Olin College of Engineering

Basic Information

Address: Olin College of Engineering 1000 Olin Way Needham MA
County: MA
Phone Number: 7812922257

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Additional Information

School Type: Undergraduate
Accreditation: NECHE, ABET
State District ID: United States
Founded: 1997
Ages/Grades: 17-22
School Size: 350 students
Student/Teacher Ratio: 8:1



The Olin curriculum is based on the idea that engineering starts with people -- understanding who we’re designing for, what they value, and where opportunities to create value exist -- and ends with people -- appreciating the social context of our work and making a positive difference in the world. At Olin, students learn how to envision positive change and also how to realize and deliver that change.

At Olin, students start engineering right away, with three classes in the first semester that provide hands-on experiences in several areas of engineering. And throughout the curriculum, students stay engaged by working on projects connected to real-world challenges. In their first year, students also begin to explore the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as entrepreneurship, and are able to directly integrate and apply this learning in all areas of the curriculum.

Design and Entrepreneurship starts in the first semester with DESIGN NATURE, where students design and build mechanical systems inspired by animals that hop, crawl and swim. Later, in User-Oriented Collaborative Design, they get off campus to observe, interview, and interact with user groups, then design products and services that create value for people. Students choose from several design depth classes, often related to their majors. And in their senior year, they work on year-long projects to solve real problems for companies and communities in the ENGINEERING CAPSTONES.

Work in Modeling and Analysis starts in MODELING AND SIMULATION, where students develop the toolkit of engineering analysis, including physical modeling, computer simulation and mathematical analysis. In Linearity, a unique two-semester sequence, students learn mathematical tools used throughout engineering, including linear algebra and vector calculus. All students take classes in physics, chemistry or Materials Science and Modern Biology.
Systems and Control includes MODELING AND CONTROL, a hands-on introduction to mechanical and electrical systems, and Real World Measurements, where students build instruments that run experiments and collect data. Usually in the second year, students take PRINCIPLES OF ENGINEERING, where they work with classmates from other majors on a project involving electronic, mechanical and software components. Related electives include Robotics, Dynamics, Controls and Systems.

Every student completes an “AHS” (Arts, Humanities and Social Science) foundation course in their first semester in order to build strong skills in communication and contextual awareness, and may continue to develop these skills through advanced self-designed AHS study. All Olin students also take an introductory entrepreneurship course, PRODUCTS and MARKETS in their second semester, where they begin to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and learn the tools that are essential to realizing true and sustainable positive change. By their senior year, students are ready to solve real problems for companies and communities through the senior capstone engineering experiences (SCOPE and Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship).

The academic culture at Olin is collaborative. Many of our classes are taught in a studio environment where students have dedicated space, and all classes emphasize classroom activity (not just listening) and cooperative exploration. Students have flexibility to choose projects that align with their interests; faculty act as coaches, mentors and advisers, providing just-in-time instruction and helping student teams find the resources they need.
The curriculum at Olin is interdisciplinary. Students in all majors take a common set of classes that connect areas of engineering and integrate math, science, humanities and social science.