University of Alabama 2023- Engineering?/ National Merit Finalist

Would like some input about the University of Alabama’s Engineering Department. Receiving a full ride due to being a National Merit Finalist is very appealing, but wondering about the rigor of the classes and job prospects after graduation!

I’ll follow along for our daughter who is also NMF who’s looking at engineering at Alabama due to the scholarship. I can say that it looks like Alabama graduates have average starting salaries the same as our flagship university, the University of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is ranked by USNWR in the top 15 engineering schools in the US. They both have ABET accredited programs which I think means they both prepare their students to the same standards for potential employers. I think the differences are going to be in on and off campus opportunities available to engineering students outside the classroom. Things like research and co-ops and internships.

You can see some stats from enrolled students from 2017 here:

If you look at some bigger name public engineering colleges, you’ll see that Alabama does pretty well. There are some colleges that attract students with higher test scores and class rank, but not many.

My son is a CS major. There was one engineering class he had to take Freshman year that he thought was way too easy, but for the most part the courses have been appropriately challenging.

DS was a NMF Scholarship recipient, as well as RRS Invitee (which he accepted). Chemical Engineering major (3.93 GPA), and study abroad in Japan in fall, as well as graduation. Internships at NextEra Energy for two summers & Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals in Houston this Summer. He’s had numerous other offers for both Internships & Co-op opportunities, graduation with no debt., has been an undergrad. researcher for the past 3 years at Alabama & contemplating grad school. He doesn’t anticipate any problems getting hired and seems to be on or above par with other engineering interns from across the country that he’s come in contact with at his internships. I’d say we’re pretty pleased with how things have turned out!

You don’t need to worry about the rigor of the College of Engineering. It’s plenty rigorous!

My S2 graduated as a Chemical Engineering major in 2013. He went onto med school, but his ChemE peers walked into high paying jobs. This was 6 years ago, but at that time, their starting salaries were $75k-85k per year.

Bama engineers get excellent jobs. I’m the admin of the UA parents of engineering students on Facebook and the graduates have had no trouble getting excellent jobs. Same with the CS grads.

I have a very skeptical NMF heading down for a visit of the Engineering and Honors college, so I’ll have a report early next week.

Please do report back. Thanks for all the feedback so far!

My D is interested in biomedical engineering. Alabama does not have it as a major so I contacted the engineering department to see how they accommodated engineers with that interest, They sent me a 27 page PDF guide for the Chemical & Biological Engineering Department with info on required courses and electives, career paths, international study, honors program, FAQ,etc. Very helpful.

Any suggestions @mom2collegekids for Mom/Daughter activities in the area other than the regular college touring things?

@tpike12 :

Roll Tide!

@tpike12 From one skeptical NMF to another, you should tell your daughter (I’m assuming engineering) that she should look at Alabama’s rankings in engineering nationally and their research rankings. I had assumed it was a huge party school with easy academics and not a great reputation (not sure why, probably because of the people from my school who go there). I’m sure the school does attract those types, but from everything I’ve heard, both the engineering and honors (automatic for NMF) are definitely rigorous and academically focused programs. I figured there was no way a ‘good school’ would give me that much money just for NMF when nobody else even did anything above the typical ~2k/semester. I did my own research and I realized that UA actually has a really good engineering program, good research, some co-op opportunities (not sure how many), and that it really would be worth the full tuition for most kids. I’m looking at other schools (Drexel, Villanova, etc.) who are giving me 1/4 to 1/2 tuition scholarships, and they’re all ranked very similarly to Alabama. I haven’t even visited yet, but I’ve definitely changed my opinion just by doing my own research.

Thanks @Henloo, you and I are on the same page, that’s why I sent DD and her Mom for the visit. They are touring Honors as I type. I asked someone from the Engineering Dept to meet with them tomorrow and the Dean is taking the meeting!

@tpike12 How did they like it? I’m visiting next week, but I met the Dean of Engineering at a local event last night and he was an extremely passionate person who I could tell legitimately enjoyed helping all the college students achieve their best. I’m excited to be visiting next week!

We are touring next week as well! Interested to hear about everyone’s visit!!


