Feedback from current UofM AA Mech Student

My son is applying to UofM for MechE for admission Fall 2022. We toured the campus, but did not get a tour of the engineering buildings on the North Campus due to COVID. I have a few questions about what everyday life is like for an engineering student at UofM:

  1. Is it a logistical nightmare bouncing between the main campus and the North campus to take classes, or is it not a big deal?
  2. Are there good research opportunities for undergraduate engineering students?
  3. Is it a collaborative or competitive academic environment?
  4. Are the professors interested in their undergraduate classes, or would they rather be doing research?
  5. Are there good coop opportunities?

UofM is a slight reach for my son, but so far, it is not his first choice. He was not enamored with the campus, and the prospect of traveling between the main and North campuses was a concern. Also, as a large state school, he will be in large intro classes and there likely not be as much attention from professors as at smaller schools to which he is applying (RHIT, CWRU, and CMU). On first blush, UofM would be a great choice - it is 1.5 hours from us, their undergrad MechE program is ranked #6, and we would pay in-state tuition. Fit, however, will drive his decision (assuming he is accepted).

Any guidance from current students or recent grads would be appreciated.

1 Like

I am neither a student or recent grad but my son graduated this year in industrial engineering at Michigan. I can only give insight into the culture. I am also one of the regulars on here answering Michigan questions for like 5 years or so, so…

You are making assumptions. Many first year classes are not that large. Yes some are but most aren’t. Plus they break down to review groups with their Graduate TA that is small like 25 students or do.

Anyone can do research. Many different avenues. Sometimes just emailing a professor is all you need to do.

My daughter went or a lac with 1300 students. Her ability to talk with her professor was no different then my son’s. Plus they knew his first name in class.

Can’t speak to every professor but every professor that my son worked with showed genuine interest. They help him create a large student organization on campus with weekly lectures and student projects in an area of interest. Michigan will go out of its way to make your student successful if your student show initiative to do so.

Coming from the top school in Illinois, which was very competitive this was not the feeling at Michigan. According to my son “we all struggle together”. Lots of study groups etc. Anything to make your son successful if he goes to the sessions.

We live in Chicago. My kids took trains to busses to get to school. 45 minutes each way or so. So a 15 minute bus ride was actually saving him time… Lol.

First year all his classes are on central campus except for like 1 class. In his sophomore year most are on North. Many, many engineering kids choose to live on Central and go to North on campus. My son lived on Central his first year then on North the last 3. Not a big deal. If he wants to live on central that’s up to him.

Internships are more the thing at Michigan but there are co-ops as well. My son did an international internship in Israel for engineering right after his engineering study abroad in France in his sophomore year. They get out early so this can happen. Lots of other schools you can’t make this work as an example.

I always tell people compare faculty and facilities between programs. Michigan has some of the best of each compared to anyone’s.

I doubt you will get many students on this forum currently enrolled and why I answered. They are studying and busy there now… Lol…

1 Like

Knowstuff, we spoke with a recent MechE grad from UofM, and his experience jibes with you son’s in some respects, and differs in others. Like your son, he had no problem with the bus system between the two campuses and it did not cause him any inconvenience. He had some opportunities to do research and hold summer internships, but he confirmed that UofM has no coop programs.

He disagreed with your son in that most of his freshman and sophomore classes had around 200 hundred students, and his Chemistry class had over 450, but he considered it an anomaly because so many different majors had to take the class. That said, he did not know any of this professors until he was an upper classman. Who knows, maybe this is due to more students majoring in MechE than Industrial, or your son made more of an effort to reach out to instructors?

He did love UofM and had a great experience there. He thought the academic environment was challenging, but the culture was collaborative, not cut-throat. Unlike your son, he was from a small town in MI with a decent, but not top-ranked, high school, so the jump to a major research university was a shock to him. My guess is that a student from New Trier or Payton Prep would be better prepared to attend an elite(ish) university than one from a small town over an hour outside Detroit.

We have been comparing the faculty and facilities at the various schools on my son’s list. We have also been comparing outcomes for grads. Interestingly, the outcomes for Rose-Hulman are comparable to UofM, despite it being a tiny school that focuses on undergraduate teaching. For some engineering majors, UofM grads earn more, and for others RHIT alums fare better. RHIT draws its professors from top schools like Georgia Tech, Cornell, U of Penn, RPI, CMU, and Purdue. Not surprisingly, many RHIT alumni do their graduate work at these same schools. And while RHIT’s facilities and resources pale in comparison to UofM’s, their largest class size is capped at 30 and their faculty self select for teaching.

1 Like

I am traveling now but know about RH also. If you like very small and like high school classes then yes it’s for you. My son went to Northside college prep which was the top school 6 years ago. Now it’s number 2 agh… Lol :rofl:.

If you take some initiative Michigan will do anything you want basically. So yes, you have to go meet with your professors. Yes some classes especially Chem are large but his Calc 2 class had 30 kids in it. All upper level classes had this or less. All classes breakdown like 30 kids with their TA… I laugh at the major starting salaries. They will be basically the same depending on locale. My son has a job with kids from GT, Penn State and University of South Carolina. Large international company. They all make the same.

Rose is absolutely great. My son got a half scholarship. But it was very small and the town was not great and no where to walk to. It’s engineering all the time and very hard. Kids get jobs and it’s known in the engineering community. But I would do Case over it.

I would call about coops but Internship, Co-Op, & Career Guidance – Mechanical Engineering

The strongest coop program I know of is Purdue.
Also Rose is 80/20 men /women

J is applying to Purdue as well. We actually liked the campus there better than UofM because it was more cohesive. We were very impressed with the students who ran the engineering session, and the strong coop program there is a draw. (We love the coop program at Kettering - the old GMI - too, but the school is under-resourced, the campus is run-down, their ratings are low, they are in Flint, and they feed into the auto industry, so he did not apply.) We know several Boilermakers, and they all loved the school, and are doing great professionally.

The small classes and personal attention at RHIT make it a good fit for J. He went to their Catapult summer STEM program, and the professors were terrific. In his words, “It Rose weren’t in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana it would be my runaway first choice.” I think you are right about CWRU because it offers more options to explore different majors and it is in a medium sized city. Since submitting our application, CWRU has been sending us an email almost every day; I am not sure if that is an indication that they really want him, or every applicant gets the same treatment.

CWRU sends out a lot of stuff… Lol…
Yep, Purdue has awesome coops but my son liked the Internship route but during the pandemic one of his was canceled…so he got his 6 sigma certification that summer…

It’s all what you make it… Both Purdue, Michigan Rose he will get plenty of personal attention if he seeks it. I can tell you all the wonderful things about Michigan but if he’s not into it, then that’s one to cross off the list…