College Bulletin 2022-2023 
    May 18, 2024  
College Bulletin 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]





MAGGIE DELANO, Assistant Professor
VIDYA GANAPATI, Assistant Professor3
ALLAN MOSER, Visiting Professor
FIONA O’DONNELL, Visiting Assistant Professor
STEPHEN PHILLIPS, Visiting Assistant Professor
MICHAEL PIOVOSO, Visiting Professor
SOPHIA PLATA, Visiting Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow
JOSEPH TOWLES, Associate Professor
MATTHEW A. ZUCKER, Associate Professor and Chair
ANN RUETHER, Academic Support Coordinator
EDMOND JAOUDI, Electronics, Instrumentation, and Computer Specialist
J. JOHNSON, Machine Shop Supervisor
CASSY BURNETT, Administrative Coordinator

1 Absent on leave, Fall 2022
2 Absent on leave, Spring 2023
3 Absent on leave, 2022-2023

The professional practice of engineering requires creativity and confidence in applying scientific knowledge and mathematical methods to solve technical problems of ever-growing complexity. The pervasiveness of advanced technology within our economic and social infrastructures demands that engineers more fully recognize and take into account the potential economic and social consequences that may occur when significant and analytically well-defined technical issues are resolved. A responsibly educated engineer must not only be in confident command of current analytic and design techniques but also have a thorough understanding of social and economic influences and an abiding appreciation for cultural and humanistic traditions. Our program supports these needs by offering each engineering student the opportunity to acquire a broad yet individualized technical and liberal education.

The Academic Program

As stated in the introduction of this catalog, Swarthmore seeks to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential, combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.

Within this context, the Engineering Department seeks to graduate students with a broad, rigorous education, emphasizing strong analysis and synthesis skills. Our graduates will be well rounded and understand the broader impacts of engineering. They will have the skills to adapt to new technical challenges, communicate effectively, and collaborate well with others.

The Engineering Department and its students provide to the College community a unique perspective that integrates technical and nontechnical factors in the design of solutions to multifaceted problems.


Graduates of our program will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Be flexible and resourceful, able to learn and apply new knowledge, and to adapt successfully to novel circumstances and challenges.
  • Communicate and work effectively with people with a broad variety of backgrounds at both a technical and nontechnical level.
  • Apply engineering principles and methodology to the design and analysis of systems and to the solution of a wide variety of problems.
  • Consider scientific, technologic, ethical, societal, economic, political and/or environmental issues in a local or global context, as appropriate.

Course Major

Engineering majors must complete requirements from two categories: (1) 12 engineering credits and (2) 8 credits in math and science, at least 3 in math and 3 in science. No courses taken at Swarthmore and intended to satisfy these departmental requirements may be taken credit/no credit, except those taken fall semester in the first year. The requirements are detailed below, with math and science discussed separately.

Math and Science Requirement

To fulfill the math and science requirement for the engineering major, students must receive at least eight credits in math and science (for this purpose science is defined as biological, chemical, and physical sciences). All of the courses used to fulfill the requirement must be acceptable for the minimal major in the offering department. The science courses must include two credits of college level physics, and one credit of either biology or chemistry. All but one of the science courses must include a substantial laboratory component. Students must have either placement or credit for: Elementary Single Variable Calculus (MATH 015 ); Further Topics in Single Variable Calculus (MATH 025 ); Several-Variable Calculus (MATH 033 MATH 034 , or MATH 035 ); and Differential Equations (MATH 043  or MATH 044 ). The minimal requirement is three credits in Mathematics. Students are recommended to take Linear Algebra (MATH 027  or MATH 028 ), which can count as a fifth math credit of the eight required math and science credits.

Engineering Requirement

Students majoring in engineering are required to take seven credits from the engineering core courses: Mechanics (ENGR 006 ), Electric Circuit Analysis (ENGR 011 ), Linear Physical Systems Analysis (ENGR 012 ), Experimentation for Engineering Design (ENGR 014 ), Fundamentals of Digital and Embedded Systems (ENGR 015 ) or Numerical Methods for Engineering Applications (ENGR 019 ), Thermofluid Mechanics (ENGR 041 ) and Engineering Design (ENGR 090 ). ENGR 019  may count as an engineering elective if taken after ENGR 015  (and vice versa).

