Cornell vs UPenn for Engineering

<p>I just got accepted by both schools' Systems Engineering master programs. Now I need help choosing schools. I did some research and here's my pros and cons list:</p>

<pre><code> Cornell

-Great engineering school
-Interdisciplinary approach on systems engineering, electives from CS, EE,
-Ithaca campus is beautiful
-Plenty of recruitment opportunities from large engineering firms
-Graduation projects</p>

-Bad location, middle of nowhere in upstate NY
-I'm from California so I hate cold...
-M.Eng is different from M.S, probably less favorable if I apply for phD
-Difficulty in switching major: unknown</p>

<pre><code> UPenn

-Could take any classes from Wharton, up to 12 units, to satisfy my
graduation requirement.
-Great for potential career change to finance sector, close to 40% of SEAS
graduate students end up in Finance and Consulting
-Easy Major switch in SEAS (thinking about switching to CS)
-Great overall school name (better than Cornell perhaps?)</p>

-Almost unheard of in engineering (except CS, ENIAC was built in UPenn)
-Unsafe location
-Not too many engineering recruiters
-Isn't any warmer than Ithaca...</p>

<p>I really don't plan to get a phD so M.Eng and M.S.E degree doesn't concern
me that much. Eventually I do want to get an MBA, but that's still several years down the road.</p>

<p>Anyways, I want to continue my career in engineering but would like to keep the option open for a possible switch to consulting/finance. I also applied to Columbia MS program in OR and CS but still no response yet. Can anyone shed me some light on what school to choose? Your help is greatly appreciated!</p>

<p>"-M.Eng is different from M.S, probably less favorable if I apply for phD"</p>

<p>How are they different and what is MEng anyways? Thanks...</p>

<p>Cornell has a much better reputation for engineering, and philly won't be much warmer man.</p>

<p>@matt: M.Eng is an engineering degree, not a science degree. I don't think thesis is required, but there IS a graduation project requirement. I believe in a way employers like M.Eng because of the graduation project, but for PhD admission thesis is somewhat more preferred.</p>

<p>@chicagoboy12: Yah I know Cornell is somewhat better in engineering, although no such ranking exists for Systems Engineering. Anyways, I guess there's no escape from Northeast's freezing cold regardless of location :-(</p>

<p>Actually, Philly is somewhat warmer, and has SIGNIFICANTLY less snow, than Ithaca. There's obviously much more to do off-campus in Philly than in Ithaca (hundreds of great restaurants; lots of theater and music; phenomenal historical districts and sites; interesting neighborhoods; world-class museums, etc.), and it's only a couple-hour train ride from NYC or DC.</p>

<p>Also, although not directly related to your chosen specialty, Penn SEAS is very highly ranked in biomedical/bioengineering (currently around #5), and benefits greatly from the presence of Penn's top medical research complex (#3 med school, #3 or so vet school, top 10 dental school, etc.) a mere few blocks away on the very same campus. Additionally, Penn SEAS is making a MAJOR investment in nanotechnology (also helped by the strong medical research presence), and is about to build an $80 million nanotechnology center.</p>

<p>But it sounds like you've pretty much nailed it: Cornell has a much better reputation in general as an engineering school, but Penn offers some fantastic interdisciplinary opportunities not found elsewhere.</p>

<p>I'm going with UPenn on this, your degree is an academic degree, so the plethora of engineering research labs probably won't be of any importance to you. Systems Engineering is kind of Business/IT, correct? It's highly likely that you might change your mind, and I don't see an engineering job that you can get from Cornell that you can't get at UPenn, and half of the people get their jobs independently through the internet, connections, etc. Upenn has a significant leg up on the Finance/Consulting recruiting, more so in Finance...
It's good to have options.</p>

<p>Both schools are going to provide you fantastic education. If you are just interested in studying Engineering courses but not pursue Engineering as a career, UPenn Engineering will be as good as Cornell Engineering. Also, if you have an ambition to work in business sectors, UPenn would have an edge as well bc of Wharton and UPenn econ department.</p>

<p>Thanks for the reply guys! Yes, Systems engineering in particular is a cross-disciplinary field, combining Business/Management, engineering, operation research into one degree. </p>

<p>I did my research on both program, it seems UPenn's Systems engineering is more geared towards quantitative analysis/operation research. Here's my planned courses selection:</p>

