Undergrad Engineering with Sports and Smaller class size

My son is looking for engineering schools with solid mech e/civil programming, hands on labs (with decent carpentry area), internships, and would prefer smaller class sizes. He needs a community with people that love and want to talk/watch decent sports when not studying.

Prefers enclosed campus.

34 ACT; 3.88 GPA

He would like snow; and I have heard the CA schools are impossible to get into if out of state, so not considering those highly. Reccos? Thx!

Cost constraints and state of residency?

From MN and would like a school that gives merit/need. Thx!

Small class sizes and solid sports programs are sort of a tough combo. Usually the big time sports programs are at big state schools.

Cal Poly sort of fits the bill. Classes are small, they have lots of hands on labs, two machine shops for wood and metal, that are only used for student projects and not for classes, and they have D1 sports. Their teams just aren’t very good. Soccer games, especially against UCSB are nuts though. It’s cheaper than the UCs but they won’t give much aid. Plus, it’s a tough admit.

Utah also fits the bill, sort of. It ticks off a lot of the same boxes, with MUCH better sports, cheaper tuition, but also larger classes.

Rice, Duke and Vanderbilt could all fit that description, but they’re tough admits and wouldn’t likely land much merit aid.

If less than big time sports are OK, maybe Lehigh?

Tough combo. It’ll be interesting to see what else comes up.


Clarkson would check all the boxes if your student is a hockey fan.


Thx! Having a community that enjoys going to the games is more important than having winning/amazing teams.

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As one suggestion, Union College may meet most of your son’s criteria.


Look at UNH, with his ACT score and distance they will offer merit. There are additional scholarships he can apply for in the engineering dept.

I am so impressed with their engineering department and the opportunities for internships and getting into hands on projects and research their first year. We looked at a lot of different engineering schools and she turned down T20 and T50 schools based on the opportunities for hands-on undergrad experiences. The dorm with an engineering live-learn theme is right across from the main Enginneering building and is one of the nicer dorms on campus.

The honors classes all have less than 20 on average and her Innovation Scholars Engineering course has 15. They are training them on all of the equipment so they can get into the different research projects.

Their men’s soccer team is doing great this season. Hockey is the big draw. Football happens :slight_smile:



Some random ideas: Northwestern, Notre Dame, Villanova, Lehigh, Syracuse, Gonzaga

Less sports: WashU, CO Mines, Tufts, Case Western, U Roch, RPI, WPI
No snow: Rice, SMU, TCU, Santa Clara, U Miami, LMU

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Many of these schools are a no go for merit.

ND is not hands on at all.

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Thank you so much! Do you know if they have an engineering lab with woodworking tools? I didn’t see it included in the maker space.

True. I interpreted “merit/need” as need-based aid might work.

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From my understanding form our alum kid, CP students are pretty apathetic about CP sports, except for the UCSB soccer game.

It would be hard to find a better sports fan experience than being part of the MUSS at Utah. They get 15,000 fans at gymnastic dual meets!

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We toured University of Nevada Reno last weekend for my daughter who is looking at engineering programs (likely Chemical) and we were impressed with the facilities. We didn’t get to walk through the labs specifically but there were huge engineering buildings with what sounded like hands-on programs and small classes. One of the engineering buildings houses some kind of special earthquake shake tables that we were told are somewhat unique.

Snow is close by in the nearby Sierras with many of the Lake Tahoe ski resorts about 40 minutes away.

While not a huge top sports school I think they are PAC 12. UNR certainly had beautiful sports facilities including a fitness center that was so state of the art every kid in the tour group had their jaws wide open. Sports seemed like a big deal there.

We are from California so are eligible for big discounts through the WUE program but for good students like your son I think there are other merit programs available.

We are visiting Montana State’s engineering program tomorrow (there is definitely snow in this place!) and am happy to report back.


Thank you! Would love your thoughts on MS.

UNR is in the Mountain West conference, not the PAC-12.

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This facility includes several very unique labs and it is where they located their woodworking and machining.

On a more industrial level they have access to this facility and the resources there - this page has the larger CNC machining equipment


They also have a woodworking studio with all kinds of amazing equipment that is just across from the engineering area, but technically in the arts dept.

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Thanks for clarifying the conference. You can tell I don’t follow college sports too closely. At least UNR made it to March Madness last year. I guess that’s something - LOL.

In addition to the flagships already mentioned (Utah, Nevada-Reno, Montana State), Marquette might check the boxes - mid-sized school with a manageably-sized engineering program with maker spaces, merit potential, spectator sports, and snow.


If we are adding flagships, Purdue ticks all the boxes except size and merit. But, all large lecture classes have mandatory 20-25 person recitations and tuition has been frozen at $40k for OOS for the last 10 years. First year engineering design is very hands on and the shops and maker spaces are fantastic.

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