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Aero/Astro Implements 2 New Degree Programs

By Kevin Subramanya
Staff Writer

A two-and-a-half-year effort has produced a substantially revised undergraduate degree program and created of a new graduate degree in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

"This major revision is designed for the future aerospace industry," said Professor Earll M. Murman, who heads the department. "The last time the department had changed its undergraduate curriculum was eighteen years ago. And since the world is changing rapidly, we needed a curriculum that includes more content and information in the engineering sciences" as well as one that brings students up to date on critical aerospace technology, he said.

Murman highlighted three advantages of the new bachelor of science program. In addition to making the curriculum more up to date, the program offers more options for specialization and gives students the opportunity to study at an advanced level by taking a graduate course.

The new program will stress three skills as part of it's "implicit curriculum," according to the department's literature. First, technical skills and knowledge, such as modeling, design, self-education, and computer utilization, will be emphasized. Second, management and communication skills will be stressed with a special focus on group behavior. Finally, good citizenship, including meeting ethical norms and personal responsibilities, will be emphasized.

The current aerospace degree options of "regular" and "avionics" will be eliminated in the new undergraduate program.

Two required undergraduate courses, Material Technology (3.094) and Introduction to Electronics (6.071), will be replaced in the new program. Instead, students will be required to take Probability and Statistics (6.041) and a new version of Physics III (8.03), which will be taught within the department.

The department will continue to emphasize strong preparatory courses in mathematics, basic sciences, and engineering science. They will also maintain Unified Engineering (16.001, 16.002, 16.003, 16.004), the experimental project series, and the senior design project.

Thomas P. Tierney '95, an aeronautics and astronautics student, said he supports the department's intentions, but the transition for the class of 1995 will be uncomfortable. "I'll have to take four Course XVI classes next term," he said.

Changes at the graduate level

The department will also offer a new graduate level MEng degree which will take one academic year to complete. "Only two departments on campus have this type of five-year program, [Course VI and XVI]," Murman said.

The MEng degree will require a thesis which will introduce students to systems design. "It is also complementary to the new S.B. and it fits in very well with students that want to enter the work force," Murman said. "It will take a couple of years before we introduce it."

The MEng degree program will be accessible to MIT and non-MIT students who apply to graduate school.