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Harvard Engineering

martinpaulmartinpaul Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited September 23 in Harvard University
how hard to be accepted?
Post edited by skieurope on

Replies to: Harvard Engineering

  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 647 Member
    edited September 22
    Why would you want to study engineering at Harvard when you have Cornell, MIT, Cal-tech, etc with fully developed programs and a range of options?
  • hgrad2010hgrad2010 Registered User Posts: 121 Junior Member
    Only slightly easier if you express a true and well documented interest in engineeeing when applying.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 556 Member
    I know a girl who was accepted by Stanford, Caltech and MIT with an engineering profile earlier this year but rejected by Harvard. There could be cases the other way around. So, you never really know the outcomes when it comes to these low percentage acceptance schools.

    @retiredfarmer There are many good reasons for studying engineering/CS at Harvard College. If a student's ambition is to become a great software coder, many trade schools education will do IMO, no need to even go to MIT/Caltech to learn the trade. If the student wants to be at the forefront of research and development in certain engineering field he/she would need to go the graduate school anyway and Harvard College can probably provide a good foundation. I imagine that an engineering/CS degree from Harvard College is unlikely to be used for just finding a well paying engineering job. Rather it is likely to help graduates to do something else that may need engineering background.

    For some perspectives Harvard graduates also excel in endeavors associated with engineering powerhouses:


  • monydadmonydad Registered User Posts: 7,745 Senior Member
    edited September 24
    re #2:
    "Why would you want to study engineering at Harvard..."

    Various rationales are presented in these old threads:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/833312-harvard-ranking-in-terms-of-engineering-undergraduate-p2.html (eg #s 18 & 25)
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/7310444#Comment_7310444 (eg #s 5,12, 15,39)
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/11017056#Comment_11017056 (#s 24 (Princeton but same theory),45, 46, 52, 76, 77)
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 647 Member
    edited October 9
    There are a number of older,related discussions on this issue:

    STEM educational institutions had a difficult time evolving under the watchful eye of a classically educated intelligentsia. Charles W. Eliot was an educational giant who did a remarkable job developing Harvard to the impressive LA, medical and law University it is today. Apparently President Eliot was also human and did not foresee the extent of the new, rapidly evolving world of applied sciences and its evolving impact on every aspect of our lives. See: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lawrence-scientific-school

    Laboring under the concept of "trade schools," the great Universities of RPI, MIT, WPI (three oldest), CMU, CalTech, Stevens, Colorado School of Mines, Georgia Tech, Rice University et al evolved. As they developed they also had growing pains to keep up with the speed of scientific evolution. Engineering is where "the rubber meets the road" when it comes to science. Whole new specialties and associated labs evolved and were built. These institutions had to build not only strong math and science departments, but also came to acknowledge the difficulties raised by the impact on all of us in our own evolution. One of the big leaders today is Stanford University which picked up the engineering ball and ran with it in the 1930's.

    Not all Ivies sank the ship. For related IVY engineering discussion see: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/20899844#Comment_20899844 and start at the top of the discussion.

    History helps us to better understand perspective.

