Engineer a Better System

Fourteen schools comprise the Washington Metropolitan Area Consortium of Universities, a sometimes-forgotten system that allows students to take advantage of the many resources offered at nearby campuses in addition to their own. A student at Georgetown, for instance, could cross-register for a course at the George Washington University during a semester and receive academic credit. Unfortunately, as of 2014, only around 0.4 percent of students in the consortium actually took advantage of this opportunity.

The consortium can be a useful tool to make up for resources and departments that one university might not provide. At Georgetown, students interested in science and engineering would benefit from taking advantage of the consortium by having additional courses and faculty available to them, especially as technical skills become increasingly valuable in the workforce. The university lacks even an engineering major and minor, increasing the value of these courses immensely.

The best way to encourage students to use the consortium is to formalize and better advertise available programs. Georgetown currently has a 3-2 engineering program with Columbia University, which bestows two bachelor’s degrees from each respective school. With the extra year and requirement to move to New York City, the program is relatively inaccessible and expensive. Instead, the university should focus on initiatives closer to home. GW and University of Maryland-College Park both field notable engineering departments. Creating engineering certificates and dual degrees with these consortium schools would expand opportunities for students to pursue their interests.

Even if certain curricula are unavailable at Georgetown, a quick trip on the metro could make these options more feasible. Those majoring in the sciences, including science, technology and international affairs in particular, would benefit from these additions because of Georgetown’s comparatively small departments when considering number of faculty and students enrolled.

The consortium also offers benefits for multiple academic disciplines. Certain minors and certificates, such as business administration, journalism and international business diplomacy, are selective, restricting the opportunity for interested Hoyas to pursue curricula in these subjects. Stronger consortium collaboration would create more opportunities for students wishing to take courses in those areas or to design a similar minor or certificate — and thereby foster greater academic freedom and diversity.

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