Who We Are
Good engineers, scientists and mathematicians are needed to seek out new understandings of the world, to re-plan cities, to manage the use of the planet's diminishing resources, and to find ways to help humanity live in balance with the environment. These engineers and scientists must be able to use interdisciplinary approaches to develop creative solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow. Since 1955, the mission and curriculum of Harvey Mudd College has responded directly to this need.
The college's founders clearly understood that "technology divorced from humanity is worse than no technology at all." The college's faculty and staff know that if bright students are given the tools and encouragement, they can bring about technological progress that will shape the future. Harvey Mudd College is a special place that is suited to high-ability, science-and-technology-oriented people who have great potential.
The opportunities offered by HMC's exclusive undergraduate focus give the college's students access to some of the top undergraduate engineering, science and mathematics faculty in the country. More than 95 percent of all faculty (full-time, part-time and instructors) hold a Ph.D., and courses taught by graduate students are extremely rare. Students enjoy a faculty dedicated to their education. They study and work in facilities that are comparable to what graduate students enjoy at research universities. Students at Harvey Mudd College learn both theory and practice. All students conduct research or do engineering design; all have the opportunity to work on the real-world problems of corporate and not-for-profit clients through the college's Clinic Program. These opportunities for hands-on learning give Harvey Mudd College graduates an advantage that has resulted in a placement rate of nearly 100 percent of its job-seeking graduates by November 1 following their graduation. HMC is also an outstanding setting in which to prepare for an advanced degree.
Additionally, Harvey Mudd College recognizes the importance of preparing its graduates to live and work in a multicultural world. At Harvey Mudd College students have the opportunity to participate in a community that values diversity and promotes cultural competence. The social environment is also shaped by an Honor Code that sets a tone of trust and collaboration and minimizes the intense competition that is often the by-product of bringing together exceptionally accomplished individuals.
Harvey Mudd College was founded in 1955 and began operations in the fall of 1957, less than one month before Sputnik I launched the Space Age, making technical education a priority in the United States. Forty-eight students and seven faculty were the pioneers who shaped this unique, highly selective institution born of the generosity of businessman and philanthropist Harvey S. Mudd and the vision of Joseph B. Platt, the nuclear physicist who served as the college’s first president. Harvey Mudd College became the fifth autonomous member of a much larger center of learning, The Claremont Colleges, an affiliation that broadens both academic and social opportunities for its students.
HMC’s founders had a good basic idea, one that had gone untried. This “good basic idea” has been expressed a dozen different ways, but the simplest is the college’s mission statement:
“Harvey Mudd College seeks to educate engineers, scientists and mathematicians well versed in all of these areas and in the humanities and social sciences so that they may assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society.”
The aims of the college were revolutionary at its inception, and the institution’s pathfinding spirit lives on.
Harvey Mudd College pioneered—and put into practice—the idea of relating human needs to engineering and science education. It was able to do so because, as a new institution, it had no particular tradition to uphold or other barriers to innovation. And the school’s innovation and spirit of educational adventure—qualities that attract superior people—appealed to new faculty, staff and students. Ever since its founding, the college’s faculty has been made up of top-flight professionals—humanists who are not dissuaded by technology, and engineers and scientists who have an abiding faith in liberal learning.
All of Harvey Mudd College’s full-time faculty (about 80) have Ph.D.s or a terminal degree in their field of study, and all are engaged in research. Each faculty member’s focus, however, is teaching the approximately 700 students at the college. For the college as a whole, upper-division classes and laboratory sections average between 10 and 15 students. Faculty-student interaction is particularly good as students take advantage of the extensive research and design opportunities.
Experience shows that this small college graduates far more than its share of leaders in the pure and applied sciences. It is only natural, for there is no substitute for a low student-faculty ratio to enhance learning.
In the beginning, the courses and curriculum of Harvey Mudd College were formulated under a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, and featured a rigorous Core designed to graduate engineers, scientists and mathematicians with grounding in all of these fields as well as an understanding of their social context. This Core is still at the heart of the modern curriculum that fully integrates the humanities and social sciences. Now, as at the institution’s inception, all Harvey Mudd College students receive general education in the humanities and social sciences (nearly one-third of all course work, more courses, in fact, than at any engineering college in the country) and basic work in biology, computer science, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics—the departmental major programs that the college offers. Students may also design individual programs of study outside of these majors, or major in an area of study offered at one of the other Claremont Colleges.
A Proven Curriculum
The curriculum developed by Harvey Mudd College is effective--the proof is in the college's graduates. About three out of four eventually enter graduate schools, most in the top graduate programs in their fields, be it at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Caltech, Yale, Stanford, the University of Illinois, Berkeley or other prestigious graduate schools. Eventually, most graduates go to work in industry, typically for firms such as Boeing, ESRI, Fair Isaac, Microsoft, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon. Alumni have usually reached such jobs as project engineer, research scientist and systems engineer within five years of graduation. Those out more than five years are more likely to be chief engineers, division managers, senior scientists or even vice-presidents or general managers. An increasing number are entrepreneurs and are founding their own companies--some while still in school.
