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Where does SLO engineering rank vs. national universities offering doctorate degrees


Replies to: Where does SLO engineering rank vs. national universities offering doctorate degrees

  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    @Greymeer, they have typically shot for 130 first time freshmen and 25 transfers from CC. They recently eliminated ED. During that year their yield was far higher than anticipated. They over enrolled that class by about 1000 students. They are cutting back to rebalance, hoping to get back to 21,000. Thats how they ended up with a bit over 700 CS students.

    The ASEE data has always seemed odd to me. I'm not sure where they pull it from as it never comports with Cal Poly's own institutional research data. It is always quite a bit lower. Maybe they include the engineering majors that aren't in the CENG, like Ag E. I can tell you, because I keep a close eye on threshold admission stats, that if the ASEE data purports to represent just the CENG, it is incorrect, and has been for multiple years.

    As for Cal Poly's Times Higher Education ranking, I'm surprised it isn't even lower. Sixty percent of the ranking's methodology is based on research, 30 for budget and 30 for literature citings. Schools that do not have doctoral programs are grossly disadvantaged.

    Taking that one step further, as I said in my tome above, I think all rankings are specious. In order for them to have any value their methodology has to be in lockstep with what the user cares about. It rarely if ever is. I just saw a world ranking of engineering that had Harvard at #2. That's just silly. Harvard isn't even the best program in the Ivy (Cornell is) and the Ivy is well known as an engineering backwater, with the exception of Cornell.

    @i012575, my son did. :D

    Every year you find students on CC that chose Poly over UCs, including Berkeley and UCLA. They are certainly the exceptions as it takes a lot of introspection to swim against the prestige factor. They do that, I'm presuming, for the same reason my son did...the Cal Poly student experience is quite different than it is at the UCs.

    When my son was weighing Stanford for his MS vs. staying at Cal Poly, one of the engineers on the forum said that at one company he worked for they favored Stanford degrees, but at another, their preference was for Cal Poly grads.

    Getting back to the OP's original question, where would it rank. I hope you're beginning to see why that's more of a loaded question than you might have thought. ;)
  • CaMom13CaMom13 Registered User Posts: 1,233 Senior Member
    edited January 20
    I live in S. Cal and I've been a bunch of seniors make college decisions. SLO is a pretty popular option for science kids as it's close, SLO is a great town and CP-SLO has a good reputation for sience and engineering. Usually the seniors apply to one or two "top tier" schools - and Georgia Tech / Michigan / MIT / Stanford /Berkeley all rank as top tier - plus a bunch of "good" schools - not top tier but good enough that the kids know they will still be challenged but have a better chance of getting in. SLO is one of those. Most of the other schools mentioned by the OP (Washington, Colorado, Purdue, Penn State) also fall in "good but not super reach" category.

    The fact that SLO's SAT scores are lower than other schools *by itself* doesn't make it a poorer program for any one particular student but it definitely means it's easier to get in. Many kids with stellar scores from High School find university engineering programs to be pretty challenging. Mitch Davis of Purdue wrote an Op Ed last year about wanting students with "grit"; there was much offense taken over this but imo he has a point - once you level-set at a certain ability with math and science the ability to dig in and work hard is a better predictor of success in engineering than having SAT scores in the top 1%.

    To answer the OP's question as objectively as possible - if you merged in the "non-doctorate" and "doctorate" granting engineering programs I think CP-SLO would fall above the top 20 but within the top 40 programs as would Penn State, Washington and Colorado.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    I guess the points I'm trying to make are 1) ranked based on what criteria? and 2) should a student de facto choose the highest ranked program if you believe the ranking system valid?

    I'll throw Caltech under the bus as an example. It is well known as a horrible undergraduate experience. It is the highest paced, no holds barred program in the nation, with heavy use of TAs, known for unhappy students and a high suicide rate. Not one, but two retired Caltech/JPL profs told my son not to apply. In the words of one "Caltech is not an undergraduate institution." Caltech is a very highly ranked undergraduate institution, but does that mean one should apply, or attend if accepted?