My DD and wife really liked the Dean. He told my DD that he had 25 minutes set aside for her so she should start firing questions at him and if she stopped asking, then my wife would get a chance and that might be embarrassing. He gave her very good advice for figuring out what she wants to do and said that once she had that vision, UA Engineering could tailor a program to help her get there. He also said she needs to advocate for herself from the beginning, if she sees an interesting opportunity or research, she needs to introduce herself to the professor and let them know she’d like to be involved. He agree that UA was a long ways away and that if there was an emergency at breakfast, my wife and I couldn’t be there to help. We were only two meals away though and we would be there by dinner and until that time, the Dean said he would be there to take care of her. At the end of their meeting, he asked my DD what other schools she was considering. When she said UVA, he asked her what their Dean had said about their engineering school. Then acted shocked when my DD said she hadn’t spoken with the Dean from UVA.

The engineering facilities seemed to be on par with with other schools she had visited liked UMD and Pitt and they also seemed to have plenty of research opportunities nearby and around the country.

The biggest difference between UA and other schools she had visited was the stadium and the Greek life. They could not believe the number of sororities and fraternities, just row after row of mansions surrounding the stadium. My DD is not the sorority type, but she would definitely enjoy watching the games. The people she met were also super nice, a local store owner actually chased my DD down the street to give her a t-shirt from a printing they had done for the opening football game last year.

My DD went in skeptical and came back much less skeptical, but for her to go that far away, I thought she’d need to come back blown away, so my gut feeling is that she will choose somewhere closer.

@tpike12 Thank you for sharing your DDs visit. I am happy she gave the school a chance and a look.

I do want to add that UA faculty, staff, and students have caring for OOS families down to a science. When he shares that he would be there to take care of your DD, that is not just a sales pitch. There is ALWAYS a Dean on Call and every emergency that I have heard about has also involved the advice to “contact the Dean on Call”. My DD was involved in a situation with a peer in need and the Dean was amazing in supporting my DD and also her friend. They also called to keep us informed and to praise my DDs quick thinking and responsible actions. Parents come back to the group pages and report that within minutes of their child arriving at the hospital, clinic, or other emergency there is a Dean that arrives to help navigate the situation and support the student. There is also an army of local parents who spring into action. They offer to meet parents at the airport and to put them up in their homes. Food is delivered, medications picked up, and well checks are done. I have never met more genuine caring people. Coming from Northeast PA I was worried about the distance and the culture shock. I was worried about logistics of moving in and out and transportation issues. I was worried that my non sporty DD would be out of place at a big SEC football school. I was so wrong! I had nothing to worry about.

Your DD has amazing choices and will continue to do great things wherever she chooses. My DH is a Pitt alum and we love the city. Pitt was my DDs original #1 and she has a dozen or so friends who attend. UVA is a wonderful, top ranked school with a rich history. My best friends both attended and both still live in the area. I visit frequently. The Penn State alumni network and spirit is a FORCE in the Northeast! There is an alumni group in every town and company. I am not sure of her other options but your DD is fortunate to have such great choices. Best of luck as you help her navigate her decision and her journey.

I echo what @bamamom2021 said above. It’s the “Bamaly” and it’s real.

@tpike12 It seems our D’s are looking at a lot of the same schools for BME. My D just submitted her app to Alabama yesterday. She has offers from UMD Honors, Drex, Villanova, Pitt and a couple others. We are visiting UMD at the end of this month and after hearing from Bama will visit hopefully early May. We live outside of Phila. I am not sure if you are from this area.

@bamamom2021 - thanks for the validation of what the Dean said, I’ll make sure to share it with my wife.

My DD does have great choices, but she seems to be very practical as well. Last night she said if I’d be happy anywhere, why not go where it’s almost free?

We were at Pitt today and we were both very impressed with the international programs available for Engineers and their Engineering co-op program seems exceptional.

Not very impressed with the food though, and the Honors housing was pretty basic.

The biggest positive is that Pitt would provide the teaching and support to get her an Engineering degree. (They said 77% of kids that start as Engineers graduate with an Engineering degree.) Tough decision ahead.

This month is going to be ugly, I think a button is going to be pushed at 11:55 on the 30th…

@tpike12 I laughed out loud because I think we are facing the same timeline for ours to push the button! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this conversation, and to all who will continue to. I think Alabama sounds fantastic from what everyone is sharing and their offer to NMFs is unbelievable. Wish it were my decision - I’d go there in a heartbeat!