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Archive for the tag “Aeronautical Engineering”

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach campus (visited 2/11/16)

ERAU 3

One of the academic buildings; the telescope sits right in the middle

This campus is sleek and modern with new buildings going up. The new student center (fall 2017) will have a rooftop area to watch launches and new dorms are being built with the first students moving in the fall of 2016. Even the welcome center is impressive: it feels like an Omni theater. It’s also a walkable campus; “I can get from the furthest dorms to the academic center in about 15 minutes without rushing,” said our tour guide.

ERAU airplane sculpture 4Students here have a common passion. They don’t just wake up one day and decide to do aeronautics. The tour guide said, “I can always tell who will do well here. I watch them when airplanes take off and land. If they stop to watch, they’ll fit in. Those who don’t should probably go somewhere else.” The admissions rep said, “These are kids who sit at airports and drool or stare at the sky night after night. They want to come here because they have a passion. We want to work with them.”

ERAU airport

The airport is adjacent to campus

Students can earn 1 or all 4 flight ratings while they’re here: Private, commercial, instrumental, and multi-engine. Students need a 1st or 2nd class medical clearance before they even get to school; the reps suggest getting the 1st class if they’re thinking about commercial airlines so they already know they qualify. Flight costs are on a pay-as-you-go basis above and beyond tuition, room, and board costs. For the first and second year, it averages $23,000/yr. For the third year it drops to about $15,000. Students can become Flight Instructors in the 4th year. In terms of scholarship money, if tuition isn’t covered, scholarships won’t go towards flight costs, but if students come in with enough money above and beyond tuition costs, it can help cover flight costs.

ERAU flight check

The Pre-Flight check area

Academics are strong and employers snatch up Embry-Riddle graduates, often with higher starting salaries than those coming from other schools. A faculty member said, “My students are my reputation. When I send them out, they represent me.” Students are challenged here and can apply to the Honors Program, but can also take advantage of individual tutoring labs for a variety of subjects if needed.

ERAU flight complexThere are a range of majors within 4 colleges at ERAU:

  • Aviation:
    • Aeronautics and Aeronautical Science: ERAU is #1 in aerospace (beating out the Air Force), and have even provided the Air Force with more pilots than the AFA.
    • Air Traffic Management
    • Aviation Maintenance and Aerospace & Occupational Safety
    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science
    • Meteorology
    • Operational Meteorology: Walmart and Home Depot have meteorologists working for them. Where do you draw the “We’re not sending snow blowers or hurricane panels” line? They understand business and weather.
  • ERAU acad bldg 3Business: This only offers 2 majors in Aviation Business and Business Administration
  • Engineering offers what they consider to be Technical Degrees. The average SAT 1390, ACT 32 (compared to 1100 SAT or 27 ACT for non-tech degrees). They would like calc and physics. However, the bare minimum is pre-calc and trig.
  • Arts & Sciences. The base of the telescope is set up in this A&S building; the building is designed to not touch the supports in case of a natural disaster or other problem with the architecture so it won’t damage the telescope.
    • Space Physics, Engineering Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Homeland Security and Global Conflict Studies
      • “The learn how to hack into computers …”
      • They offer multiple travel trips every year to places such as Israel, Bosnia, Ireland, and Germany.
    • Computational Mathematics
    • Human Factor Psychology
ERAU propulsion lab

Propulsion lab

In addition, they offer lots of minors including Terrorism Studies, Avionics Line Maintenance, Aviation Law, Flight Test and Simulation, Forensic Accounting, Occupational Safety.

ERAU oxygen lab

Normobaric “Hypoxia” lab

Students start their major curriculum immediately. Labs are amazing with resources most schools only dream about. They have labs for everything including Visualization and Interactive 3D, Cybersecurity Engineering, Experimental Rocket Propulsion, and Destructive and Non-Destructive labs. The Destruction labs have microphones that listen for stress and can stop experiments before breakage occurs. The Spatial Disorientation Lab gets pilots to trust instruments when their senses are telling them something different from the instruments. The High Altitude Normobaric Lab is called the “Hypoxia Lab”: they change the oxygen levels and have students try to perform different tasks like picking up pencils, organizing things by color, and trading things with neighbors. “Everyone becomes like a two-year old.” This is the only university with this type of lab.