    All of the "top tier" schools rely heavily on TAs and have large lectures. Berkeley for example has more than 60 TAs in the ME department alone and the largest lecture in the nation. Should one overlook that based on "rank?"

    It is important in vetting schools to realize that when it comes to ranking, the emperor really has no clothes. Students need to decide what they value, and vet schools on those criteria.
  • sawadeekasawadeeka Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    edited January 20
    I think one good point that Greymeer's posts identify is the fact that there's an unfortunate truth in the perception of having to rank the entire school and not just programs. We can argue all day long about how Poly's CENG is super competitive, how kids will get accepted into UCB but not Poly, how Poly rejected over 10K 4.0+ students last year, reputation of their engineering program with the industry, etc. But there is merit to stating that Mich, UVA, Cal, UCLA, etc. will carry their weight better in terms of overall school reputation. But I would caution picking school just for that reason alone though. I've met too many kids and relatives picking a school for simply the school name, only to find themselves struggling to find employment without the proper degree (i.e. Economics from UCLA, Bio from Cal, etc.).

    I think the only schools that truly carries a "safety net" in terms of employment after college with ANY degree due to reputation are the Ivy leagues and other top tier schools (i.e. a Wharton grad hedge fund manager once told me he only hires Ivy league grads). Any other schools without the right degrees (yes, even Cal) and your kids may struggle a bit after graduation.

    Bottom line: If you don't know your $hit on the day of your interview, it doesn't matter what school you come out of. Good engineering jobs tend to favor kids that knows their stuff.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    @sawadeeka said: "I think the only schools that truly carries a "safety net" in terms of employment after college with ANY degree due to reputation are the Ivy leagues and other top tier schools..."

    The Dale and Krueger study from about 10 years ago, which has been recently replicated, firmly refutes that notion. Anecdotally, the recent Ivy grads from my son's HS are significantly under employed. In my field, healthcare, the Ivy grads in our neck of the woods, don't make any more than the Podunk U grads (yours truly :D, Go Tigers!) and some make substantially less. The idea that an Ivy degree of any kind is a golden ticket has been blown up.

    Now, as you said, for a few very specific jobs, the pedigree can mean the difference between success and being shut out completely. Those jobs would include investment banking, upper east coast law, and being on the Supreme Court. Otherwise, undergraduate degree only from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology...be prepared to say "would you like to biggie size that?" a lot. ;)

    Back to the OPs original question, the further a Poly grad strays from CA, the less likely it will be that a company will have interfaced with their grads. The same can be said for a Purdue, Illinois, GT even a MIT grad wanting to work in CA. Companies tend to stick with what they know. Most companies get most of their applicants from schools very close by. Just under 70% of UIUC grads work in Illinois or the states that touch Illinois. Apple employs more SJSU grads than from any other school. That's not saying grads can't be mobile or that we should intuit that SJSU is the best school. It's to say recruiting is regional.

    What type of engineering is your student interested in?
  • sawadeekasawadeeka Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    @eyemgh, as always, you always provide excellent info! My son applied for SJSU Computer Engr as a safety school, but we'll have to take a closer look now. :)
  • vhsdadvhsdad Registered User Posts: 152 Junior Member
    My son is a freshman at Caltech and loves it. House system allows you to interact with upper classmen, and there are bountiful research opportunities. There’s also something to be said for going to a school with smaller class size.
  • iulianciulianc Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
    There was an earlier question about which kids would turn down a UC for Cal Poly. Here is some mildly objective data, self-reported by kids who got admitted into both Cal Poly and a UC. https://www.parchment.com/c/college/tools/college-cross-admit-comparison.php?compare=Cal+Poly&with=University+of+California,+San+Diego

    They would chose 90% vs. 10% UCLA and UCB, but otherwise it is roughly a 50/50 split for all other UC schools. Very often people chose schools based on perceived prestige vs. the practical aspect of finding a well paid job after graduation.

