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School of Engineering

Course III -- Materials Science and Engineering

“In Materials Science you get to build stuff,” says Nancy Herron, administrator in Course III. This “stuff” covers a range of subjects treated by Course III including physics, chemistry, and various types of engineering.

Nearly two thirds of the undergraduates in the major choose Course III-B, which substitutes two summer internships for the undergraduate thesis. Students work during the summers after their sophomore and junior years and submit papers at the summer’s end.

Students with specific interests outside Course III may opt for the III-A program, an “opportunity to tailor-make your program,” Herron said. This is recommended for students who have serious interest outside Course III, particularly those considering medical school.” Course III-C, Archaeology and Materials, is another option that is new this year.

Class sizes in Course III range from about 15 to 40 people, said Professor of Material Science Ronald M. Latanision. The two required labs usually consist of 20 students each and are designed to complement UROP activity and internships. Most students have UROPs, he said. One student, Marc A. Sadler ’00 has had no trouble finding projects: his freshman year he worked with the first professor he asked about a UROP.

Undergraduates in Course III are assigned an undergraduate adviser their sophomore year and stay with that adviser until graduation. There are two undergraduate advisers per MIT class, so each adviser has about 60 students.

Students with III-B internships have internship advisors as well as faculty advisors, and during the summers have an additional advisor on site, Herron said.

Most students go on to graduate school, but an increasing number take jobs immediately, Latanision said. Such jobs offer salaries generally between 42 and 55 thousand. An average salary for a PhD graduate in Course III would be $70,000, according to the office of career services.

The Society of Undergraduate Materials Scientists (SUMS), hosts speakers at monthly meetings, and plans to organize social activities as well, said Sadler, who is treasurer of SUMS. Sadler and Cheng-Han Chen ’00, SUMS president, also hope to host picnics and other social events, and “extend outward,” said Sadler. “We'll try to get more interaction with the faculty,” Chen said.

Sadler urges students interested in Materials Science to go talk to professors who are very willing to answer questions. -- Karen Robinson