Paul Penfield, Jr. and Jesús A. del Alamo, The MIT EECS Master of Engineering, Proceedings of the Engineering Foundation Conference, Realizing the New Paradigm for Engineering Education, Baltimore, MD, pp. 38 - 42; June 3-6, 1998. Abstract. Presentation. Text.

The MIT EECS Master of Engineering

Paul Penfield, Jr. and Jesús A. del Alamo

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Phone: (617) 253-2506
Fax: (617) 258-7354


In 1994 thirty-five students were in the first group to receive the Master of Engineering degree from the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Now, four years later, about 200 such degrees are awarded each year. About two-thirds of EECS undergraduates participate.

This new degree program was intended to prepare a person for a successful career as a practicing engineer, or at least a career that starts out that way. Its design was based on a simple theory of the various types of careers our graduates might aspire to. It was intended to be the department's flagship program.

The result is an integrated five-year program leading to the simultaneous award of a bachelor's and a master's degree. The structured style typical of undergraduate programs is seamlessly combined with the advanced specialization found in graduate programs, so that students can plan a five-year experience in a unified way. Students may specialize anywhere within the broad discipline comprising the union of electrical engineering and computer science.

Because the program combines undergraduate and graduate elements in novel ways, securing university approvals was not straightforward. A business plan was necessary to justify the additional resources needed to staff the program. Care had to be taken to ensure that our bachelor's and doctor's programs were not adversely affected. Concerns were raised about possible narrowing of student experience, premature specialization, and general increase in student pace and pressure. Some wanted the new program to have an increased liberal or general education component.

While designing this new program, we took the opportunity to rethink our undergraduate programs. We made the electrical science and engineering program and the computer science and engineering program identical in structure, and started a third program with a broader foundation in both EE and CS. All three programs are accredited by ABET and two of them also by CSAB.

The program is considered to be a success, yet its essential features have not yet been adopted by other departments at MIT, nor, to our knowledge, at other universities.

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