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Two Course VI Classes Impose Limits on Spring Registration

By Priya Prahalad
StaffReporter

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (6.001) and Laboratory in Software Engineering (6.170) will have lotteried limited enrollment for the first time next term.

Registration for 6.001 and 6.170 during the spring term has been rising steadily in the last few years. In order to provide appropriate faculty and teaching assistantstaffing for these courses, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has decided to limit the number of enrolled students during the spring.

"Many of the courses within the department comprise their teaching staff from the same pool," said Frederick C. Hennie, the executive officer for EECS. "With such a high enrollment, there will not be enough support for the students."

Teaching in the classes will improve with limited enrollment, said Professor of EECSArthur C.Smith.

Last year, 425 students enrolled in 6.001, and well over 200 people took 6.170. The department will limit the enrollment of students in 6.001 to 350 students and 6.170 to 200 students next term.

Lottery to decide classes

The lottery used to select participants in 6.001 and 6.170 will be similar to those used for already lotteried classes such as Introduction to Experimental Biology (7.02) and Laboratory Chemistry (5.310), said Registrar Mary R. Callahan.

Upperclassmen, regardless of major, will be accepted into 6.001. The remainder of the 350 spots will be filled by freshmen who will be chosen randomly.

For 6.170, top priority will be given to Course VI Masters of Engineering students. Second priority will be given to seniors. According to Hennie, it is likely that all such students will be accepted into 6.170.

If any openings still remain, sophomores and juniors will be selected randomly to fill the quota. Students who are not selected for either subject in the spring term are guaranteed acceptance the following year in either the fall or spring term.

All students interested in 6.001 and 6.170 are required to preregister by the Dec. 31 preregistration deadline.

If the need arises to limit the enrollment in either of the classes following preregistration, those students who are not accepted will be notified of their status by mid-January. All students who preregister for either of these classes and are accepted are expected to take the course in the spring.

Students who are not accepted into the class may be placed on a waiting list. If there appears to be adequate space for additional students, they will be taken off the waiting list and enrolled in the class early in the term.

Lottery moves load to fall

Both 6.001 and 6.170 are offered in both the spring and fall terms. The registration for these courses is much smaller in the spring term than in the fall term. "We are not trying to cut down the total registration for these courses. We are just trying to move some of the registration from the spring term to the fall term to better staff the subjects," Hennie said.

Many freshmen voiced discontent with this plan. In response, Hennie said that the goal of this plan is not to exclude freshman from 6.001. "Although [some] freshmen do take 6.001 in the fall, freshmen mainly take 6.001 in the spring term. 6.001 is an intro-to-programming course, and it makes sense to take it as freshmen and sophomores. Freshmen can still take 6.001 in the fall."

"Putting 6.001 off until fall of sophomore year will not bring hardships to students," Smith said.

"Limiting enrollment in 6.170 and giving priority to MEng and seniors is a wise decision," said Joseph Kim '99. "Seniors require 6.170 to graduate, so they should be able to take it. It is bad that freshmen may not have the option of taking 6.001 in the spring, but 6.001 is not indicative of course VI as a whole."

Benjamin M. Adida G, a 6.001 tutor from spring 1998, said, "I'm very much against [limiting enrollment]. 6.001 is an amazing course for both CS students and non-CS students."

"In general, 6.001's open-door policy to all students, regardless of major and programming experience, is an embodiment of what course VI is about: a fun, exciting, open teaching environment," Adida said.

With 15 teaching assistants and tutors, the class easily handled 420 students last year, Adida said.