Good engineering colleges?

by magician13134 on Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:39 pm

Hey guys, it's Spring Break for me, so I took a went on a few college tours, and I'd like to have three or four colleges that I really like when I apply, I liked University of Illinois and Michigan, but I didn't like Purdue all that much, so I'm looking to find another college to look at. Anyone have any ideas? I'd like a large college since they have tons of resources (I didn't know any colleges had integrated circuit fabrication labs!!!!) and I'm looking to major in electrical engineering/computer science. Can anyone recommend any other schools that have good engineering programs that aren't super, SUPER hard to get into (I'm applying to MIT, but I'm not counting on getting in, I don't want to get my hopes up >.<). Thanks!
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by The_Don125 on Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:06 am

U of I - UC all the way!
Though admittedly, being a first-year electrical engineering major, I'm quite biased.

Yeah, when I was doing my college search, I looked at Purdue Lafayette, Marquette, Bradley, and U of I. Only two I liked were Bradley and U of I, and eventually chose U of I.

I hear Bradley has a decent engineering/CS program though. Not quite (ok, nowhere near) as top-notch as the schools you've mentioned, and its also very much on the small side, but its very easy to get into it. If you mention that you've considered U of I as an option, you'll have a good chance of getting a sizable amount of financial aid too (I think I was offered $8k)

But I'd still recommend U of I (that is, if MIT doesn't work out, and even then, still consider U of I). You probably noticed our IC fab lab when you visted. We also have our own little ECE shop to buy electronics components. They have a very good selection (unless you want microcontrollers, but even those can be ordered), and the prices are a little higher than Digikey, but well below Radio Shack. All the professors I've had (except one math professor) have been very approachable, and its easy to see they not only know what they are doing, but enjoy it. If you've got more questions about the program here, you can go ahead and PM me, or AIM me (should be one of those buttons at the bottom of the message).
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by Superworms on Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:04 pm

Hey, its springbreak for me too. any way in the near futrure i want to go to UIUC or UIC but then again I really want to go to UIUC!!!
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by magician13134 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:41 am

Ooh, I just looked at Urbana-Champaign, I didn't know there was one in Chicago. I really liked UIUC, too, but University of Michigan is still my first choice (excluding MIT), I REALLY liked the fact that I could get from any engineering building to almost any other without stepping foot outside, that was awesome! Plus I've spent a couple summers up there on the engineering campus doing camp CAEN (Computer Assisted Engineering Network). But on the tour we didn't get to see a whole lot of labs, so I don't know if they have an integrated circuit or PCB fabrication lab. I'm SURE they have to have a PCB lab, but I don't know how many colleges have the IC lab like UIUC did. I just really hope that I have trouble deciding due to the fact that I get into both instead of not getting into either, though!
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by The_Don125 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:01 pm

Having the PCB lab is a hard call to make, I don't think they are as popular as you'd think. Browsing this website suggests that MIT has one, but I know here at UIUC, we don't have one. All PCB orders go through a single guy. It has something to do with the university cracking down on hazardous waste disposal a while back, so the only university approved mehtod of pcb manufacture is by CNC machine. I'm not familiar with Michigan's laws, so you might want to look into that.
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by magician13134 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:33 pm

O_o
...but...but...
*sob*
No PCB fabrication lab? I decided against buying stuff to make my own basic one because I figured I'd get to use one in college so I shouldn't waste money on it now... but if they aren't at college... Agg! What am I going to do?!
I can't really find out anything saying whether or not Michigan has one, does anyone know if they do or don't? Thanks

Heh, the first link here wasn't very helpful either :wink:
http://www.google.com/search?q=colleges ... US229US229
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by Superworms on Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:32 pm

boy, that sucks
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by adafruit on Sun Mar 30, 2008 9:59 pm

just because a school has a resource doesnt mean you can just walk in and use it. most nice labs and machines are restricted to students taking a particular class or in the research group that owns it.
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by The_Don125 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:33 pm

Yeah, I'm going to have to confirm what Ladyada said, resources for students doing independent work are limited. I know if I wanted to do a project here and use better equipment, I would have 3 options:

1) Take a lab class. You get credit, you get (some) labspace, and you get priority for PCB manufacture (a plus, because the guy I mentioned is the only one on campus capable of making them, so if you aren't in a class, odds are he won't accept your request).

2) Join a student group (what I wound up doing). Here we have the IEEE@UIUC group, and they have access to their own lab complete with power supply, function generator, and digital o-scope. No access to PCB manufacture (yet, a CNC mill of our own is currently under construction). We do have the SEED program though, which is if you have a somewhat large project you want to tackle, and want help, the IEEE will give you advertisement (to get more helpers) and funding to complete the project.

3) Talk to a professor. I don't know if all colleges are like this, but I met with the professor in charge of the Advanced Digital Circuits lab (Professor Haken, great guy), and he will allow students to use that lab for their own projects provided there is room, which also grants access to PCB manufacture. There wasn't any space this semester, so its kind of hit-or-miss.
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by westfw on Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:40 am

At a "good" engineering school, your undergraduate years are likely to be very full of classwork and such that doesn't involve much in the way of "hobby" electronics. If you have time and energy left over, The_Don125's advice looks pretty good.
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by magician13134 on Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:46 am

Wow, you guys make it sound like college is all work and no play! :shock:

Heh, I guess that's probably right, though. But yeah, I wasn't really expecting you'd be able to use the labs without being in a class, but still, I don't know. Thanks for the information, everyone!
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by Entropy on Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:39 am

I went to Cornell and absolutely loved it.

Bruce Land's ECE 476 Microcontrollers class uses AVRs and I would say it is the best course I have ever taken, undergraduate or graduate.

Edit: Just like at many other schools, there are very few "open" resources for those who are not taking relevant classes.
Last edited by Entropy on Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by schill on Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:00 pm

I went to RPI (Rensselaer) and liked it there (I guess, I stayed for 11 years or so). I was not in computers/electronics so the labs I had access to were different from the ones you would.

From my experience, Ladyada's and The_Don125's comments are right on. There were some resources open in general, but very few. Follow up on The_Don125's options if you have time (don't count on it). Many professors will allow undergrads to get involved with their research and that may give you better access to what you are looking for. This doesn't usually happen in the first few years, though.

I had a lot more access to things once I was in grad school.

By the way, I was into electronics but didn't program my first microcontroller until after I finally graduated. The BASIC Stamp, which was the introduction to this stuff for many people, didn't come out until 1991 - a couple years before I graduated. Not that there weren't other options, but they really opened it up to everyone. (I just looked at the Parallax site for the date - I didn't realize that I'm older than Chip Gracey, the guy who started it).
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by Volt Dropper on Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:45 pm

With all due respect, picking a school based largely on a single criteria -especially one so esoteric- is probably misguided.

Etch your own. You can get set up for about 50 bucks and the new systems work wonderfully. Start here:

(cut and paste whole URL the bang confuses phpbb)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Stop-us ... etter-etc/
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by magician13134 on Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:07 pm

Heh heh, firstly, that's not the only thing I'm looking for, secondly, I would still tour the school, thirdly, using that would be worse than using Ferric Chloride, it's highly corrosive, and can be dangerous if not deadly when inhaled. Also, read through the comments, I made it up and put simply, it doesn't work for me. Not sure what it is, FeCl3 works so much better, though, so I just stick with it. Thanks for the tip though
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