Mechanical Engineering Berkeley/UCSD/UCLA/USC

<p>Not basing on rankings which Cal is the highest, anyone have first hand experience on going thru these programs? Obviously, Cal has the reputation of being impossible and very stressful. How about UCSD, USC or UCLA? My daughter is trying to decide. Any feedback on experiences would be appreciated.</p>

<p>I went through Cal's Mechanical Engineering program, and it was indeed the most stressful time of my life. There really is a ton of work to do (homework sets, lab, lab reports, projects). I definitely wouldn't recommend taking more than 4 classes in any semester. The faculty, though, I must say is overrated. There are some really good professors, but pinpointing them is difficult. From my experience, the majority didn't care for teaching and offered very little help outside of class. There are actually a lot of things wrong with Berkeley's ME program. Making friends and forming study groups is the best way to succeed.</p>

<p>Cal's ME program is tough. Real tough.</p>

<p>I heard UCSB has a really good mechanical engineering program.</p>

<p>I'm a ME student at UCSD. Its ranked quite highly, I believe its on par with USC and UCLA for ME and ahead of UCSB, but obviously not in Cal's league. We have the same problem with professors that the above poster mentioned was a problem at Cal. Some are quite good others are horrible. But I'm assuming thats a problem at any big research university that hires professors based on research quality and not on teaching prowess.</p>

<p>Depends how much AP credit you have. You can pretty much enter as a sophomore if you take chem, physics, calc, english, and language APs. Those will be the worst classes anyway, due to the intense competition for the As. If you waive out of these - or at least after you're done with them - Cal ME upper div is a lot easier. The grading scales are pretty fair, with most of the class getting Bs or As, and only maybe 10-20% getting anything lower. From my experience, I only had one semester with 4 engineering courses, and the only times I felt really stressed were on the group design projects, which are present in only 2 required courses anyway. </p>

<p>It's true that professors aren't going to hold your hand if you're having trouble, but from my experience, most professors - and definitely the GSI's -will be willing to help if you go ask for it. In fact, that's true about a lot of things at Cal: research, internships, advice. There's plenty of opportunities, but you have to be willing to search for what you want. That's the same for most public universities though. So to get back to the question, there's no reason not to pick Cal out of the choices you've given - other than for location. Many of the best classes I took at Cal were outside of engineering, and even with schools that come close to Cal engineering like UCLA, there's no contest outside the department.</p>

The grading scales are pretty fair, with most of the class getting Bs or As, and only maybe 10-20% getting anything lower.

Are you serious? That is highly atypical.</p>

<p>I think that's the right spread for Cs or lower - maybe it's closer to the 20%, maybe even up to 30%? I know that the top 20-30% were As and the next 35-45% were Bs for many of my straight coursework upper div classes. I think Cal has an exaggerated rep for grading too harshly, but I really don't think it's so bad after the core classes. I remember reading that 1/3 of the total engineering class gets a 3.5 or higher final GPA.</p>

<p>I appreciate all the feedback. It is helping us in our decision.</p>

<p>Oh, also, does a decent job at helping you pick out good professors/courses. Almost as good as asking around.</p>

<p>hey coconut what year are you in ME, im 2010!</p>

<p>im willing to say all things are equal so narrow it down to the schools that have div 1 football teams :)</p>

<p>but seriously.. im ME @ ucsd and for the most part ive had pretty decent professors. regardless of how bad they teach you have the book and the professor as well as the TA have office hours. my first 2 quarters i had the worst study habits so yes everythign was alot harder(not saying the poster above has bad study habits). this year im actually take classes in the major and if you do the whole time management thing youl do fine. one thing ive noticed is that the finals are ridiculously harder then the previous midterms in the quarter.</p>

<p>have you and your daughter looked at the campuses yet? </p>

<p>theCampusBuddy</a> | Welcome to theCampusBuddy!
has grade distribtions of classes, majors and teachers at the UCs.</p>

<p>Hey, I'm 2010 as well....I didn't mean to paint a bleak picture, but rather wanted to mention that there is a fair amount of variation amongst the lecturers here. Your right, office hours is definitely a plus.</p>

Yes my daughter and I have visited the campus last summer. It is an awesome school and location. We are planning on attending the freshman day, April 12(?) and will check things out further.</p>

<p>Do the mechanical engineering students get the benefit of taking classes in the new CSE building or is that mainly for CSE students only?</p>

<p>I'm just finishing up my last year in MechE at Cal. Sure there are professors who can't teach for *****, but there are also many who can. The trick is to ask around/do some research and find out which professors are teaching before you sign up for classes the following semester. Remember, you don't always have to follow the department's suggested flowchart. I took classes out of order so that I could take classes with good professors. </p>

<p>Looking back at these past 3 1/2 years, I would actually say that most of my learning was done by talking to GSIs. Most people don't like this aspect of larger universities like Cal. However, you have to remember that the grad students here were cream of the crop at whatever undergrad institution they went to. Furthermore, an advantage of learning from GSIs is that they just learned the material recently, meaning that they will know how to explain difficult concepts more simply than convoluted professor/textbook jargon.</p>

<p>Anyway, please don't decide against Cal because you think it may be too "hard." You don't have to do well in a class to get a good grade, you just have to do better than your classmates. Cal has a way of raising people's standards, so it's a win win situation. That didn't make sense, but whatever.</p>

<p>^ from experience, the GSIs in engineering here don't speak speak english that well due to a large international grad student population. I don't think it is wise to exagerrate GSI teaching ability compared to the other institutions which are also well regarded..</p>