Georgia Tech, Aerospace, Shocked and surprised. Please help.

Im an Asian American (Indian born) junior from Rochester, NY. Aerospace Engineering is my focus area. Georgia Tech is ranked #2 in most surveys for Aerospace. I always liked their program, faculty, co-ops and ranking based on what I learnt from public domain and social media. Without a doubt, they seem to be producing great engineers and I believe I can be a very good engineer too with my love for science and math. Along with great educaiton, Im also concerned about quality of life, safety and the positive vibe that the infrastructure gives. GTech was my #1 choice till I visited the campus last week.

I know GTech is in Atlanta metropolis and not an deserted town in USA. I expected it to be small, yet, very good and inviting. It was shocking when I visited the campus. I even went to their Aerospace facilities such as Daniel Guggenheim and Montgomery Knight Building. I even visited the Weber space building where the classes are apparently happening and the infrastructure looked to be substandard. Sadly, they looked very dilapidated, old and uncared for. May be they have good equipments inside, but, from outside, it was small, boxes of rooms, no sunlight, no space for students to study and do group work etc. Please note, Im not expecting a college to be like a corporate office, mall, or a shiny thing. I just want it to be reasonably good. Their dorms are just of main street(s) and has museum old equipments.

GTech seems to be producing great students and engineers. Im surprised how they are producing so many engineers from such a facility. What am I missing here? Are there really good infrastructure for Aerospace that I have not looked beyond in the boxes of tightly packed, uninviting rooms? Can someone help me understand? Do the students there compromise the infrastructure for the name, or, probably the great quality of teachers?

Second is also another important thing that I overlooked till now. Other than the street where GTech is there, if you just go just a few hundred meters away, the whole city is very depressing. Don’t get me wrong here, I have very good African American friends and one of my best pal at Rochester is an African American. But, just few hundred meters from campus, I see many African Americans (dozens and dozens of them), living off their baggage in public parks. While I really feel bad for them, the whole area was very depressing to me. I googled and found out that there are many crimes surrounding the college (robberies, mugging etc.). Is Georgia Tech even safe? I’m not someone to venture out midnight and I play it safe. But, if you give half a mile to nearby Walmart, the whole place was very inviting, poorly kept, folks hanging around in dozens, smoking, not even smiling, or, saying you a HI… Again, don’t get me wrong and give a racial tone to this.

My four years in Georgia Tech is not only within the four walls, but, I need to have a safe, wholesome experience. I need to be able to jog early morning, walk to a nearby shop without being scared and have a good overall vibe and experience of college. What is the experience of folks who have been there, done it at GTech.

Im very seriously interested in GTech. I know they have a stellar record. That’s why the college visit was shocking to me.

Please provide me open and neutral feedback.

I don’t understand the shock or your logic.

Why can’t a school with poor dorms and uninviting rooms in a less than perfect neighborhood produce good engineers?

There is no doubt GTech produces excellent engineers. That’s why I still want to consider it seriously. Just that it looks bad than even my middle school in Rochester. I was hoping to see better from a Top 3 in Aerospace Engineering. Again, it is not how beautiful it is. Broken chairs, closed matchbox sized rooms, stinking carpets in class rooms… Maybe I’m missing something and that’s what I want to understand from those who live and study there. Second, when you look at the poverty just straight out of the campus, it was little worrying for me. When I Googled safety, I got many mixed opinions and reviews including robberies, attacks on students near/on campus. Please understand, I love GTech so much, but, I really want to know what is the quality of life there. Please don’t get my post in a wrong sense. I need guidance.

Come to ucla it’s in Westwood which is part of Beverly Hills and Brentwood.

Yeah… @UnniIndian you have to be happy where go you to college, there’s nothing worse than having a miserable four years as an undergrad. GT just may not be the right fit for you – your priorities are not a good match, it seems. Have you considered expanding your college search? You can go to a Top10 school for Aerospace Engineering and it won’t make a smidge of difference that it wasn’t a Top 3.

I still don’t understand the logic. Big rooms, fine furniture, and clean carpets (as well as good quality of life) aren’t required to produce good engineers.

@PurpleTitan I agree, but “fit” should NOT be overlooked. Why be unhappy at a school that you dislike when you could be happy elsewhere?

@JenJenJenJen: For sure. I’m just puzzled why someone would automatically assume that just because a schools is renown for turning out engineers that it would also be a pleasant place or more pleasant that his HS. Those two things are orthogonal to each other.

@UnniIndian, I think that your post is sort of hinting at a very important point: Ranking is a number. It does not tell anything even remotely close to the entire story about a university.

Some great universities are in relatively poor areas. When I was an undergrad (at a very highly ranked university somewhere near Boston) two of my acquaintances were mugged. One had a black belt in two martial arts and beat up both of his attackers (and had been in an area where he shouldn’t have been, but only a couple of blocks from his dorm). The other had his wallet and pants stolen in our dorm (he lived in the same dorm as I did). Some of the top universities in the world are in or near relatively poor areas.

Some universities are in areas that can get very hot in summer. Some can get very cold in winter (I remember talking to a very smart graduate student at the University of Michigan who had never seen snow before going there – I thought that she was very brave but didn’t tell her this). Some are huge. Some are quite small.

