Academics Blog

Archive for the Category General Engineering



Name: Maura Kanter

Year: Class of 2017

Majors: History, Theatre Studies minor

Hometown: San Diego, CA

As a History Major here at Hopkins, I am part of a fairly tight-knit community. As a Medievalist, that community narrows even more. I focus on 12th century England and France and occasionally branch out to the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, but only when I’m feeling daring. My interest in history stems from my mildly unhealthy obsession with Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a 12th century monarchial figure who continues to blow my mind. The more research I am able to do on her, the more I realize how incredibly badass she was. She was born in 1122 in Aquitaine, France and succeeded her father, Duke William X of Aquitaine as the sole heir to arguably the most important duchy in Europe. She married two kings, one Louis VII of France, and the second, Henry of Anjou (Henry II of England); and remains, to this day, the only person to be a monarch of both England and France. Her life continues to inspire me and motivate me to be a better historian and a better woman. But, my life does not entirely revolve around her – I am writing my sophomore thesis on Lady Macbeth. I’m choosing to examine her as an atypical eleventh century Scottish noblewoman and look at the way in which Shakespeare frames the decidedly early modern characters around her. Though not all of this, or really any of this, may interest someone besides myself, I think this kind of passion is very characteristic of a Hopkins student. We are constantly fascinated by the unknown, and perpetually intrigued by the possibility of discovery.

I am also a Theater Studies minor. When I’m not exploring the past, I am constantly finding new characters and analyzing them. I love getting new scenes and the subsequent memorization process. The best part comes after the scene has thoroughly invaded your psyche. That is when you can truly explore the character, their objectives and motivations. Sanford Meisner tells us, “Acting is behaving truthfully using imaginary circumstances.” The struggle to keep a character, a scene, truthful is constant. The only way to truly lose yourself in the character and forget your surroundings and adjust to theirs is to have so internalized the role – the lines, the blocking, etc. – so that the scene is not forced or artificial. They take over and the lines between where you and the character are begin to blend. When that can happen, and believe me it does not happen all the time, the magic of live theater can be felt.

Though to some my areas of study may seem disparate, they are interrelated on one integral point. They are both a form of character study. I love to see what makes people tick, why someone does what they do, what motivates a person to act in a specific way. History is a study of those departed, and theater is a study of those who do not exist outside the realm of the stage. Both can be somewhat hard to make tangible, but I like the challenge. I relish in the opportunity to try to decipher why Eleanor of Aquitaine went on Crusade with her first husband, just as much as I love trying to portray a complicated character like Martha from Edward Albee’s Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Click here to access more information about the History Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the History questions thread.


General Engineering

Name: Geneva Augustin

Year: Class of 2016

Hometown: Hudson, Ohio

Major: General Engineering & German

 General is Great!! 

Why General Engineering: 

Coming to Hopkins, I was convinced I would be the thriving lab-dwelling engineering student often associated with the cutting edge studies of JHU. I enrolled in the mechanical engineering program, and quickly realized that while I enjoyed many aspects of the engineering life, I was no genius in the lab. Having interests that span from patent law to public policy to possibly medicine, I wanted a major that was broad enough to leave my future options open, yet also structured enough that I could build a marketable skill set appealing to many different employers. I chose general engineering because it has a curriculum that builds an engineering foundation full of math and science, while also allowing for flexibility with concentrations in the humanities. This provided me with an opportunity to include the German classes I love with the math and science requirements. To me, general engineering is the perfect major for someone wanting to become a connecting person between the engineering and business worlds.


Requirements of the General Engineering program are similar to many of the engineering majors, but also includes a number of humanities courses. This is a huge benefit for students who may be considering majoring in a specific engineering after some exposure to engineering courses. However, if one does choose to ultimately major in general engineering, the degree is composed of an engineering concentration as well as a humanities concentration. This makes the opportunity to study abroad much more available than in other engineering majors.

The complete list of course requirements can be found: http://engineering.jhu.edu/academics/general-engineering/general-engineering-requirements/


There are a number of ways to get involved within general engineering. While the major isn’t necessarily driven toward research, once a concentration is chosen, it is possible to get research positions within specific departments. I personally have chosen to take more of a business approach, and spent this past summer interning at a mergers and acquisitions firm in Germany.

This upcoming summer I would like to dabble in a completely different industry, and have been pleasantly surprised by the industries interested in general engineering majors: Department of Labor, State Department, and Engineers Without Borders to name a few.

