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Missouri University of Science and Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (visited 2/23-25)

MST civil engo student

A student working in the Civil Engineering lab

Missouri S&T is perfect for dedicated students who want hands-on experience at a medium-sized school and a job at graduation. In 2015-16, 1158 employers recruited on campus. “Students get the outcomes they want,” shown in top rankings for return on investment.

 

As one of 4 state universities (and the Land Grant school), MST is a top public research university and ranked #3 Best Engineering university after Colorado Mines and Georgia Tech beating out RPI, WPI, and MIT! Students are problem solvers; most students complete a Freeform lab where they have to figure out how to do the labs! “Math and science are our tools. You need to be capable. That doesn’t mean you love it or use it every day.” Non-engineering students take Business Calculus (except bio and chem majors who take engineering calc).

MST wave machine

Wave Machine lab

“Engineers know this is a top-notch school – but we’re hidden because we’re in Missouri,” said a student. Located about 1.5 hours from St. Louis, Rolla is a small city but there’s still plenty to do. One of the counselors asked about racial issues and the general climate in town. “This can be a difficult sell,” said a rep. “I understand the fear. It’s rural Missouri, but in a liberal bubble. That being said, it’s also a STEM school which makes it heavily male.” However, the women graduate at an 8% higher rate and can say why they’re doing what they’re doing … this was evident through multiple conversations with students over 3 days on campus. The gender ratio is going up. “You get used to it. It’s less pronounced at the beginning, but is more so as you get further into the major. The professors definitely know who the girls are!”

 

MST design center 2

The Design Center for Design Teams

“Students are excited to be here. These are serious students. College is on purpose. They’re not doing it to get away from home,” said a professor. A rep echoed that: “It’s a point of pride to have the highest GPA in the fraternity.” Everyone loves what they do. That goes for athletics, too: “There are lots of athletics, but no one is going pro. They know that. We don’t have the winningest football team, but we do have the smartest!”

 

Another rep said, “Our kids come from the top of their classes. They’ve been the ones helping others. The big challenge is getting them to ask for help when they need it.” A professor said something similar. “Most of them have never needed help before.” Student success is a high priority. If grades drop “beyond a percentage of the student’s normal grades,” the system alerts the faculty who talk to the students. They think this is partly responsible for retention rising to the high 80s.

MST civil engo int

The Civil and Architectural Engineering building

With 15 engineering programs, the College of Engineering and Computing draws the most students. In addition to the more common types of engineering, they offer:

 

  • Ceramic: One of the students wants to work on shuttle tiles for NASA
  • Petroleum: this is one of the highest paid degrees
  • Geological: Students are helping to develop grasses that absorb specific elements to help determine where mines are in minefields.
  • Mining
    • The experimental mine is about 10 minutes off campus.
    • Undergrads can earn a certificate in Explosives (Explosive Engineering is a graduate program)
  • Nuclear: There’s a working nuclear reactor on campus, 1 of 9 available to undergrads in the US.
  • Architectural: 1 of less than 25 in the country
  • Metallurgical
  • There are several engineering minors including Biomedical, Mineral Process, Automation, and Humanitarian Engineering and Science. These pair well with a major directly related to what they want to do.
MST mine 6

The experimental mine

Regardless of which engineering degree they choose (or being undecided), freshmen spend 3 semesters taking pre-req coursework and career exploration. The students we spoke to found this invaluable. One student didn’t change his mind, “but it confirmed what I thought I wanted.” Another student changed her major, and a third said that it helped her figure out what was out there.

 

Students tend to be well rounded. They want STEM but don’t want to give up on the other interests they have. This shows up in the minors and extra-curriculars they participate in. One engineering major we spoke to is double-minoring in 2 theater areas.

MST student hammockMST also offers liberal arts degrees (ranked in the top 10% for LA salaries) and looking to grow these. They’re starting a BS in History in addition to the existing BA. This includes the same Gen Ed courses as the sciences and without the BA language requirement. Students can get certified to teach (they have the #1 Secondary Teacher Education Program in MO) including a STEM Elementary Ed program and Program Lead the Way certification.

MST solar house 9

One of the solar houses

All students are required to complete an experiential learning experience. Almost 1000 students completed a co-op (semester+summer/8-9 months) or internship (summer OR semester/3-4 months) in 43 states and 3 international locations earning over $3200/month on average.

