The Engineering Nexus provides a path from the traditional disciplines of the liberal arts to a career in engineering. Engineers are trained to solve a diverse set of problems, and a student may major in the field of science or mathematics most closely allied to the engineering subfield in which she is interested. Combining a science or mathematics major with some additional course work and summer internships in engineering is excellent preparation for future graduate work in engineering or employment in engineering-related fields. While the Engineering Nexus explicitly is not an engineering degree or accreditation, it is intended as a route into the field of engineering. The experiential portion of the Nexus involves completing a summer internship in the field of engineering. This may be participating in a formal Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in an academic laboratory, a summer internship with an engineering firm, working abroad for the summer in an engineering laboratory, or other options. Given the diversity of engineering, a wide range of courses can count towards the Nexus, but students must consult with a Nexus advisor to determine a program that will match her interests and goals.

Track Chair

Professor Kathy Aidala

Engineering Committee

  • Kathy Aidala (Physics)
  • Dylan Shepardson (Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Audrey Lee St. John (Computer Science)
  • Wei Chen (Chemistry)
  • Tim Farnham (Environmental Studies)


Courses can be chosen from this list of faculty-approved courses for your Nexus track.  Students planning a Nexus in Engineering must consult with a member of the Engineering Committee to discuss an area of interest and design a plan of study that will include an experiential component linked to the specific area of focus. 

Example Programs

Colleen wants to work in electrical engineering. As a physics major, she takes several relevant courses, including Electricity and Magnetism (Physics 201) and Electronics (Physics 308). For her Nexus, she takes Computer Science 211, Data Structures and Chemistry 320: Introduction to Nanoscience and Technology, and enrolls in Physics 290 or 390, Advanced Laboratory Practicum. She spends her summer at IBM, working with a team of engineers and learning more about the different subfields of electrical engineering. When she returns, she enrolls in COLL 211, Tying It All Together, and decides to take an advanced course in Electrical Engineering at UMass, ECE 344, Semiconductor Devices and Materials. 

Samantha has always loved math and science and is interested in the way engineers solve problems, but has not yet determined what type of engineering she wishes to pursue. She decides to be a mathematics major, and completes Computer Science 211, Data Structures and Physics 308, Electronics for the Nexus, in addition to Physics 290 or 390, Advanced Laboratory Practicum. She finds an applied math summer research internship, and enrolls in COLL 211, Tying It All Together. During her senior year, she decides to take Smith’s EGR 410D, Engineering Design Clinic, a full-year course that provides the opportunity for teams of students to solve a real-world problem. 

Bianca loves physics and chemistry, and wants to pursue materials engineering in graduate school. She decides to be a physics major and take Chem 201, General Chemistry II and Chem 202, Organic Chemistry I for the Nexus, in addition to Physics 290 or 390, Advanced Laboratory Practicum. She spends her summer doing research in a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at a university, and returns to take COLL 211, Tying It All Together, and enrolls in Smith’s EGR 375, Strength of Materials.