We had some student workers interview ten undergrads majoring in ten different majors to give you an insider's perspective on each one. For a full list of the sixteen majors offered through the Tufts School of Engineering, head to this page.
Where to first? Click below to jump to the majors you are interested in!
Human Factors Engineering
Interviewee: Michelle Sun '24 from Taipei, Taiwan
Do you find yourself saying "it's a great day to save lives" wholeheartedly? Do you love biology and technology? Do you enjoy having a polysyllabic major that makes people go "OOOoooh!" all the time? Is your heart in the lab (literally)? If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, then a degree in biomedical engineering (BME) might be the perfect fit for you!
Biomedical engineers work to improve the quality of human and animal life by studying how doctors and patients interact with medical equipment. This allows them to improve devices, drugs, and other therapeutic treatments, paving the way for future innovations in the medical field. Their work includes everything from imaging technologies to prosthetics to biocompatible drug delivery systems.
At Tufts, the BME major is divided into three focus areas: regenerative medicine, drug delivery, and biomedical devides. Projects range from silk-based nanocircuitry to lab-grown hearts to dissolvable bioelectronic devices, with endless possibilities in between.
According to Michelle, "I've always been fascinated by creations that seem impossible, and [BME] checks off all the boxes. My favorite part is tissue engineering; creating something from tiny stem cells to a fully functioning organ that could help someone is insanely interesting. I love that there is still so much to explore, and Tufts has definitely given me the knowledge, confidence, and resources to contribute to this fi eld!” These impressive BME projects are all possible thanks to a committed student body interested in medicine and biology and professors who are more than willing to support these passions. Furthermore, through Tufts’ co-op program, students gain valuable hands-on experience in many different BME subfields and combine problem-solving and innovative thinking with technical knowledge. So, whether you find yourself in a lab with other students or in a lecture taking notes, you’ll be ready to change the world as a Tufts BME!
Interviewee: Derin Gumustop '23 from Mt. Pleasant, SC
Do you find tiny things cute? Chemical engineering (ChemE) might be right up your alley, considering how small molecules are!
Chemical engineering seems easy to understand at first. After all, it's simply chemistry plus engineering, right? Add a little bit of this, a little bit of that, cook at 365 degrees, and voilà!
However, the field is much more complicated than you think. Derin chose to study ChemE—hear what he has to say. “What I love about chemical engineering is how broad of a discipline it is, and how far it reaches into different areas of technology. The unique skill set of designing processes from the lab to full-scale production allows for chemical engineers to tackle real world problems from energy to medicine. Tufts has given me the resources into this field to see the unlimited possibilities to make an impact on the quality of lives. Perhaps daunting but super exciting!”
Chemical engineers design almost all the equipment and processes used in manufacturing plants. They also develop chemical controls and specialty materials. In other words, there is a wide range of industries chemical engineers can enter, including pharmaceuticals, technology, and pollution remediation. At Tufts, students have designed biopharmaceuticals, consumer products, fuel cells, and more in their classes and labs. Others have pursued internships to learn about waste management and find new ways to deal with environmental crises (e.g. plastic waste). Some have explored nuclear physics and kinetics in order to design reactors. Our curriculum prepares students to think on the industrial scale, where factors like heat management, fluid transport, mass transport, and process control come into play. Chemical engineering is definitely an explosive, exciting field to explore if the intricacies of chemistry captures your attention. There will never be a dull moment!
Interviewee: Clarissa Garzon '24 from Boston, MA
Do you catch yourself admiring architecture? Were Legos your favorite childhood toy? Perhaps you should consider a future in civil engineering (CivE)!
From highways, buildings, bridges, and airports to irrigation systems, civil engineers have built the modern environments we live in. The discipline includes fields such as structural engineering, transportation engineering, and geotechnical engineering, and environmental fields such as irrigation engineering, wind energy engineering, soil engineering, and ocean engineering.
At Tufts, students can focus on the technical side of construction by studying how buildings are built and how they interact with society. Clarissa explains this unique major well: “One thing I enjoy about my major is how small of a group we are! That leads into another reason why I love my major: the collaborative nature of being a civil engineering student. The issues that we are preparing to solve involve working with many stakeholders and many other engineers and professionals. Lastly, and more personally, the reason I choose to be a civil engineering major is the hope that I can work on infrastructure that prioritizes communities and impacts on those communities, which are lessons that I have taken away from my classes.”
You might also study the science of soil behavior, create biodegradable concrete, or design LEED-certified buildings for the Tufts campus. Best of all, Boston is a city with unique engineering challenges, so students can study structures and environmental impacts in their backyard! Regardless of the path you choose, all CivEs will learn surveying techniques and develop a thorough understanding of construction materials, soil reactivity, and hydraulics. Your path to getting started can be as easy as taking the Introduction to Engineering class, Bridges for Resilient Cities.
