BXA Introduces New Engineering and Arts Curriculum – News

January 21, 2022

In response to student demands and as part of an expansion of areas of study at Carnegie Mellon University, a new degree program is being introduced, suitable for students with a strong background in math and science. sciences who also have strong creative talents and interests. The integrated degree, the Bachelor of Engineering Studies and Arts (BESA), is offered by the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs in partnership with the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts.

Applications for the BESA are open to CMU internal mobility students. The program will be part of the next cycle Common Application, for freshman enrollment in Fall 2023. Three current students have been admitted and they are looking forward to earning a degree that combines their interests.

Joey Mok (to the left), a sophomore in cello performance at the School of Music, is one of the students looking forward to earning a BESA degree. A cellist since third grade, Mok said it’s been a passion since middle school. He also longed to combine his STEM interests with music, and discovered this through BESA.

“I’m glad the program was in development around the same time I started attending CMU, as it allows me to study my two main interests: music and engineering,” Mok said. “Although my career path is not yet clear [at this point], the BESA program will allow me to decide what I want to pursue in the future.”

Prior to the creation of the BESA program, BXA and Engineering collaborated to develop the additional Engineering and Arts (EA) major at Carnegie Mellon, which allows students majoring in engineering to choose a concentration in architecture, art, theater or music within the College of Fine Arts. The curriculum is tailored to each student, whose main major is engineering. The program includes a capstone experience through BXA that combines students’ engineering and arts expertise in innovative ways.

“The EA Supplemental Major combined the strengths of engineering and the arts,” said Stephanie Murray, Senior Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Initiatives and Director/Academic Advisor/Teaching Professor, BXA. “The BESA takes the EA curriculum one step further, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree that combines engineering and arts expertise in equal parts, where EA students add arts training to their primary major.”


CMU sophomore Joey Mok plays cello and guitar. He said the new Bachelor of Engineering Studies and Arts allows him to combine his interests in music and STEM.

Thomas Sullivan, a professor teaching electrical and computer engineering and a lecturer at the School of Music, understands the attraction students have for the BESA program. Sullivan himself combines his knowledge of electrical engineering with his interest in music. He teaches, among other subjects, courses in signal processing for audio and music and electro-acoustic systems and is interested in the creation of new musical instruments.

“Many of our engineering students are very creative individuals and would love to apply their creative arts interests with their engineering education to a career rather than just a hobby,” Sullivan said. “As an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon myself in the early 80s, we had to invent these combinations in our engineering program by creatively using free elective units and course substitutions in the scope of our human sciences.

Programs like the BESA, Music and Technology, and IDeATe fields, as well as some minors, Sullivan said, provide students with the opportunity to engage with this intersection between engineering, science and the arts in a meaningful way. more structured.

“The use of modern technology in the arts is here to stay and will only grow,” he said. “Giving Carnegie Mellon students the opportunity to be at the forefront of these hybrid fields can only make the university appear stronger and more forward-looking.”

Annette Jacobson, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Teaching Professor of Chemical Engineering, helped establish the BESA curriculum. In doing so, Jacobson has worked with a team to ensure that the depth and breadth of engineering and the arts are reflected in the curriculum.

“The Engineering Studies portion of the BESA degree has been designed as an extension of the Minor in Engineering Studies that we currently offer at the College of Engineering to students interested in engineering courses but who are not enrolled in a major in engineering,” Jacobson said. “We welcome the opportunity to offer engineering courses to students whose interests lie at the unique intersection of engineering and the arts; this new program achieves that goal.”

“We are thrilled to work with the College of Engineering to offer this new degree,” said Murray. “We meet the needs of our students and prepare them for careers suited to their strengths – careers that will help them positively impact our world.”

Perry NaseckSenior Perry Naseck (to the right) her future career looms as she nears her graduation in May. the Art school major focuses his efforts on electronic and time-based media – especially interactive light and kinetic installations – but he wanted to have a comprehensive knowledge not only of the conceptualization of his pieces, but also of their construction. Naseck worked closely with Golan Levin, professor at the School of Art and co-director of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, to complete a course that would allow him to do both with the BESA degree. He also consulted professors and advisors in BXA and engineering.

“I pushed for this degree to become a reality,” Naseck said. “A BESA degree allows graduates to learn both the depth and breadth of arts and engineering. [It] bridges the gap between engineers and artists.”

His own career, he said, will likely focus on working for companies specializing in interactive art installations. His main project is to create a system that uses capacitive touch sensors that determine the interaction between humans and objects. To illustrate how this could work, Naseck used the example of a wall that can sense when it is touched. The sensors would become aware of a human presence and, in turn, illuminate or move sections of the wall accordingly.

“I am grateful to people like Golan [and other faculty], which are resources for me, and I know they will be lifelong bonds,” Naseck said. “At CMU, I learned not only the literal skills I need in art and engineering , but I also learned about collaboration and how to navigate a project, how to serve clients and how to function as a professional.”

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