School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has six concentrations:

Department Websites Concentration Websites
Applied Mathematics Applied Mathematics
Biomedical Engineering Biomedical Engineering
Computer Science Computer Science
Electrical Engineering Electrical Engineering
Engineering Sciences Engineering Sciences
Mechanical Engineering Mechanical Engineering

The launch of Harvard’s newest school in 2007 was the University’s answer to several big questions: Given the complex nature of problems such as climate change, the global demand for energy, cyber-security, and providing clean water, a modern infrastructure, and health care for a growing population, what fields will be most relevant in the next century?  How can we bring together the vast expertise and resources of the University to address these challenges?  What is the most effective way to educate students so that they can have real-world impact on these problems, regardless of their field of study?

All of these global problems involve engineering and technology. None can be solved with technology alone.  

Through these concentrations, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) takes a fresh approach to studying and teaching these increasingly important disciplines. At SEAS, engineering, computer science, applied mathematics, and the applied sciences are an integral part of a liberal arts environment, benefiting from interdisciplinary connections to other parts of a major research university with world-class professional schools.

Students who study engineering, computer science, applied math, and applied sciences enhance their ability to create change by learning how to creatively problem-solve, how to model what already exists, and how to use these models to innovate. The mission of SEAS is to educate well-rounded engineers, computer scientists, applied mathematicians, and applied scientists by enabling them to develop these skills while leveraging strong connections to the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and the professions. We aim to change the world by stimulating innovation and by training critical thinkers and doers — world leaders for academia, industry, research, government, medicine, law, and education. 

SEAS has no departments and no legacy fields from the 20th century. Rather, the School is designed for the future, organized around teaching foundational engineering and applied science disciplines that are essential to addressing global problems and that harness the entire University’s strengths. Concentrators work with faculty who are solving big, complex problems on the frontiers of translational life sciences, computational science and engineering, energy, environmental science and engineering, robotics and controls, and nanophotonics and nanoelectronics. Harvard has a distinct advantage over other institutions in these interdisciplinary research fields because of the breadth and depth of research and scholarship encompassed by SEAS, the broader Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools.

Great teaching is a hallmark of SEAS, coupled with world-class research. We provide an unmatched education for SEAS concentrators. Our goal is to create “T-shaped” engineers and applied scientists (meaning students who have both technical depth in their field and the breadth of the Harvard liberal arts and residential life experience). Our students leave with the demonstrated ability to work in a team, to communicate persuasively, and to use an understanding of the societal and global context to solve real problems. We incorporate design, creativity, and entrepreneurship into the curriculum, while providing a rigorous ABET-accredited engineering program. 
 
In addition to providing an unparalleled education for concentrators, a companion goal of SEAS is for every Harvard College student to take at least one SEAS course and be literate in engineering and technology.  Regardless of their field — government, chemistry, history, economics, English — an educated person today must be facile with technology.  Harvard College graduates are destined to be leaders who will be required to make decisions that involve engineering or technology.

SEAS is a leader in innovative teaching and learning. Our curriculum includes active learning and engineering design, and we are increasingly utilizing “flipped classrooms” and integrating peer-based learning into our classes. Our introductory courses provide gateways where all students can learn and find success.

Since it was founded, SEAS has invested heavily in teaching programs and focused on key faculty hires in targeted research fields. Today, SEAS concentrators are 14 percent of all Harvard College concentrators (and roughly 35 percent are women — double the national average for our fields).  The number of incoming freshmen indicating an interest in engineering or computer science increased from 6 percent before the launch of the School to 15 percent in 2013. And the number of Harvard College students taking at least one SEAS course has more than doubled to 4,000. 

Applied Mathematics is a quantitative liberal arts degree that provides the opportunity for combining mathematical thinking with any subject for which mathematics can be productively applied. Applied Mathematics is inherently an interdisciplinary concentration with ties to other concentrations both within and outside of SEAS.  In particular, Applied Math has strong intellectual connections to computer science, mathematics, statistics, and economics.  It is common for Applied Math plans of study to be similar to within a few courses to plans of study in these other concentrations, and students often move back and forth between Applied Math and these other concentrations as they refine their academic interests.  For example, students may move from Mathematics or Statistics to Applied Math if they want a deeper involvement with a particular area of application than may be provided within these other concentrations.  Similarly, students may move from Applied Math to Mathematics or Statistics if they prefer to take more theoretical approach to these studies. Students pursuing these topics can obtain an A.B. degree in Applied Mathematics or a secondary field in Mathematical Sciences.  The secondary field is sponsored jointly by the Applied Mathematics concentration and the Mathematics Department.

