In Response to: Agony! Ecstasy!

In an otherwise excellent feature on the senior thesis (May 15), PAW perpetuates the misconception that very few engineering students write a thesis, stating that the requirement is confined to civil and environmental engineering.

In fact, a thesis is also a requirement in chemical and biological engineering and operations research and financial engineering, although these departments have a rarely used option to do a one-term project plus an extra departmental course. Electrical engineering recently has made a senior thesis mandatory, effective with the Class of 2016. In mechanical and aerospace engineering, many students do either a senior thesis (done by a single student) or a senior project (done by a group of students, such as building a working jet engine), while others organize their independent work by doing multiple one-term projects. Many B.S.E. computer science students do senior theses as well.

Combined with design courses that have substantial self-directed projects, almost all B.S.E. students do as much independent work as an A.B. student, the major difference being that in some engineering departments, there is greater flexibility in how it is structured and how it articulates with the rest of the curriculum.

Peter Bogucki