I remember years ago passing a rather beat up looking old building with no windows at MIT and seeing a plaque that said that there was some sort of particle accelerator inside (I think that it was a cyclotron). I also recall visiting a professor there whose office was in an allegedly temporary building that I was told had been built during WW2 and was intended to last until the end of the war – it was still there in the 1970’s and I was told that part of the reason that it was still there is that there was so much valuable equipment inside that just moving the equipment would be a huge task (I think something newer and larger has since been built on the site).

Some of these beat up buildings that you see can have amazing equipment and amazing professors and very smart students inside. A lot of very good work gets done in buildings that do not look impressive from the outside.

If you go to an urban campus in the US then you are going to need to understand the safety issues in terms of where it is safe to go at what times.

In deciding which universities to apply to, and especially which one university to attend, you need to understand in significant detail what you want and what the university offers and whether you will be safe and happy there. I think that your visit to Georgia Tech has given you some things to think about, which is good.

Some unsafe places are more campus than community related. For example, a rowdy party with lots of alcohol being consumed.

The surrounding area of GTech is not my favourite part of the city but it isn’t dodgy, either - it’s a tourist hotspot. Also, just a 10 minute walk south is the Centennial Olympic Park which is an extremely vibrant and safe part of the city.

check out RPI. Much closer to Rochester (you will save a lot of money traveling). Great program, graduates get great jobs, nice campus/facilities, urban area but nothing like what you are describing.

What kind of “help” do you want? If you didn’t like aspects of the school or its location, don’t apply. Try thinking of the positive aspects of schools you visit. Try to drop the negative attitude. No, Atlanta is not “an deserted town” (sic). But an urban or semi urban school may not always be in the best part of town. Weigh the pros and the cons and choose colleges that fit your interests. Maybe this was your first school visit. There will be things you love and things you don’t about most schools. It is what it is. If you are comfortable in your environs, go to RIT. No idea if they offer your intended major, but go look.

RPI would be a great choice for you with regard to its academics and proximity.

This is part of the reason college visits can be illuminating and rankings may not give you all of the information which may be important to you. I suspect that employers are not going to look significantly differently upon graduates of the number 2 ranked aerospace engineering school vs. number 10 or even number 20. Even a top student from say UA Huntsville may have as many opportunities as an average student from GT.

My D visited 2 schools that seemed like they’d be very similar, UIUC and Purdue. UIUC was higher ranked but she felt it seemed rundown and old, while she really liked Purdue as it felt clean, well kept up and friendlier. She visited U of Michigan and didn’t like the fact that the engineering campus was a few miles away from the main campus. GT was never on her radar. In the end she chose Purdue and will graduate next year with a lot of opportunity. She did a 5 term co-op and has 4 semesters of research under her belt. I’m not trying to sell Purdue to you (though they have an excellent AE program) but would suggest finding a place that you feel comfortable at. The son of a friend of ours has a son who is an EE at GT and he felt Purdue was too rural and wanted a more urban environment. He is excelling at GT right now and loves it. Apply to a variety of universities and maybe give GT another look. Maybe GT will look better at a second glance or perhaps you will find a place that does feel right despite a “lower” ranking. Good luck.

I went to Tech pre-olympics when it was much worse. Bordered on the south by a public housing project and on the east by the then-blighted Midtown.

I loved studying engineering at Tech. Enjoyed the camaraderie of grinding through uber-challenging (to me) problem sets and labs with friendly and bright classmates. The library had to be one of the loudest in the country with students passionately teaching each other late in to the night.

Loved going to night football games in the heart the city with the Atlanta sky line as a back drop. Loved the energy of the campus on the weekends - blowing of steam from the rigorous week. Loved venturing out in to the city and drinking cheap beer and seeing soon-to-be famous bands (The Violent Femmes, REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, B52’s, Indigo Girls etc…) in small bars and clubs near campus.

However, I would concur with the others, and suggest you go with your gut. So important to visit and get a feel for the schools you’re interesting in. I have had the same experience with my own kids’ visits. Schools that looked perfect on paper, just didn’t feel right based on the visits.

Best of luck with your college search!

Look at UF for aerospace (shameless plug I know).

Also second the Purdue suggestion above.

Both Purdue and UF are in smaller, but fun, towns.

This just confirms that you need to find a school that is a fit for you and it is not all about the rankings. look into Virginia Tech. I think you will find the feel there more of what you are looking for. And they are highly ranked as well.

I would be afraid the OP would fine UF “very dilapidated, old and uncared for.” if GT is the standard.

If someone is looking for an large Aerospace program where the buildings are bright and shiny and new then UCF meets that requirement, and “wholesome” Disney is less than an hour away.

So where do you compromise, quality of program or campus aesthetics? My opinion is you go to college for an education, not a vacation, but what do I know.

Maybe you’re just not a city person. That’s good to recognize. In contrast, we visited Rochester from Atlanta a few months ago. After about an hour of driving around, my daughter knew it wasn’t enough city for her. While you might decide you can learn to deal with it, why not also look at schools in areas where you would be more comfortable.