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October 3, 2014

IME inaugurates first undergraduate class

The University’s Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) debuted its first undergraduate molecular engineering course for the new minor this quarter.

The first and only undergraduate course offered this fall is Introduction to Emerging Technologies (MENG 20000), taught by the Institute’s director, Matthew Tirrell. Throughout the course, students will examine five distinct emerging technologies, including stem cells in regenerative medicine and quantum computing, for two weeks each. Prerequisites for the course include completion of the College’s general education requirements in mathematics and the biological or physical sciences.

There has been a large student interest in MENG 20000—administrators said that more than a dozen people were on the waitlist as of Wednesday.

“Right from the beginning, we wanted to make molecular engineering course offerings and assumed that students were interested,” said Tirrell.  “However, given the five faculty members we had at the time of development, a minor was about all we could offer.”

The number of faculty has grown to eight professors and one assistant professor, and will grow to 12 professors by the beginning of the 2015–2016 academic year. Courses will be added as the Institute prepares to offer undergraduates a molecular engineering major, to be proposed at a future date.

All undergraduates are eligible to take classes within the molecular engineering department. Students interested in pursuing a minor in the field must first complete all general education requirements and then complete MENG 20000 with a quality grade of B or higher before they are able to apply for the minor. The minor will be awarded after the completion of five courses, two of which must be MENG 20000 and an undergraduate research course (MENG 29700).

Future courses that will be offered during this academic year include Molecularly Engineered Materials and Material Systems, the Mathematical Foundation of Molecular Engineering, and Introduction to the Design Process, among others.

“We are really going to be experimenting on how to teach these courses best,” said Sharon Feng, executive director of the IME.  “We are breaking new ground with the molecular engineering courses, so we are looking for a lot of student feedback [so] we can continue to improve.”

The Institute of Molecular Engineering is currently housed in two buildings on campus: the Searle Chemistry Building and the George Herbert Jones Laboratory Building. After the completion of the William Eckhart Research Center in September 2015, the Institute will be permanently moved to the new Center.

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