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After deciding which engineering field you are interested in, it is a good idea to visit schools that have that program. Every college has its own personality and all schools do not follow the same programs of instruction. This is something every student needs to consider when deciding if that school is the one for them. When you go on some college tours, you will start to see what aspects of schools you like, or do not like. This is the best way to start narrowing down choices of schools. By going on different campuses you will get a feel of what each school is like. The size and look of the campus, what the facilities and classrooms are like, and what the class sizes are will give you an indication of what is best for you. Try to take the engineering school tour at each school, if possible. An engineering tour will give more insight into what the curriculum is like and what life as a student in their program will be like. In addition, talking to current students and speaking to administrators about the specifics of the program you are interested in will give you more information. The administrators can also provide more specifics on the requirements for admittance to their program.

If you are not sure where to begin, first start exploring colleges that may be a short distance from where you live. This is a great way to start narrowing down what type of schools you are interested in without spending a lot of time and money.

 

Just like there are different types of music, there are different types of engineering fields.  Traditionally they could be grouped into 4 primary types, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. There are  many other engineering sub disciplines that branch off or merge from there. Here are descriptions of the 4 primary engineering fields.

Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineers develop processes to make raw materials or chemicals into usable products. They apply the principles of chemistry, physics, math and biology to solve problems with the design or production of these products. Chemical engineers design processes and equipment for product manufacturing. They also direct facility operations and test and plan production methods. 

Civil Engineering:  Civil Engineering is one of the oldest types of engineering. Civil engineers work on the design, construction, analysis and maintenance of man-made and natural structures. These include buildings, roads, bridges, dams, seaports, airports, drinking water and energy systems and infrastructure for a cleaner environment. They determine the feasibility of projects including costs and safety, and are responsible for the design and implementation. Civil engineers use physics and the advanced principles of mathematics such as calculus and trigonometry in their work.

Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment. They work will all kinds of electronics from small pocket devices to supercomputers, telecommunications and power systems and controls. They apply the physics and math of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism to large and small scale systems to process information and transmit energy.


Mechanical Engineering
: Mechanical Engineering is one of the broadest of the engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers design products and the machines that produce these products. They also design and construct machines, from power producing machines such as generators, turbines and engines to machines in buildings like elevators, escalators and air conditioning systems. They also maintain mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers apply physics and math to design, analyze maintain and manufacture mechanical systems. 

It is surprising with the increased need for people to fill jobs in the STEM field, such as engineering disciplines and computer science, that there is very little information available to help students find the best colleges for them that offer these programs. All programs at all schools are not equal, and not all schools are right for all students. Most people are aware of the big tech schools for engineering such as MIT and CalTech. They may not be the right school for everyone, though. There are lots of schools that you probably haven't heard of such as Rose-Hulman, Rowan College or Colorado School of Mines that are excellent engineering schools and might provide a better engineering education. So the big question is where do you start?

The first step to finding the right engineering school is to figure out what the student is interested in. To start, which field of engineering do they want to study. Not all schools that have engineering programs have all engineering majors. For example, many schools have mechanical engineering programs, but only a few have civil engineering programs.  After the major is determined, then other criteria needs to be factored in. These include, large or small school, preferred geographic location and of course the student's grades and test scores. Taking all of these factors into account will help to narrow down which colleges to start looking at. In short, all schools are not a perfect fit for all students, but considering  your student's needs is the start to find the correct engineering college for them.

As parents of twin sons looking to study engineering and computer science in college, we found very little information and resources out there to help us direct their college search. This included a lack of information in both online and published resources. What was particularly disappointing was the  limited knowledge of STEM programs by professional college advisers  as well as their own school guidance counselors. As a result, we had to do a lot of work on our own. Our sons both ended up in great schools for them- one at a large public university and the other at a private mid-sized school. A lot of research went into our college search and we gained a lot of knowledge along the way. We want to help others with their search by sharing our resources.