ERAU simulator 2

Flight Simulator

Aviation students spend about 20 hours in a CRJ-200 Simulator for their senior capstone. There are also 8 Cesna Simulators and 2 multi-jet simulators. Most students log about 250 hours by graduation; many have more. Our tour guide had logged 350 and is going to continue on as a flight instructor to get up to his 1000 hours required by the commercial airlines. Students who come in already with their private pilot license get 6 credit hours on their transcripts.

Many students take part in ROTC, and ERAU is ranked as one of the top programs in the country. All 3 branches are available here (and Navy has a Marine option), and we saw a lot of students walking around in uniform.

ERAU 5The gender ratio at ER has gotten much better in recent year. “When I started in 2005, it was 17 guys to every female,” said an admission rep who graduated several years ago. “Now it’s about 4.5 to 1.” All females get a $5000 “Women of Excellence” scholarship. They also have all-female Baja and other competition teams. The student at our lunch table said that these are fun and challenging. When they build things, they have to accommodate all the members: “I’m 5’10” – if they pick me to strap in and then get myself out in 5 seconds, it’s a very different thing than for our team member who is 5’1”. We have to plan for that.”

ERAU 7This is a highly residential campus. First-year students must live on campus, mostly in traditional style dorms. Upperclassmen have access to suite- and apartment-style dorms. They are redoing dorms in phases; one of the new sections will be done in the spring and they’ll start moving people over so they can start the next phase. Campus activities are plentiful (the free Thursday night movies got a couple mentions). Athletics are transitioning to NCAA DII. The dining hall is good; students get a certain number of swipes per week that do not roll over, “but we can cash out our unused swipes for food at the market.”

Daytona Beach is located in tropical, coastal Central Florida providing for excellent flight conditions. They’re close to Orlando, Jacksonville, and Cape Canaveral. Not only does that provide lots of opportunities for co-ops (very big here) and other internships, it gives students lots to do.

ERAU doesn’t take the Common App – but they are test optional. Students can still get scholarships without the score, but in order to get the maximum amount, they should turn them in. They ask for at least 2 letters of recommendation but will take more. “Think of it as an interview” said the rep. “It gives us a way to get to know the student.” International Students do not need a TOEFL if they’ve spent 2 years at an English-speaking school and their grades are good. Otherwise, they need at least a 79 on the exam. Also, if they want merit-scholarships, they do need to submit the SAT or ACT. Serious cross-apps usually also apply to places like MIT, Georgia Tech, Florida Tech, and the Service Academies.

© 2016

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Clarkson University

Clarkson University (visited 7/27/15)

Fire pit and the main quad

Fire pit and the main quad

The old campus center and the school mascot.

The old campus center and the school mascot.

Clarkson’s campus looks like anything but a school known for its engineering programs. It’s a spacious campus with modern buildings and lots of open space. This surprise doesn’t just extend to the physical plant; it also applies to the people. I was shown around campus by an admissions rep, himself a recent Clarkson graduate and a Business major. “What surprised me about Clarkson is how many people aren’t doing engineering, and how many things not related to this field they’re interested in.”

The on-campus ice rink

The on-campus ice rink

The school is great at “repurposing” buildings and other things on campus. The old campus center now houses the Ice Rink – right in the middle of campus! Their men’s and women’s hockey teams both play at the DI level (all other sports are DIII). The women were the 2014 national champs, beating the University of Minnesota. They have a pub in this building, too, “which is mostly open during games,” said the rep. It’s not a dry campus. “We know they’re college kids. As long as they’re of age and responsible, we don’t have an issue with it.”

