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SEAS Plans New Electrical Engineering Concentration

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is developing a new concentration in Electrical Engineering. Undergraduates hope that a more specialized program will help them in the job market.
The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is developing a new concentration in Electrical Engineering. Undergraduates hope that a more specialized program will help them in the job market. By Monica C Nesselbush
By Amy Guan and Radhika Jain, Crimson Staff Writers

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences plans to petition for a new concentration in Electrical Engineering—projected to be offered in fall 2012—in response to student desire for a more focused curriculum in the engineering sciences.

The concentration would have 20 required half-courses and give students a Bachelor of Sciences degree.

Current engineering science concentrators have the option to pursue one of five tracks within the umbrella Engineering Sciences concentration. The tracks offer specialization within a broader overview of various engineering disciplines but do not appear on a student’s diploma.

Students currently following the electrical engineering track within Engineering Sciences want a concentration specifically tailored to their future plans in the field, according to SEAS Electrical Engineering Area Dean Evelyn Hu.

“[Students] wanted more in terms of, okay I’ve chosen electrical engineering, but now given that I’ve gone through these courses here at Harvard, what can I do?” she said. “It’s a rapidly changing field, which means there is all kinds of stuff you need to know and understand specifically for electrical engineering.”

Hu said the idea of a new concentration was first introduced during a reexamination of SEAS’ mission and curriculum this past year. Both SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray and the engineering faculty have supported the planning process for the new concentration.

“Electrical engineering faculty say that in order to be viewed as a top engineering faculty, they have to have a very large and renowned discrete undergraduate concentration,” Murray said.

The expansion is one of many developments SEAS has undertaken to adjust the undergraduate engineering curriculum according to student interest. An electrical engineering concentration would follow the creation of the biomedical engineering concentration, which was introduced last year. Hu added that plans are also underway to create a distinct mechanical engineering concentration.

Engineering Sciences undergraduates are enthusiastic about the new concentration.

“Having [this] is definitely more professional sounding, and is a plus for students,” said Engineering Sciences concentrator William H. Marks ’12.

Fellow ES concentrator Ifedapo O. Omiwole ’12, who is currently pursuing the electrical engineering and computer science track, said that having a more specialized curriculum may help prepare students for graduate school and careers on the job market.

“[An] electrical engineering [degree] will make you feel more equipped and more comfortable for graduate school and as an electrical engineer,” he said.

—Staff writer Amy Guan can be reached at guan@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at radhikajain@college.harvard.edu.

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