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Course VI Remains Top Choice Among Sophomores

By Krista L. Niece
Associate News Editor

Once again, sophomores made Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course VI) their top choice of major with Mechanical Engineering (Course II) following a distant second.

Out of a class of 1,082, 689 students chose majors in the School of Engineering. Out of this total, 363 chose one of the divisions within Course VI and 121 chose either Course II or Course II-A.

The School of Science gained 267 students. Thirty students declared humanities majors, 24 went to the School of Architecture and Planning, and 53 joined the Sloan School of Management. Nineteen sophomores remained undesignated.

These numbers were compiled from the spring, when the then-freshman class declared their choice of major.

Course VIcontinues strength

Course VI, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, garnered the largest number of new members. This has been MIT's largest department for many years-- "since at least 1955, when I got here,"according to Department Head Paul Penfield Jr. ScD '60.

The major is divided into three programs: Electrical Science and Engineering (VI-1), Computer Science and Engineering(VI-3), and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (VI-2), which combines components of the other two. This year, the division of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science attracted 194 freshmen, more than the other two sections combined.

Penfield said that this has been a growing trend since the combined major was instituted. "[It's] a new program and the most difficult," since it does not involve the specialization of either VI-1 or VI-3, Penfield said. Penfield added that the growing popularity of VI-2 was probably due to the realization of students that, in the future, they would have "to know both sides,"both hardware and software.

Computer Science and Engineering gained 124 new members. Electrical Science and Engineering gained 45. This brings the total number of Course VIundergraduate students to 951.

Ocean Engineering grows

The smallest course in the School of Engineering almost doubled in size this year. Ocean Engineering (Course XIII) nearly closed ranks with second-smallest Nuclear Engineering when nine freshmen chose it as their major. There are now 19 undergraduates in Course XIII, only three fewer than in Nuclear Engineering.

The increase is "partly [due to] an effort on the part of the department," said Ocean Engineering professor A. Douglas Carmichael. He emphasized the impact of programs like the one which took place this summer, where thirty incoming students stayed on campus and built underwater aquatic vehicles. Programs like this one, designed to increase awareness of the Course XIII option, influence student choice, said Carmichael.

Some of the students are also joint majors in courses like Course II and Course VI. "A lot of [our graduates] go into software,"he said.

Some courses unchanged

Mechanical Engineering remains the second largest department at MIT. The department now totals 383 Course II undergraduates. Biology (Course VII), with just over a hundred new members and a total of 355 undergraduates, ranks first in size among the School of Science courses and third overall. Economics (Course XIV) is still the most popular major in the School of Humanities and Social Science, with 21 new members and a total of 91 undergraduates.