While the M&T program requires many engineering and Wharton courses to graduate, there is still plenty of room to take courses outside of your majors. Many of my favorite classes during my four years at Penn, such as Gothic Architecture and Samba Ensemble, have been unrelated to my majors. In addition, part of the graduation requirements dictate that you take at least four liberal arts courses – something that I am very grateful for.
Last semester I took Samba Ensemble at the suggestion of another M&T, Shahaab, and it has been a phenomenal experience. The professor, Michael Stevens, is literally a Samba-loving freak (his email handle is sambafreak13) and his passion for the class makes it all the more enjoyable. The class is oddly cathartic as there is no better way to relieve stress and start out the week than banging on a Brazilian Surdo drum for an hour every Monday. If that isn’t sweet enough, the only out-of-class assignment is a two-page final paper on topics pertaining to the history of Samba. In addition, the class counts for a half credit that can be used to fulfill general education requirements.
Personally, the class is a great way to keep music as a part of my life as I was classically trained on the piano for eight years before coming to Penn. However, many, if not a majority of students in the class have never played an instrument before. The rhythms are easy to pick up and the course is graded on effort so those new to music are not at a disadvantage. All of the above attributes make Samba Ensemble a must-take for this semester, but the fact that those taking it in the spring get to play in the Quad for Spring Fling really seals the deal!
Ashish is a current M&T senior in the Class of 2013. He is majoring in Systems Science Engineering within Penn Engineering and concentrating in Finance and Operations & Information Management in the Wharton School.