Engineering due for external exam

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All five engineering departments will undergo external reviews Monday and Tuesday as part of the provost’s office’s ongoing evaluation of each Yale College academic department, Dean of Engineering Paul Fleury said.

The Applied Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments will be reviewed for the first time in 10 years by a team of deans and professors from other universities, Fleury said. The external committee will attend presentations by Fleury and members of each department. They will also meet with Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, Provost Alexander Hamilton, members of the junior faculty and both graduate and undergraduate engineering students to discuss academic and logistical improvements, he said.

“We want the committee to be able to talk to the students and get their candid reactions to the programs,” Fleury said.

The undergraduates who will meet with the review committee were invited by each department’s chair and director of undergraduate studies, Fleury said.

Applied Physics Chair Daniel Prober said he thinks the review will be cursory, since all five departments are being evaluated by one committee. He hopes a major topic of discussion will be the improvement of research and teaching infrastructure, he said.

“This is an issue that the Yale administration understands is important, and has been responsive [to],” Prober said in an e-mail. “But we anticipate that the committee … will have insight into this issue and can provide us and the Yale administration good guidance in this area.”

Some undergraduate engineering majors said a number of issues regarding departmental faculty and the course selection process need to be reviewed.

Mechanical engineering major Matthew Perille ’08 said he is happy with the engineering program in general but has been disappointed with some of the professors in the department.

Andrei Javier ’08 — who recently switched from biomedical engineering to the molecular, cellular and developmental biology major — said because the Biomedical Engineering Department is so small and new, it cannot make core classes consistently available to undergraduates. She said this might partly be because, as a relatively young department, it does not yet receive a large portion of the engineering budget.

“It had a hard time sustaining faculty to teach specific classes,” Javier said. “I know that they’re working on it, but it would definitely be nice to have something set in stone.”

Fleury said since the last review a decade ago, many changes have been made within the engineering departments, the biggest being the founding of a distinct Biomedical Engineering Department in 2003. In addition, about a dozen new undergraduate courses have been added across the departments in accordance with recommendations made by the Committee on Yale College Education in 2003, he said.

Fleury said the engineering departments are accustomed to the review process because they must be certified every six years by the national Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, in addition to reviews mandated by the University.

Biomedical Engineering Chair Mark Saltzman said the engineering departments will have conclusive information about changes and recommendations after the external committee releases its report.

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