    Here is an official, government provided comparison of salaries after graduation of Cal Poly vs. top 5 UC schools:

    CalPoly comes on top. Not necessarily a statistical relevant comparison, since likely Poly has more engineering graduates than the other schools, but it proves two earlier points made in this thread:
    1. The choice of major is likely the most important determinant of finding good employment post graduation
    2. Cal Poly is at least equal in terms of professional outcome when compared with top UCs

    The interesting thing about prestige is that some people are willing to forego hundreds of thousands of dollars of lifetime income for the privilege of having a UCLA alumni vanity licence plate on their cars :)
  • GreymeerGreymeer Registered User Posts: 583 Member
    One of the best engineers I've met went to Arkansas.

    @eyemgh "The ASEE data has always seemed odd to me. I'm not sure where they pull it from as it never "

    Typically, you'll see the colleges touting admission/profile scores which will be higher... but that is not enrolled scores.

    The data is a yearly survey submitted by the college. So if the ASEE data is wrong it's the institution's fault. I'd believe the ASEE data before anything on a college "fact" page... because it's raw institutional data... not marketing.

  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    I have a feeling it's because they include the engineering majors outside of the College of Engineering, but I reached out to IR to see if I can get clarification. We know from the acceptances and rejections that those numbers are low. If they reply, I'll update.
  • sawadeekasawadeeka Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    edited January 27
    @vhsdad, Caltech is an upper tier school and growing up in the area, I don't doubt it as an awesome school. If my DS had the stats, that would be his top choice as well.

    I think we're all talking past each other. I don't doubt ASEE data at all, and I agree with Greymeer that reputation (and stat-wise), Cal/UCLA would rank higher for their engineering programs. Let's not forget, Cal is what produced the great Wozniak. :)

    But I highly doubt Poly's claim of 5297 CS applicants last year to be purely made up. The problem that Poly is running into now is that last year, too many students decided to enroll. In order to compensate, they will most likely lower their yield this year, making it even more competitive. Someone posted that their kid with an MCA of 4700 was rejected last year from ME. I bet it might even be higher this year. If that's the case, we're now talking 4.3/1500+ SAT range w/max rigor.

    To answer the question about 700 kids in the CS program, I'm willing to guess that's partly due to high attrition rate--most of which normally occurs freshman year. For example, I ended up on academic probation my first year (GPA 1.9) and almost got kicked out myself. I finally ended up graduating with an overall GPA of 2.5. My GF at the time dropped out, but was able to change out into another major. My best buddy also dropped out of school altogether (partied too much), ended up transferring to UC Davis (school at the time had 100% acceptance rate). I'm not sure how it is now, but back when I went through the program, the attrition rate was about 25%. Lastly, the average # years used to be ~5 years to graduate, mostly due to 6-9 month CO-OP that most students take during their junior/senior year. Not sure how it is now.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    What gets missed in the whole ranking obsession discussion is how differently students are educated at Cal Poly (and a few others like WPI for example) versus the more traditional engineering programs. Every single class until students get to the most mathy graduate level classes like Continuum Mechanics, Viscous Flow, etc. have labs. Cal Poly has more than 80 distinct labs in the CENG alone. So, for example Vibrations and Rotary Mechanics are not just applied math lectures like they are at most schools. They have a lab component, labs only used by undergrads. Their Senior Project is a year long and very robust.

    The question shouldn't be where does Cal Poly rank, or any school for that matter, but rather, how will my child be educated as an undergrad and how prepared will they be to make a meaningful impact when they graduate. We assume that rank automatically correlates to a better experience, but that may not be true.

    In my (not so humble) opinion, ranking is ruining higher education. Students and families have lost the ability to vet schools because they distill the process down to a single, highly flawed, metric. After all, we all want "the best," but based on what? That is an important question to answer.

    In the end, an engineering student will likely be fine no matter where they go. Using rankings though is a recipe for a student to regret their choice. It's an example of one, and one only, but one of my son's friends ended up choosing MIT, because, well it's MIT. He ended up taking a leave half way through and is deciding what to do next, because the whole experience has left him disillusioned.

