Olin College, a new engineering school, will graduate its first class in the spring. As the startup begins its first year with all four grade levels enrolled, President Richard Miller is optimistic that the experiment is helping retain students.
"Instead of making engineering students wait until their senior year to do hands-on projects, we require them to build things in all or most of their eight semesters," Miller says. Olin's enrollment is now nearly 300, a high number for a school that gives all students free tuition through an endowment by Olin Corp. founder, Franklin Olin.
By working closely with a neighboring business school, Babson College, Olin is also fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Along with its own educational programs, Olin hopes to help in the national effort to attract young students to engineering. "In the U.S., the percentage of high school graduates ready to meet engineering requirements is only about 1 in 20, down from 1 in 8. In China and some other countries, at least a third are involved in engineering," Miller says. Nearly half of Olin's students are female.