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Six Additional Minors Offered

Jennifer C. Han

Starting this year, students will have the option to minor in six more subjects -- architecture, brain and cognitive science, civil engineering, environmental engineering, material science and engineering, and mechanical engineering.

The new minors are the result of a survey taken last spring to gauge student demand for minors in these subjects, in addition to the science and humanities minors already available, according to Jacob J. Seid '96, head of the Undergraduate Association Committee on Educational Policies.

The new minors were created to "give students an opportunity to receive credit for their endeavors," said committee member Michael Cho '96. The committee initially approached the department heads to discuss the creating minors in their departments. The committee then designed and distributed a survey that was distributed to undergraduates last spring.

Thirteen percent of the 800 students who received the survey responded. This represented about 20 percent of the students in each class.

The survey results indicated which minors would be most worthwhile and feasible, according to Seid. However, the final decision was still left to the individual departments.

Course I minors popular

Civil and environmental engineering showed the highest demand of the minors implemented this year, Seid said. The committee projected that 13 percent of undergraduates were interested in this minor.

Architecture and brain and cognitive minors were added to the School of Science because of student demand, Seid said. Previously they had been available through the School of Humanities.

The survey also indicated subjects with low demands for a minor program. The chemical engineering and the aeronautical and astronautics departments had under 7 percent and 3 percent demands. The committee concluded that minor programs in those departments would not be worthwhile, according to Seid.

On the other hand, although the survey showed the highest demands for management (26 percent of respondents) and electrical engineering and computer science minors (17 percent), these departments declined to implement minors.

According to Seid, the Sloan School of Management is currently too small to accommodate the interests of students, both in terms of staff and financial support. The Sloan School, which has about 40 students per class, would gain an additional 90 new students if it offered a minor program, based on the results of the survey.

The school is interested in creating a minor, but it still needs time and planning before the minor can be implemented, Seid said.

"A minor in the Sloan School of Management is enticing because everyone does science. It would be a break," said David K. Robinson '97.

Similarly, EECS is currently too busy planning and implementing its five-year Master of Engineering program to begin a minor program.

Many students interest in minors

A projected total of over 42 percent of MIT's science and engineering students are waiting to pursue an engineering minor "as soon as they become available," said Seid. There were not enough responses from students in other departments to provide an accurate projection, he added.

Many students approve of the new additions to the minor program.

"It helps to have a more structured program students can follow," said Judy C. Ascano '96. She added that students would also take a broader variety of classes in a subject. "I also think students would be more likely to take those classes if they could get a it on their diploma."

"I'm interested in architecture, but I wouldn't take architecture classes if I couldn't get a minor from it because I wouldn't see any practical reason to do it," said Suzanne M. Sears '96.

A minor program would "encourage students to be diverse and take classes outside their major," said Jonathan M. Walton '94. "It would be a way to recognize people who take classes outside their major."