Engineering and Computer Science

Adviser: Fred Moore (Physics)

Whitman College is associated with Caltech, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Washington School of Engineering in combined programs for liberal education in engineering and computer science. In addition, with consultation and approval from the Engineering and Computer Science Program adviser and the program’s advisory committee, students may be able to arrange individual programs combining liberal education with study in engineering or computer science at another nonassociated but ABET-accredited department of engineering and/or computer science.

Typically the combined plans require five years of study. The first three years are spent at Whitman College, and the last two years are spent at the engineering school, where the student completes courses in computer science or one of the branches of engineering. At the University of Washington and at nonaffiliated institutions, more than two years may be necessary to complete the second phase of the combined plan program. Students who transfer to Whitman as candidates for the combined plan must complete a minimum of two years in residence at Whitman and satisfy appropriate modifications of the requirements outlined below. In the combined plan, two degrees are awarded upon successful completion of the program: the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Chemistry/Pre-Engineering, Mathematics/Pre-Computer Science, Physics/Pre-Engineering or BBMB/Pre-Engineering (Biophysics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) by Whitman College; and the degree of Bachelor of Science, with a major in computer science or a field of engineering, by the transfer institution. The requirements for the combined plan are given below in the section titled 3/2 Program Requirements. Also note the information in the section titled Notes and Cautions. Individuals interested in the Computer Science option are particularly cautioned to read and be aware of issues mentioned in the Notes and Cautions section.

This combined program requires very careful scheduling-even a semester’s delay in starting the program may preclude a student from being prepared to transfer after their third year. Students who are interested in chemical, mineral, metallurgical, or biomedical engineering should take Chemistry 140 (or 125, 126, 135, and 136) and calculus during their first year. Students who are interested in other branches of engineering or in computer science should take Physics 155 or 165 and 156 or 166 and calculus during their first year. The nuances of the requirements at different partner schools mean that students should consult with the 3/2 program adviser before finalizing their first semester. Consultations should continue regularly thereafter, before each subsequent semester, to ensure proper progress in the program.

Students must declare their intent to complete the 3/2 program before the end of their fourth semester in residence at Whitman in order to be eligible to transfer to another institution to complete the program. Transfer students must declare their intent before the end of their second semester in residence at Whitman. Students will have the Engineering and Computer Science program adviser as a major adviser, as well as an adviser from the relevant department (Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, or BBMB).

3/2 Program Requirements

  1. Earn at least 93 credits and spend three years at Whitman (62 credits and two years for transfer students) with a Whitman grade-point average of at least 2.0.
  2. Complete the Whitman General Studies Program before transferring to another institution.
  3. Complete the mathematics and science courses in lists A and B below, with a cumulative GPA at Whitman in these courses of at least 2.0 and no course grade below C-.
    1. Mathematics 167, 225, 235, and 244; Physics 155 or 165 and 156 or 166; Chemistry 140, or the full General Chemistry sequence (Chemistry 125, 126, 135, and 136).
    2. One of the following four sequences, chosen with the consent of the 3-2 Engineering and Computer Science Program adviser:
      1. Physics/Pre-Engineering: Mathematics 240; Physics 245, 246, 255, and 256, and an additional 6 credits of 300/400 level physics coursework;
      2. Chemistry/Pre-Engineering: Chemistry 240, 245, 246, 251, 252, 345, and either 320 or 360;
      3. Mathematics/Pre-Computer Science: Mathematics 240, 260, 270, and an additional 6 credits in mathematics course numbered above 200. Math 358 and 247 are recommended. A grade of B- (2.7) or better in Math 260 is required. For this sequence, please refer to the Notes and Cautions section.
      4. BBMB/Pre-Engineering: Biology 111, 205; Chemistry 245, 246, 251, and 252; and any two of the following three lecture-lab combinations: BBMB 324 and 334, BBMB 325 and 335, BBMB 326 and 336.

The aforementioned four tracks reflect the Whitman degree that the student will receive on successful completion of the program. The Physics/Pre-Engineering track typically requires the student to complete a degree in a physical branch of engineering, industrial engineering, operations research or a closely related field at the partner school. The Chemistry/Pre-Engineering track typically requires a chemical engineering degree at the partner school. The Mathematics/Pre-Computer Science track typically requires a degree in computer science or computer engineering at the partner school. The BBMB/Pre-Engineering track requires a degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering at the partner school.

  1. Complete the requirements for a degree in computer science or a field of engineering at one of the affiliated institutions — Caltech, Columbia University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Washington — or in any other ABET-accredited program in the United States.

Notes and Cautions

  1. Three of the four affiliated institutions (but not the University of Washington) require that students seeking admission secure a recommendation from the 3-2 program adviser. Even with a recommendation from the 3-2 program adviser, admission to some of the affiliated institutions is not guaranteed. Under normal circumstances, to secure a recommendation from the 3-2 program adviser at Whitman and to be admitted to any of the four affiliated programs, students will need cumulative and mathematics-science grade-point averages of at least 3.0. Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia University normally accept students who are recommended by the 3-2 program adviser at Whitman, take the prerequisite mathematics and science courses, satisfy the general education and credit requirements set by their institutions, and meet their GPA standards (3.3 for Columbia and 3.25 for Washington University in St. Louis).
  2. Nearly all institutions have higher (than 2.0) overall and mathematics-science GPA requirements for transfer admission, and/or additional course, credit, or general education requirements. Here are two examples. 1) Along with additional requirements that depend on the intended program (e.g., civil engineering, electrical engineering), Columbia University requires that students spend “approximately” three years at Whitman, complete 97 (not 93) credits at Whitman, and take the equivalents of Economics 101 or 177, 102, and General Studies 170 (or 210). 2) Caltech recommends (strongly) that ALL 3-2 program students (regardless of which track the individual is following) to take Physics 245, 246, 255, and 256.
  3. Students receive a Whitman College degree after completing requirements above and, in particular, after receiving a B.S. degree with a major in the appropriate field from an affiliated institution or from a nonaffiliated but ABET-accredited program. Completing a degree in a nonaffiliated program or at the University of Washington may take more than two years.
  4. The Whitman pre-engineering majors are only given to students who successfully complete their 3/2 program. If a student does not receive a B.S. degree from a transfer institution, he or she must satisfy the requirements for a non-pre-engineering Whitman College major in order to graduate from Whitman and may need to keep this possibility in mind as they schedule courses at Whitman.
  5. For individuals interested in the Computer Science option: it is critical to contact the program adviser early in your time at Whitman College. The hierarchical nature of the mathematical coursework required for this option along with the scheduling rotation and enrollment limits of specific mathematics courses make this course of study challenging to accomplish in three years. Indeed, there are a variety of scenarios (including starting this path late) that may preclude an individual from pursuing this option without either additional time at Whitman (beyond the normal three years) or coursework taken elsewhere.
  6. Individuals interested in biomedical engineering should be aware that the required pre-engineering coursework (i.e., classes to be completed at Whitman) varies widely from one partner institution to another. In particular, a student wanting to do biomedical engineering at Columbia should consider following the Physics track at Whitman and supplementing those courses to complete Columbia's requirements. In contrast, a student wanting to do biomedical engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis should follow the BBMB track at Whitman. Clearly, anyone wanting to pursue biomedical engineering should be in close contact with Whitman's 3/2 adviser.