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Engineering at large state schools or prestigious private universities?


Replies to: Engineering at large state schools or prestigious private universities?

  • EntertainerEntertainer Posts: 767Registered User Member
    "Objective data shows that its easier to get access to research opportunities at Columbia and Duke over Illinois or Michigan since they have comparatively smaller engineering programs so its easier to get access to faculty and receive more individualized attention."

    What does this mean? Can I have some data or some actual numbers? Can I have something to prove this statement? Maybe then will I believe you. You also fail to realize that Columbia has more graduate students in engineering than undergraduates. So how can you be so sure that it's "easier" to get access to faculty and receive more individualized attention?

    "just because these state schools have stronger graduate programs in these fields."

    Michigan, UIUC and Cal have stronger graduate and undergraduate programs in engineering as a whole than both Duke and Columbia.

    "However, Ross provides a placement report and friends at Columbia/Duke I know says that each bulge bracket that recruits on campus takes about 10 students a piece from the school and MBB takes 5-10 annually from these campuses."

    Thank you for basing your statements off of what friends tell you and not actual evidence or statistics. You make it so easy to believe you.

    "Maybe every other BB recruits heavily from Ross and my affiliation causes me to be unfairly biased towards the recruiting strength of Michigan, who knows."

    Then don't make statements about Michigan or any other traditional engineering school if you only have recruiting evidence from one company. We are trying to help prospective undergraduate engineers pick the right school for them. Having them base their judgement off of one company does them a disservice.

    "This is absolutely false. Ross is a target for every division of most investment banks, the College of Engineering gets recruited mostly from Sales & Trading while LSA doesn't get recruited for front office positions period."

    You are making statements with no evidence. While I definitely agree that Ross is a major target for these investment banks and firms, I also know students that have graduated with a bachelors in economics from LSA that work at investment banks. I don't know if there is any statistical data available that shows who gets to work at front office positions or not.

    I also think you fail to realize that Columbia, Duke and Michigan are more graduate focused. Even in the graduate realm, Columbia (3.6, 3.5) and Duke's (3.5, 3.5) recruiter and peer assessment scores are much lower than Michigan's (4.4, 4.1).

    "Again, this thread was about traditional engineering, and you will get opps from all of the schools, though you will find that very tech heavy and research companies only recruit more from larger state schools and schools with large resources dedicated to these things (MIT, Stanford, UCB, then UIUC, Umich etc.). Though again, as mentioned earlier by both Vengasso and I, it depends more on the person than the school."

    I agree that this is about traditional engineering schools. I can only speak for Michigan since I attend the school. Michigan has much larger research expenditures than both Columbia or Duke. Michigan has more NAE members and is very flexible when it comes to dual majoring or minoring in fields outside of engineering. Engineers can double major in many LSA departments, Ross, the school of Art & Design and Music. They can also minor in anything they want as well. It's still easy to switch out of engineering if you find that engineering is not for you. I personally have a friend who switched from engineering to architecture in just one semester. I also know many students who have switched out of engineering and are majoring in economics or mathematics. In terms of traditional engineering research, education and opportunities that are very prestigious and easier to get into, I would go to either Cal, UIUC, Berkeley and Gerogia Tech. In terms of privates, which are much harder to get into: Princeton, Cornell, Northwestern, Penn, MIT, Caltech and Carnegie Mellon.Non traditional privates like Columbia and Duke engineers usually end up going into finance and consulting rather than going into traditional engineering areas (Boeing, NASA, etc.)

    Again, personal attributes outweigh the strength of a particular schools program, however most traditional engineering schools like Michigan provide great opportunities for prospective engineers.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Posts: 3,769Registered User Senior Member
    Career Fairs are just a sample of companies that recruit at any given schools. Lot of companies will have individualized info sessions at these schools to advertise jobs during accessible evening hours rather than set up a small booth at a Career Fair that most students will miss since they have classes to attend during the day.
    Career Fairs participation lists are good indication of the type of companies recruiting on campus. Many many key companies, in some cases entire industries are missing at the Columbia/Duke Career Fairs. These are global companies recruiting nationwide. The fact remains that many of these leading companies participate at Cal/Michigan Career Fairs but not at Columbia/Duke.
  • Sam LeeSam Lee Posts: 9,449Registered User Senior Member
    ^If a large fraction of engineering students at Duke go to consulting/finance and the departments don't have large enrollment to begin with, engineering companies may not want to waste their time to go to Duke campus because they are "hard to get".
  • vengassovengasso Posts: 55- Junior Member
    GoBlue81, you do realize that Duke offers only Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Civil Engineering? Columbia and Michigan's curriculum is far more extensive than Duke's and in addition to those 4 areas makes available Financial (Columbia only), IOE (Michigan only) Chemical, Mining, Environmental, Materials Engineering. Aerospace (Michigan only), Nuclear (Michigan only), Naval and Marine Engineering (Michigan only). This partially explains the gap in NAE membership between Duke and Columbia/Michigan. You don't leave yourself open to the opportunity of having a lot of faculty members enrolled in the NAE when you don't have that many engineering departments to begin with.

