Frequently Asked Questions for students considering the integrative engineering program

Q. What is the program?
A. The program provides an integrative engineering curriculum based on systems thinking and gives you an opportunity to focus your studies in one of three interdisciplinary fields of engineering: bioengineering, environment & energy, or robotics. There is no “general engineering” track in the program. Students in the program will take courses from multiple departments and programs within engineering.

Q. What is the systems thinking component?
A. Systems thinking provides a common language for understanding and modeling diverse systems across various fields both within and outside of engineering. The program includes a sequence of three core courses (ES 103, ES 201, ES 30x) that focus on this approach.

Q. How do the requirements of the program compare with those of the other engineering programs?
A. The math/science requirements are the same as for the other B.S. engineering degrees. The total number of required STEM courses is 24 rather than 26, with the other two courses being concentration-related courses from any division of the College (i.e., they are not free electives). The total number of courses for all the B.S. engineering degrees, including integrative engineering, is 36. The program requires more courses than the Engineering Studies (EGRS) program, which is an A.B. degree program with 19 required courses out of a total of 32.

Q. I am interested in environmental engineering or working in the renewable energy field. How do I choose between Integrative Engineering with a focus area in Environment & Energy and Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or Engineering Studies?
A. You can get some exposure to environmental engineering and renewable energy through courses that are offered in the CE, ChE, and EGRS programs. You can also work with faculty on related research projects regardless of which degree you chose. Integrative engineering with a focus in environment and energy differs from the other programs in using a systems approach to environmental problems and allowing you more opportunity to develop a broad background in this area and to focus your coursework and electives in environment & energy systems by selecting relevant courses from multiple departments and programs (both inside and outside engineering). For example, you can pick courses from CE, ChE, EGRS, and count them toward the degree requirements. You also have the opportunity to take two environment-related courses from Environmental Science & Studies or other social sciences and humanities programs and have them count toward your focus area requirements. This will be done in consultation with your advisor and through lists of approved electives in the environment & energy concentration.

Q. I am interested in environmental problems like flooding and dams and water management but not necessarily water and air pollution. How do I choose between Integrative Engineering with a focus in Environment & Energy and Civil Engineering?
A. Civil Engineering includes water resources engineering and is likely the best choice for you.

Q. I am interested in bioengineering or working in the biomedical engineering field. How do I choose between Integrative Engineering with a focus in Bioengineering and other BS degrees (Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Electrical & Computer Engineering)?
A. You can get some exposure to bioengineering topics through elective courses currently offered, regardless of degree program. For example, some current courses offered in engineering are Drug Delivery, Biomechanics, Biomolecular Engineering, and Biomedical Systems Modeling and Analysis. You can also work with faculty on bioengineering-related research projects regardless of which degree you chose. The program differs in using a systems approach and in allowing you more opportunity to develop a broad background in this area and to focus your coursework and electives in bioengineering systems by selecting relevant courses from multiple departments and programs (both inside and outside engineering). There are two upper-level biology courses required, for example. Additionally, you have the opportunity to take two bioengineering-related courses from the social sciences and humanities and have them count toward your degree requirements. This will be done in consultation with your advisor and through lists of approved electives in the bioengineering concentration.

Q. I am interested in robotics. How do I choose between Integrative Engineering with a focus in robotics and Mechanical Engineering or Electrical & Computer Engineering?
A. You will have the opportunity to work with faculty on robotics-related projects regardless of whether you choose ECE, ME, or Integrative Engineering. However, there are a few key differences between the degrees that may inform your choice. If you aren’t sure whether robotics is really your primary interest, but it is one of a few possible career options you’re considering, you may want to consider either the ECE or ME degrees. An ME or ECE degree will prepare you well for industry in a variety of fields, including robotics, and will also prepare you well for graduate school. You might want to choose ECE if your interests include robotics, but are more broadly centered on electronics or software. If your interests include robotics, but are more broadly centered on mechanisms, manufacturing, or physics, ME might be a better choice. If your interest is primarily in robotics, and you are most interested in how robots fit in to fields across and outside of engineering, then integrative engineering with a focus in robotics is probably better suited for you. The degree will allow you to develop a broad background in the fundamentals that make robots “tick,” and you will be able to focus your later coursework on how robots can be integrated into systems that cross the boundaries of ECE, ME, and the other discipline-specific programs. This will be done in consultation with your advisor and through lists of approved electives in the robotics concentration.

Q. What if I change my mind and want to switch out of the program?
A. Switching engineering majors gets progressively more difficult with each passing semester. But if you switch by the start of the sophomore year it is possible – you likely will have to make up one course depending on which major you switch to. You may be able to use ES 103 (Systems 1) as an engineering elective in your new major. Your advisor will help with the transition.

Q. What if I change my mind and want to switch into the program?
A. See the answer to the question above. Yes, it is possible to switch into the program. You would likely have to pick up ES 103 in your sophomore spring and push ES 201 (Systems 2) to fall of your junior year.

Q. How will the program prepare me to find a job or go to graduate school?
A. The program will provide you a solid foundation in your chosen area of focus, so that you are academically well prepared for the next step in your career, whether employment or graduate school. The fact that Lafayette engineering enjoys strong name recognition will certainly help, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities available here to distinguish yourself to employers and graduate schools.

Q. Is the degree ABET-accredited?
A. Not yet. Like any new engineering degree program, the program is not eligible for accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) until it has its first cohort of graduates, expected in spring 2023. The following year Lafayette will submit a self-study to ABET and then be visited by ABET program evaluators. Upon successful completion of this process, the degree will be fully accredited by ABET and all degrees given prior to that time will be retroactively accredited.