6-9, 22-ENG majors proposed at faculty meeting

Programs would offer more options for students with interdisciplinary interests

Faculty members proposed two new Bachelor of Science majors at the faculty meeting March 20. One is a joint major between the EECS and Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) departments, and the other is a flexible nuclear science engineering major.

The new 6-9 program, titled “Bachelor of Science in Computation and Cognition,” was presented by BCS Professor Michale Fee and EECS Professor Dennis Freeman. The major aims to provide students with an understanding of topics such as how biological neural circuits function to produce flexible intelligent behaviors, and how such behaviors can be replicated in machines or used to improve interfaces with the brain.

According to the proposal, the departments anticipate that “as many as 50-100 students per year may enroll in the new 6-9 major.”

The proposal also delineated that the major will provide “access to foundational and advanced material in electrical engineering and computer science, as well as in the architecture, circuits, and physiology of the brain, and computational approaches to cognition and intelligence.”

Students will need to take a combination of Course 6 and Course 9 classes, including 6.003 (Signals and Systems), 6.034 (Artificial Intelligence), and a new project-based CI-M, 9.58.

After the presentation of the proposal, Melissa Nobles, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, commented that she would “encourage [Fee and Freeman] to consider ethics” in the new major, and Freeman responded that they were actively working on incorporating ethics and were considering creating an ethics class as well.

Nuclear Science and Engineering Professor Michael Short presented the proposal for 22-ENG, a new Nuclear Science and Engineering Flexible Degree.

The program was recommended by the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering to “better represent the breadth of the NSE department’s research effects within the undergraduate curriculum” and “fix the mismatch” between curricular depth and research opportunities for undergraduates, Short explained.

According to the proposal, there are students who conduct research in Course 22 labs, but cannot pursue the major because of its limited flexibility. This program is made to benefit students “looking for interdisciplinary careers” such as those in energy or nuclear policy, clean energy systems, fusion and plasma science, and medical technologies. 22-ENG is expected to attract more double majors.

Some example classes proposed as options are 1.000 (Computer Programming for Engineering Applications), 5.60 (Thermodynamics & Kinetics), and 22.033 (Nuclear Systems Design Project).