Collaborative study at Northwestern Engineering

Scientific and engineering degrees aren’t usually seen as creative, but this couldn’t be further from the truth at Northwestern University, where students gain a unique edge by integrating their engineering degree with interdisciplinary initiatives.

The McCormick School of Engineering sets itself apart from the crowd with its collaborative approach to learning. In addition to collaborating across its eight departments, faculty and students collaborate with disciplines across the university and with institutions worldwide.

This approach is key to the school’s whole-brain engineering philosophy, which urges students to use both the logical and analytical left-brain thinking typically employed in science and engineering, along with the creative and intuitive right-brain thinking needed to innovate.

In our ever-progressing technological world, it’s impossible to predict what skills will remain useful throughout future years. By cultivating expertise in creative thinking and problem solving, while also imparting practical industry knowledge, Northwestern Engineering is educating students who are armed with a toolkit to become the leaders of global change.

This collaborative philosophy guides Northwestern Engineering researchers. At the intersection of engineering and health, Professor John Rogers is developing sensing technology that integrates seamlessly with the body, whilst Professor Vadim Backman is developing cancer detection technology in attempt to beat cancer before it becomes untreatable. Northwestern Engineering has strong relationships with both Northwestern’s highly ranked Feinberg School of Medicine and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, which is consistently named the top rehabilitation hospital in the country.

Recently, the school has also launched the innovative ‘CS+X’ program, which combines Computer Science with fields such as music, law, journalism, and robotics. Already, Northwestern University’s researchers have achieved amazing things by applying Computer Science to the arts. For example, Computer Science Professor Bryan Pardo combined his lifelong passion for music with his coding expertise to create audio production software that uses crowdsourcing to turn complicated production actions into easy-to-understand interfaces and terms.

Collaboration is so ingrained into the culture at Northwestern that the campus has been built with this in mind. Most of the science buildings form part of an interconnected compound, making collaborations between disciplines easy and convenient.

Collaboration is so important to Northwestern Engineering that they measure it, studying the coauthorship of academic publications within the University. You can explore the collaborations online.

Engineering students also learn how to turn their ideas into reality through the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which evolves engineering beyond the application of the sciences to the creation of businesses that capitalize on innovations. The Farley Center’s NUvention courses expose students to the entire innovation and entrepreneurial life cycle and teach how innovations can become a viable business. With eight different options, NUvention connects undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines. The center also provides incubators, mentorships, and seminars.

The school’s Career Development office helps students find the position they want in either industry or academia, and the Center for Leadership at Northwestern offers courses and a certificate in leadership, a fellowship in leadership for PhD students, and opportunities to develop leadership skills through assessment and coaching.

Based just 12-miles north of Chicago, students at Northwestern benefit from a small-town feel, with big city access. Here, students have everything they could possibly need on the Evanston campus: shops, restaurants, theaters and beaches are all minutes away from lecture halls and accommodation. Life on campus is certainly not quiet, with 1,660 undergraduates, 900 master’s, and 860 PhD students in engineering alone.

And if that’s not enough, the cultural melting-pot of Chicago is only a free shuttle bus ride away. This opens a whole world of diverse nightlife and stimulating city exploration. Studying at Northwestern really is the best of both worlds, offering the classic college town experience with 24-acres of natural beauty to explore, whilst also being able to instantly settle that big city itch. 

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