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Archive for the tag “Engineering Physics”

Kettering University

Kettering University (visited 11/19/19)

Kettering 1This is a small school that is relatively well-known for engineering and its innovative, mandatory Co-op program operating on 3-month class/co-op rotation that differentiates it from other co-ops such as those at Drexel and Northeastern. One of the reps said, “The kids here are geeks. They thrive off of each other. Just based on conversations, they find a home here they never got in high school. They’re surrounded my like-minded people who challenge them.”

Kettering 3d factoryThe co-op program is one of the big reasons people pick Kettering. Students come in on either the A or B cohort; A starts classes at the traditional time in the fall; B does their first co-op before taking any classes at all. Placement into A and B is totally random but it’s easy enough to switch sections. If incoming students do want to switch, they’re often asked to wait until after the job fair to decide since some companies will only hire for certain sections. These job fairs are open to all students, and the incoming students are encouraged to attend, particularly those in the B cohort who go directly into co-op.

Kettering bioeng research

Bioengineering research lab

I asked both the tour guide and the Co-op Coordinator about how this could possible work and how students would be qualified to do more than make copies or coffee without having some classes under their belts. The coordinator said, “Many companies hire 3 students at a time. They figure maybe one won’t work out, and they hope that one will be given a job offer. They’re grooming their future talent. They’ll take a chance on high school graduates.”

Kettering women engo

Although Kettering is still heavily male (it is a STEM-based school), they do have organizations, including dorm options, to help the females feel more included.

Students need to complete at least 5 co-op terms; most do 7-9 before they graduate. They partner with over 500 employers, many of which are in SE Michigan (the Detroit metro area). It’s rare to get a co-op in Flint. All majors must do co-ops; they have a freshman bio major with the Medical Examiner this year. Students earn an average of $15.50/hour; they often use this towards tuition.

I had high hopes for Kettering. However, the other counselor and I were both a little reluctant to recommend this school. The vibe was a little off. I think that it’s difficult to build community here. There seems to be very little going on around campus other than classes; even the tour guide was hard-pressed to give some examples of things that were happening around campus for fun. There might be a couple reasons for this – first, several people said they were “self-proclaimed geeks.” Second, classes are condensed from 15 to 11 weeks so they’re getting more done in less time (the tour guide estimates that he does 2-4 hours of homework/studying a night to keep up with the academics). Third, when students are coming and going every 3 months, it’s hard to sustain any meaningful clubs or extra-curricular activities. Students don’t do that much other than classes.

Kettering dorm lounge

The dorm lounge decorated for Christmas

However, there are some things going on: they have lots of automotive engineering competitions (which operates as a club). There’s some Greek life, some intramural sports, etc. Greek life does play a large part towards blowing off steam; about 40% of students participate. There are dorms the run activities; the lounge was already decorated for Christmas when we were there; “there’s a big push to do things in the dorms to get students out of their rooms. We’re nerdy. We tend to hold up in our rooms,” said the tour guide. They’re located in a sort-of residential area of Flint; some areas nearby are not in the best of conditions, but the immediate area seems ok. The tour guide also said he felt safe around campus.

Kettering lobby

A mascot decorating competition between Greek organizations in the lobby of one of the main buildings

They have a limited choice of majors, all STEM based except for the Management option. There are 5 engineering options (including Industrial Engineering) plus Engineering Physics. They have a more extensive choice of minors, including History, Literature, Business, and International Studies. The others are STEM based such as Gaming, Acoustics, Applied Optics, manufacturing Engineering, Medical Physics, System and Data Security, and Materials Science. The labs are some of them best I’ve seen – very well stocked with great equipment, allowing for a lot of hands-on experience and practical applications. The tour guide showed us one where they had to simulate production lines (on a very small scale) to figure out not only how to put things together but how to communicate that out. Kettering is also the only place with a crash-test lab for undergrads.

