A recent Brandeis Magazine article reports that Brandeis faculty have voted “overwhelmingly to approve a new interdepartmental engineering major.” According to the article, the new major will be in place no later than 2025.
Physics professor Seth Fraden Ph.D. ’87, is one of the Brandeis faculty members playing a prominent role in developing the major. In an interview with Brandeis Magazine, Fraden emphasized that the Brandeis engineering program will still retain the key qualities of its liberal arts education. “We want our engineering students to understand government, economics, culture, and how to write and communicate,” Fraden explained in the interview.
The Division of Science will be hiring about eight more faculty members to support the new major, according to the article. These faculty members will be placed within preexisting departments, much like Brandeis’ neuroscience department. Armed with the interdisciplinary qualities of a liberal arts education, the program aims to equip students with the skills necessary for an entrepreneurial career in engineering, Fraden said in the interview.
In addition to the multidisciplinary perspectives offered in Brandeis’ engineering program, the existing organizations such as the Materials Science and Engineering Foundation and the MakerLab, AutomationLab and Digital Scholarship Lab serve as useful resources for students interested in partaking in scientific innovation, Fraden noted. “We’re not starting from scratch. We have 90% of the science infrastructure to have a world-class engineering program,” he said.
Once there are enough funds from donors to support the employment of new faculty members, labs and equipment, the engineering program will be implemented, according to the article.
In the meantime, students can engage in scientific innovation via the Brandeis library programs such as the MakerLab, AutomationLab and the Digital Scholarship Lab. Students can select from a wide variety of workshops to hone skills in soldering, working with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, 3D modeling and printing and more.
With campus back to full capacity, these Brandeis library resources are available for custom appointments scheduled with Ian Roy, head of the MakerLab. These spaces are open for the same hours as the library, and support all projects with an academic purpose, according to the website.
Moreover, the Brandeis International Business School supports students seeking to learn more about innovation by hosting workshops and lectures concerning marketing, entrepreneurship and choosing appropriate business models. The Spark program seeks to support undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral students in their entrepreneurial ideas by awarding funding and mentorship to high merit ideas. Similarly the Sprout program supports students’ ideas that pertain specifically to the sciences. As featured on the website, past projects that have succeeded include projects in sustainability and biochemical innovations applicable in the field of medicine. Moreover, Brandeis is funded by the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, which allows students to join a team and develop a marketable product.
Fraden is optimistic about the capabilities of Brandeis engineers: “The Brandeis engineer will have the scientific depth and breadth to build the next generation of technologies that don’t have names yet. Our engineers will also have the social awareness to understand the needs of the customer and design technical solutions to meet these needs,” he concluded in the Brandeis Magazine interview.