<p>-Probability and Stats (CORE)
-Intro to optimization theory (CORE)
-Engineering economics (CORE)
-Simulation Modeling and Analysis (CORE)
-Information Systems for E-Commerce
-Project Management
-Any 1 class from PENN SEAS, including ESE, CS, Operation Research etc
-ANY 3 classes from Wharton AND SAS</p>

<p>On the contrary, Cornell's Systems engineering program is more engineering focused. With lots of management and systems/life cycle integration type of classes, electives are chosen from only the engineering disciplines (basically, you can't take classes from Johnson or other schools in Cornell):</p>

<p>-Applied Systems Engineering (CORE)
-Systems Architecture, Behavior and Optimization (CORE)
-Project Management (CORE)
-Systems Engineering Project (CORE) (Graduation project)
-6 or 7 classes form a list of 200 courses across CS, EE, ORIE, ILROB (what's that?) and MAE department.</p>

<p>To sum it up, I think UPenn Systems Engineering is more or less of a business/management/engineering degree, while Cornell's Systems Engineering is a true hardcore multi-disciplinary engineering program with a project management feel to it.</p>

<p>Forgot to mention- I am planning to get an MBA in the future, would UPenn give me an edge when the time comes for B-school application? Penn allows me to take three classes from Wharton so that might earn me a recommendation letter or two from Wharton Professors. Do top B-schools like Wharton have "We don't eat our own dog food" type of attitude towards students with a prior degree at their schools?</p>

<p>the three Wharton electives is pretty interesting, might be better for future MBA application</p>

<p>Don't base it on where you think you might be down the road. Both have great programs, so go w/ your heart where you want to spend the next four yrs of your life, Ithaca or Philly.</p>

<p>Penn isn't necessarily unsafe. Yes, there's crime, but students are rarely victims; they're usually local residents. (Except for bike thefts, which is why any freshmen who still have their bikes in one piece send them back home after the first month of school, but it isn't a big deal.) And when you consider that there are thousands of students on our campus the chance that you'll be one of those few people are pretty low. Seriously, visit the campus and count how many security guards wearing bright bright yellow vests you see. They're everywhere, even when you think you're off campus.</p>

<p>The weather in Philly is definitely milder than Ithaca's. One of my best friends goes to Cornell and she hates me when I complain about two inches of snow. But honestly you won't like Philly either. People from SoCal have a hard time getting used to the fact that we have seasons.</p>

<p>I think you should really try to determine whether you see yourself going into engineering or business (and why you want to go to business school). If you're serious about business, even a few years down the road, I would say Wharton gives Penn a major advantage. Finance industry (or business in general) recruiting is definitely superior at Penn, whereas you're probably right in saying Cornell's engineering recruiting is probably a little better. I think this is a pretty big factor and that's why you should try to imagine which career path you plan on pursuing.</p>

Congrats on your acceptances, but given your con statements above, I was wondering if there was a 3rd or 4th option? </p>

<p>I don't know if you've visited either U Penn or Cornell, but neither is suitable for many students. U Penn is in West Philly and while the campus itself has its pretty parts and there are development plans for the distant future ( 10+ years??) that will likely enhance the neighborhood, the reality is that this is now not a very nice part of town. It's probably better than Temple (in north Philly) and it is close to their downtown which is generally ok, but I'd take a closer look at whether you want to spend 4 years there. And the ride in from the Philly airport to downtown and U Penn is about the ugliest scene this side of the New Jersey turnpike. Ambiance is not a Philly strength. </p>

<p>As for Cornell, it is scenic as you say, but it is remote and cold. Some folks love this and perhaps you'll be one of them, but it is a very different kind of scene from the urban campus of U Penn. </p>

<p>For an MBA, I wouldn't get too hung on one school or the other. Both can position you for top schools, but far more important will be your work experience (plan on 3-5 years after college) and, less so, your GMATs.</p>


Actually, this evaluation is about 10-15 years out of date. Penn began investing heavily in its surrounding neighborhood in the early 1990s, and the results are readily apparent to anyone who has spent time exploring the immediately surrounding neighborhood in recent years--lots of new restaurants, cafes, stores, boutiques, etc.; several high-end and student-oriented apartment developments; and an ever-improving and gentrifying Victorian neighborhood to the west. In fact, Penn has been recognized as THE national leader in this type of town/gown neighborhood development based on its efforts over the past 10-15 years, as evidenced by this 2-year-old Washington Post article:</p>