Kettering lab 4

Lab space simulating production lines

Everything they do here is Calc based. Students have to have some trig coming in (but that’s often tagged onto Alg 2 or PreCalc). A 3.0 GPA and 24 ACT will earn students scholarship money. They also have fixed-rate tuition: what you pay the first year is what you pay for 5 years.

Retention is 97% but the graduation rate is about 60%. Disparity comes because of the co-ops; grad rates are based off of 6 years and some students go longer. The thesis project can trip them up sometimes; it takes them a little longer to do the program. It’s also such a niche program that there isn’t much to fall back on. Most graduates go right into the job force, but ¾ eventually get an advanced degree.

© 2019

College of William and Mary

William & Mary (visited 1/31/19)

√P1110917No doubt, W&M is an amazing school with a beautiful, historic campus and strong academics. I was disappointed that along with that, I got a strong “We don’t have to try” vibe during the visit. I was glad that the info session didn’t have a PowerPoint (and therefore more of a conversational feel) but there wasn’t much insight into the college during this time. The thing that the rep got the most excited about was the Cheese Club which was started because a student liked to buy cheese and share it with his dorm-mates.


The Sunken Garden where a lot of campus-wide events take place


This is the 2nd oldest college in the US (after Harvard), but they’re quick to point out that they are first in lots of other areas: oldest law school, honor code, honor society, and the oldest academic building (Wren) still in use. “It’s a tradition to take a class in there before graduation,” said the rep. With a school as old as this, there are lots of traditions. The rep highlighted a couple favorites:

  • Yule Log: In mid-December, the community (including people from town) gathers in the courtyard where there are bonfires going. Everyone gets a sprig of holy, and there’s singing, hot cider, and more. Someone reads “’Twas the Night Before Finals” and the university President shares a story, as well.
  • P1110910

    The Wren Building – the Oldest continually used academic building in the country and is used for many of the campus traditions

    Opening Convocation welcomes freshman to campus. The Provost and President give speeches, then students get ushered through Wren into the Courtyard on the other side where all other students and faculty cheer. First-years go single file and get high fives. At graduation, they basically reverse this walk and exit campus as a group.

  • The Raft Debate has 4 faculty members appealing to the audience – in highly theatrical fashion – why they should be the sole survivor of shipwreck to use the raft to get off the desert island on which they’re stranded.
W&M bridge 2

The iconic (and infamous?) bridge – as with any campus, there are legends. At W&M, if you kiss someone on the bridge, you’re going to marry that person. To reverse this, you have to push that person off the bridge.

One of the most interesting bits of information I got was that W&M operates a joint program with St. Andrews. Students spend two years at each institution and have some flexibility in the order in which they do these. I spoke with two first-year students while waiting for the info session to start, both of whom are in the incoming class’ 27-person cohort. They are both planning on spending their first and last years at W&M with the 2 years in between at St. Andrew’s. Students have a limited number of majors from which to choose if they’re in this program (Film Studies is the most competitive; others include English, History, Econ, International Relations, and Classical Studies). In order to be accepted to the program, they had to submit an additional 2000 word essay with their W&M application. They said that there’s no special orientation other than a brunch and dinner at the beginning of the year, but they’ve been taking a class throughout the semesters that covers things like culture shock.

P1110882In terms of academics, “We’re a liberal arts institution while still being a research university,” said the rep. They take an interesting approach to the Core requirements: all students take “Coll” Classes (the College Curriculum): there are 2 First-Year Experiences classes. In the 2nd year, the classes focus on academic disciplines to provide breadth of knowledge. The 3rd year has a global focus and can be covered by study abroad. The 4th year is a capstone for the major.

W&M solar charger

Solar Panels run the outlets on this picnic table!

The majority (70%) of students do research (but she had a hard time coming up with examples outside of the sciences when asked – psychology (the major is technically Psychological Sciences) was mentioned, which is another fairly common research area – and not surprisingly, the new Integrated Science building includes the psychology department). About 25% of those who do research are published before graduation.

