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Archive for the tag “Computer engineering”

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology (visited 2/10/14)

FIT signFlorida Tech did a great job in showcasing the things that make them who they are, mainly their sciences and their engineering (the 2 schools that enroll 70% of their students). They combine the best of liberal arts with a technical research school: “We do science-based science here!”

FIT 5This is one of the best-kept secrets in physics and space sciences including Astrobiology, Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Planetary Science. “It’s pretty weird hanging out in Buzz Aldren’s house talking about life on Mars,” said a professor.

FIT historyFounded in 1958 by the same people who founded NASA, Florida Tech has kept a close working relationship with them: “If we need help, we have all their resources at our disposal and vice versa. If you have students who want to work for NASA, this is the school.” You can literally walk outside and watch launches. “Drive 45 minutes and you can FEEL the launch,” said a professor.

FIT telescope 2

One of the school’s telescopes

Students and faculty have access to all sorts of amazing telescopes such as the 10.4-meter telescope in the Canary Islands, the Hubble, and they’re helping with James Webb telescope that will launch in 2018. They’re even looking to launch their own space telescope. They work with a ground-based, 1-m telescope network around the world in places like Tucson, Chile, and the Canary Islands. They can log on and use them through the internet “which saves a lot on time and money.” To really study the universe, people need dry, high, and dark conditions; “Florida is wet, low, and near Disney World.”

The telescope on campus is used for ground-based tracking, training purposes, and LEO (Low Earth Orbit). It can laser 10Gigabits per second and can correct for atmosphere “twinkle.” They get a 2-minute warning for satellites that will be crossing its path so they can get it shut off, and they work with the FAA to make sure nothing they do interferes with aircraft.

FIT rooftop classroom

The Rooftop Classroom with attachments for telescopes

All the astro-sciences work closely with the meteorology and aviation meteorology departments. The strip between Melbourne and Tampa is the mostly heavily lightening-hit area in the country. “We’re a rocket school. We build rockets. We launch a rocket into a storm cloud to trigger the lightning and ‘sprites’ so we can take pictures.” They also study space weather.

Another cool thing is that they can use the International Space Station as a lab. They propose research and have it done all the time such as work on Amyloid fiber growth in weightlessness compared to the ground. They have an experimental camera that will soon be attached to the outside of the ISS and remain there for 6 months. Research here can range from the smallest fundamental particles to the large-scale galaxy.

FIT student projects

Student projects in the Engineering Department

There are 14 engineering majors including Ocean Engo. Students who are undecided can start in General Engineering and take an Intro to Engineering class where they can learn a bit about all areas, including research, job opportunities, and other things. The first year for all Engineering programs are almost identical: math, physics, a couple electives, an intro to Engineering class, etc. Kids who do well here tend to have taken Calculus in high school, “even if it’s a C, they’ve at least been exposed to it.” Being behind in math will hold up the whole process. However, they work hard to keep students on track and provide as many opportunities as possibly, including study abroad options.

FIT engo bldg

The Maker-Space building

They have a huge new “maker-space” where engineering students can work in groups on whatever project they have going. Some classes are held there, but mostly it’s open and available for students to build whatever models or projects they need. One of the interesting things they’ve done recently is making a solar-powered auto-drive luggage delivery system for the Melbourne airport.

The gender imbalance is still seen throughout most of the engineering department with only Biomed being even at 50/50; Chemical is close at about 60/40. Mechanical has the most skewed ratio with the percentage of females in the teens.

FIT marine specimins

Specimens in the Marine Bio lab

Biological Sciences are strong as evidenced in the 75-80% medical school admission rate. (students have the option of majoring in PreMedical Chemistry or Medical Biology but do not need to in order to apply to med school). Marine science, Aquaculture, and Conservation Biology are all heavy hitters and are hands-on, experiential education. “We’re interested in being great teachers and researchers.” They have sea tanks, mollusks, dark rooms, sea horses. “Think of them when you look at the ooky stuff.” They keep samples in all sorts of jars, including a Party Mix jar (the roly-poly they had on display next to a baby King Crab). They’re doing work on the Lion Fish, an invasive, dangerous species that spread during a hurricane. They want to know how they manage to adapt and thrive from NJ to the Caribbean.

