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Picking an undergraduate program in EE/CS, specializing in Robotics?

  1. Oct 28, 2009 #1
    I've already been admitted to Oregon State University and Portland State University, and intend to apply to Berkeley, Boston University, McGill, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, and RPI for Fall 2010 admission. My main interest is in intelligent robotics, machine learning and adaptive systems, and I hope to go on to graduate school after I complete my undergrad degree.

    I've been hearing a lot about how your undergraduate institution's reputation in your field can affect your chances of getting into good graduate programs. But, I can't seem to make heads or tails of rankings that I come across online. I know that Berkeley and Boston University are 'good schools,' but how are they regarded in EE? I'm particularly concerned about this with regards to PSU and OSU, since those are the only two schools I've been admitted to, and their rankings are all over the place. How do you sort out what programs are well-regarded?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2009 #2


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    Wait, you want an undergrad degree that specializes in something?
  4. Oct 30, 2009 #3
    Yes. It's common practice at many universities to have a specialization track or area of focus within an undergraduate major. I'm looking for a school that would be a good jumping off point to study robotics in depth at the graduate level.
  5. Oct 30, 2009 #4


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    undergrad is a broad based education. there is simply not enough time to specialize. too many things to learn. it would be nice to take all the electives, but that is not practical for a four years degree. just go to the best school that will accept you. research into anything is not a one time thing. I guess different universities stress different aspects of the same field,so it would be very hard to decide which aspect you like to be involved in, before you have actually been invoved with the field for a while.
  6. Oct 30, 2009 #5
    What "the best school that will accept me," is, is precisely what I was hoping to figure out.

    I had previously assumed that if I were looking to enter robotics after graduation, that getting my undergrad from a school with a recognized robotics program would count for something. I'm getting the distinct impression this is false?
  7. Oct 30, 2009 #6
    I wouldn't say that it is false. It does count for something. But it certainly is not the deciding factor. Any of those schools will be fine. Berkeley, McGill, Wisconsin, and RPI have very good CS programs. Berkeley is one of the best. And it certainly does count for something. But the thing that counts far more is research. This is what your specialization in undergrad would be. I worked in particle physics from freshmen year to my senior year. That is what helped me with grad school.

    But in all honesty OSU and PSU would be more than fine. In a lot of ways they can be better. The thing is to find a group where you can do research and get GOOD guidance. So, I would recommend visiting them if I could. Speak with the faculty. I assume you are an Oregon local?
  8. Oct 30, 2009 #7
    Isn't Carnegie Mellon good for robotics too?
  9. Oct 31, 2009 #8
    Can you be a succeed in CS without going to grad school?
  10. Nov 1, 2009 #9
    OSU's EE program is way overpriced for its ranking, don't bother with it. PSU is less expensive, but the quality is also not good.
  11. Nov 1, 2009 #10
    What about computer eng.? To me it seems like a mix of EE and CS, which could very well suit your needs.

    BTW, I'm at McGill in Mech. Eng(1st year) and my main interest is robotics too. So far everybody only seems to be interested in cars(in Mech. Eng other departments I don't have a clue), and I'm wondering if I should not switch to CE or CS or EE. However, I don't know much about the CIM yet, but that should change.
  12. Nov 2, 2009 #11
    Hey All, thanks very much for your input.

    sin2beta -- I'm a Washington state resident (UW is an unlikely stretch, but also on my list). Appreciate the advice, and the confirmation on OSU/PSU. I'll feel comfortable with one of them if nothing else works out.

    Leright -- Carnegie Mellon is very good. I'm not sure my grades are good enough to get in, and it's just too expensive.

    aquitaine -- Appreciate the honesty. What rankings are you looking at?

    kamil -- computer engineering, from what I've seen, seems to be all about the system unit, which is not where my interest lies, but I'll certainly look into it!

    Does anyone know anything about University of Utah or University of Colorado at Boulder? I've seen things suggesting these are good schools, and their programs interest me. How do these compare to other schools mentioned?

    Thanks again for all the great feedback!
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