Paul Penfield, Jr., J. H. Shapiro, and Jesús A. del Alamo, Report on the MIT EECS M.Eng. Program, MIT Faculty Meeting, Cambridge, MA; December 16, 1998.

Report on the EECS M.Eng. Program

MIT logo  . .

Paul Penfield, Jr.
J. H. Shapiro
J. A. del Alamo

Department of Electrical
   Engineering and Computer Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307


Acknowledgments

Real Author of Report
 . . Jesús del Alamo

Bureaucrats
 . . Paul Penfield
 . . Jeff Shapiro

Real Assistance -- Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office:
 . . Rosanne Swire
 . . Ri Romano
 . . Alberta Lipson

Real Assistance -- EECS:
 . . Fred Hennie
 . . Mark Zahn


Demographics

Note: The small lettering on this figure may be hard to read. The vertical axis is "# Degrees" from 0 to 350; the horizontal axis is "Academic Year" from 1990 to 1997; the three labels inside the graph, from top to bottom, are "Masters total", "SM", and "MEng".


Educational principles behind MEng

Key motivation for MEng:
 . . "(...) education through the master's level is required
 . . for practicing engineers." [J. Moses, Motion to MIT Faculty, 1992]

Key design feature:
 . . integrated, seamless five-year program that avoids
 . . "inefficiencies that come from hitching together two
 . . separate programs" [Penfield et al., Faculty Newsletter, 1992]

MEng modeled largely on 6-A program (80 year old SB/SM combo)


Timeline of typical MEng student

|  freshman   |  sophomore  |    junior   |    senior   |  5th year   |
|------|------|------|------|------|------|------|------|------|------|
              ^                        ^  ^             ^             ^
              |                        |  |             |             |
 declaration of         MEng application  |   declaration             |
 EECS major             (1 page)          |   of graduate             |
                                          |   status                  |
                                          |             graduation with
                             MEng admission             MEng and SB
                                                        degrees

MEng vs. SB and MS

SB SM MEng (+SB)
GIR's 15 0 15
EECS
 . . common core
4 0 4
 . . math 2 0 4
 . . eng. concentr. 5 0 9
 . . laboratory 1 0 1
 . . thesis 1 2 2
 . . EECS total 13 2 20
Free electives 4 2 5
Grad subjects (0) 4 (6)
total 32 8 40

Implementation Challenges

Is it an undergraduate or graduate program?
 . . Yes.
 . . Fifth year has classroom structure plus research thesis
 . .  . . But no undergraduate-style financial aid or housing

Is it a professional or research program?
 . . Yes.
 . . Professional perspective is needed by doctoral students
 . .  . . M.Eng. is required part of the doctoral program
 . . Research experience is needed by practicing engineers
 . .  . . Same thesis as S.M. program
 . . Treat students as individuals; don't stereotype by program

MIT administrative procedures
 . . Separate graduate, undergraduate GPA
 . .  . . Registrar's two buckets
 . . Separate degree requirements
 . . Separate oversight committees (CUP, CGSP)


MEng Review Process

Oct. 97: visit to CUP by Prof. del Alamo.

Fall 97/Spring 98: data mining and analysis.

Apr. 98: PEPC review of data.

Summer/Fall 98: writing of Report.

Oct. 98: PEPC approval of report, recommendations.

Oct. 98: presentation to EECS faculty.

Nov. 98: presentation to Engineering Council.

Dec. 98: presentation to CUP.

Dec. 98: presentation to CGSP.


Major Findings

Registration (approximate)
 . . 75% of EECS undergraduates qualify after junior year
 . .  . . (4.0 GPA)
 . . 75% apply
 . . 70% admitted
 . . 65% enroll

Academic Performance
 . . Average undergraduate GPA 4.5; graduate GPA 4.7
 . . Very few CAP actions on M.Eng. students
 . . Only 3 revocations of admission in 5 years

Effects on General Education
 . . M.Eng. students have high rates of participation in
 . .  . . UROP
 . .  . . double majors
 . .  . . minors
 . .  . . subjects outside EECS


Major Findings (cont)

No aberrations in student behavior
 . . Pattern of enrollment in 6.001 -- 6.004 unchanged
 . . 82% of students declare graduate status in fifth year
 . . Average time to M.Eng. degree = 5.1 years
 . . No evidence of undue pressure

Graduate subjects
 . . Significant increase in enrollment
 . .  . . Especially in computer science
 . . Faculty are concerned about maintaining advanced level

Students say in exit interviews that they are happy
 . . They like:
 . .  . . 5-year Master's degree
 . .  . . working closely with faculty on thesis
 . .  . . taking graduate subjects
 . . Some dislike:
 . .  . . some aspects of thesis -- short, not enough research


Other Factors

Popularity of EECS major
 . . Model discussed in 1980s = 290 per class
 . . This year sophomores = 363
 . . Many possible reasons
 . .  . . Information revolution
 . .  . . Plenty of jobs
 . .  . . Personal computing pervasive in society
 . .  . . Popularity of the Web
 . .  . . M.Eng. program attractive

Shift in interest into CS from EE and other areas
 . . National trend


Key conclusions from MEng review

1. MEng is largely satisfying its educational goals.

Students show great degree of achievement.

MEng has not compromised general educational
goals of MIT undergraduate education.

No aberrations in students' behavior detected.

Students are happy.


But...

2. MEng implementation needs significant adjustment.

EECS suffering from undergraduate enrollment crisis
(high number of students, unevenly distributed).

There are lots of MEng students in EECS graduate
subjects.

There is a shortage of teaching resources,
particularly in graduate and upper level UG subjects.


URL of this page: http://www-mtl.mit.edu/users/penfield/pubs/meng-report-p.html
Created: Dec 16, 1998  |  Modified: Jan 26, 1999
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