FIT acad quad 1

Part of the Science Quad with a marsh in the middle

People tend to forget about the Computer Sciences here, including data mining, software engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Info Systems, mining as well as Cyber-security and Homeland Security. They’ve been named a Center for Excellence, one of only 8 in the country.

About 40% of students go onto grad school; many stay at there to do it. The Fast Track Master’s Programs allows students to get a BS and Master’s in 5 years rather than 6. Students need a 3.4 GPA at 90 credits (mid Junior Year). If accepted, they can start their graduate work by taking 6 credits in their senior year that will count for both undergrad and graduate degrees.

FIT mascot and pool

A mascot statue by the campus pool

Things students particularly like about Florida Tech are:

  • There are a ton of social activities, so there are lots of leadership opportunities. It’s a great campus for ambitious students.
  • You can get right into the major.
  • There are lots of international students.

Thing they would like to change are improve would be a football stadium, more land to grow the university, and more outdoor seating to study.

FIT dorms

Some of the dorms

Campus is not that large, but they do have trolleys that will take kids around campus. There are plenty of housing options including new dorms with suites and two off-campus buildings “which are nice, but people in traditional halls made better friendships,” said one student. Greek housing is located at “Panther Bay;” 13% of the population goes Greek. The dining hall is “great! It’s on a 6-week rotation so you won’t see the same foods for at least 6 weeks. They’ve worked with international students on getting recipes so there’s a lot of international food, too,” said one of our tour guides. The campus is largely residential, surprisingly, the population is almost evenly split with about 1/3 of the students coming from Florida, out-of-state, and international countries with 120 countries represented. Racial and religious diversity is evident as we walked around, including seeing women in hijab and a Burqa.

FIT 747 students are enrolled in the campus Army ROTC program; Florida Tech ranks 2nd highest in the country for 2nd Lieutenants upon graduation. ROTC pays for tuition and fees; RIT kicks in the R&B. Students can get a degree in Interdisciplinary Science: Military Science or Communications: Military Science if they’d like.

© 2016

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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

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering (visited 4/14/15)

MSOE walkway

Entry into the quad area. Bikes are big on campus .

I didn’t even know this school existed; I had a couple free hours before another college tour in Milwaukee and spent it walking around the city to get a sense of the place. I saw on a tourist map that I was only a couple blocks from MSOE so I headed over there. The school surprised me in a good way!

MSOE mapThis is a small school of about 2,600 undergrads (not surprisingly, males outnumber females 3-to-1) allowing for a lot of hands-on opportunities for students. One student I spoke to chose MSOE specifically for this reason. “I did not want to be sitting in a large lecture hall. I knew I’d get a better education here than some of the bigger name schools because I can apply what I’m learning and ask questions.” His classes are small: his largest had 28 students; the smallest had 4. He absolutely loves it here. “I’m really well prepared.”

MSOE field and dorm

The outdoor athletic field and dorms in the background.

Incorporated into the city, MSOE is a small, manageable campus within walking distance of many things and accessible to many more through the city’s public transportation. It’s close to downtown but not right in the middle of the busiest part. Freshmen and Sophomores must live on campus unless they come from within 50 miles of campus; about 80% live on campus. Options range from traditional rooms to suites to apartments (those are reserved for juniors, seniors, and international students). The new tower with apartments has brought up the total undergrad residential percentage to about 35%. For the upperclassmen who move off, it’s very easy to find close, affordable housing in the city.

MSOE stud cntr int

The top floor of the student center building.

Food is “ok . . . it’s campus food,” said one student. You aren’t going to go hungry, and if you get bored, you have the whole city at your disposal. The hours aren’t always great. “Dinner is over at 6 or 6:30” but the late-night place is open until 11 Sunday to Thursday. They do offer commuter plans as well.