<p>Urban</a> Colleges Learn to Be Good Neighbors</p>

<p>The CURRENT development plan referenced by hawkette is completely different from the West Philadelphia neighborhood development Penn has been pursuing for the past 15 years, and involves 24 acres EAST of campus, which previously belonged to the Postal Service before it recently moved its central processing facilities to a new location. This was a vast array of Postal Service parking lots, garages, and mail-sorting facilites, and was neither residential nor really part of the West Philadelphia neighborhood that surrounds Penn and extends west of it. In fact, although adjacent to Penn's campus, the former Postal lands weren't really accessible--or even VISIBLE--from the campus. However, now that Penn has acquired this land, it opens the opportunity for Penn to build connections to it, and to convert it into attractive open space, additional athletic fields and facilites, and additional academic and commercial development that will further enhance the campus and its connection to the Schuylkill River and Center City Philadelphia.</p>

<p>Finally, while it's true that several blocks west of Penn's campus the neighborhood begins to decline precipitously, the University City neighborhood that immediately surrounds Penn's campus has become quite nice in the last 10-15 years, and now boasts some of the higher property values in the city.</p>


While much of the ride from the airport (which is about 10 miles) is through industrial or depressed areas that are not attractive, the same can be said of the ride from airports in many other large cities such as New York, Chicago, LA, etc. To judge the ambience of a city or its many neighborhoods by the ride in from the airport makes about as much sense in Philadelphia as it does in those other cities.</p>

<p>In fact, a statement that "ambience is not a Philly strength" indicates a lack of knowledge and experience of many prominent Philadelphia neighborhoods, such as Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, Society Hill, Washington Square, Queen Village, Old City, Fairmount/Art Museum, Northern Liberties, Manayunk, Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, and yes, even Penn's own University City. Each of these and many other picturesque, historic neighborhoods is known--to those with more than the most superficial knowledge of Philadelphia--precisely for its unique and charming ambience. Add in attractions such as the magnificent Greek Revival Philadelphia Museum of Art (3rd largest art museum in the country), the ornately Victorian Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (oldest art school and museum in the country), the stately Academy of Music (built in 1857, it's the oldest opera house in the world), Fairmount Park (at 9,000 acres contained completely within Philadelphia's city limits, it's the largest landscaped urban park in the world), over 200 sidewalk cafes in Center City, and many, many other amenities and attractions, and it's clear that Philadelphia offers an abundance of unique ambience matched by few other cities.</p>

<p>However, to experience that ambience, you DO have to explore more than just the drive in from the airport. :)</p>

<p>45 percenter,
With a history of lousy and corrupt city and state government, a slow-growing economy with declining manufacturing, surprisingly few major companies for a city of its size and comparatively poor infrastructure (IMO, Pennsylvania roads are the worst in the country), I think it is obvious that I am not much of a fan of Philadelphia. I would say that Philly is a lot more comparable to Baltimore than it is to somewhere like Boston. If you like Baltimore, then you’ll probably like Philly. </p>

<p>One of the major problems that Philadelphia has is keeping graduates of its local colleges, including U Penn, in town. Outside of those who are from nearby areas like the Main Line, a large number of the U Penn student population will move on to NYC or some other major city rather than settle in the area. As I see it, Philadelphia is not a student haven like Boston, at least not for those who originally came from somewhere else to attend college in Philly. </p>

<p>I know the city fairly well, having been there frequently, including several times this year, and have been in most of the neighborhoods that you reference. I think your arguments in support of these neighborhoods have greater import for anyone looking to move to Philadelphia to live and work rather than someone considering U Penn as a college destination. Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt that there are a lot of U Penn students running around in many of these neighborhoods you cite, most of which are several miles from campus. </p>

<p>I’ll concede that some parts have some appeal, but taken as a whole, Philadelphia has some pretty visible and pretty large areas that are just plain poor, maybe even destitute, and potentially unsafe. West Philadelphia, where U Penn sits, is one of these areas. It may have improved over the past decade, but just outside of the immediate U Penn area sits a neighborhood that I would still not be comfortable walking in at almost any time of the day. I think that there is great potential for things like nearby Fairmount Park, but a quick drive around parts of that park made me very uneasy. </p>

<p>I’m sorry about writing about this as you probably live in Philly and no one likes reading negative comments on their home city. But these are my impressions of Philadelphia in general and West Philly in particular. ….</p>

