Despite emphasizing interdisciplinary learning, Penn Engineering does not provide adequate support for students wishing to take classes outside their majors. Most out-of-major courses can only be used as “elective” credits. Additionally, the lack of information to help students through this process is hidden and hard to find on the website or through conversation with advisors. Furthermore, there exists little to no resources for Penn Engineering students pursuing Dual Majors or Uncoordinated Degrees, the latter of which seems to be unfairly burdened with extra courses that students in Coordinated Degree Programs are not forced to take. EDAB recommends that advising be improved to help uncoordinated dual degree students with their course planning.
With the academic rigor inherent to engineering, many majors within Penn Engineering limit exploration into courses within the College, Wharton, and other majors in Penn Engineering. It is important to also observe that certain Penn Engineering majors, such as SSE, have greater access to interdisciplinary learning, through access to OIDD courses within Wharton. On the other hand, CBE majors are far more limited in their ability to explore courses within other fields. This lack of exploratory options is highlighted at higher levels of the Penn Engineering curriculum as well. ESE and CIS courses are known to converge, BE labs relate to many ESE topics, and MEAM machining courses benefit many other Penn Engineering majors in their upper level courses. This indicates a need for more expansion of the Penn Engineering curriculum itself.
In the short-term, Penn Engineering should perform an audit of commonly petitioned courses within each major and consider including more interdisciplinary courses to count towards degree requirements. This will allow Penn Engineers to explore broader topics. In the future, Penn Engineering can also consider loosening major requirements to allow for students to pursue similar and out-of-major interests.
Penn Engineering Philosophy
The Penn Engineering philosophy lacks any reference to goals outside engineering, as it seeks to prepare “students to become global leaders in technology-based fields.” This raises the question if the Penn Engineering brand seeks to foster a broad-based education, laying a foundation for critical and creative thinking in a variety of fields. This lack of clarity fails to address the unique interests of Penn Engineers.
Penn Engineering should re-examine the wording of our philosophy and consider including more about the modern need for interdisciplinary education and reflect on the variety of paths modern engineers take after their undergraduate years.
Dual majoring with the College of Arts and Sciences is not advertised well – a missed opportunity because so many students find enjoyment in both sciences and engineering fields.
Advertise the interdisciplinary opportunities that are available to students, as they currently feel hidden and are difficult to find on the Penn Engineering website.
Coordinated vs Uncoordinated
Penn is known for its coordinated dual degree programs (LSM, M&T, etc.).For engineering, M&T and VIPER offer a fruitful opportunity to study the intersection of fields and build a nuanced skillset. With these programs comes a plethora of resources for advising, Additionally, with certain classes being waived for coordinated students versus their uncoordinated counterparts, there lacks clear reasoning behind why this special privilege exists.
On the Wharton Website, there are blog posts that offer advice to those who seek to pursue degrees between the College and Wharton, even including a sample planning spreadsheet. However, those who pursue an uncoordinated dual degree between Penn Engineering and Wharton lack a clear source for advising. Engineers, who have a large set of requirements already set, struggle with planning an uncoordinated dual degree with Wharton. At the dual degree information session at the start of 2nd semester, it was explicitly stated that there were no advisors in Penn Engineering who would be able to help their advisees with planning these schedules.
Penn Engineering should consider improving advising for uncoordinated dual degree students, through online resources (ie: blog posts) and equipping advisors with more information to assist these students.