Sunday, January 17, 2010

Engineering at Dartmouth: Some Frequently Asked Questions

Note: To begin what we hope will become a semi-regular feature on this blog, we invited Professor Erland Schulson of the Thayer School of Engineering to answer some frequently asked questions about studying engineering at Dartmouth. In the future, we hope to have similar guest posts from faculty and staff representing various areas of the college. If there are academic or extracurricular topics you would enjoy reading more about on this blog, please leave a comment on this post with your suggestions. -Brian

Guest Post by Professor Erland Schulson
Char, Engineering Sciences Department

Dartmouth and the Thayer School of Engineering believe that nothing should stand in the way of creativity, collaboration, and innovation. That’s why you won’t find departments at Thayer, and you won’t be limited to a single area of engineering. Instead, you’ll study Engineering Sciences. You’ll master broad principles you can apply in all areas of engineering as you solve real-world problems. You’ll explore a variety of disciplines before delving into a specialty of your choice.

1) How is the undergraduate program structured in the absence of engineering departments?

A single department brings together faculty with expertise in a range of engineering and science disciplines. Students are mentored by teachers who are not only experts in one or more fields but also generalists who can envision solutions that cut across traditional disciplines.

During the A.B. program, core engineering courses give students tools that are applicable to all fields while electives allow the student to investigate a field of choice.

At the heart of the undergraduate curriculum is systems analysis. Not mechanical systems or electrical systems or thermal systems. Systems. Students apply equations for lumped, discrete, and distributed systems to engineering problems from all fields.

In our “Introduction to Engineering” course, you’ll team with other students to meet a real-life challenge, such as devising a way to conserve energy, easing life for people with physical disabilities, or helping children learn. In our core courses you’ll master principles you can apply to all areas of engineering. You’ll delve into various fields — biomedical, materials science, and mechanical, to name a few.

2) I do want to work in a specific area within engineering. Is it possible to prepare for such a career at Dartmouth?

Absolutely. At Dartmouth you can select a concentration in a particular area of engineering. This coursework focus, combined with projects and/or internships in a particular field, prepares students well for launching careers in a variety of traditional engineering disciplines.

3) The A.B. degree in Engineering Sciences does not lead to professional licensure as an Engineer. What educational and career paths do students pursue with an A.B. degree?

Approximately three-quarters of engineering majors acquire Dartmouth’s professional B.E. degree, and most of the rest go into a variety of full-time employment. Opportunities for A.B.-only graduates include:
· Lab technician
· Computer design and analysis
· Technical sales, marketing, and public relations
· Financial consulting
· Technical writing
· Science and technology public policy
Of course many students also go on to Master’s and Ph.D. programs, not only in engineering but also in other fields such as medicine, business, and law.

4) What areas of concentration are available through the B.E. degree option?

Although engineering at Dartmouth is cross-disciplinary, students can also pursue interests in traditional engineering fields. Engineering sciences majors who plan to pursue the B.E. program work with faculty advisors to develop the best programs. The sample programs accessed through the list below show the typical foundation and advanced courses for specific engineering fields.

Biomedical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Computer Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Environmental Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

5) How does Thayer's approach enhance the engineering student experience at Dartmouth?

Most engineering schools advocate interdisciplinary thinking while still requiring a commitment to a specific discipline. Climb into the box first, they say, then think outside it. For Dartmouth engineers, the box does not exist.

You'll learn engineering by solving real engineering problems. Even in your initial courses, you'll be inventing things and analyzing problems using tools common to all engineering disciplines.

At Dartmouth—the smallest school in the Ivy League—you'll also experience unparalleled personal attention within a close-knit, collaborative community.

And because engineering at Dartmouth is part of the liberal arts, you'll gain the skills and knowledge that distinguish Dartmouth engineers as a breed apart. You'll know how to communicate. You'll know how to see the big picture . And, most importantly, you’ll learn how to work with people to get the job done.


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