New SEAS Engineering Field Planned

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ new mechanical engineering and electrical engineering concentrations will provide students with the opportunity for more unique and personalized plans of study.

Unlike the existing engineering sciences concentration, which requires students to choose an area of specialization, the new concentrations will be standalone options for those who are interested in a more focused academic experience.

In order to successfully seek accreditation for the new degrees, SEAS must develop new classes that satisfy specific requirements.

“Having a degree which says ‘Mechanical Engineering’ or ‘Electrical Engineering’ puts a couple more content constraints on it than just ‘Engineering Sciences,’” said SEAS Assistant Dean for Academic Programs Marie D. Dahleh.

The addition of the mechanical engineering concentration will be accompanied by a new upper division course that will satisfy accreditation requirements. According to Dahleh, SEAS “now has the faculty capacity” to do so.


Multiple new courses are also planned for the electrical engineering concentration.

“The current plan is to add a couple of upper division courses, at least one of which will be largely hands-on and laboratory design based,” said Dahleh.

The new concentrations will also provide employers with a better sense of a student’s background and skill set.

“It will help give them more credibility in the job market for certain careers,” said Samuel B. Kesner, a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at SEAS.

Dahleh noted that the structure of the engineering concentrations in SEAS will shift once the new concentrations are announced.

“Because we are creating these two focused concentrations, that allows us to free up engineering sciences, so it no longer has to be used as a mechanism to do an electrical engineering or mechanical engineering degree,” Dahleh said. “There will be some areas of focus, a breadth requirement, and a depth requirement, but it won’t be limited.”

Joost J. Vlassak, SEAS area dean for materials science and mechanical engineering, also emphasized the additional freedom that would be given to engineering sciences concentrators.

“For the students, this means that they will be able to tailor their Engineering Sciences program more to their own interests,” he said.

Dahleh suggested that the creation of the new concentrations was prompted by students’ desire to identify with their respective disciplines.

“If you say, ‘I have a degree in electrical engineering,’ people know what that means, whereas if you say to someone, ‘I have a degree in engineering sciences,’ it’s less clear,” said Dahleh. “They want that sense of identification both while they are here and when they go out into the workplace,” she said.