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Course 2-A curriculum sees major changes

The Department of Mechanical Engineering (Course 2) is making major changes to its 2-A program, which will take effect for the Class of 2016. A pilot program for current freshmen who choose to opt in will take place in Fall 2012.

Course 2-A is a modified, more flexible version of the traditional Course 2 track; in 2-A, students declare 72-unit concentrations in a related engineering discipline of their own choice — for example, biomedical engineering or product development. In the traditional Course 2 track, students have more required departmental core subjects in place of the concentration.

The most significant change for the new 2-A program is that nearly every 2.00x class — with the exception of 2.009 (Product Engineering Process) — will have a 2.0x analog, designed specifically for the 2-A curriculum.

Each 2.0x class will be six units. Some like 2.00 (Introduction to Design) will be taught for an entire semester, while the majority will run for half a semester, to be taken sequentially. For example, a student would take 2.01 (Elements of Structures) for the first quarter and then take either 2.02A (Mechanics of Materials: Properties and Applications) or 2.02B (Mechanics of Structures) the second quarter.

The program will also require a 12-unit “Engineering Mathematics” class on linear algebra and ordinary differential equations, as well as a six-unit probability and statistics class. These classes will replace 18.03 (Differential Equations), which will no longer be required. As in the old 2-A curriculum, a concentration will still require 72 units.

Brandy Baker, the Course 2 undergraduate academic administrator, said that these changes came about because of growing enrollment in the 2-A program, as well as a desire to better meet the needs of 2-A students.

“In the past, especially since we became accredited, 2-A has seen a large increase in enrollment — about 40 – 45 percent of Course 2 is 2-A,” said Baker. “When the faculty reviewed the curriculum, the department realized there were enough students that we could design a curriculum specifically for 2-A. We’ve introduced six-unit classes to make the curriculum more modular, and we’ve added new classes to fulfill needs that students have been asking about for a long time, such as 2.678 (Electronics for Mechanical Systems).”

Current freshmen who plan to declare Course 2-A will have the option to participate in the new 2-A pilot program or stay with the present 2-A curriculum, as part of a transition plan. Eight new classes for the new 2-A curriculum will be offered in the fall.

The department will be holding an info session today at noon in 1-390. Two more info sessions will follow on April 20 during CPW and on April 24.

—Deborah Chen