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WPI versus University of Rochester - Mechanical Engineering

winky411winky411 10 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
Our son is trying to make a final decision between WPI and University of Rochester for mechanical engineering.

He likes WPI because of the project-based learning approach, the well-regarded career development center which offers assistance with obtaining paid internships/co-ops, and the fact that WPI also offers aerospace and robotics programs, two additional areas of interest for him. The WPI accepted students day offered a thorough introduction to each of the engineering programs presented by the department heads and that was very helpful. On a less positive note, we were told by the res life director that most freshman will be housed in triples or quads, which he was definitely not thrilled about.

He also likes University of Rochester. He was very impressed with U of R’s overall campus feel and the group of diverse and friendly students he met on accepted students day and felt that U of R would be a good social fit for him. The majority of freshman will be in doubles so that is also a plus for him. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of information offered regarding the specific engineering programs at accepted students day. There was a brief 30 minute general overview of the engineering department and we had a tour of the lab facilities, but we really did not learn much about the academic structure of each engineering program, opportunities for internships, degree of rigor, theory vs. project-based components, etc. In addition, since he is interested in obtaining summer paid internships with companies (versus on campus summer research, etc.) we would really love to learn more about the degree of availability of paid internships as well as any opinions regarding the career services offered at U of R.

Both schools seem really great but any additional information or thoughts on either or both schools in general and/or their engineering programs would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Replies to: WPI versus University of Rochester - Mechanical Engineering

  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would not let first year housing sway the decision much, if at all. My son was in a triple, the "dreaded" configuration at his school first year and had a great time. Three good roommates with him in a quad is going to be FAR preferable to one less than ideal one in a double. It's sort of random luck really. In the end, it's one year. He'll find his peeps at either school and likely live off campus for the remainder of his time at either.

    As for the school, my son didn't look at U of R, but agonized between Cal Poly and WPI right up until the end. He chose Cal Poly two days before the deadline, but it was a random thing that sealed it for him. The sun popped out of the clouds after a long Oregon winter. The west coast and San Luis Obispo weather flipped his final switch.

    Your son can't go wrong either way. It's also guaranteed that whichever he chooses, he will find fault with once he gets there and going for a while. That's the nature of the beast. They all have varying flaws and we get to know only one intimately enough to unearth them.

    His gut will lead him and the choice will be right.

    Congrats on the impending launch!

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  • cameo43cameo43 1644 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^^ Agree [email protected] the first year goes by quickly and honestly, at WPI he'd be in study groups constantly and the kids congregate in all sorts of places to get the work done... he won't be stuck in a crowded triple studying for hours every night... my kid and her 2 roommates pretty much just slept in their room and were not in there much if at all during the day. She and her roommates had different majors, interests, and friend groups, but they all got along great with no issues the whole year.
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  • winky411winky411 10 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you both for your comments. You are right, it is just one year if he is a little too crowded and the rest of the years should be fine housing-wise. He is holding off on giving us his decision until this weekend...three whole days before the deadline. Can't wait to click on that enroll button somewhere!! Thanks again
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  • VMTVMT 1189 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D was in a triple freshman year and had a wonderful experience, making lifelong friends. She is now a senior and still living with one of those girls. The triples are physically very tight. But, dorm quality was not critical to her decision and the 3 girls made it work. After freshman year, they moved off campus.

    My daughter had the same choice as your son. She chose WPI, though I’m positive U of R would have been great, too.

    Good luck to him.
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  • thermomthermom 462 replies9 threadsRegistered User Member
    @winky411 Funnily enough, my D17 had two best friends from HS, and one is at UofR and the other at WPI. As far as I know, both are getting a lot out of their respective school experiences. Friend at WPI groused about the triple housing for about a week, then it all settled in and everybody was too busy digging into college life for it to matter much. The friend at UofR is a serious-hobbyist musician, so the level of the music program at Rochester was a big draw for her. Has your son looked into the presence of extra curricular activities that might sway him one way or the other?

    You also haven't mentioned cost as a factor - is there a difference? If so, is it a consideration for your family?