As a medium sized university (6,000 undergrads, about 2/3 of whom come from Virginia – many people forget that this is a public institution!), they offer a good range of majors, including some more specialized ones that you’d expect to see at larger schools:

P1110902Students have the opportunity to apply for an Early Assurance entry into VCU or Eastern VA Medical School. Eligibility requirements differ between the schools, but both a 3.5 GPA from W&M and must get a minimum score on the MCAT (505 or 507) in addition to other things.

Campus is bike-friendly and easy to navigate (regardless of how you get around!). A few areas of note include “Ancient (or Historic) Campus” which has 3 of the 4 oldest campus buildings in the country. Martha Barksdale Field was created to give women a place for sports; although men were not specifically banned from this space, the stipulation she put on it was that cleats could not be worn – and since the men wore cleats to play, they had to stay off.

© 2019

Case Western Reserve University

CASE WESTERN RESERVE (visited 4/11 and 1/13)

~CWR bikes and quadOne of the admissions reps described Case Western students this way: “Every place says that their kids are nice. . . . it’s bizarre here.” So nice, in fact, that students regularly take up the Million Minute Community Service Challenge.

~CWR 5Students are also very competitive, very smart, and very demanding on themselves. Many double or even triple major. “Our kids are focused but not so set in their one path that they aren’t willing to try other things.” However, about 2/3 do end up graduating in the division in which they entered, although not necessarily the same major. Nursing is the exception to this with about 95% continuing.

CWR students

Students collaborating in a Business School lounge.

Students can be creative and innovative here: they design, fail, break things, and try again. The school isn’t setting kids up to fail. Often, this is the first time they’re with a lot of people who were in the top of their classes in high school but learn quickly that this is ok.

~CWR dorms and track

New residential area surrounding some of the athletic facilities

This is a big campus for 4500 undergraduates (about ¼ of whom are from Ohio); there are actually more graduate and professional students than undergrads, but CWR is actively increasing research opportunities for undergrads who can start as early as the first year. Case actively looks for ways to “expand” campus by encouraging students to utilize all the wonderful things at their doorstep in the city of Cleveland. Campus borders University Circle, a renowned cultural, artistic, medical, and educational center.

Case’s SAGES program (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) includes 5 semester-long, writing-intensive seminars. These classes, limited to 17 students, include 3 interdisciplinary classes over the first two years, 1 class in the student’s major, and a capstone project. Students can no longer test out of their writing requirement based on AP scores, and faculty say that this helps with writing skills. The content and sequence is “integrated and intentional. Students are well-coached and well-practiced in skills employers want.”

~CWR 7The first seminar (taken in the first year) focuses on skill building by providing extensive feedback about writing, speaking, engagement, etc. Students have several options meant to engage them in life of the mind. The built-in “Fourth Hour” includes events scheduled in the institutions around the Circle (Art museum, Natural History museum, etc) so that students take advantage of the region’s cultural capital. Before the end of sophomore year, students also complete 2 University Seminars meant to extend knowledge by exploring topics at a more sophisticated level. They produce longer writing projects and oral presentations showing a more advanced analysis. The Seminar in Major allows them to become facile in disciplinary knowledge and the modes of communication in that discipline. Finally, the Capstone allows them to define a problem or ask a question, then find a solution or answer. It could be an experiment, an artistic creation, an extensive research project, etc. Both written and oral presentations are required.

~CWR 6About 2/3 of the students are in the Science and Engineering departments. Biomedical Engineering draws the most students followed by Mechanical Engineering. Systems and Control Eng., Engineering Physics, Civil Engineering, and Polymer Science and Engineering are the “small but mighty” departments. In the Sciences, the Gerontological Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and Evolutionary Biology programs are worth noting.

~CWR Applied SSTheir Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences departments are smaller but still strong; these departments will feel much more like a small Liberal Arts college with discussion courses. There are several Collaborative Programs that link CWR with other schools and programs throughout the city. Their music department is a bit unusual in that they teach musicology and music history but not theory or performance: students looking for those can cross-register at the Cleveland Institute of Music and neither can complete degrees without the other. They do the same with the Cleveland Institute of Art: students at either school interested in Art Education complete part of their degrees at the other school. All CWR students can take up to 4 credits per term at either the CIA (Art) or CIM (music).