Interviewee: Ellis Brown '23 from West Hartford, CT
And here comes the major everyone knows...or do you really?
Computer science engineering (CSE) is frequently mistaken for computer engineering and vice versa. In these two sections, let's clear up some of the misconceptions. First, CSE students focus primarily on the software side of computers. They work on algorithms for computer programs and digital tools. They also maintain operating systems and databases. As Ellis describes it, computer science is "problem solving with programming as your main tool."
Second, CSE students do not just program all day long. There are some branches in CSE that require more logic and problem-solving skills than coding. You may not have to be an expert in Java, SQL, C++, or Python to be a data analyst, a software tester, or a search engine optimization expert. And if you develop excellent habits in commenting and enjoy writing, you could become a technical writer! So, don't get scared away by the programming or math.
As one of the most popular majors at Tufts and a quickly growing field, CSE opportunities are endless! There are numerous clubs and events (i.e. Tufts Polyhack, Women in Computer Science, Black Students in Computer Science, JumboCode) that bring the CSE community together to solve problems, create apps, and gain experience. There are also many unique classes meant to encourage student exploration into CSE topics - from cybersecurity to cryptology to web design. And many students research augmented reality or virtual reality - working on sensory gloves, X-ray imaging systems, and educational programs. Research in bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction has also been gaining traction as professors partner with institutions like Logan Airport to develop scanning and targeting systems.
In addition, students can find co-ops and internships in various fields ranging from data science and analytics to software development to video games! CSE goes beyond the code!
Interviewee: Zack Rummler '23 from Portsmouth, NH
We've explored computer science engineering, so let's take a look at computer engineering (CPE). If you've ever wanted to know what makes a laptop or phone tick, then this is the discipline to check out!
Although it's only a few decades old, computer engineering has quickly risen to become one of the most popular fields around the world. Unlike those in computer science engineering, computer engineers examine the hardware technology more deeply. CPE students, like Zack, will study the relationship between the hardware and software side of computer systems. "The basic courses teach you about electrical components and the computer processor—a tiny device that runs all programs and applications on a computer by performing millions of mathematical operations per second," he says.
Students examine electrical components and programming interfaces in order to design and manufacture technological devices. They learn how to make a computer rather than how to use a computer. CPE is a broad discipline well-suited to those who are interested in technology as a whole. Some of our most popular industries our CPE students join are aerospace, cybersecurity, networking, and computer design.
Computer design is a rapidly growing field as more advances are made in microminiaturization. Some Tufts students are also working to increase the speed of computer processing by experimenting with parallel processors, superconducting materials, and artificial intelligence.
Interviewee: Nick Sokol '23 from Somerville, NJ.
One of the hottest and newest majors on the scene—data science! It's the buzzword among the computer science community—let's see why.
Data science is currently one of the most promising, in-demand fields. With the amount of data produced every day due to the web, it's an information tsunami! That's where data scientists come in. Effective data scientists gather, organize, analyze, maintain, and communicate trends so others can make data-driven decisions. Sounds like a lot, right? Data scientists are the cowboys of the computer world, wrangling herds of data into metaphorical fences. According to Nick, "The way I explain data science to people is that it's at the cross roads of computer science and math. It combines a lot of the core CS and math classes needed for those majors while having a few of its own required classes as well. It's one of the newest majors that Tufts offers...so it's been great to see it grow over the past few years along with the field of data science in general."
Students will learn how to analyze data to solve real-world problems through techniques such as statistics, data visualization, and machine learning. And with the co-op program, students can gain valuable industry experience and put the skills they learn—from SQL programming and modeling to technical communications—to the test!
Interviewee: Teo Patrosio '23 from New Mildford, NJ
Do you admire Ben Franklin and his lightning kit experiment? May I introduce you to electrical engineering (EE)...a way less dangerous way to play Zeus?
As you can guess, electrical engineering is all about electricity! This field focuses on utilizing electrical energy and providing the maximum possible power with minimal waste. "The electrical engineering major teaches students the breadth of knowledge required to be an electrical engineer such as circuits, logical foundations, programming, and design. On top of these foundations, students learn design and have opportunities to specialize in computer architecture, computation, robotics, and much, much more. I personally have focused on specialized hardware in a research setting targeting RTL, VLSI, and computer architecture problems. I have also gained industry-level software skills through internships. I think EE at Tufts fosters individuals' interests and allows every student to figure out the best path for them," Teo says.
The EE major has two tracks. Students can concentrate on analog EE, which is more physics-driven as classes are focused on wires and waves. They can also take the digital EE path, which is more data-focused and involves binary and computer logic. The digital track is actually closely aligned with the computer engineering major. Double-majoring potential for all overachievers!
