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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign vs Purdue University West Lafayette: Materials Engineering

PurdueUIUCPurdueUIUC 1 replies1 threads New Member
I am a student interested in pursuing Materials Science and Engineering (or Materials Engineering, some universities choose one name or the other but the degree is the same and often shortened to MSE) and I have been accepted into both Purdue and UIUC for the class of 2024. However, I am having a lot of trouble deciding between the two because from what I can see, the two programs are very comparable.

I have already visited both schools and their departments and I was very impressed by what I saw at both universities. While their programs are comparable, US News ranks UIUC materials at 3 and Purdue at 12. However, Purdue has a prestigious engineering program that companies value over UIUC. But on the other hand, UIUC has a great engineering program that is making strides while Purdue's is stagnant.

As you can see I am very conflicted between the two as every time I think of something good about one university, I think of a counterpoint for the other university. Any help in this decision would be much appreciated.

A list of factors I have already considered:
-I am OOS within a drivable distance of both with no trouble paying for either tuition costs.
-I visited both campuses and liked them both a lot.

And the final point that I am having trouble grappling with: someone told me that Purdue is staying stagnant and comfortable with their programs. On the other hand, UIUC is improving and may become the next Georgia Tech or UofMichigan (What I mean is that GTech had an acceptance rate of 55% in 2011 and 18.8% in 2019. This means they gained prestige and degrees from there are now highly valued.). While I want to take this statement with a grain of salt, I am hesitant to ignore it completely because they may be making a good point.

Any help in making a decision would be much appreciated!
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Replies to: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign vs Purdue University West Lafayette: Materials Engineering

  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1885 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited January 23
    Both are great engineering schools, so I think it just comes down to where you feel more comfortable. Fwiw, my D is extremely happy as a Junior in Purdue MechE, as is her MSE roommate. But I'm sure many students are quite happy at UIUC also.
    PurdueUIUC wrote: »
    But on the other hand, UIUC has a great engineering program that is making strides while Purdue's is stagnant.

    In a word...No. Beware of what "someone told me".

    The $20M Bechtel Innovation Center opened in late 2017. The Materials/ECE Building was renovated in 2018. Engineering's $54 FlexLab Building opened in 2018. An $80M addition to the Biological Engineering building will be done in December. A $64M STEM Teaching Lab will be done in August. Construction of a new $140M engineering facility started in October, to be completed in 2022.


    I don't think $300M in new buildings is an indication of being stagnant.

    "Purdue President Mitch Daniels told the crowd that the Engineering and Polytechnic Gateway Complex was key to the university’s attempt to find more space for students looking to come to Purdue to study science, technology, engineering and math. According to enrollment numbers released this week, Purdue has nearly 22,000 students – or 65 percent of its undergraduates – pursuing STEM-related degrees.

    Daniels said the goal is to build on those figures.

    “I really believe now is our moment,” Daniels said. “Why? Because the things at which we’re especially good at here – the things that represent the largest share of our teaching and research, things we loosely group under this term STEM – those are the drivers of the modern economy. And certainly, of an Indiana economy, which is so strong in manufacturing and now in information technology and life sciences. This is our time.”

    Doesn't sound to me like someone who is "stagnant".
    edited January 23
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2401 replies58 threads Senior Member
    "Both are great engineering schools, so I think it just comes down to where you feel more comfortable."

    I have to agree with this. I have never heard of Purdue being "stagnant". I don't believe that the difference in ranking is a basis to not choose Purdue, however, if you need a reason I suppose that is one. These two schools are interesting. They are very similar on paper. They are both in mid sized towns and fairly rural. I believe they are both land grant flagship institutions. Both are very strong in STEM though UIUC is Illinois' flagship while Purdue shares that moniker with U of Indiana.

    My D chose Purdue because of the way she felt there. They made her feel like they wanted her there. UIUC made her feel like they really didn't care if she chose them or not. She like the Purdue campus and the feeling like it was a very STEM centric campus. To her at least it was cleaner, looked more up to date and just generally a more pleasant place to be. I'm sure many others would have a preference for UIUC.

    Both schools will offer plenty of opportunities for coops, internships, research, study abroad etc. Purdue does require you complete their FYE program and indicate your preference of major the 2nd semester of your freshman year. Most degrees have requirement to assure placement in their first choice major. However, the majority of students who complete FYE are placed in their first choice. I am not sure how UIUC does it. I'll finish by saying I know far more Purdue Engineering alumns than Illinois. Perhaps it's because of where I live and the direction they go for work. Nearly everyone loved their Purdue education experience. It's one of those schools that people seem not only proud that they graduated from Purdue but they genuinely loved their experience there. I know my D feels that way.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3306 replies62 threads Senior Member
    Congratulations on your acceptances!

    Have you looked at career placement/outcomes for both? I expect they are similar (and good), but it's another objective measure to look into.

    Also, if interested in co-oping, it seems Purdue has more opportunities than UIUC...that could be something else to speak with the dept head and/or career center as well.

    Good luck.
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  • PublisherPublisher 9574 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Both schools are outstanding options. No wrong choice.

    The next Georgia Tech will occur only if statewide merit scholarships are available to all qualifying in-state applcants such as the Hope Scholarship.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80177 replies720 threads Senior Member
    UIUC does direct admission to major, but it can be hard to change major to a more popular major.

    Purdue has secondary admission to major; you may want to ask directly if MSE has been particularly competitive recently.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8737 replies82 threads Senior Member
    In addition to all the new building going on at Purdue, here's another link to some of the new initiatives: https://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/initiatives/

    Stagnant, definitely not, unless you are talking about tuition. In that case yes, tuition and room and board has been frozen for 8 years.
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  • PurdueUIUCPurdueUIUC 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for your help! I will definitely disregard what that person told me about UIUC possibly being the next GTech and Purdue remaining stagnant. I have looked into possible job prospects and one major difference between the two is that UIUC seems to have a $10,000 higher starting salary for MSE graduates than Purdue. At first glance, this seems counter-intuitive and I was hoping someone could provide some insight.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1885 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited January 25


    Purdue Materials Science and Engineering $63,025-$67,950-$72,928
    https://www.cco.purdue.edu/Files/Uploaded/May2018_salary report_new.pdf

    UIUC Materials Science and Engineering $62,500-$68,917-$72,500
    (Used “average” number, 50% not provided)

    Add up the three numbers and the difference in the totals is $14. Not unexpectedly, they are extremely similar.

    Note that the UIUC data is based on 33 employed students and Purdue on 20. Small numbers can cause variations, such as why the average was $61k just two years ago.
    edited January 25
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  • GreymeerGreymeer 862 replies15 threads Member

    "UIUC possibly being the next GTech"

    That will never happen.

    UIUC could be the next Michigan but not GT.

    UIUC would have to fundamentally redesign itself and would have to lose 3/4ths of their University.

    GT is basically a large engineering department.
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