Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Seminar Description

In 2020 you will be seven years beyond your MIT commencement, maybe finishing a graduate degree, maybe working in a business, professional, or academic setting. Will the education you received here fit you to compete in the global economy of 2020? Will your efforts support a strong United States presence in global science and technology?

Numerous recent studies have shown that the U.S. has relatively low percentages of students who enter science and engineering and a high drop-out rate. Some other countries are producing many more scientists and engineers per capita than the U.S. What does this mean for the future of the U.S. and the global economy?

In this readings and discussion-based seminar you will meet weekly with the Dean of Undergraduate Education to explore the kind of education MIT and other institutions are and should be giving. Based on data from National Academy and other reports, along with what pundits have been saying, we'll see if we can decide how much the US may or may not be at risk.


It is expected that class reading will be done before each class session.


Readings 30%
Class participation 30%
Weekly papers 10%
Final paper 30%


Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to critically assess the current literature on the discussions in engineering education.
  • Students will have developed their own perspective on the existing and proposed MIT education.

Measurable Outcomes

Students will write several short papers over the course of the semester. These will be assigned based on the readings and discussions, and students are expected to briefly present their papers to the class.

The final product for this course is an essay which displays incisive critical thinking on the issues with engineering education for 2020 and has some personal commentary as to what is desired from the MIT education.