A steady supply of engineers is very important to a nation trying to climb out of economic crisis. With a need to revamp infrastructure (mentioned by both 2012 presidential candidates), there will always be a demand for skilled engineers looking to create new technology or improve on existing technology — in both the United States and abroad. Whether you have a love of bridges, spent your youth playing with Legos and K’Nex, or just have fun with science and math, engineering may be for you.
Are you thinking about a career in engineering, but you’re not sure you want an engineering school or technological institute? Fortunately, there are plenty of liberal arts colleges with great engineering programs! Everyone has heard of the top engineering programs at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT or Caltech (to name a few), but did you know that you can get a balanced education at Bucknell University or Union College and still graduate with a highly competitive engineering degree?
Engineering-only programs lay out specialized curricula that challenge students’ math, science and technological skills, but often with much less emphasis, and much less time, devoted to the liberal arts and electives. Some top engineering universities (think Cornell) lay out liberal arts requirements for its engineering students, but the focus is still on engineering. If you are looking for a balance with liberal arts in a small college with a focus on undergraduates and teaching, engineering at a liberal arts college may be a better choice for you.
Colleges like Lafayette College, Swarthmore College, Smith College and Trinity College offer great flexibility for their engineering majors. Be prepared to exercise your math and science skills throughout college, but realize that you will have an opportunity to study languages, the arts and social sciences as well.
Even at liberal arts colleges, prospective engineering majors will most be held to a high standard of admissions requirements with regard to math and science courses and (if relevant) experience. Be sure to challenge yourself with math and science AP or IB classes, SAT Subject Tests and aim for high scores on the SAT Math section or the ACT Math and Science sections.
The world will always need skilled engineers to lead construction projects and move technology forward. Whether you study engineering at a research university or liberal arts college, you will have a job as an engineer waiting on the other side!