Career Aspirations: 

Although I had always imagined myself as a climber of the corporate ladder, a few months spent in a corporate internship position made me re-think my objectives. Even though the work itself was interesting, I found that days spent indoors sitting behind a desk in a tiny cubicle were not for me. I realized that I am perhaps better suited to a more hands-on job before settling into a business position. Upon graduation I would like to directly work on an engineering project to gain experience in that process and then someday transfer into consulting or developing my own business in a field of engineering.


General Engineering

Name: Brendan Denker

Year: Class of 2010

Hometown: Holliston, MA

Major: General Engineering


Hello Prospective Students,

I would like to give you all the inside track on General Engineering.  Lets start at the beginning.  Most of you have probably never heard of General Engineering prior to reading this.  Hopefully, I can get you to consider General Engineering as a potential Major here at Hopkins.  Here are some quick facts about the program: the degree is a B.A. in Engineering, you can design your own concentration to fit your individual interests, and you will have the opportunity to study abroad. The Johns Hopkins Undergraduate course book describes the major as such:

The Bachelor of Arts in general engineering is a liberal arts degree, which is designed to provide students with both a concentration in some area of humanities, or social sciences and the fundamental engineering principles needed to understand the basics of modern technology, innovations and engineering practices. It is intended for undergraduate students who desire a background in engineering and technology yet have neither the desire nor the intention to become professional engineers.

While the course book description is nice it doesn’t exactly leave you with a feeling of confidence about what the degree actually means.  To help you gain a better understanding of what the program is really about here are the answers to two of the more common questions.

  • What is a general engineer?

Most people have absolutely no idea.  General engineers do not pick a specific discipline; they study many different areas of engineering.  The program at Hopkins has general requirements including humanities, some writing (yes, engineers should know how to write too), basic math through Calculus III, natural sciences, the general engineering core, international dimensions and your engineering concentration.  The engineering core consists of a computing course, an introductory engineering course and several fundamental courses from the mechanical, civil, electrical, materials and chemical engineering majors.  Taking a foreign language or studying abroad can fulfill the international dimensions requirement.  The student and his or her advisor design the engineering core, which can encompass any aspect of engineering.

  • Why become a general engineer?

There are a few things that come to mind.  You have the unique opportunity to study abroad as an engineer and the freedom to design your own concentration to fit your interests.  You will also get a broad exposure to the many branches of engineering.  By working and studying with engineers as an undergraduate, you will learn to effectively communicate and work with engineers.  Finally, you will get a strong background in engineering that will enable you to pursue a broad range of fields.

After reading all of the information I just bombarded you with, you may feel a little overwhelmed.  On the surface, the requirements seem long and many.  However, they are actually quite easily to fill and there is a lot of flexibility to pick and choose the courses you want to take.

P9170041I would also like to address the bit in the course description about how the major is meant for “students who desire a background in engineering and technology yet have neither the desire nor the intention to become professional engineers.”  Although this may be true for some students, it is not necessarily so.  Some graduate programs require that you have an undergraduate degree in a given branch of Engineering, however if you are interested in a form of interdisciplinary engineering you should be fine.  For example, I am interested in sustainability and renewable resources engineering. There are no engineering branches that directly address my interests.  General Engineering fits my needs perfectly and will enable me to pursue a graduate degree in Renewable Resource Engineering without any problem.

P9170034For me, General Engineering was the perfect option.  I was unsure about becoming a practicing engineer, so I did not want to invest all of my energy and time into a branch of engineering I was not sure I would enjoy.  I have always been very interested in sustainability and renewable resources, so I chose the General Engineering degree with a concentration in Sustainability. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever studied Sustainability prior to me, so I had the opportunity to design my own course load and determine what I wanted to take.  I will have the opportunity to travel aboard to Australia as part of my program (something that is almost impossible to do in any other type of engineering).

There are few things that I would consider to be possible downsides to General Engineering.  The program is a B.A., not a B.S. and it is not ABET (American Board for Engineering and Technology) accredited.  These are the only two things that General Engineering cannot offer you over a traditional engineering discipline.  Despite these two minor issues, I am finding that general engineers are actually very desirable to employers.  Often an employer wants to hire someone whom they can train and mold to fill a specific role that is needed in the organization.

Now the question is where will a general engineering degree take you? I personally feel that by molding this major to fit my interests and needs I am better prepared to be on the cutting-edge.  For me, General Engineering is opening doors into either a Masters or PhD in Renewable Resource Engineering.  General Engineering is a great option for anyone who is interested in engineering, whether you plan to become an engineer, go into business or you just find it interesting.  I hope that this has been informative and has answered any questions you might have had about General Engineering.  Whether you choose to be a General Engineer or some other kind of engineer you really can’t go wrong.  Good luck.


Click here to access more information about the General Engineering Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective as well as our General Engineering question thread.