From MIT and Harvard to Stanford and Cal Tech. From Cornell and Princeton to UCLA and the University of Texas… and points in between. What are the nation’s best schools for mechanical engineering? And more importantly, which one is the best for you?

Looking at the realm of choices from a Philly perspective, our own University of Pennsylvania and Penn State are among those ranked highest on a consistent basis by sources including US News and World Report.

Here’s a snapshot of these schools and three other top-ranked programs:

History & Ivy League Excellence

Love Philadelphia and its history? You can attend one of the nation’s top ME schools right here in town. The University of Pennsylvania, a.k.a. Penn, was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740 and is one of the nine original Colonial Colleges. Penn offers:

  • An undergraduate ME curriculum that has been revamped over the last several years to give students the hands-on, real world labor work they need, in addition to cutting-edge theoretical knowledge.
  • A graduate program that features an in-depth approach centering on biophysics, the mechanics of mechanicals, fluid mechanics, design, manufacturing, robotics, thermal sciences, and energy conversion.

Nittany Lion Pride

One hundred and fifteen years younger than the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, a.k.a. Penn State, is a major public research institution with campuses statewide. It has its own hometown: State College, PA. Look to Penn State for:

  • A mechanical engineering program that performs state-of-the-art research in areas including energy, combustion, homeland security, biomedical devices and future transportation systems. Some of the world’s top faculty work there, offering students the opportunity to be part of groundbreaking developments.

Penn State ME alumni have gone on to excel at top facilities including Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos Lab, as well as leading academic positions.

Top ME Programs Outside Pennsylvania

Yes, there are 49 other states. Top-notch ME schools exist in a number of them and not surprisingly, two of them are in the land of silicon, California. Along with Cambridge, MA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University and California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) regularly are ranked as top ME programs.

  • The objective of the undergraduate ME program at Cal Tech is to produce alumni who will attain careers and/or higher education. Cal’s graduate program is small, highly-selective and research oriented. Admission is preferentially granted to those who ultimately intend to pursue a Ph.D. degree.
  • Stanford University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has as its core mission addressing the most pressing needs of human society, with emphasis on energy, transportation and health. Much of Stanford’s ME research is multidisciplinary, as faculty and students regularly interact with colleagues in engineering, medicine, art, mathematics and biology.
  • Heading back to “the colonies,” MIT was founded in 1861 and its ME program is nearly as old and well established, tracing back to the end of the Civil War. Today, MIT’s mechanical engineering programs center on mass, motion, forces, energy, design and manufacturing. Research is geared toward mechanics, product design, nanoengineering, ocean engineering, control, robotics and bioengineering.

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