Top Colleges for Aspiring Engineers

Schools with the best engineering programs

Engineering is one of the most popular majors students can choose from. To engineer means you are creating/building something within a scientific or technological branch. There is not just one single type of engineering, so it may seem overwhelming when looking for the option that may be right for you. Let’s take a look at the five main types of engineering.    

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers are the backbone of the design, building, and keeping up the foundation of our society. Our buildings, roads, bridges, and water systems are just a few created by civil engineers.

Famous civil engineering projects:

  • Great Wall of China
  • The Panama Canal
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • The Eiffel Tower
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China was built around 220 B.C.E by the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Huang had to use many engineering skills when masterminding the process of combining the existing walls together. 

Chemical Engineering

As in the name, chemical engineering deals with all things chemicals. Chemical engineers may come up with processes to use and transform energy, or they may design and manufacture products concerning math, biology, and physics. 

Mechanical Engineering

Interested in the mechanics of certain things like cars and how they run? Mechanical engineers use things like problem-solving, math, and physics to turn concepts into products.

What kinds of things may mechanical engineers may create 

  • Wheels
  • Springs
  • Tires
  • Electric generators 

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers deal with all equipment that has to do with electrics! They may design and develop various electric systems. 

Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineering combines business with engineering to improve quality and efficiency and reduce many unneeded costs. Most industrial engineers find employment in industries related to service. 

Common tasks of industrial engineers:

  • Design information systems
  • Manage inventories
  • Oversee personnel assignments
  • Ensure workplace safety 

Best Engineering Colleges

Check out the top U.S. colleges best for their engineering programs!

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Tuition: $55,610 a year 

The School of Engineering, ranked #1 as the best engineering school in the country by US news, is very popular for students at MIT. About a third of the entire MIT faculty teach at this school, and graduate students have the opportunity to earn degrees over about 15 different areas. About 45 percent of all graduate students at MIT are enrolled in the school of engineering.  

More about MIT’s engineering program:

  • The 20 research centers on campus explore topics including cancer research, ocean engineering, and soldier nanotechnologies. 
  • Students can also get involved with initiatives such as Transportation@MIT. This is an interdisciplinary program that looks at a variety of travel issues. 
  • Students with aspirations of starting a new business can enter an entrepreneurship competition where they can earn up to $100k
  • MIT also offers a part-time Career Reengineering Program, where students can complete a course, internship, or research related project. 

Stanford University

Tuition: $56,169 a year

Ranked as the #2 best engineering school by U.S. news, Stanford University wants to give all their engineering students the opportunity to make the world a better place! Stanford engineering has created technologies that have completely revamped the fields of information technology, communications, health care, and business. 

Stanford University prides itself on having students that graduate with more cultural awareness and entrepreneurial skills. Faculty at Stanford is also known for creating groundbreaking interdisciplinary research. Since 1891 when Stanford was founded, engineering has always been a main component of the school’s education and research programs. 

Key goals from Stanford’s engineering school website:

  • Conduct curiosity-driven and problem-driven research: Generate new knowledge and produce discoveries that provide the foundations for future engineered systems.
  • Deliver world-class, research-based education: To students and broad-based training to leaders in academia, industry and society.
  • Drive technology transfer to Silicon Valley and beyond: Deeply and broadly educated people and transformative ideas that will improve our society and our world.
Stanford University
Because Stanford University is an Ivy League school and home to so many great programs such as their engineering school, it’s important to keep in mind that there is only a 5% acceptance rate. This makes Stanford a highly competitive school overall.

University of California, Berkeley 

Tuition (in state): $11,442 per year

Tuition (out of state): $26,544 per year 

Ranked as the #3 best school in the U.S. for engineering, UC Berkeley is a great option for aspiring engineers. Especially if research is one of your top interests, because the college of engineering has over 40 research centers where you can get involved. UC Berkeley also offers a wide variety of leadership opportunities and ways to get more involved with student organizations.

Examples of leadership opportunities within Berkeley engineering:

  • Leadershape: six day retreat where students can develop their mission and vision as engineers.
  • Workshops offered on topics such as LinkedIn, networking, interviewing, resume preparation, presence, and confidence.
  • Industry partners are involved to provide info sessions, tech talks, hackathons and networking events that connect students with opportunities in industry.
  • Once each semester, the school will hold networking and etiquette dinners that give students valuable insights into professional networking and dining etiquette.

Student organizations within Berkeley engineering:

  • Berkeley engineering provides funding and support for over 80 different student organizations. Students can enhance their educational experience and leadership through these organizations, and the school also works closely with other organizations such as HES, BESSA, SWE, Phi Sigma Rho, and Enable Tech.
  • Berkeley engineering also partners with the Engineering Student Council to promote a diverse community through collaboration among the students, faculty, and societies within the College of Engineering.

Another important thing to consider regarding UC Berkeley is their support of low income and first generation students. Signature retention programs such as the Pre-Engineering Program (PREP) and Transfer Pre-Engineering Program (T-PREP), are most notable among the many programs designated to help certain students. They benefit primarily from substantial faculty, industry, and community support. 

Carnegie Mellon University

Tuition: $50,100 per year

Ranked as the #4 best school of engineering in the U.S.,Carnegie Mellon University is a pretty good option for school if you would like to become an engineer someday. If you love to think critically and collaboratively with others, CMU is designed for you.

Colleges of Engineering at CMU

Learn more about the top engineering programs CMU has to offer.

Biomedical Engineering

If you’re the curious and caring kind who loves to fix things up, biomedical engineering could be right up your alley. In the undergraduate Biomedical engineering program, you’ll discover how engineering principles can be applied to living systems and how to improve human health by developing medical devices and systems. A top biomedical engineer has to be deeply trained in both engineering practices and biomedical sciences. You can complete your Biomedical Engineering additional major alongside a major in a traditional engineering discipline in four years.

Mechanical Engineering

Learn how to integrate the physical connections in the world around us with mechanical engineering.

Take on some exciting projects:

  • Bio-inspired soft robotics.
  • Stretchable electronics for human-machine interfaces.
  • Synthetic DNA to build nanoscale devices.
  • Optimized 3D printing of metal components.

What you can do with a mechanical engineering degree:

  • Design, analyze and manufacture innovative products and technologies.
  • The curriculum will give you more experience with collaborative problem solving, hands on experience, and technical skills. 

California Institute of Technology

Tuition: $27,000 per year 

Ranked #7 in best engineering schools according to U.S. news, the California Institute of Technology has a division of engineering and applied science for graduate students along with a separate chemical engineering program. Students at CIT can earn a master of science in a year, or a special engineer’s degree in aeronautical, civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering in two years. The residential campus in Pasadena is only about 10 miles away from Los Angeles and students get the opportunity to live in university-owned housing. 

Students also have the opportunity to get involved in a couple of the school’s renowned research centers, including the Center for the Science and Engineering of Materials and the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering. 

Research hub at Caltech

The glass-cloaked sustainability research hub at CalTech. Image courtesy of The Architect’s Newspaper

A couple of the school’s top rankings:

  • #2 in Aeronautical engineering
  • #2 in Chemical engineering
  • #12 in Civil engineering 
  • #8 in Materials engineering 

If you’re looking to major in a field of engineering once you head off to college, know you have lots of options for great programs at a variety of different schools. Good luck!

Matt Lyons
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