Putting Projects at the Forefront

Published in MIT News on October 6, 2017, by Meg Murphy, School of Engineering

NEET pilot initiative centers around interdisciplinary projects to prepare students for the practice of engineering.

Rose Wang loves to work on projects — especially ones that exceed the bounds of her declared majors, economics and computer science. She thrives on do-it-yourself design solutions. Her latest involves making an aerodynamic drone. “We’ll see how that goes,” she says.

So when Wang spotted a campus poster about a new project-centric program, the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET), she went all in. She is among MIT’s 45 second-year students engaged in a pilot educational initiative that has the potential to re-engineer engineering education.

When Wang and her cohort enrolled in NEET this autumn, they chose to make interdisciplinary projects the guiding force in their undergraduate experience. There are two pilot cross-departmental threads: Living Machines and Autonomous Machines. Engineering students choose one, and their classes and advising are tailored to meet the needs of the thread.

Working together on a string of projects from sophomore through senior year, students produce all sorts of “machines” — a word encapsulating all things engineers build, including mechanical, informational, molecular, biological, computational, and energetic constructs...

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