~CWR business 3

Business School

The Business School is booming and housed in a modern, well-designed building. Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Organizational Leadership, International Business, and Supply Chain Management are particularly worth taking a look at.

~CWR nursing

Nursing building

The nursing program is particularly strong and is named as one of the top 15 in the country. This is a direct-entry program with classes starting in the first semester – and clinicals starting in week 3! Students complete 1600 clinical hours before graduation, almost 2 times the national average. If that weren’t impressive enough, students can also study abroad through articulation agreements with programs in China, Cameroon, and Alaska (yes, they know that this isn’t abroad – but students say that it sometimes feels that way in the small villages they’re placed in!). One student from Pittsburgh did her capstone in Hong Kong where she audited classes and studied increasing obesity in high schoolers. Also unusual is that students in the program can double major. One student from Cincinnati is also getting a degree in PoliSci.

Applications have increased more than 200% in the last 8 years; international apps are up from 500 to over 4000. Applicants get ranked in 22 academic, leadership, and extra-curricular categories. They currently admit about 42% of applicants. Students who visited campus, went to the HS visit, or did an alumni interview are twice as likely to be admitted. “We can still take kids with a 1200 SAT. We don’t want to have it harder to do that.” They have a single-door admission except for music (audition requirement) and art (portfolio requirement).

~CWR north Res VillageFreshmen are housed in 4 residential communities helping Case with their excellent 93% retention rate. There are also residential complexes for 2nd year and for upperclass students. Their Graduating Senior Experience program is one of the few I’ve run into. Almost 1/3 of students are Greek-affiliated (and many live in Greek Housing). 20% of students stay on campus to take classes, do research, or just take advantage of other opportunities during the summer. The college-owned Squire Valleevue Farm is about 8 miles from main campus. Aquatic Biology is offered in May Term so students can go into the streams for hands-on learning. There’s also a ceramics area out there.

© 2015

Juniata College

Juniata College (visited 11/20/14)

~Juniata students 2With all the small, selective liberal arts colleges around, it’s refreshing to find one that goes out of its way to illustrate what distinguishes them from other, equally nice, selective schools. At Juniata, they offer students a Program of Emphasis rather than traditional majors. Sixty-five POEs are already created which is robust for a population this size. “A designated POE walks and talks like a regular major,” said an admissions reps. However, somewhere between 25% and 33% of students will write their own by creating both long- and short-term goals. When students say that they “write their POE,” it’s a deliberate verb. They control the breadth and depth of their experience. One example is a recent graduate interested in digital production and African Studies. She got an internship in an NGO in Uganda help women with AIDS be independent and take care of their children. She is now working full time to get a business up and running and is the Digital Manager of their tv station.

~Juniata dogsThere’s a strong sense of values at Juniata including Pacifism, Service, Community (both in term of people and the place), and Nonconformity. As one of 7 First Brethren Colleges left, students tend to be “conscientious non-submitters.” They choose their own path. There’s a history of service and learning and they have a Peace Chapel designed by Maya Lin (Vietnam Memorial). There’s a real sense of individualism. No orthodoxy means that there is space for students to explore. The school is intentional about meeting students where they are, supporting them, and moving them to places they didn’t even know about. “We live our mission.”

~Juniata dorms


In the Provost’s welcome, she spoke about her own recent move to the college: “I got a generous. warm welcome. That matters if we want to convey Juniata to you. People make this place their career. What matters to me as a parent and professional is the personal experience.” They engage a personal education to help students develop skills and values. Someone is always reaching out to the freshmen: How’s it going? How are classes? How’s the separation from the family?

