The Academic Experience

Olin students take many of the same classes regardless of major. These classes are organized in three interconnected themes that underlie the structure of the Olin curriculum; they define the engineering toolkit our students need to have a positive impact in the real world.

Design and Entrepreneurship starts in the first semester with DESIGN NATURE, where students design and build mechanical systems inspired by animals that hop, crawl and swim. Later, in User-Oriented Collaborative Design, they get off campus to observe, interview, and interact with user groups, then design products and services that create value for people. Students choose from several design depth classes, often related to their majors. And in their senior year, they work on year-long projects to solve real problems for companies and communities in the ENGINEERING CAPSTONES.

Work in Modeling and Analysis starts in MODELING AND SIMULATION, where students develop the toolkit of engineering analysis, including physical modeling, computer simulation and mathematical analysis. In Linearity, a unique two-semester sequence, students learn mathematical tools used throughout engineering, including linear algebra and vector calculus. All students take classes in physics, chemistry or Materials Science and Modern Biology.

Systems and Control includes MODELING AND CONTROL, a hands-on introduction to mechanical and electrical systems, and Real World Measurements, where students build instruments that run experiments and collect data. Usually in the second year, students take PRINCIPLES OF ENGINEERING, where they work with classmates from other majors on a project involving electronic, mechanical and software components. Related electives include Robotics, Dynamics, Controls and Systems.

Finally, Olin students complete a concentration in either Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences or Entrepreneurship combining courses taught by Olin faculty members and through cross-registration at Olin’s partner schools, Babson College, Brandeis University and Wellesley College.

These themes and concentrations are complemented by interdisciplinary classes that connect engineering, math, and science to arts, humanities, and entrepreneurship. For example, students discover and analyze the historical context of material science in Stuff of History and develop technical solutions in an anthropological context in Engineering for Humanity.