McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University

Engineering First ® Coursework Overview

Engineering First at McCormick

Engineering First® has six specific courses: four in the Engineering Analysis (EA) sequence and two in the Design Thinking and Communication (DTC) (formerly Engineering Design and Communication) sequence.

These six courses are required for all undergraduate McCormick students. They are generally taken according to the schedule below:


Freshman year, fall quarter:  EA1

Freshman year, winter quarter:  EA2, EDC1

Freshman year, spring quarter:  EA3, EDC2

Sophomore year, fall quarter:  EA4


In certain cases students have already fulfilled courses that cover similar material to that covered in the Engineering First® courses. This can occur when students have significant advanced placement credit or transfer into McCormick.

Engineering Analysis Sequence

Engineering Analysis is a series of four courses integrating math, science, and programming. The specific areas covered are linear algebra, engineering mechanics, physics, differential equations, and MATLAB programming. Each course is an integration of these topics with engineering applications, and MATLAB is used throughout the sequence.


This sequence replaces the following five courses formerly required for all McCormick freshmen:


Math 221 — Linear Algebra

Math 217 — Differential Equations

Civil Engineering 212 — Engineering Mechanics

Physics 135-1 — General Physics

Computer Science 110 — Computer Programming


In special cases, some or all of these courses may be taken in lieu of the Engineering Analysis sequence. This generally applies only to students with advanced placement in several of the EA areas or transfer students.

Design Thinking and Communication (DTC)

This sequence gives freshmen a early start on design. Offered winter and spring quarters, this two-part course gives students real engineering jobs for real clients.


It is not necessary that students take on a project in their major, encouraging them to explore different fields. The faculty, which come from the engineering school and the Writing Program at Northwestern, guide the students through the process of designing and teach them project management skills.


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