right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
We have changed the way we log in on College Confidential. Read more here.

Harvard Engineering vs Brown Engineering

utjw44utjw44 0 replies1 threads New Member
My son will be studying engineering. He's been looking at Harvard's SEAS program and is very intrigued by the new engineering building opening in 2020. Lately, Brown has caught his attention. How does Brown's engineering program compare to Harvard's? Aside from the published rankings, what do we need to know?
24 replies
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Harvard Engineering vs Brown Engineering

  • eyemgheyemgh 5619 replies122 threads Senior Member
    Ditto. Been to both. Both are pretty unimpressive when compared to real engineering programs. All Ivy engineering programs except Cornell are grossly over ranked. Don't take my word. Go visit. It becomes apparent who has what pretty quickly. I'd encourage him to dig deeper if he really wants to be an engineer.
    · Reply · Share
  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7483 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    eyemgh wrote:
    All Ivy engineering programs except Cornell are grossly over ranked.

    I don't think this is an entirely fair statement. Princeton has very well-regarded engineering program, for example. Some of the other ivies have stand-out programs in very specific engineering discipline even while being pretty average otherwise.
    utjw44 wrote:
    very intrigued by the new engineering building
    eyemgh wrote:
    Go visit. It becomes apparent who has what pretty quickly.

    I'd caution against using the "eye test" [optometry joke?] as a means of evaluating programs. Even old buildings can produce excellent students and excellent research.

    That having been said...
    utjw44 wrote:
    How does Brown's engineering program compare to Harvard's?

    ...why has there been a sudden uptick in people asking about Ivy engineering programs? Have they gone on a marketing spree lately? As has been discussed in this thread already, most of the Ivy school have fairly ho-hum engineering programs, as it was historically viewed as a lesser pursuit than such high-minded topics as the hard sciences and humanities.
    utjw44 wrote:
    Aside from the published rankings, what do we need to know?

    Engineering is a relatively egalitarian field, so the networking advantage typically attributed to the Ivies isn't going to matter unless the student wants to go into a non-traditional field like investment banking or law or something. Since those universities have historically not been very involved in engineering, the engineering networks there are actually likely to be less robust than at, say, Purdue, a state school.

    Once again, Cornell and Princeton are exceptions here.
    · Reply · Share
  • eyemgheyemgh 5619 replies122 threads Senior Member
    @boneh3ad, the eye of the beholder has to be calibrated, maybe the right prescription if we're staying in my wheelhouse. :wink:

    We saw several campuses that had old facilities, but important, cool stuff in those old buildings. Lehigh and Case are good examples. What I was mainly referencing was size and breadth of facilities.

    Using my son's school Cal Poly as an example, they have more than 80 stand alone labs in the engineering department alone. Brown may have a new engineering building in the works, but how many buildings do they have at Illinois, Purdue, Georgia Tech or Texas, A&M, etc? Double digits I'd guess at every one. It appears that the completed Brown engineering facility will be 25,000 square feet smaller than just Engineering IV at CP.

    I would guess that even with the new facilities at Brown complete, someone could tour Penn State (insert any big engineering program) and come away with a clear understanding that there's quite a bit more going on there than at Brown or Harvard.

    https://engineering.calpoly.edu/labs-facilities
    · Reply · Share
  • sevmomsevmom 8478 replies57 threads Senior Member
    Comes down to knowing your kid. Oldest had no interest in the big engineering schools. Instate in Virginia, athletic interest from a a couple very top privates but there would have been no money attached so he applied early at UVA and was done. Some eye rolling from a couple people with why not Virginia Tech then (smile and nod!). UVA, like Brown, Harvard engineering, are not top of mind places for engineering .But, they are very good options for many kids. It doesn't necessarily seem to be all about the bells and whistles for some kids, especially at the undergraduate level, where ABET accreditation is the important factor.

    And younger kid ended up at VT engineering. Different strokes!
    · Reply · Share
  • KLSDKLSD 265 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @sevmom Completely agree with knowing and observing your child as they explore school environments including opportunities outside of the college of engineering. Often the bells and whistles for the applicant are not in the engineering labs but in the med school, business school, or college of arts and sciences. Going to ABET required engineering classes and required labs has not changed. What is going to inspire your child to delve into a research career, become professors, change the world? It can easily be a “non-traditional engineering program” although I find that phrase funny because many of those programs have been educating engineers since 1850’s.