~Juniata 6It quickly became very clear why Juniata is a CTCL school. At the panel, I asked students how it had changed their lives:

  • It gave me opportunities to do things I never imagined. I’m astounded by the research here. I’m interested in theater, and I could audition even as a biology POE. I even went to Dublin for a Theater program.
  • I’m a German and Chem major who wants to go to Med school. They’re willing to help me figure out where things fit as long as I’m willing to work.
  • I developed my critical thinking skills, recognized my biases, and can converse in a more informed manner
  • I was quiet and shy. Now my professors would tell me to shut up if they could. I’m involved in a lot on and off campus. I’m confident as a student and a person.
  • It gave me my independence and set higher goals than I would have for myself. I’m looking abroad for job opportunities.

~Juniata nobel prizeSome unique POEs include: Environmental Geology; Philosophy, Politics, and Economics; Professional Writing (Publishing or Digital Writing); and Integrated Media Arts. Last year, 7 students from IMA were hired by Penn State over Penn State Grads. Students majoring in Physics or Engineering Physics can complete a 3+2 program with Penn State, Columbia, Wash U, or Clarkson. The National Society of Physics Outstanding Student Award was given to a Juniata student 16 years in a row, and Bill Philips, Nobel Prize winner, donated the replica of his medal (given at the same time as his original award) to the college.

~Juniata field station 1

Drawing of the Field Station

The Raystown Field Station, located 20 minutes away, provides environmental research opportunities for students. 18 students can live on-site in the 2 dorms. The fall semester focuses on field ecology and environment; the spring semester focuses on organismal ecology. The application includes an essay bout about their comfort level with coed living and why they want to go.

Juniata has a 4-year graduation guarantee: if they don’t graduate in 4 years because they weren’t able to complete their program, they can come back for free. They’ve had this on the books for 5 or 6 years and never had a single student need to take advantage of this. One reason is because all students have 2 advisors. Jamie White, a physics professor, said that Juniata does things that others would say is inefficient: “The Double Advising system – if you think about it, it’s really stupid! It’s twice the work that needs to happen!” However it’s just one more way Juniata can claim ‘Education with a Personal Touch.’

~Juniata 2Research is a big buzz-word at colleges, but Juniata seems to be following through. It’s expected that faculty include students when they write grants. Natural sciences funding has been most robust, it’s not exclusively in that area. Research is credit-bearing; students aren’t just given mundane tasks. Students design their own project, answer their own questions, work directly with professors. At a conference, students presenting research on genomics were asked what year of grad school they were in.

~Juniata quad

Main quad

80% of students have internships. Every intern gets coaching and can share what they did and learned. “Some of the best internships are the ones you hate. You’ve just learned a whole lot!” In the Innovations for Industry class, students team up and get assigned an outside client for a semester. One student who took the class before (they can take it up to 3 times) is assigned as Project Lead. A student is currently working on a gaming app for exercise.

~Juniata choir

One of the Choirs performing in the Student Center

Students are just as engaged outside the classroom. “If you’re bored . . . what are you missing? The biggest mistake I made freshman year was not reading announcements,” said one student. The music scene is strong despite no music POE. “Science students don’t have to give up the clarinet or can travel with the choir to Costa Rica or Budapest.” About 1/3 of students participate in a varsity sport; about half participate in some sort of athletics (club, etc). Volleyball and Football are the best attended sports, especially in games against Susquehanna, their main rival. When they need to get off campus, there’s plenty to do: art gallery, cafes, movie theater, bowling alley, kayaking, swimming.

Several well-loved traditions include:

  • Mountain Day: Classes get cancelled for a day in the fall. There’s a BBQ at the lake, they play tug-of-war, play on inflatables, etc.
  • Madrigal: a formal dinner in the winter. They get dressed up, get served by profs, sing. Each table gets assigned parts, and students will sleep in tents on the quad so they can be first in line to buy tickets for the tables that gets the “5 Golden Rings” part.
  • Storming of the Arch: The rugby team guards the arch and freshmen try to run through. There are stories about what they get if they make it through, but no one has succeeded yet.
  • LobsterFest: students get steak and lobster on the quad
  • Mr. Juniata: a major fundraiser (it costs a can of food or $1 to get in) and the audience votes for the winner.
  • Physics Phun Night: “We blow up things and set things on fire.”

(c) 2013

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