Goals and Assessment Plans of the MIT Computation for Design and Optimization (CDO) SM Program


Nicolas Hadjiconstantinou
Youssef Marzouk


Kate Nelson
CDO and CSE Programs
MIT CCE Headquarters
Room 35-434B
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

617.253.3725 | Email

CDO is an interdisciplinary program designed to prepare tomorrow’s engineers and scientists in advanced computational methods and applications. The program provides a strong foundation in computational approaches to the design and operation of complex engineered and scientific systems.

Through hands-on projects and a master’s thesis, students develop and apply advanced computational methods to a diverse range of applications. Career opportunities for CDO graduates include companies and research centers where systems modeling, numerical simulation, design and optimization play a critical role.

Goals for Student Learning

When students complete the CDO degree they should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of mathematical foundations of computational science and engineering.

2. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of numerical methods related to their thesis topic and discipline.

3. Demonstrate ability to develop new or synthesize existing numerical methods for solving state-of-the-art disciplinary problems.

4. Know and follow ethical guidelines for conducting research.

5. Communicate effectively both orally and in writing.

6. Identify potential career options.

Program Component

Goals Addressed


Assessment Schedule

Student Advising


Incoming students are advised by the Program directors and the Program administrator. Once students join a thesis lab, progress is primarily assessed by the research mentor who is the primary advisor and mentor. At the end of each semester the research advisor issues a Thesis grade describing the progress made during the semester.


A Thesis grade of U (unsatisfactory) results in an academic warning from the Program Director and/or the Dean for Graduate education. Unsatisfactory performance over the course of a number of semesters typically results in denial of further registration. 

Once students join a thesis lab, progress is assessed on continuous basis by the research supervisor who serves as the student’s academic advisor and mentor.  At the end of each semester the research advisor issues a Thesis grade describing the progress made during the semester.




The program monitors completion of required core and restricted elective coursework.



The student’s faculty advisor as well as the CDO administrator review the students’ progress and provide advice to ensure that constant progress towards completing the required coursework is made.


Updated grade reports become available at the end of each semester.

Thesis Proposal


The thesis proposal represents a major milestone towards graduation. This proposal, which is submitted after approval of the research advisor, describes, in detail, the thesis topic, progress to date and work remaining for thesis completion.


One semester before graduation, each student is required to submit his/her thesis proposal to the CDO program for approval.

Graduate Writing Exam


Students are required to pass the Graduate Writing Exam.

Students receive their adjusted score during CDO orientation at the start of the new academic year.  Students who do not receive a passing score are required to complete the IAP writing workshop and/or an appropriate writing full-semester class.

MIT SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics)/CCE Student Seminar Series




This is a student-initiated and student-organized seminar series featuring students from the graduate program giving presentations to a general audience. This seminar series provides an opportunity for participants to extend their communication skills and obtain valuable feedback on their work.

Students are given feedback by their peers and advisors following their individual presentations, but also during preparation for their presentations.

MIT’s ODGE and Institutional Research (IR), Office of the Provost conducts student exit interviews that ask students about their learning and the factors that influenced their learning.



Upon graduation, students are strongly encouraged to complete these surveys/interviews, the results of which are reported to the Dean of Graduate Education.


CDO reviews data specific to the program