In their first semester students typically will take 1.0 credit of engineering, choosing between Electric Circuit Analysis (ENGR 011 ) and Fundamentals of Digital and Embedded Systems (ENGR 015 ) in accordance with their interests and high school preparation. A student with a very full schedule in the first semester can also opt to take no engineering courses until the spring without falling behind in degree requirements. Mechanics (ENGR 006 ) is usually taken in the spring of the first year. Linear Physical Systems Analysis (ENGR 012 ) and Experimentation for Engineering Design (ENGR 014 ) are usually taken in the spring of the sophomore year. Numerical Methods for Engineering Applications (ENGR 019 ) can be taken in the spring of the sophomore, junior or senior year. Thermofluid Mechanics (ENGR 041 ) can be taken in the fall of the junior or senior year. Engineering Design (ENGR 090 ) is the culminating experience for engineering majors and must be taken by all majors in spring of senior year. Submission and oral presentation of the final project report in Engineering Design constitutes the comprehensive examination for engineering majors.

Elective Program for Course Majors

Each student devises a program of advanced work in the department in consultation with his or her adviser. The choice of electives is submitted for departmental approval as part of the formal application for a major in engineering during the spring semester of the sophomore year.

A student’s elective program may or may not conform to some traditional or conventional area of engineering specialization (e.g., computer, electrical, mechanical, or civil). The department therefore requires each plan of advanced work to have a coherent, well-justified program that meets the student’s stated educational objectives.

At most one credit of directed reading (ENGR 093 ) may be counted for the major.

At most one Swarthmore course taught by a faculty member outside the Engineering Department can count as one of the 12 engineering credits required for the major.

Normally a maximum of 2.5 transfer credits that are preapproved by the Engineering Department will be accepted as partial fulfillment of the 12 engineering credits required for the major. Exceptions to this rule include students who transfer to Swarthmore and others with special circumstances; the amount of credit accepted in their cases will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the department chair.

Students should be aware that most lecture courses at other institutions carry only 0.75 Swarthmore credits, unless they include a full lab sequence. Students who wish to receive credit for courses taken at other institutions, including those taken abroad, as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the major should consult their academic advisers and the chair of the Engineering Department as early as possible to ensure that all requirements are met.

The courses available for traditional elective programs include the following:

  • Electrical engineering group. Electronic Circuit Analysis, Physical Electronics, Electromagnetism, Communication Systems, Digital Signal Processing, and Control Theory and Design. Students having an interest in digital systems might replace one or more of these courses with Embedded Systems, Principles of Computer Architecture, Mobile Robotics or Computer Vision.
  • Computer engineering group. Principles of Computer Architecture, Embedded Systems, Computer Graphics, Computer Vision, Computational Optics, Mobile Robotics, Operating Systems, and Compilers. Students with an interest in computer hardware may include Electronic Circuit Analysis, Physical Electronics, Digital Signal Processing, and Control Theory and Design.
  • Mechanical engineering group. Mechanics of Solids, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Thermal Energy Conversion, Solar Energy Systems, and Control Theory and Design.
  • Civil and environmental engineering group. Mechanics of Solids, Structural Analysis, Geotechnical Engineering: Theory and Design, and Water Quality and Pollution Control. Additional courses include Operations Research and Environmental Systems for those interested in the environment or urban planning; or Structural Design for those interested in architecture and construction. Other recommended courses include Solar Energy Systems and Fluid Mechanics.

Course Minor

Academic Advising

Students interested in pursuing a minor must have a faculty member within the Engineering Department to advise them. If possible, this faculty member should have interests that overlap the area of the minor. Students who encounter difficulties in identifying an adviser should seek the assistance of the chair of the Engineering Department. Students who plan to minor in engineering should regularly consult their engineering advisers. The sophomore papers of engineering minors should indicate the plan to minor and the courses chosen to fulfill the minor.


