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Thayer will offer free mini-courses during winter interim

Sep 29, 2015   |   by Kate Herrington   |   The Dartmouth

Baker-Berry Library will be silent. Few people will be heard chatting in the halls of Fahey-McLane residential hall. But the machine shop at the Thayer School of Engineering will be whirring between Dec. 7 through 10, as engineering students learn to engrave with state-of-the-art laser cutters.

Some students will spend time in Hanover during winter break learning new skills at Thayer School of Engineering, which will offer several free, skills-based courses during the first few weeks of December to both undergraduate and graduate engineering students.

The four courses range in length from a few hours to four days. Thayer students hoping to knock off a few requirements out-of-term will be disappointed, however, as the courses will not be worth any credits and will not appear on students’ transcripts, Thayer assistant dean of academic and student affairs Holly Wilkinson said.

One course will analyze small engines. Another will teach students how to use lasers on several different materials. A third course, titled the “Internet of Things,” will teach students to program tiny computers, and a final class is an English workshop that will teach technical writing skills, with an emphasis on grammatical details that are often difficult for non-native speakers.

They have been designed to supplement students’ academic experiences and cater to the interests that students cannot pursue given the truncated nature of the academic year, Wilkinson said. The short courses are not only geared toward the engineering community, despite the fact that they are all taught by engineering professors, he said.

Engineering professor Charles Sullivan, who is teaching the English course, said that he will direct his course toward an audience of the international students who do not choose to return home during winter break, frequently because of the expense. That is one reason the courses will not cost tuition, he said.

Enrollment for the courses is capped at 45 students, with sections ranging from six to 15.

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