Course 1 to offer three new minors

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), or Course 1, is modifying its undergraduate curricula by offering three new minors starting this fall: Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Science, and a brand-new area called Civil and Environmental Systems.

Course 1 offers a singular 1-ENG bachelor’s degree to undergraduates, which consists of a general CEE curriculum and a “core” area of study which students choose; the options are Mechanics & Materials, Environment, and Systems. The new minors are intended to parallel these major tracks of study (Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Science, and Civil and Environmental Systems respectively).

The Civil Engineering minor syllabus covers solid and fluid mechanics, materials, and labs, according to the department website. The Environmental Engineering Science minor focuses on ecology, microbiology, and water resources; in addition, students who opt to enroll in this minor program are required to participate in the Traveling Research Environmental Experiences (TREX) program. TREX is a nine-credit field research course offered during IAP and the spring semester where students spend time abroad to gain hands-on experience. “Participating in innovative fieldwork is a requirement for the Environmental Engineering Science minor,” CEE Academic Administrator Kiley Clapper told The Tech. “Last year, students went to Hawaii’s Big Island to examine air quality and soil contaminants.”

The Civil and Environmental Systems minor, on the other hand, combines principles from civil, environmental, and systems engineering to focus on systems and networks. Clapper anticipates this will be the most appealing minor of the three because of its novelty, as it combines the two disciplines within CEE.

“It took us approximately nine months to finalize and approve the three new minors,” Clapper added. CEE Department Head Professor Markus Buehler and outgoing Associate Department Head Professor Elfatih Eltahir S.M. ’93, Sc.D. ’93 spearheaded the change along with the CEE Academic Programs Office.

“Most educational programs at MIT emphasize fundamentals,” Eltahir wrote in an e-mail to The Tech. “The new minors… complement traditional MIT education. Students interested in the environment can build strong background in how natural environment works. Future engineers are expected to anticipate and avoid engineering solutions that may have negative impacts. Similarly, students interested in engineering systems approaches can build background on how to analyze, design, and manage complex… systems.”

Any student (independent of class year) who has completed the requisite courses can graduate with a CEE minor.

CEE Student Association President Tiffany Wang ’16 hopes that the students will take advantage of the new minors and introduce themselves to Course 1. “It’s really great that the minors have been changed to match the curriculum update we had when the 1-ENG program came into effect,” she said. “I think this is an amazing opportunity for people in other departments to add some Course 1 background into their majors.”