A minimum of 5 credits in engineering is required, of which at least 2 but not more than 3 must be core courses (ENGR 006 , ENGR 011 ENGR 012 ENGR 014 , ENGR 015 ENGR 019  or ENGR 041 , but not ENGR 090 ). The remainder will be selected from elective course offerings within the department. Only those electives that count toward an engineering major can be counted toward a minor. No courses taken at Swarthmore and intended to satisfy these departmental requirements, except those taken fall semester in the first year, may be taken credit/no credit.

At most one Swarthmore course taught by a faculty member outside the Engineering Department can count as one of the 5 engineering credits required for the minor.

Supporting work in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science is necessary only when designated as a prerequisite to an individual engineering course.

No directed readings (ENGR 093 ) may be used as one of the 5 credits for the minor.

A maximum of 1 transfer credit that is preapproved by the Engineering Department will be accepted as partial fulfillment of the minor requirements. Transfer credits will not count for any of the three courses used to fulfill the core course requirement of the minor. No culminating experience will be required. Only students pursuing the major in engineering may enroll in ENGR 090.

Areas of Study

Although packaged selections of courses will be suggested as options for those interested in an engineering minor, students may tailor their programs to meet individual needs and interests in consultation with their advisers.

Honors Major

Students with a B+ average among courses in the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering may apply for an honors major in engineering. This B+ average must be maintained through the end of the junior year to remain in the Honors Program. A listing of preparations supported by existing engineering courses is appended. Credits from approved attachments or special topics courses may substitute for not more than 1 credit within any preparation.

Honors majors must complete the same requirements as course majors in engineering.

The honors major in engineering is a four-examination program that includes three preparations in engineering (the major) and one minor preparation. Each area comprises 2 credits of work. The preparations may include ENGR 090  and/or one other core course.

The minor preparation must comprise at least 2 credits of work approved by any department or program outside engineering.

Each major candidate must accumulate 12 credits in engineering, including ENGR 090 , and the same number of science and math credits as required of course majors.

If one of the major preparations includes ENGR 090 , it must be paired with an appropriately related upper-level engineering elective or a 1-credit honors thesis to be completed in the fall semester of senior year. Honors thesis credit may not substitute for any of the 12 engineering credits required for the bachelor of science. Candidates who choose an honors thesis will complete at least 13 credits in engineering and 33 across the College. The two additional major preparations must each comprise two related, upper-level engineering electives. A précis of not more than 12 pages (including tables and figures) of each candidate’s ENGR 090  project must be submitted by the end of the 10th week of the spring semester for mailing to the relevant honors examiner. The final ENGR 090  report will not be mailed to any examiner but may be brought to the oral examinations.

Honors Minor

Every engineering honors minor preparation must include two related upper-level engineering electives for which all prerequisites must be satisfied. Credits from official attachments or special topics courses in engineering may substitute for not more than one of the two upper-level courses within an engineering minor preparation.

Prerequisites to upper-level engineering electives may be waived by the department, depending on the student’s documentation of equivalent work in another department at the time of application.

Prospective engineering majors and minors receive more specific information about Course and Honors Programs from the department each December. Additional information is also available on the Engineering Department website.

Application Process Notes for the Major or the Minor

A form to aid in planning a proposed program of study is available on the department website. This form must be completed and submitted as part of the Sophomore Plan. All engineering courses are to be listed on this form in the appropriate semesters. Check prerequisites carefully when completing the program planning form. Courses, prerequisites and their availability are listed in the College Catalog. Note that many courses are offered yearly, others in alternate years, and some only when demand and staffing permit. An updated prospective two-year schedule is also available on the website.

