Engineering at Smith
The mission of the Picker Engineering Program is to impart the perspectives, knowledge and tools of engineering to our students, to prepare our graduates to be critical thinkers and resilient learners, to foster an inclusive engineering community that welcomes diverse perspectives, to generate new knowledge and engage our students in that process.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Picker Engineering Program is defined by a foundational and flexible curriculum and teaching approaches that increase diversity, inclusion and equity. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about the program.
Smith College offers two bachelor’s degrees in engineering.
Engineering Science, Bachelor of Science (S.B.)
The degree of bachelor of science in engineering science is offered for those students who are thinking they would like to practice professionally as engineers. The S.B. is an ABET-accredited degree rooted in the fundamental engineering principles that govern all engineering disciplines. After completing a foundational set of core courses, students choose from a variety of electives to pursue an area of technical interest. An integrated curriculum of liberal arts, science, math and engineering courses provides the breadth and depth needed to think critically, act reflectively and make informed decisions.
Engineering Arts, Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)
The nonaccredited A.B. in engineering arts is offered for those women who recognize the increasing importance of science, technology and design in today’s world but do not intend to practice as engineers. The A.B. is not accredited by ABET. Similar to other majors that lead to a bachelor of arts degree at Smith, the A.B. in engineering arts requires 13 courses to complete the major and 64 credits outside of the major. This flexibility allows a student to experience the full richness of the liberal arts.
The challenges of the 21st century require broadly educated engineers capable of working collaboratively and adaptively across disciplinary boundaries. To meet this need, Smith offers an accredited S.B. in engineering science and an A.B. in engineering arts, both of which provide a strong foundation in the fundamentals of all engineering disciplines. In pursuit of the S.B., students then complete five upper-level technical depth courses. These courses, taken at Smith, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst or elsewhere, enable a student to pursue an area of topical or disciplinary interest, such as electrical engineering or sustainable energy. These technical-depth courses are selected in close consultation with the student’s faculty adviser.
In addition to 13 engineering courses, the S.B. degree in engineering science requires nine courses in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. As a result of this curriculum, and our commitment to a liberal education, it is difficult to pursue a second major in math, computer science or a natural science. Pursuit of a second major in a humanities or social science discipline is challenging but doable. For a deep interest in computer science, mathematics or natural science, alternatives include pursuing a minor or a double major in conjunction with our nonaccredited A.B. degree.
Our graduates have a range of choices after they leave Smith. Picker Engineering Program graduates can be found across the globe, working in places such as Lockheed Martin, Tesla Motors, AIR Worldwide, Exxon Mobil, Boeing and the Department of Labor. Additionally, the majority of our graduates eventually pursue a graduate degree at places such as Berkeley, Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, John Hopkins and Princeton. The S.B. degree is also considered the first step toward becoming a licensed professional engineer. Undergraduates enrolled in ABET-accredited programs are eligible to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which is the first step in the process. More information about the FE and professional licensure is available at NCEES.
With an understanding of the importance of science and technology in today’s world, A.B. graduates pursue careers in business, education, medicine and law. NASA, ChemMed, Dresser-Rand and GE are a few of the companies that employ our A.B. graduates. Some graduates also go on to purse graduate studies both in and out of the engineering field at schools such as Carnegie Mellon, University of Southern California, Northwestern and Dartmouth.
Smith College and Princeton University established an engineering exchange program to expose junior year students from both schools to different learning environments. The Princeton Exchange requires an application, due in January of a student’s sophomore year, and accommodates up to two students per year.
The Lazarus Center for Career Development connects students with many paid internships and career opportunities. Additionally, Smith’s Praxis program funds students to work at substantive, unpaid summer internships related to their academic or career interest.
In their senior year, S.B. engineering students work in teams on projects sponsored by industry or government through our yearlong Design Clinic. Many of the companies that sponsor design clinic projects also seek students for internships and jobs after Smith.
Individual faculty members often involve students in their research. Students should inquire directly with faculty whose work interests them. Smith’s Summer Research Fellows Program (SURF) provides funding for students to pursue independent research in collaboration with a faculty adviser for 10 weeks during the summer.
Students are also encouraged to seek out NSF-sponsored REU programs (Research Opportunities for Undergraduates) at other colleges and universities throughout the country.
Smith engineering students come from all over the globe with unique experiences, skills and interests. All are looking to make a difference in the world. Together, they form a lively community committed to building a sustainable future.
“I have lots of fond memories, but the best is still the very first one—Intro to Engineering with Susan Voss. In this class, my teammates and I designed a pulley-based tug-of-war system to teach second graders about simple machines. Everything about that class was FUN.”
“I have never been one to do things the traditional way and my choice to pursue engineering was no different. The Picker Engineering Program offered a broader and more diverse exposure to the discipline than the traditional model of an engineering program.”
Teresa Berra ’09 AC