    WPI '67

  • GourmetmomGourmetmom Registered User Posts: 2,728 Senior Member
    My son graduated last year - applied math and EE. He was very torn about engineering when applying to college, but only considered those with either an engineering school or a decent program, but did not gravitate toward the technical schools such as WPI and RPI, although he liked Caltech and was accepted there. He was not a tinkerer or hands on type, but very strong in math and sciences in high school. His dad, also an EE, valued engineering as a discipline and just thought he should go that route. He ended up just hating the EE program at Harvard, so added applied math to make life more palatable. From what he says, engineering is not great there because it has too few students and the advising is disorganized and everything seems disconnected. Also, the class options (other than the ABET required) were limited and uninteresting, and that was a huge disappointment. He was intensely critical of the program, and we felt bad that he went that route.
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 4,824 Senior Member
    edited October 9
    I don't care what any old thread says. I'm always floored when anyone who is competitive for Harvard admission would choose engineering there. There are SO many superior programs, probably even your own state flagship, which would likely be free with that record. Choose Harvard for engineering (or any other Ivy besides Cornell) MAYBE if you want to be a well educated banker, but certainly not if you want to be an engineer.
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,741 Senior Member
    Sure your going to get a better engineering education at those other schools, mostly due to the fact that they have large engineering departments. The question is do you want a more interesting, diverse (in the sense of different majors) cohort, and a better education outside of engineering?
  • eyemgheyemgh Registered User Posts: 4,824 Senior Member
    Compromising your engineering education for "a more interesting, diverse (in the sense of different majors) cohort, and a better education outside of engineering" is bizarre to me. Do you want your physician to have great classmates or be a good doctor? In fact, name one professional you interface with where the quality of their classmates and their non-major education was more important to you than the education you were seeking their expertise in. Set aside the fact that it's a leap that the classmates will be "better" at Harvard and a massive leap that the education outside of engineering will be better. You won't be taught by your fellow undergrads at Michigan.
  • Engineer80Engineer80 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    edited October 10
    I would be far more likely to hire an engineer who graduated from Stevens, RPI, WPI, MIT, Cooper Union, et al than Harvard. Harvard is far from being a first choice for engineering. Engineering is an undergraduate professional course of study and, as such, it follows that the bulk of the coursework will be those required to be an effective practicing engineer just as in law or medical school the coursework is specifically meant to impart the knowledge and skills one needs to be an attorney or a physician.

    Much of the required curriculum in professional schools whether they be engineering, law, medicine, or any other are dictated by the standards of the accrediting bodies specific to those fields, in the case of engineering being ABET.

    @CU123 - My classmates when I was an undergraduate at Stevens were just as interesting, diverse, and well rounded cohort in a variety of majors (besides engineering) as those of Harvard's or anywhere else. I put our liberal arts/sciences core equal to any other university out there.
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 647 Member
    edited October 10
    Interdisciplinary respect whether a STEM university or an LA college is at the core of this educational issue. I find it ironic that many LA graduates believe that they have exclusive rights to this thought process while they speak of engineering as a "trade" long after the launching of the industrial revolution. On the other side of the coin, it might be helpful to understand where and how these different perspectives evolved. It seems to me that epigenetics, psychology and history are quit possibly partners and not isolated subjects.

    Both types of universities can profit by respecting the magnitude of our world and the benefits of unshackling our thoughts from a given subset of approaches. At the risk of sounding like Timothy Leary (not an idol of mine) enjoy the venture of discovery (not chemical tripping). I believe all professions can profit by planting these seeds.

    It is not possible to fit all useful coursework into a four year can, but we can start this trip by developing a more open and welcoming perspective with practical, interdisciplinary teams. All disciplines can profit. It is time we integrated learning. In the end, it is about learning how to learn.
  • Engineer80Engineer80 Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    edited October 10
    Engineering is no more a "trade" than are medicine and law. I would argue that engineering requires a higher level of original thought and analytical reasoning acumen than routine clinical medicine and legal spinning. Medical and law schools in this sense are "trade schools" or vocational in nature in that they teach one to do a specific job.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 38,469 Super Moderator
    edited October 10
    Engineering is no more a "trade" than are medicine and law
    Getting off topic (and into debate). Move on, please.
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • CU123CU123 Registered User Posts: 2,741 Senior Member
    edited October 10
    @Engineer80 ummmmm, no they weren't but you're entitled to your opinion.
  • GourmetmomGourmetmom Registered User Posts: 2,728 Senior Member
    Important to note that engineering majors at Harvard still have to take all of the core classes, so they are left with very few electives. This is very different than the curricula at technical schools, and is a double edged sword - Harvard graduates highly competent engineers who also have a liberal education, but it really limits the course offerings for students - my son was not able to take all of the classes he wanted in just four years.

    And to be clear, he was thrilled to attend Harvard and loved every minute – a technical school was not a good choice for him (it's really a different cohort who wants to go to Harvard and concentrate in engineering). The college just needs to do a better job in terms of class offerings and advising.

    @Engineer80 I would guess that most Harvard engineering graduates wouldn't want to work in a traditional engineering job anyway, so you likely don't have that problem. Most of his classmates went on to grad school or work in startups and go off on their own right away.
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