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Thoughts about Chicago creating an Engineering School?


Replies to: Thoughts about Chicago creating an Engineering School?

  • gravitas2gravitas2 Registered User Posts: 1,474 Senior Member
    I would hope that President Zimmer and the board would seriously consider this major concern that many of the alumni past, present, and future have concerning lack of engineering...most do not frequent the CC board to air out their serious concerns...

    ...I know UChicago representative(s) peruse these boards....
  • verisimilarverisimilar Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    sorry to reignite an old thread, but I'd just like to second Fstratford's idea, and say that it probably should even be a little easier than s/he implied. I don't think that computer -engineering will happen (really doesn't fit the intellectual atmosphere, as it's hard to draw any connection to *pure* science), but the stats department already offers plenty of classes in stochastic systems, optimization, etc., physics offers some electronics, and econ offers, well.... econ, so it seems to me they already have most of the ingredients to offer operations research, systems science, or industrial engineering. I also think those are easier to think of as *intellectual* - the study of systems seems meta enough....
  • idadidad Registered User Posts: 5,027 Senior Member
    I recently spoke with Bob Zimmer, Chicago has no intention of establishing a typical school of engineering. They are interested in building a world class molecular engineering institute and program, and are spending $500 million to do it. They have every intention of doing whatever it takes to keep Chicago at the forefront of scientific research, but simply don't believe traditional engineering is the way to do it. Zimmer is a mathematician and was VP for research at the University, so he likely has a good grasp of where the school is and where it needs to be.
  • gravitas2gravitas2 Registered User Posts: 1,474 Senior Member
    ^^that is unfortunate. Molecular engineering is such a narrow field it will do very little to attract the kind of high school students Chicago will need now and into the future who would be able to join the ranks of Silicon Valley companies, start-up entrepreneurs, technology venture capitalists...Chicago needs to produce future transformational leaders in the technology fields that will dominate in the 21st century. Chicago's endowment growth going into the future is in jeopardy...
  • FStratfordFStratford Registered User Posts: 417 Member
    Molecular engineering is not nothing. It's biotechnology's core. It is the future of technology.
  • idadidad Registered User Posts: 5,027 Senior Member
    To be clear, molecular engineering refers to the scale of the engineering effort, and not to biological engineering exclusively.
  • TheBankerTheBanker Registered User Posts: 270 Junior Member
    Chicago will never attract the type of Silicon Valley students we're familiar with now (i.e. the ones almost exclusively at Stanford). There's no way. It's too late for the rest of the top schools; Stanford has a monopoly on SV and is on track to dominate the 21st century. Chicago's only hope is to focus on niche areas like molecular engineering, which is more of a long-term development than anything else.
  • -CS-CS Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    To confirm with idad

    It's been a few months so I could be remembering things incorrectly (it was November when we discussed this), but President Zimmer talked about how Chicago realized it made a mistake by not creating an engineering school and is now playing catch-up with this new department. They intend to be the best at it which will pave the way for future opportunities. It seems unlikely that Chicago would ever try to compete by creating mechanical and civic engineering programs, but I could see it trying to take up some of these other niche areas.
  • gravitas2gravitas2 Registered User Posts: 1,474 Senior Member
    @TheBanker. I'm afraid you may be correct. If anyone read the book 'The Chosen' by Karabel...Stanford became Harvard's real main rival back in the early 80s (not Yale, not Princeton)...and hasn't changed since then as it is today. The chief concern that all the other schools (excluding MIT and Caltech) had was Stanford's astronomical lead in technology/engineering/computer science fields besides having top liberal arts programs at the time but very few schools did anything about it because their endowments were mainly tied to Wall Street by and large...and they were doing pretty well in the 80s up until the late 90s due to the stock market. But, with the shakeup that has been going on in the IB business, Wall Street debacles, 2008 collapse, loss of corporate law firm jobs in major markets, contrasted with the steady emergence and dominance that is taking shape in the global world of technology that is centered in Silicon Valley which is constantly looking for new computer scientists, engineers, visionaries and entrepreneurs...Stanford can no longer be ignored by any institution...including Chicago...no matter how far behind they may be.

    ...this is why Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the rest of the ivys are all trying to shore up their STEM fields especially in computer science and electrical engineering...because that's where the top jobs are...

    ...it should also be noted that most of the elite consulting firms (McKinsey, BCG, and Bain), elite IB firms, elite VC firms, elite MBA programs (Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Chicago) and elite law schools (Stanford, Harvard, Chicago) are recruiting and favoring CS and engineering majors over the "traditional" students more and more...because consulting firms, IB firms, business schools, law schools are not stupid. They know where the future "gravy train" is coming from to bring prestige to their firms and alma maters in terms of investment return and future donations to support their endowments. Moreover, schools and firms that have "connections" to the growing technology economies/companies can then use their resources to help their future colleagues and graduates get jobs...and on and on it goes...

