. We have three searches in process for ADUSes in mechanical, environmental, and broad engineering (with focus toward EE).
- The ADUSes will be at the forefront of advising students to help them navigate through the different concentrations, course requirements, internship opportunities, career advising, etc. However, we also fully expect faculty advisors assigned to students to provide additional focused advising.
- With the introduction of new concentrations in EE and ME, we plan to have DUSes in EE, ME, and ES. These three DUSes will be able to provide better focused advising to students interested in specific areas of engineering, which is currently lacking. For example, the DUSes can better match incoming concentrators with faculty advisors.
- †There are two SEAS committees in place to set high-level guidelines on concentrations and advising. The ES Committee on Undergraduate Education oversees engineering sciences specifically. Another, broader committee on undergraduate education at SEAS coordinates activities across all concentrations at SEAS (AM, CS, and ES). These committees are largely comprised of the DUSes, consulting DUSes, ADUSes, and staff from the SEAS Student Affairs Office (SAO).
Before and time of concentration declaration:
The Assistant Dean for Academic Programs at SEAS, Marie Dahleh, coordinates much of the pre-concentration activities. She works with the SAO staff, DUSes, and ADUSes to ensure that SEAS has a solid presence in the numerous Harvard College advising fairs (e.g., before Fall term and Advising Fortnight). In recent years, we’ve been able to enhance faculty involvement in these activities.
The DUSes and ADUSes will play a critical role in fielding questions from prospective concentrators such as: the differences between A.B. and S.B. degrees; the differences between EE, ME, and ES concentrations; Math and Science (i.e., Physics) preparations; etc.
Guidance through the concentration
Once students have declared a concentration, the DUSes and ADUSes will match each concentrator with appropriate faculty advisors. These faculty advisors will provide broad advising in terms of course selection and understanding of what the concentration entails.
The DUSes and ADUSes will provide more detailed advising in terms of course requirements and procedures. They will also be at the frontlines to raise potential issues to the broader faculty. For example, as the newly proposed EE and ME concentrations seek out ABET accreditation, there may be several issues that arise in regard to what meets or does not meet the requirements.