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Faculty Discuss New Degree Possibilities

By Kelley Rivoire


The faculty met on Wednesday, with discussion dominated by proposed changes to undergraduate and graduate degree options.

The faculty approved a Master of Engineering degree in Manufacturing, heard a proposal for a Master of Engineering in Computation for Design and Optimization, and heard remarks concerning a possible undergraduate minor in Management. A special faculty meeting on the proposed merger of Ocean Engineering and Mechanical Engineering will be held on Nov. 29.

Manufacturing MEng approved

A Master of Engineering in Manufacturing in the Department of Mechanical Engineering was approved by the faculty for 2005 admissions.

According to the program Web site, the program, a year in duration, is directed toward students with engineering degrees and work experience who are interested in technical and management leadership in manufacturing.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering David E. Hardt PhD ’79 said between 15 and 25 students are expected to enroll in the degree program. The Singapore-MIT Alliance will provide some fellowships for the program, he said.

Motion for SM in Computation

The faculty approved a motion for an interdepartmental Master of Science in Computation for Design and Optimization (CDO). The faculty will vote on the degree in the Dec. 15 Faculty Meeting.

Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor Jaime Peraire, who would co-direct the CDO program, said that “computation has really changed the way we work in every discipline” in last 30 years necessitating the development of this degree program. An “external and internal demand” exists for graduates with interests in computation, and this degree program would provide a certification of computational literacy, he said.

Presently, he said, more than fifteen faculty list computation as a key research interest.

Peraire said the program would start with 25 students and expand to 35 students after three years.

The projected time to a degree would be two years for students with Research or Teaching Assistantships, and 12 to 18 months for students with outside support.

The key courses for the major are already in place, were developed as part of the SMA program, and have been popular with students, Peraire said.

The Singapore-MIT Appliance will provide 16 fellowships a year for the first five years of the program, Peraire said.

Sloan minor possible

Professor Thomas A. Kochan led a preliminary discussion about a possible minor in management.

Under the current plan, an initial lottery for the Class of 2005 students interested in the minor would occur this Spring, with enrollment capped at 100. The lottery process would continue for four years, until 2009, when the minor would be evaluated. If it is approved permanently, the enrollment cap would be lifted, he said.

The idea for the minor was the result of substantial student interest in three surveys taken over the past 11 years and a “broad base of interest from around the Institute,” Kochan said.

The minor would aim to teach students how organizations function in the real world, something Kachan has heard employers complain MIT graduates often lack.

The minor would consist of six courses, four required and two electives. The four required classes would be Microeconomics, Corporate Financial Accounting, Marketing Management, and People and Organizations, with the People and Organizations subject developed specifically for the minor. In addition, an optional fieldwork experience and subsequent subject in Leadership and Change would be encouraged, Kochan said.

Since the minor would initially be lotteried, Kochan said that the Sloan School would make it “very clear to students when they apply to the lottery... what they are committing to.”

Kochan anticipates that the minor program “could have a very big impact on other undergraduate institutions.”

OE meeting on Monday

Chair of the Faculty and Professor Rafael L. Bras ’72 announced that a special Faculty Meeting called by President Charles M. Vest will be held on Monday, November 29, solely for discussion of the proposed merger of the Departments of Ocean Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Bras said the proposal is the result of an exhaustive process of more than two years of work and three committees.

A committee to review the merger proposal, chaired by Professor Steven R. Tannenbaum, has issued a preliminary report to Vest, with the final report due at the end of the week, Bras said.

The meeting will be held Nov. 29 in order to decide the outcome of the merger under Vest’s presidency to preserve continuity, as Vest has been involved with the process, Bras said.

Bras said the merger would be the only item on the agenda as it is an “issue of significance” that “requires special attention.”