Like most of the engineering majors at Tufts, electrical engineering is applicable everywhere (you might be noticing our interdisciplinary theme). From medicine to robotics to power distribution, students can combine their EE background with other disciplines.
Interviewees: Maddie Hallen '24 from Waterville, ME
It might not be easy being green - but it's arguably the most pressing task of the 21st century. If you agree, environmental engineering (EVE) could be your path to making an impact.
Environmental engineers consider the natural environment and the impact of human activities in order to develop a sustainable society. Their work is at the forefront of climate change resiliency and global health research. Examples of student projects include designing water purification systems, designing green buildings, and remediating sites contaminated by chemical spills or human activity. Maddie explains, "Environmental engineering is a challenging major that allows you to explore engineering in relation to sustainability and public health as well as more classic forms of engineering. I chose this major because I was interested in engineering for epidemiology, and courses such as Biostatistics and Public Health Engineering have allowed me to explore topics and nuances that I hadn't considered to be a part of the field before. The community of environmental engineers is collaborative and supportive, and we all share a common love for the environment and making our planet a better place. At this point in time, facing many global health crises related to climate, the work feels important and relevant, and keeps my motivation and passion strong."
Those studying EVE will learn about policy, urban planning, clean energy, chemistry, economics, history, public health, world culture, and justice in order to better serve their local and global communities. Tufts engineers aren't just amazing technically. They're also ethical, responsible, and oriented toward creating change.
Human Factors Engineering
Interviewee: Evy Miller-Nuzzo '24 from Newton, MA
Human factors engineering (HFE), also known as engineering psychology or ergonomics, is yet another multidisciplinary field of study that incorporates psychology, biology, computer science, cognitive brain science, and mechanical engineering.
Human factors engineers study how people interact with objects and how their mental, emotional, and physical states change. In other words, they incorporate the "human element" when designing products, processes, and systems that are safe and easy for people to use.
Evy describes her major this way: "HFE is a unique major at Tufts that combines the psychology side of design with the mechanical engineering side. The way humans interact with the world around them is a crucial part of how devices should be built, and so many of my classes focus on critical thinking and evaluating users. These perspectives are then put into use by other classes that teach us hard skills like coding, laser cutting, computer-aided design, and more. We're encouraged to apply our knowledge to flawed design and even products we come up with on our own. Once you learn about a human factors concept I promise you'll notice it everywhere you go—it's truly an applicable (and growing!) field."
The goal of HFE is to reduce human error, increase productivity, and enhance the user experience. Although many gravitate toward user interface/user experience (UI/UX) research, web design, artificial intelligence, and human-robot interaction, some students are applying the design thinking learned in classes to business fields like marketing and behavioral economics. Other students research for the military, design medical devices, investigate transportation accidents, and handle communications. At its core, this major is incredibly innovative, and Tufts is one of the few universities that offer it as an undergraduate major. As HFE is housed within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, students in the major can participate in the co-op program.
Interviewee: Andrew Daetz '23 from Mountain View, CA
If you like fiddling with gadgets, this last major will really grind your gears (in a good way). If we were to describe mechanical engineering (MechE) in one word, it would be "tangible." This major involves a lot of hands-on work. MechE deals with anything involving heat transfer, design, and movement in a mechanical system. In other words, mechanical engineering figure out how machines and devices work. Anything from car parts to a dishwasher to bike gears - these are all designed, built, and improved by mechanical engineers.
Tufts students learn about mechanics, thermodynamics, material science, and micro/nano-electromechanical systems. They also learn about engineering ethics and how to design projects that will have a global impact. After all, since machinery is everywhere, no industry is beyond the scope of mechanical engineering. Students are encouraged to look beyond gears and levers by branching out into the world of sustainable energy, biological systems, and the human brain, No wonder it's one of the most popular engineering majors at Tufts!
Andrew can explain the major with enthusiasm:"Mechanical engineering has been a great way for me to foster my passion for designing and creating unique solutions to everyday problems. The student body is extremely supportive and diverse, and the extensive group work we do ensures that our problem-solving skills combine to yield more than the sum of our individual ideas. Both the faculty and the facilities are top-notch as well, and the maker-spaces on campus are a home away from home for us students. MechE is certainly a lot of work, but there's never a dull moment!"
To get hands-on experience in a hands-on major, Tufts students can participate in our co-op program. They can also complete projects in design labs and machine shops. The Bray Lab and Nolop FAST Facility are some of the most popular maker-spaces visited by our MechE students, who take full advantage of the state-of-the-art equipment. Recently, students have made a medical prosthesis called the iWalker 2.0 and designed air-sensitive sensors for Covid-19 respirators. Others are working on an exoskeleton made with soft robotics, and many more are research small search and rescue robot designs!