Technology's enormous influence on society has created a large demand for engineering graduates in the professional practice of engineering and beyond. An engineering education from MIT provides students with exceptional opportunities to define and impact the future of their fields, as well as related areas such as medicine, management, law, and government. Never have the challenges and opportunities of engineering been more exciting or more critical to the long-term well-being of society than they are today.
In a world increasingly influenced by scientific and technological innovation, engineers provide important leadership to society. By creating, developing, and managing complex technologies and products, they play a crucial role in contributing to the betterment of humanity and in shaping our world. Seeking solutions to the most difficult challenges of our day in the context of physical, economic, human, political, legal, and cultural realities makes engineering a tremendously rewarding endeavor.
The first-year curriculum for undergraduates includes physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, and the humanities, arts, and social sciences. An undergraduate student normally becomes affiliated with a particular department at the beginning of sophomore year and works closely with an advisor from that department or program to shape their course of study. Students who would like to explore an engineering major are encouraged to seek out and get involved with one of the engineering departments during freshman year. Nearly every engineering department offers exciting subjects that introduce freshmen to engineering. Freshman Advising Seminars bring students together in small groups with engineering faculty. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Projects (UROPs) are a great way to delve into cutting-edge engineering research.
Once a student chooses an undergraduate major, there are many opportunities for individual initiatives. For example, the flexible engineering degree program offers students in select departments the opportunity to satisfy department-based core requirements and declare an additional concentration, which can be broad and interdisciplinary in nature (energy, transportation, or the environment), or focused on areas that can be applied to multiple fields (robotics and controls, computational engineering, or engineering management). Students may also elect to create their own concentrations under supervision from department faculty. In addition, many undergraduates combine their primary major with a second one in another area, such as management, political science, economics, one of the sciences, or another area of engineering. Others organize their programs so they can receive both undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously. A series of minor programs from across the Institute is also available.
Engineering education has been at the core of the Institute's mission since its founding in 1861. MIT created the contemporary model of engineering education grounded in a dynamic, changing base of science. It pioneered the modern model of the research university, with externally sponsored research programs and a matrix of academic departments and research laboratories working across various disciplines. MIT also created entire new fields, for example, chemical engineering, sanitary engineering, naval architecture and marine engineering, and soil mechanics, and it also offered the first course in aeronautical engineering. More recently, the School of Engineering has responded with new degree programs that have made biology a foundational science for engineering, and it has created new avenues for students to pursue concentrations in broad, interdisciplinary areas such as energy, robotics, computational engineering, or poverty alleviation.
The School has distinguished itself as a leader in engineering education, where the teaching of applied, hands-on engineering is of the utmost importance. In 1916, it created one of the first industrial internship programs, now the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice. Over the last several decades, the School of Engineering has launched numerous pioneering programs, many with industry, such as Leaders for Global Operations (1988), System Design and Management (1997), the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (2001), the Bernard M. Gordon–MIT Engineering Leadership Program (2008), and the MIT + K12 Video roject (2011).
The School of Engineering is constantly innovating in engineering education, developing novel pedagogical approaches, designing new subject offerings to strengthen current programs, and creating new disciplines, fields of study, majors, and graduate programs. Today, the School offers nearly 20 exciting engineering degree programs for its undergraduates. Two examples are the newly created interdepartmental degree offered by the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Biology, Course 6-7, that offers rigorous training in both molecular biology and computer science, an SB in Chemical-Biological Engineering—MIT's first undergraduate engineering degree with modern molecular biology as its core science; and, since 2005–2006, the SB in Biological Engineering. A number of other new degree programs have launched in the past decade: the SB in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering, MEng in Manufacturing, SM in Computation for Design and Optimization, PhD in Computational and Systems Biology, PhD in Engineering Systems, and the SB in Engineering degree in either Mechanical Engineering or Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The School of Engineering also offers a range of co-curricular activities designed to enhance students’ academic and non-academic experiences at MIT. The Bernard M. Gordon–MIT Engineering Leadership Program seeks to train tomorrow’s engineering leaders through project-based learning, extensive interaction with industry leaders, hands-on product development, engineering leadership labs, and authentic leadership challenges and exercises. The Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) is an innovative sophomore program that provides opportunities for students to learn, first-hand, about engineering practice outside the academic context through internships and intensive experiential-learning workshops that emphasize development of professional abilities and attitudes required in engineering work.
Because of its unique role in technological innovation, the School of Engineering is also the home of the Lemelson-MIT Program, an educational initiative that recognizes outstanding inventors as role models, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires youth to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.
The School of Engineering is generally ranked at the top of its fields by third-party rankings and surveys. US News and World Report has placed the School at the top of its engineering rankings every year they have run their survey, as has the QS World University Rankings. The School’s eight academic departments and one division are home to 370 faculty members, more than a third of the Institute's total faculty. Among the most distinguished in the nation, nearly one third of the School's current and emeritus faculty and research staff have been inducted into the National Academy of Engineering.
Almost 60 percent of MIT undergraduates with declared majors and more than 45 percent of all graduate students are in the School of Engineering.
Within the School of Engineering, a student may develop a program that satisfies his or her own intellectual and professional objectives. A student interested in an interdepartmental program should study the department descriptions and Part 3, Interdisciplinary Programs, for opportunities that combine disciplines from MIT's four other schools with those of the School of Engineering.
While the School's academic departments provide continuity and stability for the basic engineering disciplines, they increasingly share interests in the way their individual disciplines are expressed and applied. Interdepartmental centers, laboratories, and programs provide opportunities for faculty, students, and research staff to undertake collaborative research and engage in educational programs dealing with these and other interdisciplinary applications of importance to society.
Interdisciplinary centers and laboratories in which School of Engineering faculty play leading roles include the following:
Center for Advanced Nuclear Systems
Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy
Center for Computational Engineering
Center for Ocean Engineering
Center for Transportation and Logistics
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
Industrial Performance Center
Institute for Medical Engineering and Science
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems
Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity
Materials Processing Center
Microsystems Technology Laboratories
MIT Energy Initiative
Sociotechnical Systems Research Center
School of Engineering faculty members also participate in the activities of other research centers and laboratories that are administered outside the School of Engineering. For more information, see the section on Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part 3.
Ian Anton Waitz, PhD
Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Dean, School of Engineering
Cynthia Barnhart, PhD
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems
Associate Dean, School of Engineering
Eileen Ng-Ghavidel, MBA
Assistant Dean for Finance and Human Resources
Donna R. Savicki, MA
Assistant Dean for Administration
Ralph Scala, MBA
Assistant Dean for Development
Chad Galts, MA
Director of Communications
Brian Tavares, BSBA
Senior Financial Officer
Nicholas A. Ashford, JD, PhD
Professor of Technology and Policy
3Com Founders Professor of Engineering