EECS completes first year with new undergraduate curriculum

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 5:00pm

The new EECS undergraduate curriculum, introduced for the 2016-2017 academic year, is off to a strong start, says EECS Undergraduate Officer Chris Terman.

The new degree requirements, which apply to students in the class of 2020 and beyond, are designed to:

  • Enable majors to engage earlier with core EECS material by cutting back the introductory requirement.

  • Serve students with a broad range of backgrounds by making a smoother introduction to software.

  • Allow more flexibility within the curriculum.

  • Sharpen the specifications of Laboratory and Advanced Undergraduate Subjectss requirements.

  • Improve the major-project experience for students and faculty.

"The new curriculum puts more choice in students’ hands, while providing a solid grounding in the essential elements of an education in electrical engineering and computer science,” Anantha Chandrakasan, then EECS department head, said in announcing the change last year. (Chandrakasan has since become dean of the School of Engineering.)

Students in the classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019 could choose to continue using the old requirements or switch to the new requirements in fall 2016. Of the 1,580 undergraduate majors and master’s of engineering (MEng) students in the department’s database, 572 have chosen the new program, and 1,008 have remained in the old program, Terman says: "Upperclassmen are allowed to switch, but, of course, seniors and MEng students who are close to finishing under the old program would probably not find switching to their advantage."

Key changes to the curriculum include reducing the number of introductory subjects and math foundation courses from two each to one each. The new program also adds two elective subjects to the 6-1 (electrical science and engineering) and 6-2 (electrical engineering and computer science) majors, and one elective subject to the 6-3 (computer science and engineering) major. The 6-7 (computer science and molecular biology) major requirements were revised to refer to the next generation of software and biology subjects, but the overall scope of the 6-7 major is unchanged, Terman says.

 Going forward, two department committees — one for electrical engineering and one for computer science — are considering additional new subjects at the foundation and header levels. "I think we’ll see these courses start to appear in the coming academic year," Terman says.

 For more information on the new undergraduate curriculum, visit eecs.mit.edu/curriculum2016.