Despite the school’s name, students can major in more than just Engineering although that is their “flagship.”

  • MSOE nursing

    Nursing Department

    There is a good Nursing program that boasts a 97% placement rate of their graduates.

  • The Business school offers majors in Management, International Business, Management Information Systems, and Technical Communications.
  • The Math department offers both Actuarial Science and Operations Management.
  • Engineering offers degrees in Architectural, Biomedical, BioMolecular, Civil, Computer, Construction, Electrical, Industrial, Mechanical, and Software.
    • Their Mechanical Engineering program has the most students (126) and ranks in the top 10 in the country.
  • MINORS: Students can minor in 7 areas: Business Management, Chemistry, German Studies, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Math, Physics, Psychology, and Technical Communication
MSOE Engo Bldg

Engineering Building

One of the students I talked to is a senior Civil Engineering major. “It’s pretty new. I was one of the first classes, so I feel like I get to help shape it.” He’s an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and has competed in Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe competitions against places like Notre Dame, Purdue, and Indiana. He’s completed a Senior Design project which is an applied project to solve a problem. All students present their work to professionals at the end. He’s a structural specialist, but his senior project wasn’t specifically on that. He would like to see this change in the future; right now, they bound a bit by the project availability, but he did say that it was good to expand out a little bit and gain that experience in other areas of civil engineering. He’s completing a 5-Year freshman-to-MSE program. Students who have a minimum GPA can complete their 5th year for free.

MSOE museum ceilin

The ceiling of the museum building

I’m impressed with the study abroad opportunities. I think an advantage to going to school at a specialized university like this is that they create opportunities for students that align with what they need for graduation. MSOE has agreements with Lille Catholic University in France, Czech Technical University, Florence University of the Arts, Lubeck University of Applied Science in Germany, and Manipal Institute of Technology in India. They also have a travel-study course on Doing Business with China.

Admissions is moderately selective. Although Engineering and Math students need a minimum GPA of 3.0 (nursing requires a 2.75), typical admitted students have about a 3.65. Engineering and Nursing students need at least a 22 composite ACT (Engineers need a 24 math sub-score). Math majors need a 24 composite and 26 math sub-score on the ACT. All students need to have completed pre-calc in high school. They will grant credit for almost all AP classes with a 4 or 5; only a couple areas will grant credit for a 3.

MSOE LibraryI asked a student whether people stuck around campus or went downtown for fun. “Depends on their age . . . I’ll leave it at that.” One of the favorite campus traditions is St. Patrick’s week — apparently he’s the patron saint of engineers. Who knew? This is a big deal in the city as well as on campus. MSOE has parties, students dress up, some professors have their ties cut, classes sometimes get canceled, etc. Quiz Bowl is another event that the students mentioned as an activity they look forward to.

There are things to do on campus. Sports are popular, and they have a large rec facility which includes a hockey rink. Some of their more unusual sports offerings are crew (DIII – “It’s a good team,” said one of the students), fencing, judo, cheerleading, badminton, rugby, and weightlifting (all club). Greek life is fairly small in terms of numbers of students who affiliate, but they do run several social events around campus. There’s an active performing arts contingent on campus, as well.

(c) 2015

Bellarmine University

BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY (visit 9/16/14)

~Bellarmine statue 2Bellarmine (pronounced “Bell-are-min”) is a medium-sized (2,500 undergrads) Catholic university in a residential neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. Although originally an all-male institution, they merged with the all-female Ursiline College in the 1960s. Today, the student body is almost 2/3 women, due in part to the nursing program.

Both the campus and the students were impressive. The students we spoke to were articulate and weren’t “scripted” – the spoke openly about their experiences, giving personal examples of their life on campus rather than just mindlessly spouting information given to them by the admissions office. One of our tour guides, a psych major, said that one of her favorite classes had been Intro to Acting. “If it hadn’t been for that class, I wouldn’t be here talking to you now.”

