Many universities ask applicants to indicate their interest in engineering on their freshman applications. Without having opportunities to work alongside engineers–or to engage them in conversation–I know that it can be difficult to envision the impact engineers make across disciplines. Exposure to cutting edge work within the engineering field is where Coursera, featured on Page 217 last week, and its partnership with Penn Professor Michael Kearns’ course, Networked Life, can prove to be very valuable to prospective engineers.
What exactly is Networked Life? It’s a flagship course for the Singh Program in Market and Social Systems Engineering (MKSE) that explores the science of modern social, technological, and biological networks. A required course for MKSE students, Networked Life introduces students to an innovative and high impact engineering discipline that combines rigorous coursework in computer science, network science, systems engineering, operations research, economics, and sociology.
During the semester, students will learn about the structure of the internet, diffusion of ideas through a network (think about how YouTube videos go viral), and game-changing companies like Google and Facebook, all the while connecting recent network data to classic models, such as those from epidemiology.
Taking Networked Life might also answer your lingering intellectual inquiries: how does Amazon know what books to recommend or how can Google make a profit selling search terms?
For those of you who have developed an iPhone app or created your own webpage, you understand the importance of pursuing interdisciplinary study with a focus on technical and entrepreneurial skill. Dr. Kearns observes that his course–and the MKSE program–reflects the significant “collision between computer science and the rest of the world, such as business and the arts.”
36,000+ students are already enrolled in Networked Life, which begins on September 10th; previous experience in computer science is not required. Take this course to explore the possibilities within engineering and, as you look toward completing your college list this fall, consider how the Singh Program in Market and Social Systems Engineering might meet your academic goals.