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The College of Engineering at Texas A&M University has created a new department — the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering. The first department of its kind, multidisciplinary engineering students are uniquely trained to solve problems that span multiple engineering disciplines.

Dr. Timothy Jacobs, professor and Steve Brauer Jr. ’02 Faculty Fellow, will serve as interim department head. Jacobs joined the College of Engineering in 2006 as a professor in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 2017, he became director of Interdisciplinary Engineering for Undergraduate and Graduate Programs.

“What an honor it is to pilot the first department of its kind,” Jacobs said. “We feel the curriculum we are continuing to develop will train future engineers to overcome obstacles in a new way and propel us into a future that we cannot even imagine. The most fulfilling element is knowing we are addressing a serious deficiency in what industry needs in its engineers.”

While the interdisciplinary engineering program has been around for several years, the College of Engineering made the decision to transform this program into a department in order to answer the call from industry to produce engineers who are multidisciplinary in their thinking.

We want to enhance opportunities for students to explore the intersection of engineering disciplines. We are establishing a new multidisciplinary engineering department to ensure our students have every opportunity to broadly contribute to the engineering profession.

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M Engineering vice chancellor and dean
“We want to enhance opportunities for students to explore the intersection of engineering disciplines,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M Engineering vice chancellor and dean. “We are establishing a new multidisciplinary engineering department to ensure our students have every opportunity to broadly contribute to the engineering profession.”

Jacobs said this department will help train engineers who can connect the dots among engineering disciplines more effectively.

“That’s why we decided to transform this program into a full-blown department,” Jacobs said. “Our goal is to train future leaders to transform the engineering industries of tomorrow.”

The department offers a multifaceted approach to curriculum creation and degree plans. Undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary engineering, following a degree plan that they work with multidisciplinary advisors to develop. Nearly half of this degree is open to flexibility, meaning a student can design about half of their curriculum to meet their specific interdisciplinary interests.

“By focusing on long-term career goals, we can help our students hone in on their interests and focus on the future,” Jacobs said.

The department also offers numerous pre-approved degree plans that span multiple disciplines or colleges. One such degree is the Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering. Students take courses in the College of Architecture as well as within the College of Engineering.

The department also offers two combined degree programs allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary engineering and either a Master of Public Health or a Juris Doctor degree.

For graduate students, the department offers degrees with focus areas in subsea engineering, cybersecurity and systems engineering. Again, students can work with the department to design a degree program that spans multiple traditional departments or colleges. Through a partnership with the College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital, students can earn an M.D. degree and a Master of Engineering degree.

“We’re excited to be a part of our college’s mission to transform engineering education,” Jacobs said. “We are confident that this innovative approach will produce successful engineers who will become leaders in industry.”