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Computational Science And Engineering Introduces Masters Programs

By Akua F. Abu, Crimson Staff Writer

For the first time, the School of Engineering and Applied Science is accepting applications for its new graduate degree programs in Computational Science and Engineering. Students can now apply to pursue a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering in the field.

The new programs were introduced in an attempt to address the growing demand for advanced computational skills in a number of fields.

“Computational science is being regarded as the third way of approaching science—the other two being theory and experimentation,” said professor Efthimios Kaxiras, director of the Institute for Applied Computational Science. “It’s more and more important for data analysis today.”

Applications to the programs are open to new and current SEAS graduate students, as well as undergraduates pursuing the AB/SM combined bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Developments are also underway to extend the program to the undergraduate level through the creation of a new undergraduate secondary in the coming years.

“We definitely want to satisfy the interest expressed by undergraduates students in the field. At the moment, we’re working to make sure everything is in place,” Kaxiras said.

According to SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray, formal training in computational science and engineering has traditionally been lacking at the university level.

“It’s true that the national labs and industry are way ahead of academia in terms of dealing with huge amounts of data, “ said Murray. “Universities aren’t really training people who are able to handle that computational need. We aim to change that.”

Thirteen students enrolled in the graduate secondary field program in computational science when it was introduced last year. According to Cherry, the classes have received a positive response so far.

SEAS Communications Director Michael P. Rutter said that much of the demand has come from current graduate students who wish to apply computational analysis to fields such as systems biology and design.

Ru Sun, a SEAS Ph.D student, said that she felt the new program would assist her in conducting her own research.

“It’s an extension of study in my field and the background will be helpful when I try to find a job,” said Sun.

The programs’ curricula will include lectures from professionals at national labs and in the technical industry. Murray said that she hopes that the programs will serve to train future employees in these fields.

“[The new field] is really serving Harvard in a good way. It’s enabling students to do a lot more,” said Rutter.

—Staff writer Akua F. Abu can be reached at

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