One of the dorm options

One of the dorm options

A vast majority of students (86%) live on campus. Only 10-12% of students choose to affiliate with fraternity or sorority; rush happens sophomore year. There is some Greek housing, much of it on the perimeter of campus. I passed several of the houses when I mistakenly turned into campus too soon, so I wove my way through a fairly wooded area where the Greek houses were, finally emerging onto the main part of campus by large new dorms and academic buildings.

Freshmen dorms

Freshmen dorms

Students can have cars on campus all 4 years for no fee. If they don’t have a car, Adirondack Trailways stops on campus, and they can get to Syracuse and Albany (and from there, really anywhere).

The school has several divisions that deserve more recognition but are overshadowed by the engineering:

  • ~Clarkson 4The School of Arts and Sciences offers many of the typical undergraduate majors you might expect. The surprise major is Social Documentation which combines the social sciences or humanities with Communication and Media.
  • The School of Business offers interdisciplinary programs including Engineering and Management.
  • The Institute for a Sustainable Environment offers only 2 majors: Env. Health Science and Env. Science and Policy but offers several minors and 2 graduate programs

If Clarkson doesn’t have what students want in terms of course offerings, they can cross-register at St. Lawrence University, Canton, and SUNY Potsdam, all of which are within 15 minutes of Clarkson.

An Academic Building

An Academic Building

Engineering is, of course, the “crowning glory” of the school and what they are known for. Many first year students aren’t sure which specialty they want to pursue, or they think they know but mistakenly pick the wrong one. For example, students who are interested in Wind Energy should study aeronautical engineering, but those who want to look at sustainable energy should go into chemical. However, students have until the 3rd semester to declare which of the 9 specialties they’d like to pursue. This gives them a chance to explore a bit or change their mind if they started a program and then learned that it wasn’t what they expected.

Concrete canoe

Concrete canoe

As I was touring, one of the engineering professors was in the hall, so I talked to him for a few minutes. He was engaging and interesting. I asked him what he’d like students to know or do to be better prepared to enter engineering at Clarkson: “Writing is really important! I don’t think they think they’ll need this skill for this field, but they do.” Students do need to take a writing class at Clarkson, but this can be fulfilled through technical writing

Student-made snowmobiles

Student-made snowmobiles

I got to talk to a student who stayed on campus to do research over the summer. She told me about all the hydroponics and the great projects she was working on. She showed me the watermelon, hot peppers, and cucumbers being grown and how they were comparing using certain water and fertilizers . . . there was something in there about fish in the water that she was super excited about, but I’m not quite sure what was going on there 🙂 .

Here are some other cool things about the Engineering program:

  • They have wave machines.
  • Their Wind Turbine testing facility is 1 of only 4 that has actual turbine blades.
  • Students work on actual Distillation towers for work with fuels, alcohol, etc
  • Many of their students work with Engineers without boarders.
  • Students have built an Electric snowmobile and a Clean snowmobile with 0 emissions.
  • Teams from Clarkson have been FIRST Robotics winners and have competed in concrete canoe races, SPED, and other competitions.

© 2015

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (visited 7/28/15)

RPI Troy

The city of Troy as seem from campus.

The armory

The armory

Located up the hill from downtown Troy, RPI is a beautiful campus with eclectic architecture ranging from a new glass performing arts center to an old armory. The university itself feels very separated from the city even though it’s mere blocks away from downtown. Troy itself doesn’t have a great reputation, but the university itself is in a nice, relatively safe neighborhood.

~RPI fishbowl

The “Fishbowl”

The university has a long-standing reputation for engineering. In fact, it was the first university to offer civil engineering in the English-speaking world. Don’t let this reputation fool you, though. “I was surprised at the students. I thought it would be full of engineering nerds, and it’s not that way at all!” said the tour guide. Unfortunately, that was one of the few times I could get him “off script” so I don’t feel that I have as good a grasp on what life is like on campus – other than students are active and very focused!

