FAQs for Undergraduates
(for students matriculating in fall 2020 and after)
What are the main differences between the new (for students entering in fall 2020 and after) and old MEAM curriculums?
- The new MEAM curriculum consists of 37 CUs rather than 40 CUs.
- Students will no longer be required to take chemistry lab (CHEM 053).
- A new (required) sophomore-level course, MEAM 202, will introduce students to fundamental topics in thermal and fluids engineering.
- Students will have the option to declare a concentration in one of three areas of focus: (i) Dynamics, Controls, and Robotics; (ii) Energy, Fluids, and Thermal Systems; and (iii) Mechanics of Materials, Structures and Design.
Do I have to declare a concentration?
- No, concentrations are optional. If you do not declare a concentration, you must follow the “general curriculum” as outlined in the BSE requirements and MEAM undergraduate handbook.
- Note that the “general curriculum” is the default curriculum for all incoming freshmen.
- Whether you follow the general curriculum or declare a concentration, you are required to take 37 CUs for your MEAM BSE degree.
I’ve heard that CHEM 101 and BIOL 121 have lab components. Am I required to take those?
We only require that you enroll in the lecture component (equivalent to 1 CU) of one of these courses. When registering in Penn in Touch, you should look for “CHEM 101” or “BIOL 121.” EAS 091 credit will also satisfy this requirement.
Is there a social science and humanities depth requirement?
For students who entered in fall 2020 and after, there is not a depth requirement for social sciences and humanities.
Can I declare more than one concentration?
MEAM students may only formally declare one concentration.
I entered MEAM prior to fall 2020. Can I use the new 37 CUs worksheet?
If you matriculated prior to fall 2020, you must use your class year’s worksheet. You may not use or petition to use the new 37 CUs worksheet.
I enrolled as a sophomore-level transfer student in fall 2020. Which version of the curriculum do I follow?
You should follow the curriculum that corresponds to the year you would have entered Penn as a freshman: in this case, you would be following the curriculum for students who entered in fall 2019 (40 CUs curriculum).
What courses should I plan to take this semester?
The MEAM undergraduate handbook contains a sample schedule for students in the major. You should consult your entering class’s handbook (transfer students should consult the handbook that corresponds with the year they would have entered as freshmen). The sample schedules included in the handbook are just an example of the common trajectory for MEAM students. If you believe you have an unusual academic circumstance and are unsure of what to take next, you should consult with your faculty advisor or the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
What should I do if I haven’t fulfilled the prerequisite for a MEAM course?
The MEAM curriculum follows a specific structure in which core courses build upon foundational principles and concepts in mathematics, physics, and engineering. Thus, it is very important for you to stay on track with your STEM requirements. If, however, you have an extenuating circumstance and you do not meet the prerequisites for a specific course, you should initiate a conversation with the instructor about your background prior to the start of the course. Enrollment is at the instructor’s discretion in these cases
The course I want to register for appears to be full. What should I do?
- If it is a MEAM course, you should first check to see if it is part of the current MEAM waitlist. If it isn’t on the waitlist, keep checking Penn in Touch to see if a spot becomes available.
- For Engineering Entrepreneurship courses, please contact Ms. Angela Busichio (firstname.lastname@example.org) for course status.
- For non-MEAM courses, keep checking Penn in Touch. You can also check with the course’s academic department to see if a waitlist is being maintained for the course.
How do I find out what courses can count as a math requirement, natural science requirement, social science, etc.?
- You should always reference the SEAS undergraduate handbook course category lists. When in doubt, check with the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator for a course’s most appropriate classification.
- For students entering in fall 2020 and after, any course that SEAS considers to be math, natural science or engineering may be used as a technical elective.
- For students entering prior to fall 2020, any course that SEAS considers to be math, natural science or engineering may be used for a professional elective requirement within the professional electives section of the worksheet.
What counts as a MEAM upper level course?
Any course at the 500-level that is listed with a MEAM prefix counts as a MEAM upper level (eg. MEAM 510, MEAM 536), excluding MEAM 599. If a course is cross-listed, MEAM majors should take the course under the MEAM cross-listing. If you are a student who has entered in fall 2020 or after, you should consult your MEAM undergraduate handbook for a list of acceptable upper level courses for your chosen concentration.
Can I take a course other than EAS 203 for the Ethics requirement?
- If you are a MEAM single degree student, no: EAS 203 is the only accepted course for the ethics requirement.
- If you are a M&T student, you may petition to count LGST 100 for the ethics requirement, and if you are a VIPER student, you may apply VIPR 120/121 to the requirement. Petitions will not be considered for other circumstances.
How can I plan for a minor or accelerated master’s in addition to my MEAM BSE degree?
- With careful planning, many engineering minors and other Penn minors fit into the MEAM degree requirements with minimal disruption or additional credits. You should review the requirements for your intended minor to see where areas of overlap might occur with the MEAM major. If you have specific questions about cross-counting courses for your major and minor, you should speak with the coordinator for the minor and/or the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator. Remember that your primary focus should always be on completing your undergraduate major requirements.
- Students pursuing the accelerated master’s in MEAM will typically use their three required MEAM Upper Level courses as the double counts between their undergraduate and master’s degrees.
I’m interested in study abroad. Where should I start?
The Steps to Study Abroad page contains a checklist of to-dos and contacts if you are planning to study abroad. The MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator can assist you with understanding the XCAT submission process and MEAM-specific study abroad guidelines, once you have already met with a Penn Global Advisor.
Can I take classes at another institution over the summer?
