Academic Program Introduction

Engineering studies at Wellesley approaches engineering as a humanitarian activity intrinsic to the modern liberal arts. Students taking engineering classes explore questions such as: What are the technology-related needs of underserved communities? What engineering practices and interventions can help mitigate these challenges? The Wellesley Engineering Lab (We-Lab) is a vibrant hub where students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines can learn and explore hands-on engineering work. There are ample resources for design, collaboration, construction, analysis, and communication.

Wellesley does not grant a major or minor in engineering. Students can pursue more advanced engineering courses, certificates, and degrees through Wellesley’s partnerships with MIT and Olin College of Engineering.

Learning goals

  • Generate novel technical ideas and approaches, taking into account authentic constraints including interpreting social norms and conditions.
  • Integrate quantitative and qualitative engineering methodologies and approaches drawn from science, mathematics, social sciences, and the humanities to gather data, analyze, model, and draw conclusions.
  • Design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability constraints.
  • Evaluate the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  • Develop and refine the ability to work on team-based projects to solve problems collaboratively.

Pursue advanced engineering

Students can complete a certificate program in engineering at Olin or in engineering leadership through the Bernard M. Gordon MIT Engineering Leadership Program.

Students can earn a five-year double degree from Wellesley and Olin or MIT. These programs are highly selective and extremely rigorous; zero to two students participate from each class year. Most students interested in engineering opt to major in a math or science field at Wellesley, engage in summer research, and then study engineering in graduate school.

A student wearing protective glasses works on a lathe in the machine shop.

Places and spaces

The We-Lab offers professional grade tools and machinery for hands-on learning and rapid prototyping, including:

  • 3D Printers: Markforged Onyx Pro, UltiMaker S7 Pro, and Stratasys Dimension 1200es.
  • Laser cutter: Trotec Speedy 300 100w CO2 Laser.
  • Band saw, drill press, and hand tools for rapid prototyping.
  • Electronics tools and components including soldering equipment, microcontrollers, and development boards.
  • Technical LEGOs for rapid prototyping mechanisms.

For additional fabrication capabilities, the Wellesley community has access to the Science Center machine shop and Glass Garage makerspace, the Knapp Center makerspace in Clapp Library, and the Weissman Foundry at Babson College.

Course Highlights

  • Through hands-on exploration, students will learn about analog and digital electronics, optical systems, and foundational techniques in the modern physics laboratory. A framework for data analysis will be developed, with a focus on model-data comparison, model selection and statistical inference. This course helps prepare students for independent research and internships in physics and related fields. (ENGR 210 and PHYS 210 are cross-listed courses.)
  • This course explores the intersections between social justice, conflict, and engineering using an interdisciplinary, hands-on, case study approach. We will explore four technologies (drones, cell phones, cookstoves and water pumps), exploring in each case both the embodied engineering concepts and the ethical and political implications of using the technology. The case studies will inform our discussions of the following big ideas: technology is directly linked to social justice and can have both highly beneficial and highly problematic results for the development and transformation of conflicts; understanding technology at a deeper level is critical to understanding the justice impact on communities and people; media communication about technology and technological innovations' benefits can be hyperbolic and requires a critical lens. Peace and Justice Studies majors must register for PEAC 305. Students in other majors may register for either PEAC 305 or ENGR 305 depending on their preparation. (ENGR 305 and PEAC 305 are cross-listed courses.)

Sample course and research projects

  • Student-made electric car with an Arduino Uno on it.

    Students in ENGR160: Fundamentals of Engineering have developed a wide range of electro-mechanical devices including robotic door closers and garden protectors, a piano stairs installation in the Science Complex, and adaptive tools for the Wellesley College Child Study Center.

  • Idea map/brainstorming session drawn out on a whiteboard.

    Sarah Chu ’20 and Jiaming Cui ’19 designed, built, installed, and tested a payload delivery system on the DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone that could carry a variety of payloads and release them upon command in midair. The device was subsequently used by students in ENGR/PEAC 305: Intersections of Technology, Social Justice, and Conflict.

  • Students and faculty in a machine shop observe and discuss what they are making.

    Senior Lecturer and Director of Engineering Studies Amy Banzaert partners with Community Rowing, Inc., to assist with the design and implementation of adaptive equipment for athletes with physical and cognitive challenges. During the summer of 2017, Linda K. Lazo ’18 refined two projects for Community Rowing (the Rigger Raiser and the Erg Grabber) from prior work by students in ENGR 111: Product Creation for All.


  • Drop-in hours

    Students currently enrolled in engineering classes have priority for using the We-Lab. Supervised drop-in hours are available for all members of the Wellesley community.

  • Wellesley Engineering Society

    This group is for students interested in engineering.

  • Student employment

    Qualified students can work as techs in the We-Lab, providing equipment training and design help while honing their teaching and engineering skills.

Engineering Studies

Science Center
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Amy Banzaert
Program Director