~RPI frat house

One of the Frat Houses

RPI has a 92% retention rate so they’re doing something right. Almost 1/3 of students affiliate with a Greek organization; Greek houses are located all over including downtown (although this can be a bit sketchy; Troy as a whole doesn’t have a great reputation – but the campus itself is in a nice, relatively safe neighborhood. Just be forewarned!). The university has one of the few student–run unions left, and they’re controlling an $80m budget. Clubs range from Cheese-lovers and Cheerleading to Quidditch and What is a Club? Club. The largest lecture hall on campus (in addition to holding a couple classes and sometimes exams) is where they show $1.50 movies every weekend.

~RPI 5A couple of RPI’s bragging points:

  • They have two Supercomputers: Amos and Watson, the supercomputer that beat jeopardy contestants. The only prerequisite to use this computer is to take the Intro to Computer Science class which most people take freshman year.
  • They have a complete virtual lab; students put on a black suit and become part of the game. They also host a gaming conference on campus.
~RPI dorm quad 2

The Dorm Quad

Students must live on campus freshman and sophomore year. The freshman quad has 7 buildings: 6 with doubles, 1 with triples and quads (2 rooms and a bath). Freshmen can’t have cars, but all students have access to the free public transportation, and the school runs shuttles to the Albany airport and the train station.

~RPI dorms 2

Upperclassmen housing

Co-ops are open to all students and are completed over a semester and a summer. During this time, students are not officially enrolled at RPI so they are not taking classes or paying tuition. Co-op students go wherever the company sends them; they’re paid and are sometimes given housing. Only about 30% of students complete this because many don’t’ have time to take a semester off from classes and still graduate on time. Those who do co-ops usually come in with credit or will take some extra classes here and there. Internships mostly are during the summer. Students can get paid OR get credit, but not both. About 70% will complete an internship. About 80% of students who do internships or co-ops end up getting a job with that company.

~RPI engo bldg 1

An Engineering building

Engineering is the largest school at the university with about 50% of each incoming class entering this division. Undecided students can have until the 3rd semester to declare one of the 11 specialties within this department. The school puts a strong emphasis on practicalities with a Professional Development sequence built into the curriculum. For example, some lectures discuss soft skills (presentations, communication, etc.) needed to be successful but are often glossed over in many engineering programs.

~RPI observatory

The Observatory

The Architecture school admits approximately 70-80 students a year. Applicants must submit a creative portfolio of drawing, painting, etc. They don’t want technical or CAD Drawings. Students can choose between the 5-year BArch program or the 4-year Building Science program. BArch students are ready to sit for the certification exam. Students wanting to study off campus can go abroad for a semester in China, India, or Italy, or they go to the CASE program in NYC.

~RPI arts bldg

The new arts building

Business is another small school accepting maybe 50 students per year. The only Bachelor’s degree they offer is in management Tech, but students can minor in subjects at any school as well as complete concentrations within the business school. Students coming out of this program boast an 89% success rate with start-ups.

~RPI playhouse

The RPI Playhouse

The department that most people don’t expect to find at a school like this is Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. They call this the “liberal arts school for the 21st Century.” All students have to take 8 courses (24 credit-hours) in this division. In fact, many students dual major with a major in HASS OR complete a co-terminal degree (BS and MS in 5 years). They’ll Students coming in with AP credits can use some of them towards this requirement. Like in other divisions, they place a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration. For students looking for the co-terminal degrees, RPI extends scholarships and Financial Aid for the 5th year by letting students retain undergrad status.

RPI offers several accelerated programs; students selected to participate in these programs may not double major, and those in the Med program must be US Citizens.

  • The Accelerated-Med program combines 3 years at RPI and 4 years at Albany Medical. Students accepted into this program do not need to take the MCATs. Students must apply as incoming freshmen to this highly competitive program: Only 30-40 students a year are selected from 600 applicants. They do run another program with Mt. Sinai which is less competitive; students can apply once they get to campus.
  • Accelerated Law students have several options: They may major in Business & Management OR in Science, Technology, & Law. Both of these are 3+3 programs starting at RPI and completed at Albany Law, Columbia Law, or Cornell Law (Business only).