    That being said, why would companies like Boeing and Exxon recruit at Duke for engineers when the school doesn't even offers students the type of engineering expertise these companies are looking for in those positions? I would be surprised if there are more than 15 or so Civil Engineers that graduate from Duke every year so it would be unnecessary for every top CE firm to recruit on campus since there just isn't enough interest. There are more than enough ME and ECE firms at Duke based on the Career Fair listing you provided to satisfy the 50-75 or so engineers that are enrolled in these programs as their primary focus. BME seems to be the most popular major on campus so the vast majority of engineers in an already small engineering school will concentrate in that area and the recruitment is deservedly the strongest there (Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Stryker, St. Jude, etc. etc.).
  • EntertainerEntertainer Posts: 767Registered User Member
    Then wouldn't it be better to go to a traditional engineering school with more departments and more majoring options than a non-traditional school with less departments. Now all of this would depend on your focus and what you are interested in, but if I was a prospective student and didn't know what kind of engineering I wanted to get into, I would apply to a school with more options.
  • GoldenglobeGoldenglobe Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member

    Figure out what you want to do in terms of engineering. The best choices, should you get them, are definitely MIT and Stanford (maybe Caltech) in terms of engineering that get recruited for traditional engineering jobs all the way to the "elite" finance and consulting jobs. Though quite honestly I doubt most engineers at those schools would be interested in finance.

    If you decide you are interested in something like finance or consulting and still want to do engineering for it (not some liberal arts or undergrad business which is more traditional), then a place like duke or columbia engineering will most likely give you better chances at those jobs than coming from UIUC engin., Berk engin, or Mich engin. (though you can still get those same jobs from the latter if you work for it but at places like Duke and Columbia people would be more interested in it).

    If you are undecided or just know you want to do something in engineering but not sure what, the safest bets would be places like UIUC engin., Berk engin., or Mich engin., etc. because they will offer you the widest areas of study, and the most opportunities as a whole within these studies. These places will also give you the chance to go into any field including places with top finance and consulting jobs assuming you work for it.

    Again, getting into any of these schools is amazing (for engineering), and what will differentiate you is what you choose to do within these schools.
  • vengassovengasso Posts: 55- Junior Member
    I would agree for the most part with what goldenglobe said. If you intend to major in something other than the 4 areas that Duke or Dartmouth or whatever offers, then just don't apply and attend these schools as they have a narrow focus in the field of engineering. Its really that simple.
  • GoBlue81GoBlue81 Posts: 3,769Registered User Senior Member
    Objective data shows that its easier to get access to research opportunities at Columbia and Duke over Illinois or Michigan since they have comparatively smaller engineering programs so its easier to get access to faculty and receive more individualized attention.
    Care to show me some of these objective data? Michigan is one of ten universities receiving the first ever NSF RAIRE Award (Recognition Awards for the Integration of Research and Education) in 1997; Duke is also one of the ten. At Michigan, you have the opportunity to do research as a first semester freshman under the UROP program; all you have to do is sign up. Under UROP, there are about 1,000 research projects set aside for freshman and sophomore students.