~Bellarmine students 2Lauren, one of the Admissions Reps, presented the info session to us (a group of counselors); she prefaced it by saying that she was going to do the presentation as she would have if we were a bunch of prospective students so we would get a sense of what our students would hear. Early in the presentation, she said, “The question you need to be asking yourself is, ‘Can you see yourself succeeding here as a student?’” which is a wonderful way for students to approach the search process.

~Bellarmine ampitheaterThe Catholic heritage is clearly part of the university but isn’t overbearing. Many of the values are woven into aspects of campus like the full day of service that all students do during Orientation. One of our tour guides self-identified as Catholic, the other as a non-denominational Christian. Both enjoy the feeling on campus. The religion is there for those who want it. A small campus chapel holds Catholic masses and other Christian services, none of which are mandatory. Students do have to take 2 theology classes (1 in world religions and 1 elective) during their time here, which they see as very reasonable.

~Bellarmine sci centerStudents also have to take 2 lab science classes; in addition to the bio, chem, and other more traditional classes, they can fulfill this with classes like Human Health and Disease, Astronomy, or Gross Anatomy (Bellarmine is 1 of only 8 undergraduate institutions that offer this class!). As a freshman, my tour guide had to reassemble organs in the Cadaver Lab. Bellarmine has a contract with the local zoo; the university gets the animals when they die in order to provide study opportunities for the students (including once getting a giraffe which a professor was going to use to study decomposition, until they realized that they had placed it too close to the air-vents on the roof!). One of the physics professors works with a super-collider (CERN). Upperclassmen help analyze the data.

Nursing, Clinical Lab Sciences, and Respiratory Care Therapy majors make up almost 1/3 of the student population. Nursing, a direct-entry program (assuming criteria is met), counts for about 20% of students, and students speak very highly of the program.

Not surprisingly, their Theology program is strong, as is Math (including Actuarial Science), Poli Sci, Kinesiology, Digital Arts and Technology (with an emphasis in music, art, and communications), Computer Engineering, foreign languages, and Arts Management.

~Bellarmine library inside

Inside of the Library

One of the biggest draws for students is the interaction they have with professors. The largest classroom on campus has 70 seats; the average class size is 20. “We’re setting them up for success,” said an Admissions rep. Students do get to know professors well. In exit interviews, the vast majority say they would make the same decision to do it all over again; when asked where they would like to see money spent, many of them said they would put money towards increasing salary of professors!

All dorm rooms have AC, carpet, a microwave and fridge, and are cable-ready. About ¾ of freshmen life on campus, including in 1 of 4 learning communities: STEM, Honors, Social Engagement, and Health Sciences (called Galileo). About 50% of the entire undergrad population lives on campus. There are a lot of hills on campus – one of the students said that it’s hard to gain the Freshman 15 because of this. In fact, they also give a “hybrid tour” to prospective students using both walking and trolleys because of the hills! Freshmen can have cars on campus, but there are bike rentals and buses for people who don’t have them, so cars aren’t necessary.

~Bellarmine soccerLouisville one of 20 largest cities in the country. It’s been named as one of the top cities for entrepreneurship, a top food city, and a great 20-something city. There’s lots going on, but students don’t often look to Louisville for entertainment since there’s plenty to do on campus. Sports are mostly DIII except for the lacrosse team (DI). Knights Nation is a group dedicated to celebrating the Knights at different games. One well-loved tradition is wearing Halloween costumes to basketball games. There are 90+ other clubs, as well, including a breakdancing club, a Pokemon League, and a Whovian Society. The Daily Knight newsletter will announce upcoming events.

The application is free and is moving to all-online. Currently there is no Common App option. The Honors program requires a 28+ ACT and 3.4 GPA, but they are moving this year to an application-based process. Most students receive scholarships of some sort. The average merit award is around $21,000; comprehensive packages average around $29,000. They do give 5 full-tuition scholarships each year; to be considered for one of these, applicants must submit an essay by 12/1. Competitive students have a 30+ ACT or 1330 SAT and a 3.4 unweighted GPA. Faculty read and invite students to come compete for the scholarship.

© 2014

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