© 2015

Embry Riddle Aeronautic University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University (Informational Lunch on 9/18/14)

ERAU has two campuses: one in Florida (located next to the Daytona airport) with 5,500 students, and one in Arizona with 2,000 students. “The Arizona campus is up in the mountains and just stunning!” said one of the reps. Students come from all over the country, and per capita, they travel further to attend ER than anywhere else in the country, coming from an average of almost 800 miles away. Currently, their student population is almost 80% male, but that’s slowly lowering towards 75%.

The university got its start in 1925 when Embry took a flight lesson – a $20 plane ride –from Riddle. From there, they started a flight school, an airline (now American!), and a mail route. They taught flight and maintenance classes in Miami through WWII, and the school officially became a university in the 1960s.

Some majors are only offered at specific campuses. Global Security, Forensic Biology, Wildlife Science, and Industrial Psychology (among others) are only in Arizona. Aerospace & Occupational Safety, Computational Math, Business Administration, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science (among others) are only offered in Florida. However, most majors are available at either campus. Usually, students will stay at one campus for their 4 years. Sometimes they move after freshman year, particularly if their academic interests shift, but they generally don’t bounce back and forth between the two.

There are a lot of interesting things going on academically. Clearly, any of the aviation sciences are incredibly strong. Options range from Aviation Business Administration to Aeronautical Engineering to Air Traffic Management. “We shape industry and write policy.” They have a crash lab; both airlines and the government will hire them to look at why crashes happen and how they can avoid them in the future. Aviation students pay per hour for flight training which can be $15-18,000 for the first year, and it decreases after that.

Engineering is another strong and popular area. In addition to all the subcategories you’d expect, students can study Motorsports and Unmanned and Autonomated Systems. They offer both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. Comp Sci majors builds the software; Comp Eng builds the interface and is almost a bridge between Comp Sci and Electrical Engineering (they build the hardware). They also offer 2 meteorology programs: Applied meteorology is much more math intensive. These are the people who create the predictive models for weather forecasting. Operational meteorology doesn’t create the forecasting; they have an understanding of the weather, but are looking towards broadcasting or other fields that need that understanding rather than doing the behind-the-scenes forecasting.

Just over a third of the students live on campus. It’s guaranteed and required for the first year, and it’s guaranteed for those who want it during the 2nd year. There’s a housing office to help students find off-campus housing, but a lot is found just by driving around. There are a lot of apartment complexes nearby. Most students will drive in and park on campus. All students can have cars, and at most, parking is 15 minutes away. Parking spaces are based on their residential status (living on campus or commuting).

In terms of admissions, Engineering is looking for close to a 3.9 GPA. They require pre-calc, physics, and chemistry, and they prefer that students already have calculus. For Aviation majors, they must have at least Algebra 2. Students can test out of classes through AP scores, but they recommend that students do the whole program so there are no gaps. It’s a little easier to test out of the English, social science requirements through AP. Merit based scholarships are based on the application. They are now test optional! If they do submit scores, they can’t hurt the students, according to the rep.

Two of the reps I spoke with are alumni. One was most surprised at the all the ways there were to get involved – that’s what made him comfortable, less homesick, and ultimately kept him at the school. The other rep was surprised by the drive and the focus of the students. At first he said that he couldn’t think of anything that they should never change because they shift to meet new technologies and needs of the job field – but then he said that they should never change their flexibility. One of them said that he’d like to improve the endowment so they can give out better scholarships. He said that he expects that this will improve over time: the alums are young, so they’re not donating as much as some other places.

Students who transfer out often leave because their academic interests have changed. Others go to their local state schools because of finances.

Florida has DII sports; Arizona has NAIA. Students can participate in Army or Air Force ROTC on either campus; Navy ROTC is currently only in Florida. About 15% of the students are in Greek life. Clubs include rocket club, skydiving, and scuba diving. There’s a new student center and res halls in the works for the Florida campus. Both reps said that the food is good. Students love the omelets! There’s also lots of non-dining hall options such as Chick-fil-a and Starbucks.

(c) 2014

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