    Use rankings as a valued metric at your own peril.
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 868 Member
    edited January 29
    "In my (not so humble) opinion, ranking is ruining higher education. Students and families have lost the ability to vet schools because they distill the process down to a single, highly flawed, metric. After all, we all want "the best," but based on what? That is an important question to answer."

    "Eyemgh" has hit the nail on the head! Yes there are differences between colleges and universities. However, the rankings have created a monster and turned largely into a disservice to the student and to education in general. Rankings largely distort reality by oversimplifying measurements of academic quality.

    Quality education for any individual turns on their individual experiences and needs. The best education is a tailor made fit. Matching rejection rates does not do a good job of matching students, but does reflect, to a large extent, public awareness of an institution. There is more than one way to build the educational process and the "best" opportunity for creating a match is to broaden the field beyond ranking.

    Do you really believe that Georgia Tech is a better place to study ME or CS than Olin College, SLO, RPI, WPI, Stevens, Rose Hulman, Virginia Tech and a few dozen more colleges? Try to answer that question without going to the almighty "rankings" and you will learn a great deal about yourself. Define your own criteria and design your own rankings. It is more difficult than looking for someone's version of rankings. YOU define the variable without the aid of a ranking number, but you will have to ask what YOU are looking for. Have a productive conversation with yourself as you build your own model.

    Fifty years ago the Boston Globe published to picture of a young man who had been admitted to Harvard. It ran about a ten inch column with the student's picture and the Harvard acceptance headline. The last line said that he had not selected Harvard, but another small university where, at the time, I was working. This gentleman just retied as Sr. VP of the second or third largest American corporation. He did it without Harvard. This same small university picked up a few column inches a few years later as their small pool of alumni had produced three CEO's of nationally known corporations in the same year. Public awareness of this institution was virtually zero in 80% of the country. How come they made it? There are a large number of institutions with like stories. If you want to be impressed, look at Lehigh University's list of all the corporations they have created, managed, or chaired, but they are rarely discussed in the same breath as the Ivies.

    Do you really believe that a world class education begins and ends with the top10, 20, 50, or any other ranking?

    Don't just follow the crowd. Pursue your individual identity. Creative people do that.
  • parentofsixparentofsix Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    edited January 29
    I can attest one should go where one can afford the tuition and not based solely on ranking. My DS turned down Georgia Tech, Purdue and Virginia Tech for a full tuition at Iowa State engineering. He had interned/co-oped with Microsoft, 3M and a few smaller boutique firms. His friend, one class above him, received a full-time job with Tesla. If one is motivated and smart, it does not matter where one goes... The grades and experiences will attract employers. Engineers want other engineers who know their stuff and not where they had studied.

    Oh i edited to add my own professional experience. I am a retired engineer and had skipped and jumped many firms (6 total in 40 years). My school did not even come into play after my first job. All they are looking for is what i can contribute to their goals. Granted small engineering consulting boutique firms do like named schools to add to their "announcement." However, I find small consulting firms limit my experience.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 5,346 Senior Member
    @parentofsix, my son asked my uncle who has a PhD in engineering from Stanford to tell him more about the institution. He'd spent the first half of his career in academia and the second in industry. My son was eager to get his perspective. He said the graduate school was great, but really only consider it if you'll go on to get a PhD and pursue research. Otherwise, he said, if you want to be prepared to actually be an engineer, pick a school known for preparing students to do that. You want a good teaching school like Iowa State. Sounds like your son made a wise choice.

    Also, regarding this: "Granted small engineering consulting boutique firms do like named schools to add to their "announcement." However, I find small consulting firms limit my experience. " My son applied to a smallish firm in San Diego. They have the "we've trained at the top universities around the country and the globe" page. On the top line, the hometown school UCSD along with Berkeley. Like 2, MIT and the school in question, Cal Poly. Caltech, Georgia Tech, Purdue, way down the list. I guess it's a matter of perspective as to what schools folks find impressive, and ranking doesnt have much to do with it.
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