This September’s College of Engineering freshman class is expected to be about 30 percent larger than last year’s, following a surge of enrollment deposits submitted by accepted students this spring.
This sizable boost in enrollment comes in a year when applications jumped about 18 percent, and one year after the College reorganized the undergraduate program to prepare its so-called “Societal Engineer.” The intent of the undergraduate program is to provide foundational and experiential education that prepares students for innovation and success in engineering and beyond. The restructuring includes new concentrations in emerging economic sectors such as energy and nanotechnology, minors aimed at better positioning students for careers in engineering’s traditional and emerging signature fields, and a suite of experiential and complementary educational enhancements ranging from innovation and entrepreneurship to technology and public policy, to community service and global health, to paid undergraduate research and industry internship opportunities.
“We have made integrating study in different engineering disciplines more seamless for undergraduates, enabling them to better position themselves for leadership in the 21st century,” said Dean Kenneth Lutchen. “Students now have easier access to all the College of Engineering has to offer, as well as to what’s available to them throughout Boston University.
“Our goal is to create the Societal Engineer, an individual who will appreciate how the cultural and public policy aspects of societies relate to the way engineering and applied science drive the innovation ecosystems that advances our quality of life,” Lutchen added. “The Societal Engineer has outstanding engineering and quantitative problem solving skills complemented by other crucial attributes, such as communication skills, systems thinking, the ability to engage cross-functional teams, global awareness, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a social consciousness that sustains awareness of the power and obligation of engineering to address society’s grand challenges.”
Since fall 2009, incoming freshman not only select a major degree program in Biomedical, Computer, Electrical or Mechanical engineering, but may also minor in any other engineering program, in Systems Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, or in several other programs in other BU schools and colleges. New interdisciplinary concentrations in Nanotechnology, and Energy Technologies and Environmental Engineering are available to all engineering students, and Mechanical Engineering majors have the option of concentrating in either Aerospace or Manufacturing Engineering.
A more robust outreach effort was used to inform the College’s applicant pool about these enhancements this year. The Undergraduate Program Office boosted promotion of College tours and open houses for prospective and accepted applicants; launched the E-Host program, which puts prospective students in touch with current engineering students via email; and started sending prospective student folders to every admitted engineering student. In addition, the College has, since 2009, produced a Facebook page for incoming freshmen in late March when admissions letters are sent out.
Ongoing features of the ENG undergraduate experience that continue to attract prospective students include a study abroad program that provides international experience without requiring added time or expense; access to the broad and diverse educational offerings of Boston University; and the flexibility to designate a major as late as the end of sophomore year.
While this year’s incoming freshmen will have more classmates, their educational experience will not be diluted, maintained Ruth Jean, associate director of student services in the Undergraduate Program Office. “We have already worked to offer more sections within classes,” she said. “The quality of the freshman experience is crucial for these excited new engineering students and it will be the same this September as it was last September.”