What are the top brick-and-mortar and online colleges and universities for Engineering?
According to US News & World Report, the 6 best colleges for engineering are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). In the top 10 there were several other public schools, including Purdue and the University of Texas at Austin.
Several of the top engineering colleges have distinguished themselves with specialized engineering programs. For instance, Stanford University has the best mechanical engineering program, UC Berkeley has the best civil engineering program and University of Michigan has the top nuclear engineering program.
If you are looking for the best school for your needs, you should also consider the actual learning experience at the university. Cal Tech boasts a student faculty ratio of 3 to 1 and UC Berkeley has more than 700 sponsored organizations.
The top online engineering colleges cannot compete with the best brick-and-mortar engineering colleges or even other schools in the top 50 like Pennsylvania State University, Rice University and Virginia Tech. Although many traditional schools have similar resources as online schools, the opposite is not true. Elite traditional universities have hundreds of millions of dollars of resources including financial aid, research grants, equipment and esteemed faculty. Online programs are generally newer and not recognized in the same way.
What extracurricular activities should I pursue when I am studying Engineering in college?
Most professional engineering societies have affiliated chapters for students at accredited colleges for engineering. Cal Tech’s chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is the largest civil engineering student club. Other organizations with student chapters include The Society of Materials Engineers, American Society for Materials International, The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
University of Michigan Solar Car Team consists of more than 100 members and is considered 1 of the top teams in the world, having won the American Solar Challenge 6 times. The group has an engineering division but the remaining roles challenge students to learn other skills that might become important to them like fundraising, entrepreneurship and teamwork.
There are other competitive challenges for students who attend a top engineering college. The ASCE sponsors a concrete canoe race, a steel bridge contest and a surveying competition.
Students in an online engineering college will have fewer opportunities than those attending a brick-and-mortar school. However, if you are an engineering student, you should look for activities that involve competition, even intramural sports. These types of activities will challenge you, build your confidence and teach you about teamwork.
What volunteer opportunities will I have at my brick-and-mortar or online engineering university?
If you plan to attend a large engineering college, you will have several resources to help you find a volunteer project. For example, Stanford University’s Volunteer Clearinghouse and University of Virginia’s Madison House act as a liaison between students and the community. Stanford University’s Exploring New Worlds brings hundreds of elementary school kids to the university to excite them about math and science, while University of Virginia’s Cavs in the Classroom program sends engineering students into the local elementary schools.
Students can find common ground with their peers in student run organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. These groups look for projects that can make a positive impact on the local community. Engineering students of all specialties may apply to the second oldest honor society in the United States, Tau Beta Phi.
If you are getting your online bachelors degree in engineering, you can work as a tutor, a teaching aide or seek out community programs and projects like making playgrounds safer, building or renovating houses. Even if you are enrolled in one of the best online engineering colleges, donating your time will improve your overall college education.
All engineering students can volunteer for Engineers Without Borders who have 12,000 members working on projects in dozens of countries. They aim to solve local infrastructure problems by empowering the community to maintain a sustained solution. Expanding your perspective with these activities can be as important to your growth as getting a mechanical engineering degree itself.