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Course VI-2 Receives Accreditation

By David D. Hsu
News Editor

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree section Course VI-2 has been officially accredited by two national boards.

"The VI-2 program had never been accredited before because it's a new program," said Head of EECS Paul L. Penfield Jr. ScD '60.

The VI-2 major has only been around for about three years, said Administrator Anne M. Hunter.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and the Computer Science Accreditation Board sent in their official letters to MIT this week which "means that those boards have given their stamp of approval to our major program," Hunter said.

The accreditation process has been going on for decades, Penfield said. The VI-2 major started the accreditation process last year.

During the spring of 1995, the EECS Department prepared written material and submitted applications for accreditation, Penfield said. During the following fall term, both accreditation boards sent teams to visit MIT.

The teams looked over the VI-2 program in several aspects.

The accreditation boards looked over class descriptions, talked to students, faculty, and staff, and looked at Barker Library, Penfield said. The teams also talked to people in the School of Science and in in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, since students must take science and HASS classes to graduate.

The CSAB group did have a few problems with the VI-2 major requirements, Hunter said.

The EECS Department was also aware of the problems and worked quickly to make the changes, Penfield said.

The requirements were changed so that students in VI-2 must take two classes in an electrical engineering concentration and two classes in a computer science concentration, Penfield said. Before, students could freely choose their engineering concentration classes.

These new requirements will not affect juniors and seniors, Hunter said.

The VI-2 program was also accredited retroactively for the past two years, Penfield said. This means that anyone who ever graduated with a VI-2 degree has an accredited degree.

"When you ask for accreditation of new programs, you can ask for retroactive accreditation," Penfield said. "We asked for it for two years. We did get it."

"We're very happy with that," Hunter said. "It was unexpected."

Accreditation influences some

Penfield does not anticipate the accreditation to affect the distribution of Course VI majors. "People choose majors based on what's the most exciting thing in their lives," he said. "They usually don't make the judgment on whether it's accredited."

About 32 percent of Course VI sophomores and 46 percent of Course VI juniors are majoring in VI-2, Hunter said.

The distribution of VI-1, VI-2, and VI-3 majors has been "fluctuating wildly," Hunter said. Hunter expects more VI-2 majors because of the accreditation.

Some students deciding to major in EECS were influenced by the previous lack of accreditation for VI-2.

Erwin K. Lau '99 said that the accreditation factor affected his decision to major in VI-2. Although Lau knew that VI-2 was not accredited, what that meant for students in terms of getting a job or into graduate school was not defined, he said.

"As I talked to more people, I found out what being accredited meant," Lau said. After he talked to people, the lack of accreditation "didn't mean much to me after a while."

"I think with coming years, more people will go for the major," Lau said.

Lara M. Karbiner '97, a VI-3 student, was not affected by the accreditation factor, she said. Karbiner was not aware that VI-2 had not been accredited.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on 9/6/96.
Volume 116, Number 39.
The story began on page 1 and jumped to page 17.

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