    Guidance counselor sent us to UVA and although I liked the environment and students, D1 told him, great but too rural and not diverse enough. He recommended one Ivy in next set of schools. She didn’t even realize it was an Ivy until well into the tour.

    For those of us without such robust in state programs as VA, CA, GA, MI, it is not as much of a leap to pay private tuition as compared to OOS. Our children discussed with us the opportunities they would have over merit offers at ‘traditional programs’.

    @boneh3ad Not sure that students expect to rely on an Ivy network, instead on resume and CV if they use what the faculty and whole university offers undergraduates. I don’t know how easy it is to get access to research opportunities outside of the engineering school at a large state university. So far those multi-discipline experiences have worked to easily attain 3 (industry and specific location) summer internships posted for upperclassmen and PhD students for fr, so and jr years. Will see what happens with grad school applications next year.

    An aside: cleaning out DH pack rat piles over winter break with D1. Came across his 8”1/2 x 11” thermo cheat sheet 30+ yrs old. D1 laughed and said I spent hours writing mine, could have used that for my final last week none of the formulas have changed.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35111 replies398 threads Senior Member
    This really isn't about whether H or B has programs near the best of the best. Or even the number of labs. (CP is 3.5 times the size of H or B.) It's about the right programs, right opportunities, academic and other, the right cooperative approach , for any particular kid.

    Picking the "best" egineering program in no way means he is the right student for that program. The point is not bragging rights when he graduates high school. It's the chance to move successfully, through college, toward the goals. That includes the right support and not getting weeded out because you picked a program above your own readiness or tolerances.

    Also, when you speak of top holistic programs, many will want a strong record in stem, the right balance of stem and other ECs, an understanding of what engineering is.

    I get the feeling OP needs to do more core research.
    · Reply · Share
  • jym626jym626 56255 replies2933 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    One more vote for the thought that the ivy’s have many strengths, but for Brown and Harvard, engineering is not one of them. Way back when, DS (a mech E) looked at both and applied to neither.
    edited April 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35111 replies398 threads Senior Member
    But the point isn' as simple as who's got the "best" programs. There is much success among engineers who schooled at H and B. And plenty of other fine schools.

    Usually, when we speak of H not being as strong in engineering, it's a comparison to some of their other superb programs. Not that it's subpar and dooms one's career. But again, right is what's right for the individual, where he can be empowered and keep up, be successful. We know ZIP about OP's son, his strengths or whether he's even right for engineering. CC is littered with wannabes.
    · Reply · Share
  • monydadmonydad 7870 replies158 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    For one thing:
    For each school, suggest look at the registrar's list of courses actually given in engineering each of the last two semesters.
    Count them.
    See if they thoroughly cover all the areas of engineering your kid might become interested in.

    For another thing:
    Investigate the nature of cross-registration with MIT, time and scheduling issues associated with taking MIT courses, conditions governing approval to take such courses, any differences in academic calendars.
    edited April 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9134 replies80 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    For non-engineeyring parents just starting college research, it is important for them to learn that engineering is different than other fields. There is NOT any reason to stretch finances just to get an Ivy degree. As explained in this thread and others, most ABET accredited engineering schools will enable good job prospects.

    THE IN-STATE FLAGSHIP OPTION USUALLY GIVES THE BEST VALUE, with the most variety of coursework etc. That is a good default starting choice. For some students there will be compelling reasons to prioritize others schools. The reasons may or may not justify the extra cost .... a lot of the decision will depend on the family finances/situation and the student.

    In our case, DS went to Olin, the teeniest engineering school of all. It's a niche-choice, too small and limited for most students. (All Oliners receive half-tuition scholarships, but it is still pricey. DH and I are both engineers and did tremendous research and soul searching about this. ) We are happy with the outcome, but honestly DS probably would have found a lot to like at CU Boulder too even though he felt it was "too close to home" (20 miles). We would have decided differently if Parent Loans had been required.

