Chapter 8

So, what’s your major?


Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has six basic concentrations (majors), and the University offers a whole host of certificate programs (minors). At Princeton, you’re only allowed to declare one concentration, but many of the engineering majors have tracks that let you focus on, for example, Biomedical Engineering inside ELE, or Engineering and the Liberal Arts inside CEE. And, for even more variety, there’s certificate programs, most of which you take prerequisites for your first two years and enroll in officially junior year. While the ones listed here are the ones relating to engineering, Princeton engineers have been enrolled in such diverse certificate programs as Urban Studies and Dance.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
MAE includes interests in all manners of problems across space exploration, satellite technology, pollution and alternative fuels, energy usage, battery technology, novel optical systems, propulsion systems, mechanics of fluids and solids, stability and control of vehicles, aircraft performance, and instrumentation. Check it out if you want to learn to use engineering to tackle the technical challenges of today’s society.

Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE)
Welcome to the world of pollution control, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, adhesives, biopolymers, artificial kidneys, oil refineries, solar panels and ceramics. CBE deals with the chemical and physical processes used to develop and make these and many products. Check it out if you want to learn about the technological infrastructure of modern industries such as petroleum processing, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and plastics manufacturing.
Computer Science (COS)
Computing is everywhere in modern life, whether it be as mundane as checking friends on a social network or as sophisticated as weather forecasting. More fundamentally, computational thinking has contributed to a broad spectrum of problems, from music composition to drug design. Computer Scientists work at startups, tech companies, consulting firms, and their computational thinking contributes to their learning experiences in a variety of environments.
Electrical Engineering (ELE)
Electrical engineers are well positioned to address a variety of the crucial engineering issues facing societies today such as energy, information, and health. Think, for example, about efficient lighting, communications, devices and circuits, power grids, medical imaging, networks, etc. ELE engages in learning about many topics related to these challenges.

Under a common departmental structure, CEE allows students to branch out into subareas such as architecture, environmental engineering, geological engineering, structural engineering, etc. CEE places emphasis on the static and dynamic behaviors of structures, construction materials, and geotechnical materials; the workings of the natural environment, how human activities affect the environment, and technologies to monitor, protect and restore the environment; and elements of design and its philosophy.

Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORF)
The ORFE program emphasizes quantitative theories/models and methods/algorithms needed to face the data challenges of modern society. Different courses specialize in applications such as regulation of financial institutions, energy and the environment (specifically the financialization of commodities, climate change, and emissions control), the transportation systems of the future, and health care. Students in ORFE develop a unique set of skills that builds upon a solid foundation in probability and stochastic processes, numerical optimization, statistics, and computational mathematics.

Certificate Programs

Applications of Computing:
Students learn to apply computer science and a variety of programming techniques to areas traditionally comprising of heavy computing and newer fields that have emerging sectors making use of computer science.
Applied and Computational Mathematics:
Students learn to use computational resources to describe changing trends with the help fo mathematical models and simulation techniques.
Architecture and Engineering:
Students engage in a combination of studies that involve structural engineering and architectural studies to gain a wider understanding of building structures that appear in our everyday lives.
Engineering Biology:
Students gain an understanding of the biotechnology field by engaging in a multidisciplinary study of engineering and the life sciences.
Engineering and Management Systems:
Engineering students prepare for careers in management or consulting by learning to use the tools for a work setting that needs to be optimized.
Engineering Physics:
Students learn how to combine engineering and a deeper knowledge of physics in areas such as energy, environment, materials, microelectronics and photonics.
Geological Engineering:
Students learn to apply science to problems and projects involving the Earth, its physical environment, earth materials, and natural resources.   
Materials Science and Engineering:
Students gain both the theoretical foundation and practical knowledge needed to appreciate the rapidly developing field of modern materials through engineering.
Planets and Life:
Students learn the challenges of the search for life in the universe and will gain a leadership role in understanding and searching for the origins of terrestrial and extraterrestrial life.
Quantitative and Computational Biology:
Students are exposed to experimental and analytic techniques for acquisition of large-scale quantitative observations, and the interpretation of such data in the context of appropriate models in order to understand molecular, cellular, and organismal behavior.
Robotics and Intelligent Systems:
Students seek to understand the work going into the creation of systems for learning, adaptation, decision-making, identification, estimation, and control using concepts drawn from cognitive and biological sciences in addition to developing systems employing automated control.
Statistics and Machine Learning:
Students learn about machine learning computer science and the use of statistics in data analysis in a variety of settings.
Sustainable Energy:
Students acquire the ability to quantitatively analyze, design, and develop innovative energy systems and technologies that support sustainable economic growth and energy security.
Technology and Society:
Students learn about the intersection between technology and societal issues via two different tracks: The Energy track focused on the use of energy and natural resources in modern society, and the Information Technology (IT) track that broadly covers computation and communication technologies.