    Good luck, great choices!
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  • mardongmardong 117 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My son is a freshman at WPI. He loves it there and has found a great group of friends. He is in a suite of six with two doubles and two singles. He gets along with all his suit mates, but has struck more meaningful friendships with kids at a different floor. Housing has not at all been an issue for him. He starts research over the summer, and is really excited about that. What has been surprisingly a benefit at WPI, is the curriculum flexibility. He has been able to rearrange and tailor the curriculum to suit his own needs. You can’t go wrong with either option.U of R was also on my son’s short list as well, but WPI always had an edge over all his other options. I think he really liked the collaborative atmosphere we observed when we first visited.
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  • winky411winky411 10 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks all for your responses. @VMT and @mardong, you both mentioned that both your daughter and son had U of R on the short list as well. Other than the collaborative atmosphere of WPI, do you know if there were any other deciding factors that led them to ultimately choose WPI? @thermom, he really loves robotics extra-curricular programs like VEX, so it seemed like WPI would be the natural choice given their extensive course and extra-curricular offerings in robotics, but I guess he is weighing that against other benefits he sees at U of R. After merit both schools are pretty close cost-wise so that would not weigh in heavily.
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  • MarillionfanMarillionfan 2 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My daughter’s top 2 choices were WPI and U of R for engineering. She fell in love with both schools but ultimately chose WPI. I would have been happy as a parent with either school. These 2 schools are very different and both offer unique positives.
    This is a personal decision and my daughter’s reasons will be different than your son’s. With that being said, I can highlight some of the reasons for her. She felt that WPI was a good fit for her, especially when interacting with current students there during Accepted Students Day. Also, as a musician, she was intrigued by the concert band and pep band opportunities. (Obviously, U of R’s music program was also a plus...given its connection to Eastman.) We also went to U of R’s Accepted Student Day and were impressed by the students there and the beautiful campus with stunning library. Interestingly, we had the same takeaway as you did regarding the difference in the engineering presentations - WPI was in-depth for multiple engineering disciplines whereas U of R not so much. My daughter definitely appreciated the WPI engineering presentations. As others have mentioned, she loved the collaborative opportunities at WPI as well.
    As far as the housing in “triples”, my daughter doesn’t care...I think, as adults, we have higher standards for living space than our kids do!
    Whatever your son decides, I am sure he will be happy...it is a relief when the process is over, I can tell you that!
    Again, the reasons need to be your son’s reasons, not other people’s reasons. I really don’t believe there is such a thing as a wrong decision when it comes to these 2 schools.
    Best of Luck!
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8965 replies79 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For U of R, check into the music opportunities. There will probably be some for non music majors, but it's worth checking because I've heard that sometime sschools with a music program have limited options for those in other programs.
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  • mardongmardong 117 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited April 23
    @winky411, Being able to study abroad while pursuing an engineering degree is something that my son really wanted to do, and we came to the conclusion that WPI was the only school in his list (WPI, U of R, Purdue, Rose Hulman, CWR, Colorado School of Mines) that has it figured out. As a WPI student, you have the opportunity to go abroad for one term. WPI has over 50 global sites where you can go to complete work on your IQP, MQP, or both (see WPI PLAN). Other schools said studying abroad was possible, but when asked exactly how that would work while pursuing an engineering degree, the other schools did not have a good answer to the question. It was mostly “you have to make room in the schedule” and might not graduate on time. When we asked how many engineering majors studied abroad, the answers was always “not many”. WPI has it “baked” into the curriculum, and starting last year, every student gets a 5K to help with the costs of a term abroad. This became a huge positive check mark in the WPI column.
    As @colorado_mom mentioned above, Music was also an interest. WPI has a wonderful music program where STEM students are active members of orchestra, choir, etc. U of R has a great music school, but it is completely separate (even physically) from the rest of the school, and we were told you had to be a music major to take classes there.
    Overall, my son really liked WPI’s PLAN: The flexibility of the curriculum, the ability to take academic risks without being penalized, 7 week quarters - taking 3 classes at a time, project based classes which come closer to real world environment, etc.
    I hope this helps. Please PM me if you need any additional information.
    edited April 23
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  • VMTVMT 1189 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It really came down to accepted students day for my daughter. WPI did a better job of articulating who they are and what they are about. We attended sessions by the computer science and math departments. (She ended up an Industrial Engineer with a math minor and a few CS classes thrown in for extra fun.) She sensed good connections between the students and faculty. WPI also did an excellent job of presenting outcomes with discussion of career services and grad schools attended by former undergrads (which was an impressive list). WPI did a good job of connecting education to the outside world in their presentations. I think this really appealed to my daughter. Most parents I speak to say ‘The campus just had a feel to it.’

    I would have been happy either way. As a parent, I sensed that some of the skills my daughter could improve (writing, presenting, developing confidence, speaking up, etc.) would definitely be addressed as a natural part of the curriculum at WPI. And that is what happened. She blossomed.

    That is her story. College selection is personal. For every kid who picked WPI, there is one that picked U of R and is very happy with their choice.
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  • NewSR1NewSR1 75 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My daughter gave up some really nice dorm options at honors colleges and chose WP for next yearI. The triples are so tight, but the kids there all seem fine with it. I personally don't like the cost I am paying for a triple (that comes out to WPI making over $25,000 per triple room) but it is only going to be for one year unless she RA's. She loved the students and faculty at WPI more than any other school. I am happy she picked the college for the right reasons. One of her colleges had a ton of perks, great dorms with shared baths, and beautiful common areas, but she couldn't get enough info or feel for the academics or daily life at that college.

    Good Luck! Let us know what he decided
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  • winky411winky411 10 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Our son picked WPI too! He really gave it a lot of thought and seemed to feel that the academic program at WPI was the best fit for him. @NewSR1 congrats and good luck to your daughter as well! Like you all mentioned, freshman housing is tight but it is just for one year. There seems to be a lot of housing options after that. Thank you all once again for taking the time to share your thoughts!
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8965 replies79 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Woo hoo for WPI! It really does feel good when the decision is made. When I was a freshman at Clarkson (1980) we had a lot of triples on our floor. It seemed to work out ok.

    When we toured Harvey Mudd with our son, I thought they were the ugliest dorms I'd ever seen (and I think no windows?) He never even noticed. He was just excited by the geeky vibe.

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  • mardongmardong 117 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited May 2
    @winky411, Congratulations on your son’s decision! I am sure he will love it there. Make sure to join WPI’s parents FB page, lots of great information there. WPI as a whole has been a great community for us. If tight housing is a concern, have him consider Founders. It is a short walk uphill to get to the main square, but it is suite style living, and my son’s room was pretty roomy. They even have a restaurant in the building (the Goat’s Head),and they can have unlimited swipes there (all the other students can only swipe there once a week).
    edited May 2
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  • VMTVMT 1189 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Congrats @winky411 on the decision. My daughter has no regrets about her 4 years at WPI. Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
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  • LakemomLakemom 2943 replies68 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    In regards to study abroad, UR of Engineering program is quite dedicated to study abroad experience. They will go out of their way to make it work. Because of the flexible curriculum it is much more doable than at other engineering schools.

    My ME son did a study abroad in New Zealand and graduated easily in 4 years. He had a life changing experience there. He could have also gone to Australia.
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