The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 29.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Programs could affect Course VI

Second in a two-part series examining freshmen choices of majors.

A Registrar's Office survey of freshmen majors indicated that new alternative programs to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) may have played a role in the apparent decrease in EECS enrollment for the Class of 1988. Seventy-five percent of the freshmen class responded to the survey.

The Course VIII-A option in Physics with Electrical Engineering attracted 18 students, according to the survey. The Course XVIII program in Mathematics and Computer Science attracted ten students. The faculty approved both programs this spring.

The new physics option was proposed to "open up the possibility of majoring in physics for those people who thought they had to major in engineering to find good jobs," said Alan J. Lazarus '53, undergraduate academic officer in the Department of Physics.

The VIII-A students "will receive a good education in physics and fulfill the major requirements for the EE degree," Lazarus said. He stressed that students completing the new option would be knowledgeable about present technology and would also have a firm analytical background from studying the basic sciences.

The numbers from the survey were "very heartening," Lazarus said. The physics department had been unsure how many freshmen would be interested in the option, he added.

The freshmen who chose the new mathematics program might have enrolled in computer science or double-majored in computer science and mathematics if the new degree had not existed, said Joanne Murray, undergraduate officer in the Department of Mathematics.

The Registrar's Office survey indicated 16 freshmen planned to enroll in Course XV for next year. The Class of 1987 has 35 management majors, according to the Registrar, but previous sophomore classes have enrolled around 15 majors, said Esther Merrill, coordinator of the Management Undergraduate Program.

"It matches pretty well with what we expected," said Jeffrey A. Meldman '65, director of the Management Undergraduate Program. "Our enrollment remains significantly higher than in previous years."

Meldman attributed the general rise in enrollment in Course XV over the past few years to several reasons. "I would guess that the MIS [Management Information Systems] option is the major reason," he said.

"We beefed-up the curriculum to make it a little more attractive to those interested in quantitative methods," Meldman added. "Once we felt we had a more solid curriculum, we began promoting it more. We had a booklet for the first time this year."