Courses Readily Available to Students Not Majoring or Minoring in Engineering

Problems in Technology (ENGR 003 ), Art and Engineering of Structures (ENGR 007 ) and Fundamentals of Food Engineering (ENGR 010 ) are designed for students contemplating only an introduction to engineering. Mechanics (ENGR 006 ) is primarily for prospective majors, but other interested students, particularly those preparing for careers in architecture or biomechanics, are encouraged to enroll. Environmental Protection (ENGR 004A ), Operations Research (ENGR 057 ), Solar Energy Systems (ENGR 035 ), Water Quality and Pollution Control (ENGR 063 ) and Environmental Systems (ENGR 066 ) appeal to many students majoring in other departments, particularly those pursuing an environmental studies major or minor. Students interested in computers, including computer science majors or minors, may wish to consider Fundamentals of Digital and Embedded Systems (ENGR 015 ), Principles of Computer Architecture (ENGR 025 ), Computer Vision (ENGR 027 ), and Mobile Robotics (ENGR 028 ) and Computational Optics (ENGR 030 ). Students majoring in the physical sciences or mathematics may enroll routinely in advanced engineering courses.

Note that Problems in Technology, Environmental Protection, Art and Engineering of Structures, and Fundamentals of Food Engineering are not admissible as technical electives within an engineering major or minor but may be taken as free electives subject to the 20-course rule.

Off-Campus Study

Engineering majors or minors considering off-campus study should consult their academic advisors as early as possible to ensure that all requirements are met.

Students should obtain advance approval from the department before taking any course off-campus (including courses at the University of Pennsylvania) intended to count towards the major or minor. The faculty member in the department whose teaching/research area overlaps most closely with the course will review the course syllabus and other available information in consultation with the department chair.

Most Engineering courses at other institutions carry only 0.75 Swarthmore credits unless they include a full lab sequence. 

Courses taken off campus will typically not be approved to count in lieu of core courses for the Engineering major or minor.


Engineering Courses

Preparation for Honors Examinations

The department will arrange honors examinations in the following areas to be prepared for by the combinations of courses indicated. Other preparations are possible by mutual agreement.

Communications and Signal Processing
ENGR 078   Communication Systems
ENGR 071   Digital Signal Processing

Computer Architecture
ENGR 025 /CPSC 052   Principles of Computer Architecture
ENGR 029   Embedded Systems

Electromagnetic Theory
ENGR 075   Electromagnetic Theory I
ENGR 076   Electromagnetic Theory II

ENGR 072    Electronic Circuit Applications
ENGR 073   Physical Electronics

Environmental Systems
ENGR 057 /ECON 032   Operations Research
ENGR 066   Environmental Systems

Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics
ENGR 084   Heat Transfer
ENGR 041   Thermofluid Mechanics

Integrated Electronics
ENGR 072   Electronic Circuit Applications
ENGR 029   Embedded Systems

Mobile Robotics and Machine Vision
ENGR 027 /CPSC 072   Computer Vision
ENGR 028 /CPSC 082   Mobile Robotics

Signals and Systems
ENGR 058   Control Theory and Design
ENGR 071    Digital Signal Processing or ENGR 055  Statistical Signal Processing

Solar Thermal Systems
ENGR 035   Solar Energy Systems
ENGR 081   Thermal Energy Conversion or ENGR 084  Heat Transfer

Structural Analysis and Design
ENGR 060   Structural Analysis
ENGR 062   Structural Design

Structural Mechanics
ENGR 059   Mechanics of Solids
ENGR 060   Structural Analysis

Structures and Soil
ENGR 060   Structural Anaylsis
ENGR 061   Geotechnical Engineering: Theory and Design

Thermal Energy Conversion and Heat Transfer
ENGR 081   Thermal Energy Conversion
ENGR 084   Heat Transfer

Image Information and Processing
ENGR 027 /CPSC 072   Computer Vision
ENGR 030   Computational Optics

Water Quality and Fluid Mechanics
ENGR 063   Water Quality and Pollution Control
ENGR 041   Thermofluid Mechanics

Water Quality and Supply Systems
ENGR 063   Water Quality and Pollution Control
ENGR 066   Environmental Systems