Many Harvey Mudd College alumni with advanced degrees work for "think tanks" or industrial research centers like RAND, the Aerospace Corporation, Bell Laboratories, IBM's Watson Research Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NASA. Others are on the faculties of Yale, MIT, the University of California (Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Cruz), Columbia University, the University of Washington, Dartmouth, Purdue, Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd College-not all teach engineering, mathematics and science. Included among our graduates are doctors in small towns and at research hospitals like the Mayo Clinic, artists, vintners, entrepreneurs, economists, historians, philosophers, oceanographers, actuaries, and even a few astronauts. The bottom line is that Harvey Mudd College graduates are able to seek out satisfying places for themselves in a wide variety of fields.
Home to Top Students
Harvey Mudd College students come from many different places and backgrounds, but they are alike in one way: They have a deep dedication to engineering, mathematics and science and are also interested in the role of these fields in society. More than that, they are good in these fields, and they like having others around who share their interests. They spend a great deal of time in classrooms and laboratories, in conference with faculty members, and in study--and liking most of their work. They make time to participate in college and community life through volunteer service work, student government, the yearbook or other student publications. Many compete on athletic teams or participate in club sports. They enjoy going to concerts, art exhibits and parties. Many play musical instruments and participate in Claremont Colleges performance groups. Some sail, some fly, some hike, some play bridge or football or throw Frisbees. They are normal young people, but intellectually gifted with a special knack for engineering, mathematics and science.
The Harvey Mudd College campus is a pleasant combination of beauty and efficiency. The buildings—residence halls, dining hall, classrooms, office buildings, laboratories, library and athletic center—are of a single, carefully planned architectural design, and the grounds have many tree-shaded paths, grassy slopes, flower beds, patios and plazas. Of course, the vast central facilities of The Claremont Colleges are open to everyone at Harvey Mudd College.
The Harvey Mudd College campus includes:
Residence Halls-- Living accommodations for students are provided in eight residence halls: Mildred Mudd, West, North, Marks, Atwood, Case, Linde and Sontag. North Hall and Mildred Mudd Hall constitute the Seeley W. Mudd Memorial Quadrangle. Marks, Atwood, Case, Linde, and Sontag Halls are named in honor of David X. Marks, J.L. Atwood, Florence H. and Gerald R. Case, Ronald and Maxine Linde, and Frederick (’64) and Susan Sontag, respectively.
Joseph B. Platt Campus Center-- This two-level building was named for the founding president. The Campus Center is home to the offices of the Dean of Students, Residential Life, Student Emotional Health, Student Activities, the Registrar, Academic Affairs, Career Services, Study Abroad, Institutional Diversity, and Facilities and Maintenance. The facility also includes a mailroom, lounges, music practice rooms, Jay’s Place (a late-night dining and gathering place in memory of Jay Wolkin ’99), a game room, offices for student organizations and the Green Room, a large meeting area.
Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons-- Newly completed in 2005, the state-of-the-art dining facility can hold 466 diners, is home to the Aviation Room, which celebrates the college’s former Bates Aeronautics Program and its graduates, and has a number of meeting rooms and patio areas. The building was named for trustees Richmond J. Hoch ’63 and his wife, Diane, and R. Michael Shanahan and his wife, Mary.
The Norman F. Sprague Memorial Library-- This five-story building houses 62,242 volumes primarily in the fields of engineering, mathematics and computer science. One of the four Claremont Colleges libraries, Sprague has access to more than 33,000 journal subscriptions and 310 subject databases, and houses professional staff to assist with research needs. In addition to the offices of the Dean of Faculty on the fourth floor, the library provides collaborative workspace and private study space for 250 students, workshops on conducting research, and workspace for the Computer Science Department on the second floor. There is also a collaborative workspace for mathematicians on the third floor. The library was a gift of Dr. and Mrs. Norman F. Sprague Jr. in memory of Dr. Sprague's father.
The Parsons Engineering Building-- Named in honor of Ralph M. Parsons, this three-story building houses the Department of Engineering, the Engineering Clinic, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, computer centers, and the Office of Computing and Information Services. The east wing houses the W.M. Keck Computing Facility and computing and information services in the basement, humanities and social sciences on the first floor, and engineering on the second floor. A new wing, added to the building in 1992, contains the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Design Education, the Frank L. Scott Clinic Room, instructional laboratories, offices, and facilities for faculty research, and the Engineering Clinic.
The F.W. Olin Science Center-- A gift of the F.W. Olin Foundation, this three-story building, completed in 1992, houses the Departments of Biology, Computer Science, and Mathematics, instructional facilities, and research and teaching labs.
The Jacobs Science Center-- A gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Jacobs, this three-story building houses offices and laboratories for the Departments of Chemistry and Physics.