    ...this is why I started this original thread...I see the writing on the wall...and presently, it isn't pretty...
  • UMTYMP studentUMTYMP student Registered User Posts: 949 Member
    I think there's quite a bit of hyperbole in saying "Stanford has a monopoly on SV and is on track to dominate the 21st century." Surely Stanford's advantages in SV are not only due to excellence in technical fields but also geographical proximity. There's no reason to think SV will remain the tech hub of the US throughout the 21th century either. Also the importance of EECS could certainly decline as well. Enrollments in EECS have declines significantly at Stanford and MIT over the past ten years http://www.stanford.edu/dept/pres-provost/irds/ir/analytical_reports/stats_book/1.15_UG_Degrees_in_Common_Majors.pdf Enrollment Statistics: MIT Office of the Registrar.
  • TheBankerTheBanker Registered User Posts: 270 Junior Member
    Seriously, just look at this list. And if you wish, contrast this to Chicago's. It's ridiculous.

    List of Stanford University people - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    List of University of Chicago alumni - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Stanford has connections to co-founders or top people at Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco, Time Warner, Google, HP, Netflix, LinkedIn, Sun Microsystems, YouTube, Mozilla, and Instagram, just to name a FEW. And these are just the major ones in tech.

    Chicago has a HANDFUL of top people in government posts, and most of its most famous revenue-producing alumni are from Booth, not the college. There really is no comparison. Plus, the college's career services are still severely lacking...

    Stanford is the epitome of a 21st century college. Great weather, great location for jobs, great all-around academics (not like Chicago where the main focus is humanities), great sports...you name it. Let's face the truth. Chicago is great in a few select fields but Stanford matches Chicago in those fields AND more.

    What I said is not a hyperbole, even though personally I think tech (esp. mobile apps) is in a bubble. It's all about momentum...there's a snowball effect and right now other schools are just entering engineering/tech when Stanford has essentially monopolized the tech industry. So it is too late and Chicago knows it, so the administration is doing what it can to make sure it's not left out. Molecular engineering is a fine choice.
  • UMTYMP studentUMTYMP student Registered User Posts: 949 Member
    Until recently Chicago's undergraduate classes were a lot smaller and Chicago was a lot less selective so it's not surprising Stanford has more accomplished alumni. Chicago is also certainly better than many academic fields as well. Even if it didn't produce a ton of revenue generating alumni the influence Chicago econ had on the world was huge. This may not matter if the goal of a university is to grow a large endowment but surely influencing the world is another important goal of universities. Nor has Stanford monopolized tech either; MIT, CMU, Berkeley, and Caltech among others are quite strong in these fields as well.
  • TheBankerTheBanker Registered User Posts: 270 Junior Member
    That's the problem...Chicago has several decades' worth of catching up and it missed out on the most important trend of the century. The other schools have Wall Street to fall back on. Chicago doesn't have any of that. It will have to outperform relative to its peers for several decades before it finally reaches parity.

    Okay, so maybe the wrong term. Stanford has not "monopolized" tech but it has a hugely dominant position in it. The other schools also do very well but how many of those graduates go on to work in tech companies founded by Stanford graduates (see: Google)? The only major tech company I can think of based in Chicago is Groupon and it's the laughingstock of tech (see: Andrew Mason, former CEO, who went to NU).

    I don't have the time or patience to compile a comparison of rankings but even in the fields where Chicago dominates, I'd assume Stanford is roughly equal (or slightly better/worse, but not by a wide margin). Yes, Chicago is great at Econ, but so are HYPSM. Quite a few of the most visible economists (in government) today are from HYPSM.

    In the future, rankings will look like this: Stanford in the lead, then HYPM, then after that maybe Chicago/Columbia. I think Chicago can surpass Columbia because Columbia seems to be faltering a little bit. But can Chicago crack the top five? Let's be realistic: probably not.
  • FStratfordFStratford Registered User Posts: 417 Member
    Of course it can. There will be 7 schools that the common people will consider as the "top 5" and one of them is UChicago.
  • TheBankerTheBanker Registered User Posts: 270 Junior Member
    @FStratford, my point is that Chicago is not going to surpass HYPSM anytime soon. Outside of academia, its most recent graduates are still nowhere as impressive compared to graduates from Columbia, Duke, and Dartmouth. There is a lot of ground to make up for, and my concern is that too many people on this forum are being too optimistic and attributing too much of Chicago's future success to just admissions statistics. I've been a long-time lurker (I don't always post, but I actively keep up in this forum) and I can't tell you how posts I've seen in the UChicago forum that remind me of the exact same kind of thinking that perpetuates during stock market bubbles.
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