<p>hawkette, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, D.C., Phoenix, etc., etc., ALL have "some pretty visible and pretty large areas that are just plain poor, maybe even destitute, and potentially unsafe." To believe that Philly is unique in that regard, or has more than its fair share of those areas compared to many of those other cities, is simply naive. What Philly DOES have now is the 2nd or 3rd largest--and one of the most prosperous--downtown residential communities in the country, and it continues to enjoy a healthy rate of growth with thousands of million-dollar condos recently or soon to be completed. As I said before, that area now has over 200 sidewalk cafes, among many other amenities.</p>

<p>I'm not a current Penn student (it's been MANY years), but my understanding is that most current Penn students do, indeed, take advantage of and enjoy Center City and the surrounding neighborhoods, which are only a mile or so from campus and easily reached by public transportation. Indeed, Philadelphia is generally a major attraction for the 22-23,000 students who apply to Penn every year, and Penn heavily promotes its presence in Philadelphia in its admissions materials:</p>

<p>Penn</a> Admissions: Philadelphia: Penn's Urban Advantage</p>

<p>Further, your impression of Philly's not being a student haven is also inaccurate. With over 91 colleges and universities and about 360,000 full- and part-time college and university students, the Philadelphia region has one of the largest student populations in the country and, e.g., has at least 2 web sites devoted to its numerous amenities and offerings for its large student population:</p>

<p>Campus</a> Visit / Philadelphia .::. The official hotel and travel site for Philadelphia's top colleges and universities</p>

<p></a> :: your guide to philly life</p>

<p>While you may have visited Philly briefly on several occasions, I doubt--based on your comments--that you've spent any significant amount of time in Philly exploring the many cultural and historical amenities and attractions the city has to offer, or truly getting to know its wonderful neighborhoods. I suspect that your visits have merely been brief business trips and, as anyone who's been on numerous business trips knows, it's impossible to truly appreciate a city as large and complex as Philadelphia on such a trip.</p>

<p>Moreover, saying that Philadelphia is more comparable to Baltimore than to Boston reveals an extremely superficial understanding and appreciation of what Philadelphia has to offer. For example, Philadelphia has: (1) one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world (and one of the so-called "Big 5"); (2) the third largest art museum in the country (after NYC and DC); (3) the largest museum devoted to Rodin sculptures outside of Paris; (4) the largest private collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world; (5) a restaurant scene that caused both Gourmet Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler Magazine to call Philly one of the finest restaurant cities in the country; (6) many of the most historically significant sites and the largest collection of 18th-century structures in the country; (7) five medical schools within the city limits; (8) a historic boathouse row that is a registered national landmark and is the traditional epicenter of competitive rowing in this country; (9) the largest indoor flower show in the world; (10) more public arboretums and gardens than any other city in the country; (11) more artistic murals and public sculpture than any other city in the country; (12) an extensive ring of lovely suburban areas that include the Andrew Wyeth country of Chadds Ford, beautiful and historic Valley Forge, and lively New Hope and surrounding Bucks County, and which the AAA guide calls "among the most beautiful exurban areas in the country;" and so on and so forth (I could go on and on even more, but I think you get the idea). Again, anyone who thinks Philadelphia is more comparable to Baltimore than to Boston has little knowledge, appreciation, or understanding of the many historic, cultural, educational, and scenic attractions and amenities Philadelphia has to offer both to visitors and tourists in general, and to its 360,000 college and university students in particular.</p>

<p>45 percenter,
I think I know a decent amount about the city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Our conclusions are different, but I admire and appreciate the work you put into your post-Philly could benefit from your descriptions. </p>

<p>I'm not going to push this as I don't see any benefit to be gained by further negative comment on my part about Philly. I will just advise the OP and any student looking at U Penn to take a close look at the campus and surrounding W. Philadelphia neighborhood. He/she may see the city as you do or he/she may see it as I do, but one thing is for sure-the campuses and the environments of U Penn and Cornell are about as different as they come.</p>


And prospective students should also take a close look at what lies a mile or so to the east of campus--i.e., one of the greatest cultural and historical meccas in the country--as well as the rest of what greater Philadelphia has to offer.</p>

<p>I visited Penn's campus in December. It was beautiful (albeit an urban setting) and I don't know why it would be any more concerning than, say U of Chicago's campus.</p>

<p>^ Indeed. Or Columbia's, or Yale's, or Harvard's, or Johns Hopkins', or any other university surrounded by a larger urban area with the associated urban issues.</p>