 

MST solar house design team

The 2017 Solar House team

Design teams (18 to choose from) count as Experiential Learning. “You need everyone on the team, and there are lots of ways to participate. It opens doors they haven’t considered. It builds a culture of research that’s infectious.” All teams do their own marketing and some fundraising, but there’s lots of corporate and alumni donations. Options include:

 

  • DrillBotics
  • Solar Car
  • Solar House
  • Mars Rover: won a national championship and competed in Poland.
  • Engineers without Borders: There are 4 Teams and 4-5 trips offered every year for ongoing water and sanitation projects.
  • MST steel bridge team 2

    The steel bridge team putting together their project

    Concrete canoe: this has to be filled with water and hold 3 people and still float/perform in races

  • Steel Bridge = 1/10 size
  • Solar House
    • First they submit a design. About 18 are selected to move on.
    • Second, a student-led team builds it on campus and ship it to the contest and without breaking. All must be 0-Net but often produce more energy than they use. Part of the contest is marketability. One house was made out of shipping containers with carpet made from recycled fishing nets. Students now live in the houses!
MST dorm room 1

One of the triple rooms in University Commons

Students must live in university housing until they complete 60 credits. This includes Greek housing (mostly off campus; 22% go Greek but not all live in housing) and the Christian Campus Houses (run by an off-campus entity). Thomas Jefferson Hall offers traditional dorm-style living with a dining hall attached. University Commons offers suite styles with an option for a triple room. These are cheaper and never required. “We found that lots of students came to us in trios from high school and wanted to room together. It’s just another option.” The Student Center is directly across the road with several food options.

 

MST frat house

One of the smaller frat houses sitting right next to campus; the large new ones are off campus

Safety is good. Students said they frequently walk around alone at night and never had an issue. Things are well lit, and no one ever heard of a blue light being used. Parking is available – but not always where they want it! Spots/lots are assigned based on seniority. One student we talked to just parked in town and found it as convenient. “I got 4 parking tickets over 3 years. At $10 a pop, it was cheaper than 1 year of paying to park on campus.” Parking stickers are $135.80 per year.

 

MST quad 1Admissions will take a risk on some kids who have low GPAs with high test scores (“they’re not following through with the work,” said a rep). They’ll bring 160 students into the Success Program and assign them a mentor to get them on track. For scholarship purposes, they only look at GPA through the end of junior year, but students can take the standardized tests through December if they need to increase the score. MST won’t superscore either exam but do not penalize for multiple testing. The Priority deadline is 12/1; based on available funds, they’ll look at apps through 2/1.

MST chem eng bldg

The Chemistry and Chemical Engineering building

New students attend 2 orientations: first, “Preview, Registration, and Orientation (PRO)” starting in February where students take their math placement, get academic advising, Financial Aid and parent info sessions, etc. Then they complete a full-week orientation where they’re assigned to a group of 20 to complete social and team projects. They have Reconnection 1 a few weeks into the year and Reconnection 2 right after midterms. They also have one of the best transfer programs in the country and are known as a model for this.

MST arch engo 1

Some of the Architectural Engineering projects

The big tradition revolves around St. Patrick’s Day; MST gives students 2 days off for “spring recess.” For weeks in advance, they have countdowns, chants on Fridays, etc. In the middle of the night, they’ll paint the street green “using some eco-friendly paint.” On the day, they carve shillelagh and act out mock killings of rubber snakes. They hold contests such as wearing the most green or who can put on the most St Pat’s sweatshirts. There’s a formal ball held that weekend. The official school colors are gold and silver – “it is a mining school!” – but the unofficial color is green because of St. Patrick, the patron saint of miners.

© 2017

 

St. Louis University

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY (visited 4/12/13)

SLU 1 SLU (pronounced “slew”) impressed me immediately with the vibrant atmosphere and the gorgeous campus. Although it was a cloudy, chilly day, students were out in booths selling cupcakes, doing martial arts, etc. We asked a student for help getting to the admissions office, and she was perky, helpful, and just plain nice. It’s true what they say about getting an immediate gut reaction to a school; SLU delivers.

SLU 6SLU is clearly doing something right since they have an 88% retention rate. Our tour guide was one of the best couple tour guides I’ve ever had. Completely excited, passionate, and knowledgeable about the school, he described it as one that lets students discover and explore passions. There’s very little he doesn’t like here; the only thing he thinks he would like to change is making Atlas Week (when the school brings in a ton of speakers) longer. He is “still deciding” (aka what SLU calls “undeclared,” and is the most popular “major” for freshmen). He works closely with advisors dedicated to students who are still figuring out what they want to do.

SLU 7

The aviation building.

SLU works to expand academic offerings and have recently added several new programs to keep up with student interests and job projections. They’re very proud of their extensive list of “firsts”: the first college west of the Mississippi, America’s first federally licensed school of aviation in 1927, the first US university with its own campus in Europe, and more. Aviation and Aeronautics (Flight Science, aviation management, and engineering) are strong here. Health Sciences (including Investigative and Medical Sciences, Radiation Therapy, and Nuclear Medicine Technology) and Engineering (including Engineering Physics) are also popular. The most recent additions are Public Health, Health Information ManagementAfrican-American Studies, and Anthropology. All majors are direct-entry so students can start their major as early as freshman year. However, students who want to major in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, or Nursing must begin as freshman if they want to graduate on time, and they must complete the entire major at SLU. Students interested in these majors must apply by 12/1 because they tend to fill up; if students are unsure about majoring in one of these areas, they recommend listing it as the intended major on the application; switching out is easy but students cannot transfer in.

