Engineering is an applied science. It’s a discipline that uses scientific knowledge to solve problems, and it’s a rapidly growing field. There was a time when engineering was principally focused on buildings and bridges, but today it encompasses the likes of aerospace, biomedical technology, and computer applications of all descriptions, just to name a few. Sophisticated technology, however, doesn’t come cheap, and neither does its study. As a result, engineering programs tend to be the domain of large universities that have resources on an appropriate scale. Two that fit the bill are the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University.
Pennsylvania State University is a behemoth. It offers hundreds of programs on 24 campuses, but its flagship campus is University Park, which alone accounts for 40,000 undergrads. Maintaining a consistent standard of academic excellence, then, is no small feat, but Penn State’s College of Engineering has managed to do just that. Among its stand-out programs are its 16 majors (13 at the University Park campus) and 13 minors in the field of engineering.
The University of Maryland’s James Clark School of Engineering offers nine undergraduate engineering degree programs in addition to eight minors. Its programs are equally varied, ranging from aerospace to mechanical engineering. Maryland even offers a program in fire protection engineering.
When you look at these program fields, you can’t help but notice that they are future-oriented. This is a field that attracts problem-solvers. It calls to team players, too, because the problems these students will tackle are multi-dimensional in nature and too big for one person. It’s why there is an emphasis on team collaboration and cooperation.
A global perspective is just as important in the field of engineering as it is in any other, so today’s programs are international, too. Penn State’s study abroad program can place engineering students in appropriate programs at sister institutions around the world, and a joint program with its own College of the Liberal Arts allows students to add formal study of a foreign language. University of Maryland engineering students have access to forty international engineering programs. Academic advisors assist students in selecting a region to visit – one with a cooperating institution that offers courses that will fulfill students’ academic requirements and enable them to keep their academic plan on track.
On the home front, Penn State students can also augment their classroom study with internships and co-op education opportunities, which gives them invaluable on-the-job experience. At Maryland, the engineering school’s established program for co-operative education and internship programs does the same. Students receive assistance in identifying appropriate opportunities and gaining positions with participating companies.
The best engineering students possess an interesting blend of practical and visionary qualities. They are firmly grounded in the sciences and have confidence in science as a means of solving problems and building a better tomorrow.
It’s an exciting time for our budding engineers. Never have there been more diverse employment opportunities, and never has there been more opportunity for studying such a broad range of engineering disciplines. Certainly, two of the best places for study are Penn State and the University of Maryland, institutions that are taking some of our “best and brightest” and preparing them to meet the technological challenges of our society.