Biomedical Engineering lies at the intersection of the physical and life sciences, incorporating principles from physics and chemistry to understand the functioning of living systems. The overarching intellectual goal of biomedical engineering is to apply quantitative engineering analysis to understand the operation of living systems, and to design novel systems to satisfy unmet needs in clinical medicine.  Biomedical engineering distinguishes itself from the other life sciences disciplines by using scientific knowledge to create new biomaterials and devices.  Students pursuing these topics can obtain an A.B. degree in Biomedical Engineering or A.B. and S.B. degrees in Engineering Sciences with a biomedical focus.

Computer Science. Computation has changed the world -- from social connections to scientific analyses, from finance to marketing, the world has become interconnected, data driven, and computation centric. Computer Science is the study of the principles, techniques, and tools that enable this transformation, today and in the future. Students concentrating in Computer Science take a range of courses encompassing theoretical foundations to practical applications sharing an intellectual heritage from mathematics, engineering, and design.  Computer Science concentrators learn about how modern computational systems are designed and built, and how these systems can be used to effectively and efficiently solve a variety of problems.  Its lessons extend well beyond the boundaries of computer science, with applications for using and manipulating information in disciplines ranging from medicine to economics. Computer Science is closely related to a number of other concentrations at Harvard. Courses on computer hardware design are also offered in Electrical Engineering; on mathematical modeling of various phenomena in Applied Mathematics; and on analysis of large data sets in Statistics.

Electrical Engineering students learn how to analyze, design and build devices and systems for computation, communication and information transfer. Electrical engineering spans a broad range of topics, ranging from the physics of new materials and devices, the circuits and next-generation computing platforms made from these devices, and the algorithms that run on these platforms.  The range of subtopics includes power systems, (micro)electronics, control systems, signal processing, telecommunications, and computing systems. The electrical engineering concentration options complement the scientific and technological goals embodied in the physical, life, mathematical, and computer sciences.  Students pursuing these topics can obtain an S.B. degree in Electrical Engineering or an A.B. degree in Engineering Sciences with an electrical focus.

Environmental Science & Engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies principles from the natural sciences and mathematics to better understand and address environmental challenges. The overarching goals of the field are to protect human health from adverse environmental conditions, to protect local and global environments from the deleterious effects of human activities, and to improve environmental quality. Students interested in environmental science and engineering study the fundamental processes and technologies underlying environmental systems, including natural and polluted waters and soils, the atmosphere, climate, and energy. Students learn to apply these principles to mitigate human impact on the environment by providing technical solutions and advancing innovations in environmental measurement, modeling, and control. Students pursuing these topics can obtain an A.B. or S.B. degree in Engineering Sciences with an environmental focus.

 

Mechanical Engineering students receive a foundational education in a discipline central to challenges in energy, transportation, manufacturing, robotics, and the development of public infrastructure. Mechanical engineering deals with the study and application of mechanical systems.  It covers a range of subtopics including mechatronics and robotics, structural analysis, thermodynamics and engineering design including the analysis of mechanical systems using finite element methods, the science of new materials and devices for micro electromechanical systems (MEMS), and biological and nanotechnology applications.  The concentration options in mechanical engineering complement the scientific and technological goals embodied in the physical, life, mathematical, and computer sciences.  Students pursuing these topics can obtain an S.B degree in Mechanical Engineering or an A.B. degree in Engineering Sciences with a mechanical focus.

SEAS concentrators are part of a vibrant School and University community, dedicated to excellent teaching and learning and trailblazing research.  Students taking SEAS classes gain the technical knowledge and broad-based perspective needed to understand the complexities of technology and society and to develop practical solutions to the challenges that will define life in the decades ahead.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences