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Applying to College

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Applying to College

Unread postAuthor: Jimmy K » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:21 pm

So... I'm a senior in high school in Cincinnati, Ohio looking at some colleges for mechanical engineering. Anybody here have any really awesome experiences in engineering at any colleges? Any recommendations?

My list this far:

In state:
Ohio State
University of Cincinnati
Miami University

Out of state:
Clemson University
University of Southern California
Georgia Tech
University of California - Berkeley
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Unread postAuthor: Gun Freak » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:25 pm

Clemsonguy1125 will come on here and suggest Clemson :D
Good luck wherever you choose! :occasion5:
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Unread postAuthor: clemsonguy1125 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:34 pm

I suggest Clemson(Gun Freak was right) , great engineering school, ranked one of the best on the East Coast, and there students were ranked the happiest with their school several times in the last few years.
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Unread postAuthor: geardog32 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:40 pm

I go to UC, and there coop program was the first and one of the best. its a pretty compact campus and it only takes you 10 min to walk anywhere, the stadium is right in the middle of campus for anyone to use.
Miami is full of snoody people.
Ohio state is cool if you like Ohio state football.

the rest i cant say
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Unread postAuthor: btrettel » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:19 pm

The biggest suggestion I can make about deciding which school for ME is best for you is to take a look at the school's course catalog and spot classes that you might find interesting. Especially look at electives, as these are often very different from school to school. You might need a good idea of what you might find interesting and what means what beforehand, but I don't think it will hurt to look.

Also look at other parts of the course catalog. Specifically, look at math, aerospace engineering, physics courses. Most schools let you take some electives outside of your major. This is how I am taking a combustion class even though the ME department doesn't have one for undergraduates.

If you're interested in possibly attending graduate school, take a look at current areas of research and make sure at least a few of them sound interesting to you. Some schools allow you to work on your Master's degree while you are finishing your undergraduate degree. Some credits will even double count. They have a program exactly like this were I go.

I'll offer my experiences with the University of Maryland, College Park. This might read like a rant, but I want to say it. :-P

The mechanical engineering department is full of highly qualified researchers and educators. My main complaint is that my classes tend to cover less than what the syllabus states due primarily to some kids being stupid. I don't suspect that this is unusual for the majority of schools.

One of the guys who teaches the lower level engineering classes likes guns and will give a lecture on the basics of terminal ballistics when asked. He's a cool guy.

What UMD does well, they do well. But they absolutely fail in some areas, and I wish I understood this fully before I attended. I would have planned better at the very least.

Crime: College Park, MD has a fairly high crime rate. A guy robbed a bank the other day in broad daylight! That's still a rare event, but it says something about the area. I never expect to be robbed, but I acknowledge the possibility. I rarely carry anything of value.

Housing: UMD has the worst housing situation of any university that I am aware of. Perhaps only 1/3 of the undergraduate students live on campus due to a shortage of on-campus housing. Housing prices in the area are also absurd to the level of extortion. Expect to pay $500 to $1500 per month. I'm not certain that this is unusual for big universities with shortages of housing, but it's something to examine.

Traffic: Route 1 is often a parking lot. Drivers around here are absolute idiots too. My brother used to ride a bike to the university, but a week or two ago while he was riding on a crosswalk he was hit by a guy who ran a stop sign. The guy promptly drove off too. My brother's okay, but he's still recovering. This is just one example of people's complete incompetence in driving here. Also, on a similar note, parking at UMD is absolutely terrible. It's both expensive and inconvenient. I suggest riding a bike if you must commute while here. There are some excellent bike trails in the area.

The students: UMD is a fairly large public school. Many (perhaps most!) of the students are rich kids from Montgomery County, MD, New York, or New Jersey. Likewise, they are spoiled brats who can't seem to enjoy life unless they're drunk out of their minds and annoying someone else in the process. Maybe this fits you. It sure doesn't fit me. With this being said, as UMD is a large school, you can find normal people who think these others are silly.

Sports: I'm not big into sports, but I'm always amazed by those who are huge Maryland fans, especially in basketball and football. We do have some good teams like soccer, but the ones that get the most attention are basically terrible. Football had a 2-10 season last year. I joke that they could fire the football coach, pay me 1/4 of what he asked for, and I'd get the same results. Basketball was good at one time, but they stink now.

I suppose UMD might be good if you like to laugh about how bad some sports teams are.

There are many nice things I could say about the university.

They recognize that they have a very significant commuter population and they have a very extensive FREE bus system. I don't take the bus too often as it's usually crowded, but it's something to note.

I've also found the libraries here to be very adequate. Nearly everything I couldn't find here or in other universities in the University of Maryland system I could get via interlibrary loan for no cost. The only things I could not find were very obscure papers I did not expect to find.

There always is something going on. There are many little newsletters and websites that detail things happening on campus. I've often found that I'm angry I can't go to two events because they either conflict with each other or my schedule!

There are a huge amount of student groups, and starting one is pretty easy. So you almost certainly will find people with similar interests.

The university is near Washington DC, which opens up a lot of opportunities for employment. There are a lot of military research labs and defense contractors in the area. NIST in Gaithersburg is fairly close too. I've also found that getting a job in a lab on campus is very easy. To top it off, the engineering school has a career services place that runs little seminars on the entire process of getting a job (including tips on resumes, interviewing, following up, etc.), hosts employers from time to time (Google is coming next week! That's mainly for computer engineers, though), and runs a website where employers can post job openings (for summer internships, coops, and real jobs). This is one of their best services.

The location also is good if you want to go to something in DC. A lot of interesting things happen there, I hear.

So do I suggest UMD? Maybe, maybe not. I think it depends on what you want to get. Either way, I hope you find my post to be helpful, even if you only use it to focus on some problem spots I've identified.
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Last edited by btrettel on Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: Killjoy » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:17 am

The schools you're looking at all have good programs. You should look at Stanford if you're also looking at Berkley. I'm doing ME at Stanford and it is an absolutely incredible program.
You may also want to consider New Mexico Tech, it's one for the few schools that not only has an excellent ME program but an Explosive Engineering minor program as well. I'll be doing my graduate work there (state resident) because I really am interested in that minor in explosive engineering.
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Unread postAuthor: Jimmy K » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:44 am

btrettel: I actually visited UMD while visiting the Naval Academy about a year ago. I wasn't too thrilled. Not very much green space, kinda noisy, etc. Is UMD a teaching institution or a research institution?

Killjoy: How hard was it to get in to Stanford? How's the financial aid? I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to follow the money as to where I am going to go.
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Unread postAuthor: JDP12 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:36 am

I go to Purdue, and I would highly recommend it. Very good engineering program, great campus, easy to get into. Only problem is you get to pay out of state tuition, but so do I :D
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Unread postAuthor: Lentamentalisk » Sat Sep 18, 2010 6:59 pm

I just started at University of Vermont for ME. While not particularly well known for ME, it has quite a good program. On of the things I was most looking for was actual hands on work, of which most "good" engineering schools have surprisingly little of.

Make sure to ask the students when you visit, how much stuff they actually get to do in relation to how much boring homework they do out of their text books.
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Unread postAuthor: maverik94 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:44 pm

HAHA I was just in Cincinnati today!!! Nice city. I know UC has a good music program, but I don't know much else about it. Not that that really helps you lol :D
Anyway, I know two people who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky, and they both got very high paying jobs right off the bat.
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Unread postAuthor: Lentamentalisk » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:14 am

I've lived in Berkeley since I was 2, and it looks like a pretty good school. It is BIG. I spent time down in the combustion labs when they have their open campus days, and that was a whole bunch of fun. How much is accessible to you as an undergrad, I have no idea, but as they say, its better to be 100' from brilliance than 5' from mediocrity.
I couldn't stay there though. I had to get out of town.
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Unread postAuthor: btrettel » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:10 am

UMD is a suburban school and there isn't that much green space on campus. Just off campus is basically a forest and there are a lot of trails in the area. But it's still very different from the rural area where I grew up.

And UMD is both for research and education (as most engineering schools are). I've read that schools should probably focus on one or the other to do as good a job as possible, but I think UMD does a pretty good job of mixing the two.

To be honest, the main thing keeping me at UMD is in-state tuition. There is far too much bullshit in the area for me to pay extra to go here. I'd definitely suggest attending an in-state school if you can.

Another thing worth investigating are machine shops on campus. The ones at UMD seem to focus primarily on serving researchers and the guys who run them can be annoyed by personal projects (That's not to say that I haven't been able to use the shops). UMD does, however, have a lot of rapid prototyping and CNC stuff that I can use (but not for free). Definitely investigate this at the schools you look at Jimmy K.

Also, if it wasn't clear from my post, look for student organizations that are interesting. If a school has a spud club, that'd be really nice, and would definitely factor in to my decision if I were making one.

So I'll briefly look at the curriculum of the in-state schools you listed and make some judgment based on that...

Ohio State: Very nice looking program. They seem to run on the quarter system instead of the semester system (I don't know if you might consider this to be good or bad). They have a lot of technical electives (though I didn't see which ones have been offered recently; UMD lists many but some haven't been offered for years).

See this page: http://www.mecheng.osu.edu/courses

University of Cincinnati: Their program seems to be fairly generic, but they do have a a good amount of technical electives.

See this page: https://webapps.uc.edu/registrar/courseplanningguide/

Miami University: Their program seems to be very generic. I'm not even certain what technical electives they offer.

See this page: http://www.miami.muohio.edu/documents_a ... index.html

Based on this quick look I'd suggest Ohio State. They are a very good school from what I understand and I'm certain you'll appreciate the in-state tuition. But be aware that I only briefly checked curriculum and did not consider housing, transportation, food, the students, etc.. I hope you use some of information to make a better informed decision. :-)
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:05 pm

Regarding the "kick ass school" vs "state college" route...

I went to State College. I never thought much about it as I couldn't afford anything spectacular and goofed off in HS (no scholarships).

Then one day I found myself on a "special" project at work that involved the assembly of a team of hand selected, straight out of college engineers from around the country. As the team was assembled and I saw the credentials of the rest of the team I was intimidated and felt like the village idiot. Why? Because I was the only member of the team that didnt' have a degree from an elite engineering school (think: MIT and it's competitors). And heck, I was also the only guy on the team who didn't have a Master's.

But over the next year I never once found myself in over my head. I had every bit the grasp of the topics that my team members did. I belonged.

How could I do this having gone to such a (comparitively) crap university?

I only came up with one solution: You get out of school exactly what you put into it. Work hard, apply yourself 100%, and which school you end up in will be of a secondary concern.
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Unread postAuthor: Jimmy K » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:36 pm

I would really like to go out of state if possible. OSU is number one for in state just because of the cost and the program. I visited them and really liked their program and campus.

I live about a half mile from Miami's campus, so naturally that was one of my options. I really don't want to go there though.

UC is only an option because they offered me a verbal full ride scholarship because of my National Merit standing and my research on thermodynamics and efficiency.

As for out of state, USC has some great scholarships for National Merit, but I don't know how receptive they would be to my application since I'm so far away. If accepted, that could be a potential full ride as well. I'm not too sure about the other ones though- people have just told me that they'd be a "great fit for me", but I'm not sure what those people are basing that statement on.
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Unread postAuthor: btrettel » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:26 pm

If there's the possibility of a full ride scholarship at UC, I'd get that in writing just to be certain. :-)

At this stage I'd look at a bunch of schools and use a spreadsheet to keep track of what each school offers in a bunch of different categories. I'd apply to the ones I liked best and after I am accepted, then I'd decide.

To be honest, as far as I'm concerned, there's no reason to take on a lot of debt to go out of state. In-state is a far better deal. It might seem interesting to go to a completely different area, but you can do that after you graduate too.
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