Every September, honeydew melons take flight on Sweeney Field. As part of an industrial design course, students haul winged cardboard inventions to the field to see whose design keeps the fruit airborne the longest. This year, the contest had a twist: to give the project a new perspective, each team of industrial design students partnered with an electromechanical engineering student.
This kind of mingling between majors is something Dr. Russell Pinizzotto, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, is promoting across the Institute. “We can’t just isolate the students in these specialties; they have to have the opportunity to do other things,” he says. “I want students in civil engineering to be able to take a class in construction management if they want to.”
This philosophical shift is reflected in a comprehensive organizational shift. In January, Wentworth’s academic departments were arranged into four colleges—with four deans who focus on strategy and 15 department chairs who give a tactical perspective. There is also a new position that will be responsible for monitoring collaboration across academic disciplines. It is, Pinizzotto says, a more efficient structure, enabling critical curricula changes and the introduction of more interdisciplinary initiatives and new programs.
“Everybody, from our employers to the National Academy of Science and Engineering to all of our other professional societies, is saying that they need students who are broader in their outlooks and have more expertise across various lines. We are going to have to change faster as the whole employment picture changes faster,” says Dr. Pinizzotto. —JULIE BARR