Yes, but there are limits. The MEAM department does not allow for MEAM majors to complete major-required coursework (including the MEAM Core, Concentration Courses, and MEAM Upper Levels) to be completed at other institutions. If you are seeking to take a course in another department (eg. chemistry, biology), you should consult that Penn department’s webpage or with the program’s coordinator to confirm whether it is possible to receive credit away. If the department allows for these requests, you must submit course information and the credit request through the XCAT system.
You can read more about Penn Engineering’s credit away policy here.
I want to change my faculty advisor assignment. How do I do that?
Send a request to the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator. It is helpful if you can say what you are looking for in a new advisor (specific research area, familiarity with a certain industry, etc.) or if you have a particular advisor in mind.
I’m currently in another major, but I want to switch to MEAM. What should I do?
If you are currently a Penn Engineering student, you will need to complete the change of curriculum form, which requires your current faculty advisor’s signature. For questions about the MEAM major and its curriculum, or to submit your change of curriculum form, contact the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
If you are enrolled in another undergraduate school, you will need to follow the process for a transfer to Penn Engineering. Contact the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator for any MEAM-specific questions
I want to take more than 5.5 CUs. How do I request a credit increase?
You may only request an increase beyond 5.5 CUs if you have already completed a full semester at Penn and are in good academic standing. Only dual degree students may request credit increases during the advance registration period; single degree MEAM students must wait to request a credit increase until after their most recent semester grades have posted. You will need your faculty advisor’s approval for an increase. You can view a flowchart outlining the MEAM credit increase process here.
What’s a petition? How do I submit one?
- A “petition for action” is a special form that is required whenever you are attempting to deviate from Penn Engineering course requirements. To submit a petition, you should download the form, state your request, consult with your faculty advisor and obtain their signature. After you have received your advisor’s signature, bring the form to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in Towne 229 (please see this page for the fall 2020 petitions procedure). The Undergraduate Program Coordinator will obtain the signature of the Undergraduate Chair and deliver the completed form to Research and Academic Services.
- During the academic year, petitions are reviewed weekly. In order to be reviewed at the weekly meeting, all fully-completed petitions must be submitted to Research and Academic Services (Towne 109) by Tuesdays at noon. If you are asking the Undergraduate Program Coordinator to obtain the Undergraduate Chair’s signature, you must bring your form to the MEAM office no later than Mondays at 4:00pm.
- Some circumstances require the use of the MEAM core requirement substitution form; more information is found in a subsequent dropdown on this same page.
I was told that I need to submit a “detailed academic plan” as part of my petition. What exactly is a “detailed academic plan?”
A detailed academic plan should clearly outline the courses/requirements you have already fulfilled and the courses/requirements you intend to take, in a semester-by-semester view up to graduation. The detailed academic plan should confirm that you are on track to complete your undergraduate degree requirements and that you are taking a reasonable course load each semester. When creating your academic plan, be sure to list the course number, credits (CUs), and satisfied requirement for each course.
What’s the MEAM core requirement substitution form?
The MEAM core requirement substitution form is a special form that is needed whenever you are attempting to deviate from MEAM degree requirements, specifically in the Engineering, Professional Electives, and/or MEAM Core sections of your worksheet. Completed forms should be submitted to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for review and processing.
I should have retroactive credit for a mathematics course, but I do not see it reflected on my worksheet. What should I do?
Retroactive credit is not awarded automatically. Instead, you must visit the math department in DRL and fill out the request form for retroactive credit. Please do not wait until senior year to make this request. Once your retroactive credit is approved, you should see it appear on both your transcript and your worksheet. You can read about the math department’s retroactive credit policy here.
How do I get involved in research?
Many MEAM students pursue research opportunities throughout their undergraduate careers. A good place to start is by (i) talking to your academic advisor and (ii) reviewing the main research areas of MEAM faculty; each hyperlinked faculty profile contains more information on that faculty member’s research. It’s also wise to keep up with our MEAM news, where you can find more details about specific innovations and projects.
Once you have identified faculty or research labs of interest, we recommend reaching out to those faculty to see if any opportunities might be available. The Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board has compiled a helpful guide that walks you through how to get involved with research.
For other research-related opportunities and funding, we also recommend checking out the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) website.
How can I learn about what careers MEAM students pursue after graduation?
- MEAM graduates pursue a variety of career paths and advanced degrees. Recent first destinations for our alumni include Apple, BCG, Boeing, Microsoft, SpaceX, and the Walt Disney Company. We encourage you to review the Career Services post-graduate outcomes page for additional employer destinations.
- Every fall, the MEAM department hosts a Student Development Career Series, culminating in an Alumni Panel. At this event, current undergraduates have the opportunity to hear from program alumni about their career paths. The ASME student chapter also hosts an annual networking dinner.
- If you are a MEAM alum who might be interested in participating in a future event, please contact the MEAM Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
I am a prospective student interested in MEAM. Who can I talk to about the program?
- We’re so glad that you are interested in becoming a part of our department! We encourage all prospective undergraduates to look at our undergraduate webpages and to view the Penn Engineering virtual tour (one of our recent MEAM alums is featured!). Students should also check the Visit Penn Engineering page to see if on-campus programming, including school tours, is available at the time of their visit. Please note that school tours do require advance reservations.
- As Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics is a functioning academic department, we regret that we may not be able to accommodate all requests for visits or tours at the department-level.
I have questions about the MEAM lab spaces and facilities. Who should I talk to?
Depending on the nature of the question, you should either speak with our Manager of Manufacturing and Fabrication Services or our Educational Laboratory Coordinator. Contact information is located on this page.