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Mech. E. Courses Overhauled

By Ifung Lu
Associate News Editor

A new undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum was approved by the department's faculty in November and will be implemented this upcoming fall term.

As a result, students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering will find a completely different selection of classes when they register next term.

Old classes such as Mechanics of Solids (2.01) and Introduction to Design (2.70) will be phased out to give way to a series of two-part classes such as Mechanics of Materials I and II (2.001 and 2.002), according to Professor Peter Griffith ScD '56, undergraduate officer for the department.

Students entering the department after June will be required to follow the new curriculum. The core classes of the old curriculum will continue to be offered through a transition period so that those students who are part way through the program will be able to complete the old program, Griffith said.

Equivalent new program courses can be substituted for old ones if scheduling problems require it, according to How to Get around the Mechanical Engineering Department, a guide for Course II majors.

Four new sequences required

The fundamental changes in the curriculum involve the introduction of four sequences of two classes each. The classes are 2.001 and 2.002, System Modeling and Control I and II (2.003 and 2.004), Design and Manufacturing I and II (2.005 and 2.006), and Thermal-Fluids Engineering I and II (2.007 and 2.008), according to Griffith.

In addition, students will be required to take a six-unit class, Mechanical Engineering Tools (2.670), offered only during Independent Activities Period. The class will teach students necessary machine shop and computer skills, Griffith said.

Students will also be required to choose from an expanding list of departmental electives in order to fulfill a 30-unit elective requirement.

The two-course sequences will not be like the aeronautics and astronautics department's Unified Engineering track (16.010, 16.020, 16.030, and 16.040), Griffith said. Although the two parts of any sequence will have to be taken in successive terms, each part will be offered both semesters. Students can thus start a sequence during the spring term and complete it the following fall.

These sequences will have less redundancy and more complete coverage than the courses they replace, Griffith said. All the major topics covered in the courses to be replaced will be covered in the new courses.

In addition, expanded management, economics, and products considerations will be incorporated into 2.005, 2.006, and Product-Engineering Process (2.009).

The traditional 2.70 design contest will be retained as part of 2.005 and 2.006, Griffith said.

Changes are industry-oriented

Griffith believes that the changes in the curriculum are part of the trend to satisfy the demand for industry-oriented engineers. "The demand for product-oriented people is strong," he said.

Students will benefit from concentrated study in basic engineering with some focus on product design and quality control early on, Griffith said. Students will be allowed freedom to select from a larger selection of electives to supplement their coursework later in the curriculum.

"I think for the variety of things MEs do when they graduate, this will be good for them. Breadth is more desirable than depth sometimes," Griffith said.

"It'll make the students more attractive as employees," Griffith said. It will allow them to "do something more than be just engineers - to become entrepreneurs, captains of industry."