    From my experience, it is not that difficult to get opportunities to do undergraduate research in engineering if you are keen and have the qualification. In fact, UCB reported that based on "a 2008 student survey, 52% of Berkeley seniors have assisted faculty with research or creative projects." The advantage of having better facitlities and more established faculty is that you have better chances of doing more interesting research.
    However, its not accurate that Engineering doctoral programs will prefer a Michigan engineer over a Duke engineer or an Illinois engineer over a Columbia engineer just because these state schools have stronger graduate programs in these fields. It will come down to the performance of the individual student and the research opportunities that the budding engineer has had while at school.
    While I agree with you that it is the individual's ability that counts, Cal/Michigan engineering students do have an inherent advantage that they are already at a department with a top 10 (in Cal's case, top 3) graduate program, and most likely already doing research with a faculty in the department.
  • RMLRML Posts: 5,808Registered User Senior Member
    Comparing Berkeley engineering to Duke engineering is funny! lol ... Berkeley engineering students, faculty and alumni do not benchmark themselves against Duke and their faculty and alumni, but against Stanford's, Caltech's and MIT's.
  • MisterKMisterK Posts: 1,552Registered User Senior Member
    ^^^ True, Duke doesn't belong in this conversation. But Berkeley doesn't quite belong in a conversation about Stanford, MIT and CalTech, either. All fine schools, of course, and their graduates have good reason to be proud.
  • RMLRML Posts: 5,808Registered User Senior Member
    ^ I would argue that Berkeley engineering - as a whole - is at least as good as, if not slightly better than, Caltech's. I would also argue that in some fields of engineering, Berkeley is as good as, if not slightly superior to both Stanford and MIT. For example, the quality of teaching and research standard of Berkeley Civil Engineering is the best in the world. And, Berkeley's mechanical engineering is slightly superior to Stanford's and Caltech's. The CS and EECS at Berkeley is superior to Caltech's. I can go on and on and on just to prove it to you that Berkeley is a peer school to MIT, Stanford and Caltech for engineering (and even for physical sciences), areas where Duke is considered good but not that really good.
  • Blah2009Blah2009 Posts: 1,242Registered User Senior Member
    "For example, the quality of teaching and research standard of Berkeley Civil Engineering is the best in the world."

    Really? wow...since you have direct experience with civil engineering classes at Berkeley and all other top engineering schools, right? Try visiting and getting student's opinions on the program. Oh wait, I did that. There's a reason why 98 out of 100 kids admitted to Berkeley and Stanford turn down Berkeley. *hint..it's not because Stanford has better teaching only*
  • RMLRML Posts: 5,808Registered User Senior Member
    ^ Stanford loses cross-admits to Berkeley in postgrad mechanical engineering, big time. That does not mean Berkeley mechanical engineering is superior to Stanford's, right?

    The reason why Berkeley loses cross-admits to Stanford is because of several reasons, foremost of which is undergrad reputation. And, I would surmise that the least of which is academic standard. The fact remains that Berkeley Civil Engineering Department has better faculty line-up, better research quality, more respected amongst their peers and globally well-known and accepted as the pillar of civil engineering education. Of course, that is not to say Stanford's civil engineering isn't excellent. I'm just saying that Berkeley's is slightly better.

    Undergrad ranking - Civil | Rankings | US News
    Postgrad ranking - Best Civil Engineering Programs | Top Engineering Schools | US News Best Graduate Schools
  • RMLRML Posts: 5,808Registered User Senior Member
    OP, to answer your question, there is no generality here. It would still depend on the schools involved. for example, I would generally choose Princeton engineering (except perhaps for EECS & CS) over Berkeley engineering despite that Berkeley engineering is higher ranked than Princeton's. But I would definitely choose Berkeley engineering over Columbia, Penn or Duke engineering despite the overall ranking or nature of the universities' governing bodies (private vs State U). It's a combination of many factors for having such hierarchy of schools for any program, actually, not just for engineering. For undergrad education, in general, HYPSMC still applies. yes; even for engineering fields.
  • phantasmagoricphantasmagoric Posts: 2,200Registered User Senior Member
    For example, the quality of teaching and research standard of Berkeley Civil Engineering is the best in the world. And, Berkeley's mechanical engineering is slightly superior to Stanford's and Caltech's.

    I agree with the conclusion that Berkeley is a peer school of Stanford, MIT, and Caltech in engineering, but it doesn't make sense for you to tell others not to draw distinctions of quality among them and then go on to point out the tiniest differences in departmental quality where Berkeley is 'ahead.' Berkeley is not better in ME or CE (how can you even say what the teaching quality is, and further that it's better at Berkeley?).

    People choose Stanford over Berkeley for many reasons: better facilities (Stanford's campus is larger and has more sq ft in STEM fields than Berkeley), better ratio of academic staff to students, more prestige, better funding for projects, etc. in addition to the many reasons related to students' lives: better graduate housing at Stanford (more than half are guaranteed; Berkeley doesn't guarantee any), better weather (less rain, slightly warmer), usually better scholarships and fellowships, etc.
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