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Which Engineering School is the Best!

  1. Feb 6, 2007 #1
    I know some of the long time contributers just popped a blood vessel with that title. o:)

    the actual title should be..."How do I decide which program is the best for me?".

    {if there is/are thread(s) on this, please refer me. My searches came back with mostly threads of the type with my first title, answered by ppl using a version of my 2nd title. :) I also realize that this is a long read, so I appreciate the time }

    I am an older re-entry student, currently attending a community college in Northern California. My intended major is ME, and I am undecided about if i will stop at a BS or a MS degree. I originally wanted to work in the field of renewable energy, but I have recently been drawn towards the work of Amy Smith of MIT (low tech solutions for 3rd world problems), or possibly a hybrid of the two.

    I am really interested in getting the best education that I can get, whether it is a large competitve program or small & personalized. (I am leaning towards the latter.) Unfortunately, I am relatively tied to my geographic area.

    So, I could just look at the rankings, websites, bulletin boards...but I get a grand total of nothing useful from those sites (unless you attach value to popular opinion, conjecture, and enigmatic calculations of worth.) I would rather evaluate the programs systematically.

    I know I should contact and visit the universities (and I have)...but who specifically at the university, and to what end? The info I have gotten is in a nice box with a pretty bow. How would I obtain useful information from a potentially biased source, and where do I find unbiased sources. What questions do I ask?

    FWIW, I do have an idea of the people, places, and questions...however, I am looking for supplemental experienced, educated advice.



    BTW, below are the schools I have applied to. I am including them, in case someone has experience which them, and can direct me to resources relating to those schools.

    UC - Davis (1st Choice tie)
    Cal Poly SLO (1st Choice tie)

    San Jose State Univ. (accepted for Spr'07, reapplied for Fall'07 for "bad timing / relocation" issue)

    San Francisco State University (safe backup)

    UC-Berkeley (VERY long shot...but hey, why not apply since i was doing the UC app anyway...probably not the best school for me as a undergrad).

    Oregon State University - (out of my geographic area, but I applied and was accepted for Fall'06 thru Fall'07. Did not attend, as we decided against relocating to Oregon at this time...but i REALLY like the program offerings, ideology, TOP 25 drive, and campus)

    Considering applying to:

    University of the Pacific and/or Santa Clara University (expensive private schools, but have smaller individualized programs...and would cost the same as OSU (out of state).
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2007 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    As a UC Davis grad with lots of successes, I'd definitely recommend UCD. Are you going to the UCD Open House Day ("Picnic Day")?


    The website isn't updated for this year yet (high tech, eh?), but will be soon. Picnic Day is right around Tax Day each year, so it isn't hard to remember and bookmark.

    Please keep UCD near the top of your list, and definitely stop by for a Picnic Day.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  4. Feb 6, 2007 #3
    actually, i didnt know about picnic day. i did attend the transfer day back in november. and i am planning on attending reentry day at the end of the month.

    if i get accepted, i will def be going to picnic day.
  5. Feb 6, 2007 #4


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    This guy's very good: http://ruina.tam.cornell.edu/ and from meeting him, seems like a very enthusiastic person to be working with.

    (I dont know how that translates to UG stuff tho'.)
  6. Feb 8, 2007 #5
    Can't go wrong with any of those schools. Here's what remember from hearing input from my instructors about some of those schools.

    SJSU- very good program
    SFSU- very good program as well, they really make sure you graduate in 2 years and they help you find a job.

    Cal poly slo- They do a really good job in preparing you to work in the industry, but it's really difficult to graduate in 2 years from here (Make you take alot of electives like welding or something). Also from what I heard, you may not want to go here if you are considering graduate school.

    You should really visit the campus, take the tours and talk to some grad students or other representatives from the engineering departments. The schools websites and U.S. news rankings will only tell you so much.

    Also be on the lookup for those engineering open house events like Berkman showed for UCD
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  7. Feb 8, 2007 #6
    Eeek, if thats your options for electives, stay far far away! You want to be an engineer, not a tradesman.
  8. Feb 8, 2007 #7
    heh, I think it's just extra electives in addition to standard technical breadth ones.
  9. Feb 8, 2007 #8
    maybe its a back-up for if he gets kicked out of the engineering department
  10. Apr 29, 2007 #9
    well, i have been accepted everywhere (except berkeley, since we wont know till tommorrow night..and im not sure i would go there anyway {not necessarily the best place for me}).

    so...after visiting osu, cal poly, and sjsu i have pared it down to sjsu and uc davis. i was sold on cal poly, until i went to sjsu. i realized that i could get equivelent education at sjsu, without the extra obstacles i was going to have to deal with to go to cal poly. (extra money, futher away from my wife, more required classes, more competition).

    as far as rankings go, sjsu is apparently #12 in m.e. compared to cal poly's #5. imho, as screwed up as the rankings seem to be...that means they are probably equivelent in all but name branding. their seems to be more and larger labs at sjsu, albeit older equipment, and open campus policy, and more diversity. not that cal poly isnt a fine school, but sjsu seemed to be a better fit.

    then i got notice of acceptance from davis. now i have to go up this week, and scope out their program more. on paper, its the classic smaller, lesser renown teaching school vs. the larger research institution arguement. its a little different in this case. davis is more geared towards teaching than the other big UC's, and sjsu has a lot of local resources and money available for undergrad research. sjsu's department head is very interested in me attending there, due to my focus matching with thier new push in renewable energy and community building. also davis will cost 5 times as much to attend, and since i am middle income, financial aid will likely be loans (which i would like to save for grad school if possible.)

    It comes down to this, i know davis is a better school...but will "I" get a better education there. hopefully my visit will answer this.

    anyway, no real questions here for the group. if anyone wants to chime in, especially if you have experience with these schools or this type of situation, thats cool. i will gladly take any info offered.

    anyway, good luck to those who are still awaiting to hear from berkeley.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2007
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