Civil and Environmental to offer flexible degree program

Course 1 joins Mechanical, Physics, Arch., others

Starting Fall 2014, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1) will be offering a new, flexible undergraduate degree program named 1-ENG. Current students may switch to the program in the fall or stay with their current 1-C (Civil) or 1-E (Environmental) track.

Students who declare 1-ENG will take a set of subjects required by the department and design their own curriculum track, which involves choosing an area of concentration and a further sub-specialty.

Elfatih A.B. Eltahir, the associate department head, said the program will offer an “unprecedented level” of flexibility to students, as well as a more modular curriculum.

“The defining feature of 1-ENG is flexibility. Our motivation was to design the best, rigorous undergraduate program that would suit the range of interests of our students and fit the diverse backgrounds and expertise of our faculty.”

Course 1 will not be the first to offer a separate flexible degree program. Other such programs include Course 2-A in mechanical engineering and the Course 8 “flexible option” for physics majors.

Under 1-ENG, students will begin by taking 54 units of “General Department Requirements.” From there, they will select one of three 54-to-60-unit concentrations — Environment, Mechanics/Materials, or Systems — as well as a 48-to-60-unit further specialization track, which includes options such as Energy, Transportation, and Sustainable Buildings and Cities.

In contrast, the existing 1-C (Civil Engineering) and 1-E (Environmental Engineering) curricula require a set of 96 and 84 units of subjects, respectively; a fixed set of civil or environmental engineering classes; a laboratory component; and one restricted elective. Students in 1-ENG will also have the option of taking a project-based senior capstone class or writing a thesis.

In an email, department head Markus J. Buehler said he anticipated the 1-ENG program to be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The effort to create a more flexible undergraduate degree program began in the spring of 2013. Eltahir, who led the effort along with Buehler, said the creation of 1-ENG was the product of a broad faculty effort that included student surveys and focus groups to provide student input. The department submitted a proposal to the MIT Committee on Curricula in December 2013 and announced the new 1-ENG program last week.

Details on the program can be found at An info session for freshmen will take place on Thursday, April 17 from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 1-131.