W.M. Keck Laboratories-- A four-story building developed with a gift from the W.M. Keck Foundation, this facility houses a portion of the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, classrooms, laboratories, and a computer terminal room.
Beckman Hall-- Built with a gift from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, this facility houses classrooms, laboratories, computer facilities for the computer science, mathematics, biology and other departments, and a 66-seat auditorium.
Galileo Hall-- This facility is a combination of a lecture/demonstration hall and workshops. The hall divides to accommodate 308 in the center section and 163 on each of two sides, or it opens up for an audience of 634. A concourse of workshops for the fabrication of instructional and research apparatus is behind the hall and adjacent to other buildings. The facility was named for the Galileo Society, an organization of residents of the area who take an active interest in the college.
Hixon Court-- In front of Galileo Hall is a stunning European fountain and koi pond, a gift from the Alexander Hixon family.
Linde Activities Center-- The Linde Activities Center provides a central recreation area for the Harvey Mudd College community. The center houses a full-length basketball court with six retractable hoops and is also suitable for volleyball, badminton and special events. The center also has a computing lab, an aerobics workout area, a fitness area with a full range of conditioning equipment, shower and locker facilities, a lounge area equipped with a big-screen television, and two large multipurpose rooms.
Computing at Harvey Mudd College is free for students, faculty and staff. Facilities are probably the most extensive for any college of its size in the world, and most are available 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Computing and Information Services provides resources for general use and particularly for first- and second-year courses. These resources include Intel-based systems from Dell and Apple with 17-inch or larger color LCD monitors. Systems are upgraded on a regular cycle to ensure access to the latest hardware resources and software tools.
Resources for upper-division courses are selected by individual academic departments to meet their students' specific needs. For example, the Computer Science Department facilities include numerous workstations and servers running Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OS X which are connected via gigabit Ethernet to several terabytes of shared storage. The Engineering Computing Facility contains PC workstations, running commercial CAD/CAE software, and an HP large-format printer. The Department of Mathematics has a Scientific Computing Lab with high-performance Linux workstations, a sixteen node Beowulf cluster, and a sixteen-processor-core NUMA parallel computer. The Department of Chemistry has a lab of Linux workstations focused on applications in quantum chemistry and computational chemistry. And, of course, all departments have Macs and PCs and are constantly updating their computing equipment.
The glue that holds these diverse computers together is a high-speed, multi-gigabit network that extends to every residence hall, administrative and academic building on campus. Most shared resources are connected to this backbone via Gigabit Ethernet. Inside the academic buildings and the residence halls, switched Fast or Gigabit Ethernet connects virtually every room to the network. Students with personal computers can access these resources from their rooms using switched twisted-pair Gigabit Ethernet connections. The network at Harvey Mudd College extends outward via fiber-optic links to the Claremont Library system and to the other Claremont Colleges, as well as to the world via our gigabit wide area link to the Internet and Internet2. This network enables students and faculty to connect to supercomputer centers and libraries across the country and to the myriad resources of the World Wide Web.
Technology forms an integral part of the Harvey Mudd College community. Members of the community use computers extensively for electronic mail, word processing, and obtaining information from the World Wide Web. (Our wireless network provides seamless access to the Internet from almost every location on campus.) The use of e-mail augments face-to-face community discussions while providing the means to communicate more broadly. There are often spirited discussions of issues important to the college community on our community-l e-mail list. Routine announcements are made via e-mail and much of our recent history is recorded on the Web.
At Harvey Mudd College, we use computers in almost every area of the curriculum. For example, both faculty and students use computers in the collection and analysis of data, for modeling, visualization, and simulation, and for composition and design. Specific examples include: quantum mechanical descriptions of gas-phase and solution-phase chemical reactions; mathematical models of the treatment of cancer that include combinations of vaccine and immunotherapy in conjunction with chemotherapy; video production and digital media art; and the design, lay-out, debugging and production of digital microchips.
Faculty use web-based quizzes to tailor their lectures and encourage students to stay on top of their reading. Students can often submit homework electronically. All courses have course mailing lists and a growing number use web pages to provide course information, reading lists, links to relevant information resources, and extended discussion forums. A student's education (and life) is enriched, expanded and transformed by the creative use of the ubiquitous technology that is the lifeblood of Harvey Mudd College.
Central to Mountains, Oceans, Deserts
The college is in Claremont, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, in a pleasant suburban area that was once broad stretches of citrus groves. It is at the foot of Mount San Antonio (known affectionately as Mount Baldy), the highest peak in the San Gabriel Range—10,064 feet.
Claremont’s population of about 34,000 live in well-tended homes on tree-covered streets. Freeways provide easy access to unique desert wilderness areas, full-facility Pacific Ocean beaches, the local mountains (snow-covered in the wintertime), Colorado River country, Pasadena (home of the Rose Parade), Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, San Diego and its wilderness and marine parks, Los Angeles and the many attractions of Hollywood—all within a few hour's drive.