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Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2006

Welcome to Engineering Our World, the MIT School of Engineering's free bulletin for alumni and friends. Updated six times yearly, Engineering Our World describes some of the work we're doing at the leading edge of technological change, providing news and articles of the School's major initiatives.Past Issues

UPOP: Educating Future Leaders in Engineering

by Dean Thomas L. Magnanti, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2006

Quoting an MIT student, "It's one thing to know you need to network, to communicate, to have teamwork. It's quite different to have it shown in simple activities from real life."

Engineering education and practice. That's what the "P" in the MIT School of Engineering's Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) is all about: "p" for "practice." UPOP, an educational, mentoring, and internship program, brings the "real world" into engineering education by introducing sophomores to engineering practice. The intended result: engineering leaders.

Just as the long-established and well-known UROP program (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) engages our students in ways that significantly enrich their education, UPOP, now beginning its fifth year, broadens their engineering studies with the acquisition of new capabilities. Endeavoring to provide sophomores with the experiences and the understanding they'll need to transition into and succeed in the world outside the halls of academe, UPOP helps them develop important engineering, business, and interpersonal skills that will enable them to become leaders in industry, government, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

In a nutshell, UPOP epitomizes our beliefs about quality undergraduate engineering education – what it is, who’s involved, how we go about it – and we are committed to the value programs like UPOP can have on the nation and the future of engineering.

Who's involved in UPOP?

Answer: MIT faculty and staff, students, alumni, and industry

Both Engineering and Sloan School of Management faculty teach in UPOP; alumni and other working engineers serve as teaching assistants (trainers and mentors); students from every department in the School of Engineering and some from other majors enroll in the program; more than 100 companies from the United States and around the world employ UPOP students during the summer. The program has grown substantially from its initial enrollment of 70 students four years ago. Although the program is completely voluntary (not required by any major), 259 students registered for this year's UPOP – that's about one-fourth of all MIT's sophomores and nearly 40% of those majoring in engineering. Alumni are actively involved – as educators, mentors, and employers. (Thirty percent of summer placements result from alumni engagement.) Recently, one of our alumni, Armen Avanessians (EECS ’81), endorsed the UPOP vision by making a magnificent $1 million gift to support the leadership development components of the program.

How exactly does UPOP work? . . .