The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics will introduce a new undergraduate program in the fall of 1993 to be offered first to the class of 1996.
"This major revision of our bachelor degree program is the first in many years," said Professor Earll M. Murman, head of the Department. "It is an outcome of our strategic planning process which portrayed a vision for aerospace engineering for the next twenty years.
"The end of the Cold War, increasing global economic competition, concern for the environment, and the role of the engineer in an ever more complex society are factors which led us to rethink our program," Professor Murman said.
"The new program is the result of a 2 1/2-year planning and design process which has engaged the entire department faculty. We also sought the advice of many industrial and government leaders as well as our own students," he added.
A single degree program will replace the present "Regular" and "Avionics" options of Course XVI. This new curriculum retains many strengths of the existing one, but differs in significant ways.
An increased emphasis on fundamental mathematics and engineering science, inclusion of aerospace information, decision, and control topics in the core curriculum , greater diversity in the choice of upper-class professional area subjects, greater depth in one professional area, and additional material on experimental methods are some of the key differences from the present curriculum.
Similarities include retention of a revised Unified Engineering (where all the topics taken by sophomores are presented in a unified manner), Experimental Projects, and senior design subjects as well as the "systems" view that is a central theme to aerospace engineering. 3.094 (Materials Technology) and 6.071 (Introduction to Electronics) will be dropped as requirements with the essential material included in the department core subjects. Probability and Statistics (6.041) will be added, with recitations in this and 8.03 (Physics III) offered by aero-astro faculty.
In addition to the subjects listed in the bulletin, topics of the "implicit curriculum" will be consciously addressed throughout the program. These include: written and oral communication skills and teamwork; the social, economic, and political context of aerospace engineering; professional skills such as modeling, estimation, design, and self-education; and professional responsibilities such as ethics.
The Department invites all interested freshman to attend an informational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 3:30-4:30pm in Rm 35-225 so that spring subject selections can be made with knowledge of the new program. Any interested member of the MIT community is welcome at the meeting. Informal discussion and refreshments will follow. A detailed write-up of the rationale and design of the new curriculum can be picked up in the Department Undergraduate Office, Rm 33-208 or requested by calling x8-5946.
"A degree in aerospace engineering has long been considered a sound first step to either a career in the aeronautics and/or space industry, further education or other careers such as law or medicine," said Professor Murman. "The challenges of flight require a broad technical education which serves students well whether their eventual interests lie in aerospace or elsewhere."
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 20).