SLU 5

One of the many statues around campus.

Applying is easy; SLU will take either the Common App or the school-based app, and there’s no application fee. They recommend an interview, a resume, and letters of rec. They will not super-score either the SAT or ACT, but will take highest composite. They start accepting apps on September 1 and make decisions on a rolling basis, but they set a priority deadline of 12/1 for scholarship consideration; they don’t guarantee consideration for scholarships after that. The Honors and Scholars deadlines vary between 12/1 and 2/1 with decisions announced by 3/1.

SLU 4

An academic building.

Their honors and scholars programs include the Cook program (students finish in three years), Accounting (a 5-year program in which students finish with a CPA license), Medical (students are guaranteed an entry interview a year before other candidates, and the MCAT score does not factor into the application), Prelaw (guaranteed entry into their law school if they maintain the minimum GPA), and Honors (students take at least 24 hours of Honors Credits, do an honors thesis project, can register for classes earlier, and get a fancier diploma).

The Carnegie Foundation has ranked SLU as a High-Research-Activity University, a testament to the level at which students get involved in their academics. Our tour guide’s classes have ranged in size from 12 (Spanish class) to 200 (Intro to Bio). There are only three lecture halls in the entire university, and they’re located under a small quad. Often the large classes of 150-200 students are introductory level, usually in the sciences; students will be assigned to smaller break-out or lab sections. The school has strong sciences and a popular pre-med track (anything “pre” is a track, not a major); students have to take those science classes here at SLU. As a side-note, SLU is rated #1 in Health Care Law, as well!

One of the Residential complexes in the middle of campus.

One of the Residential complexes in the middle of campus.

Living on campus is about the “Four-Frees: wifi, cable, laundry, and shuttle.” About 3800 students live on campus, located in the middle of St. Louis (although once you’re on campus, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a city). Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus unless they live with parents within a 50 mile radius. SLU offers several living options for all students. First, there are several Learning-Living Communities based on academic or extracurricular interest; the language floors require a signed contract that only that language will be used on the floor. The Griesedieck Complex, located conveniently in the middle of campus, is comprised of one 15-story building (coed by floor) flanked by two 5-story buildings (1 male, 1 female). These are traditional double-occupancy rooms with hall baths, but each room has a sink. Reinert Hall houses 400 freshmen about two blocks from campus, but rooms are bigger and it has private bathrooms. It’s also located right across the street from a Starbucks and Chipotle (a popular spot). The Upperclassman-only Marchetti building is a 12-story complex with everything from studios to two-bedroom apartments. All apartments above the first floor have balconies. No freshmen live here. The Village Apartments are probably the best, according to students. It’s mostly Juniors and Seniors with a “few lucky sophomores.” “Off-campus housing” usually means within two blocks of campus where there are plenty of apartment complexes and houses for rent; it’s very easy to find places to live, and the SLU police force (the third largest in the state!) will also patrol a couple blocks off campus. Students feel safe and will walk around campus at night without worrying.

There are extensive options of activities to keep busy on and off campus, including over 200 clubs and organizations on campus. Their DI athletics place them as the only St. Louis school in the Atlanta 10 Conference, and about 20% of students participate in Greek life with Rush happening during first semester of freshmen year. They is no Greek housing, but students can choose to live on a floor with others in their organization. The campus is located centrally in the city giving students the Fox Theater is only a block away, and students can get the “best available seat” for $20 with their ID. They’re only a couple miles from the Riverfront (the Arch) and Busch Stadium. In the other direction, they’re not far from Forest Park (which is bigger than Central Park in NY), the Science Center, Botanical Gardens, and other free things to do.

SLU 2This is the second oldest Jesuit school in the nation after Georgetown, and the small crucifixes and pictures of St. Ignatius prominently displayed around campus serve as reminders of its Jesuit identity which revolves around “men and women for others.” They pride themselves on the combination of education and service, education of the whole person, and doing things in an ethical manner. Students participate in over a million hours of service each year through a variety of organizations such as Campus Kitchen, Relay for Life, and a Business student group. Next to the beautiful campus chapel is a large apartment-style building; I asked if it was a dorm, and our tour guide told us that they were apartments for the Jesuits, many of whom teach or otherwise work at the university. This area has the largest Jesuit pop in the US.

Their mascot is a Billiken (they’re the only school in the country to have this) which is a mythical creature that originally looked a little like a Buddha combined with . . . a smurf? A goblin? It’s hard to describe. It was created in the early 1900s by an art professor and is seen as a good-luck charm or “The god of things as they ought to be.” It’s become this cute little ghostish-smurfish-impish creature.

(c) 2013

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