I did not say 3.6 is not a good GPA. It certainly it. I am saying what you also know is true…It’s not a good enough GPA to get into prestigious, elite schools, or probably even the next tier down. Defining targets that way is sort of silly anyway. As we’ve thoroughly hashed out in the blue pill/red pill threads, prestige and selectivity have little correlation to earnings at 2 years. The highest earning ME program in the nation, by quite a margin is SUNY Maritime.
Using the state of Michigan as an example, the state publics and Kettering all have similar earnings. Michigan, Michigan Tech, Michigan State, Oakland, Michigan-Dearborn and Kettering all are neck and neck, with the latter 3 the highest. That’s in no way a slight on the Wolverines. Michigan is a great school that probably has broader opportunities on campus and for first jobs. It has a great alumni network too. The point is the others are good enough. Once you land your first job, then it doesn’t really matter.
Also, focusing on rankings leaves off some of the best programs in the nation since they don’t offer PhDs. Harvey Mudd, Cal Poly, Rose, and Olin, all very good programs, don’t show up on the lists.
Of those, I’d recommend Michigan Tech and Kettering, but if big is important, Michigan State. Michigan would be a long reach, but worth a try. The thing about reaches though is that by definition, the odds are very much not in your favor. You need very few reaches. If you were adding another, I’d choose Purdue.
Staying in the Midwest, I’d look at Minnesota, Iowa State (great school with a national lab), Missouri S&T, and Miami of OH. If you’re willing to go smaller, Rose Hulman and Case Western are both solid. Cincinnati has a coop mandatory program like Northeastern.
Transitioning west, I don’t think you’d get into Cal Poly, UCB or UCLA. Given the rest of your options, I don’t think any CA schools are worth the money in the context of all your other options, maybe San Jose State. CA publics are test blind, so that will hurt your chances.
Oregon State has a very good ME program. They place a bunch of grads at Boeing. One of my son’s HS friends stayed in OR for undergrad and is now at MIT for grad school.
If you’ve never been to Texas, I’d probably leave it off. The most competitive programs are off the plate (Texas and Rice) I don’t think I’d choose A&M or Baylor if diversity and inclusion were important. Houston is solid, but you have better public options elsewhere. Plus, having gone to school in Houston, the weather SUCKS.
Finally east. As I previously mentioned, Bing and Stony. Love WPI. RPI in your home state is worth a look. Stevens, Lehigh and Rochester are worth a look. Rutgers and Penn State both produce very solid engineers.
I intentionally did not focus on size because I think when filling the funnel, you start with a lot of options and then narrow. I can’t restrict the field for you.
Hope that’s a good starting point. Good luck!