    Note - For a student with very low EFC (FAFSA calculation - Expected Family Contribution),... if lower than cost of in-state options, the decision process would vary. At Ivy schools, there is plentiful need-based aid ... sometime without loans.
    edited April 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7483 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    @KLSD

    Whether or not a student expects to rely on college networking strengths or not is irrelevant. That is essentially what they all rely on, and in many fields, the Ivies have a clear advantage. That's not generally the case in engineering except for non-traditional engineering career paths. What "the faculty and whole university offers undergraduates" really boils down to reputation and networking, and the Ivies don't stand out in either regard specifically for engineering.

    At larger state schools, research positions are fairly easy to obtain provided the student is strong and somewhat proactive. I actually proactively recruit undergraduates into my lab.

    Also, VA, CA, GA and MI are hardly the only states with public schools with strong engineering programs comparable or better than the Ivies. Off the top of my head: WA, AZ, CO, TX, IL, MN, WI, OH, IN, FL, NC, MD, PA, IA. All have wonderful in-state options and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

    In short, I'm not trying to say that the Ivies don't produce capable engineers. What I'm saying is that the strengths that the Ivies have over other other universities in many fields simply don't apply to their engineering programs, and there is therefore no reason to give them any additional weight in the college selection process compared to a state flagship for an engineering applicant. Choose the school that best fits the student.
    · Reply · Share
  • eyemgheyemgh 5619 replies122 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    Harvard's placement into the workforce or grad school (they don't specify time frame) is a respectable 89%. Of those though, only 11% are in engineering jobs according to their report. I can't find Brown's actual numbers. What I can find is that their engineering program is small. They average about 100 students per class across all disciplines, so 400 total engineers. At my son's school, they hover around 5000 engineering students. Now some may see a small program as an advantage, but what comes with a large program is typically broader facilities and broader curricula.

    This isn't a perfect metric, but it's a proxy for depth. Georgia Tech has the most engineering courses listed in their catalog at 2342. Iowa State, 1404, Ohio State, 1697. Purdue 1685. Cal Poly, 1149. Wisconsin, 1003. I could go on, but suffice it to say, big programs have lots of course options. Brown, 130. Harvard, 78. There are notable exceptions. Harvey Mudd for example has a narrow curriculum, but they only offer general engineering.

    If it the end of the day the OP wants one of those two programs, that's their decision. I'm simply suggesting they look beyond the hype of the Ivy League, as it doesn't seem to hold for engineering, and beyond USNWR rankings which are highly flawed.
    edited April 2019
    Post edited by skieurope on
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 40110 replies7416 threads Super Moderator
    MODERATOR'S NOTE:
    AFAIK, the OP did not ask for a definition of "engineer," so I have deleted/edited posts on that debate.
    · Reply · Share
  • IncorE206IncorE206 78 replies1 threads Junior Member
    eyemgh wrote:
    Both are pretty unimpressive when compared to real engineering programs.
    eyemgh wrote:
    I'm simply suggesting they look beyond the hype of the Ivy League, as it doesn't seem to hold for engineering, and beyond USNWR rankings which are highly flawed.

    I am suspecting what you saying is biased and wrong without evidence to show that USNWR ranking is highly flawed.
    · Reply · Share
  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7483 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    eyemgh wrote:
    I am suspecting what you saying is biased and wrong without evidence to show that USNWR ranking is highly flawed.

    If you are turning your argumentation toward claiming the USNWR rankings aren't flawed, you are fighting a losing battle.
    · Reply · Share
  • eyemgheyemgh 5619 replies122 threads Senior Member
    @IncorE206, do you know what the methodology is for USNWR's rankings? We'll start there.
    · Reply · Share
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9134 replies80 threads Senior Member
    USNWR college ranking is just one of very many data points to be used in college comparison. Regardless of the methodology, it's not going to yield an answer meaningful to all applicants. I suspect that employers occasionally refer to them, but only about schools where they've not had personal experience with grads.
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 40110 replies7416 threads Super Moderator
    edited April 2019
    MODERATOR'S NOTE:
    I'm assuming we'll not be having a debate for the 1000th on USNWR ranking and/or methodology, and will return to focusing on the OP.

    And to be clear, the above sentence is not a request.
    edited April 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • jym626jym626 56255 replies2933 threads Senior Member
    Awww, was just gonna pop some popcorn.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity