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UCLA or UMN for graduate energy study/research

  1. Mar 8, 2010 #1
    Hey all, I'm finishing my undergrad at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities double majoring in physics and mechanical engineering. I have been admitted to both U of MN and UCLA for their mechanical engineering graduate programs, and am hoping to get some insights and recommendations.

    My primary interest areas are heat transfer and fluid mechanics, especially applied to alternative energy research. I have interest in solar, hydrogen, wind, and water (specifically the new underwater turbines), although geothermal and biogas wouldn't be totally out of the question. Does anyone have any advice on which program is strongest in which area? I found that the NRC ranks U of MN as the 8th best mechE program in the nation, while UCLA is 14th, but I haven't been able to find any breakdowns by focus area.

    I figure with the student body sizes of each there has to be SOMEONE on here who has some useful info. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2010 #2
    You should be able to figure this stuff out by talking to faculty members and reading their websites.
  4. Mar 8, 2010 #3
    I've been doing that, I just thought that someone in this scene might be able to offer a more objective view than the school's faculty members. I don't think many professors teach/research at an institution that they don't think is pretty great.
  5. Mar 8, 2010 #4
    Anyone you talk to is going to be biased in some way. When I want an objective view of a faculty member, I will look up some of their publications to find out exactly what they're involved in. Your school library probably has access to this stuff.
  6. Mar 8, 2010 #5
    i currently attend UCLA for my undergrad, but have no idea how decent they are in terms of its MAE MS graduates finding jobs
  7. Mar 9, 2010 #6


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    A former faculty of UMN, Ernst Eckert (a paperclip scientist) is famous for his work in heat transfer. I don't know the current state of the program, but a search of his former doctoral student Richard Goldstein shows him as an important figure in heat transfer. Also, Eckert's colleague Sparrow. Both of them current faculty at UMN.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  8. Mar 11, 2010 #7
    I'm a grad student in the ME program a UCLA. I think we have a pretty good program in terms of Fluids, Heat Transfer, and Thermodynamics. The only problem is the budget cuts are really hurting us. Therefore class sizes are getting much bigger for the grad classes, and some grad classes (not the core ones) have been cut. Undergrad is even worse.
  9. Mar 12, 2010 #8
    do you know how easy/common it is for students doing the MS thesis option to get funding?
  10. Mar 15, 2010 #9
    I know a few that are doing the thesis option for the M.S.; however, they did their undergrad at UCLA. Therefore it was somewhat easy for them to get fellowships since they already knew the professor for some time. From what I've heard, most of the professors don't want to work with M.S. students because the work is just not as involved as a phd. Most of the M.S. students here do the examination plan instead.
  11. Mar 17, 2010 #10
    well i did my undergrad at UCLA as well, but in physics and math, not ME, so i guess that doesnt count since i dont know any of the ME professors. I've already tried contacting a few profs for research positions, but none had openings and they all said its unlikely i will find someone else to fund me for just the MS thesis. Looks like i'll be forced to do the coursework-only MS...
  12. Mar 18, 2010 #11
    I should also add that the ones that got the fellowship did research with the same professor during their undergrad. If you want to still do research as a grad student, you still can. It may or may not count for anything, but I've seen rules bent several times. They may pay you or they may not. I was a lab assistant for one summer and it payed pretty well.
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