Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
MIT is reimagining and redesigning its undergraduate engineering education through the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) initiative, which is based on the following four principles that are in consonance with student and societal needs, faculty values and MIT’s values and culture: • Prepare our students to develop the new machines and systems that they will build in the middle of the 21st century to address societal needs. • Help our students to be makers, discoverers or on the spectrum. • Build our education around the way our students best learn. • Teach our students the NEET Ways of Thinking --- how to think, and how to learn more effectively by themselves.
NEET is a new cross-departmental project-centric academic program with formalized collaboration across majors that was initiated in September 2016. Students will get a degree from the department they are majoring in plus a NEET Certificate in the cross-disciplinary thread they have opted for. We have identified a framework of eleven NEET Ways of Thinking; this framework formed the basis for getting inputs and gathering evidence from a range of stakeholders, including thought leaders, industry, alumni, students and faculty. An independent consultant was commissioned to conduct a global undergraduate engineering education survey. We will share the findings from the evidence gathered and elaborate on the three inventions of NEET that emerged from looking at the evidence: the NEET Ways of Thinking; the project-centric curricular construct, and; the concept of threads. The main organizing armature of the curriculum is now a sequence of projects inspired by the new machines. Students choose a sequence of explicitly interdepartmental projects, while fundamentals continue to be learned in departmentally offered subjects. Threads are pathways for inter-disciplinary engineering education that cut across disciplines and departments. Threads could be envisioned in areas such as the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and systems, smart cities and urban infrastructure, and, large data analysis systems.
Engineering education worldwide is struggling with the widening gap between theory and practice. Employers increasingly believe that their needs are not being met. It is not that the education system has broken down; it’s just that what it delivers is increasingly obsolete. NEET aims to make engineering education more relevant.
NEET (see neet.mit.edu) launched two pilot threads in Fall 2017, Autonomous Machines (covering aeronautics & astronautics, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering & computer science) and Living Machines (covering biological engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering, but also open to any MIT undergraduate pursuing a technical degree program), and will be launching two new pilot threads in Fall 2018, Advanced Materials Machines (covering materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering) and Low Carbon Energy Systems (covering nuclear science and engineering, civil and environmental engineering and mechanical engineering). We will describe the process of building the community of students and faculty and developing curricula and projects for the threads, and share the learnings from the pilots, proposed governance structures, measures of success and opportunities on the horizon.
Though it is far too early to come to meaningful conclusions for the medium to longer term, the initial trends are encouraging. Over 5% of the sophomore engineering population has voluntarily opted for NEET, a significantly larger number than the number of students that have typically tended to opt for many new academic programs in the past. The student newspaper and a student blogger have also covered NEET favorably in the short space of eight months.
Crawley, E. F., & Hosoi, A. P., & Mitra, A. B. (2018, June), Redesigning Undergraduate Engineering Education at MIT – the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) initiative Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30923
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