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  1. #1
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    College?! Uh-oh!

    Fellow Mountain Bikers,

    As a junior in high school, I have begun to think about college. I should have probably started this earlier and heeded otherís warnings as a freshman but alas, my bashful and young 14 year-old self thought ďCollege?! Thatís eons away!Ē But here I am, halfway through junior year and Iíve only begun to start researching colleges.

    I started really getting into mountain biking back in March of this year when I finally saved up enough money to purchase my first real bike; a brand new 2012 Specialized Hardrock 29er. It has been my baby ever since that fateful day of March 6th. Weíve been through a lot together. We have traveled upwards of four hours away to ride Santos in Ocala, Florida. That may not sound like a lot to you all but for me, it was a great trip. Iíve had many crashes, bruises, but luckily no broken bones (knock on wood.) Weíve met some friends along the way and Iíve even gotten my best friend of 11 years to join me on most of our endeavors. Weíve even toyed with the idea of doing a long bikepacking trip, maybe on the Colorado Trail. Now that I have my license, I go biking any time I can. Needless to say, Iím in love. But I know this is only the beginningÖ

    Now mountain biking is not my only passion. I love to play tennis and Iíve been playing ever since I was about 3. Iíd absolutely treasure being to be able to play tennis for college. It, like mountain biking, takes my mind off the busy world spinning around me.

    I understand that you guys may not be the best group of people to be asking about colleges. However, I figured I could get some valuable suggestions out of you all. Iím not expecting you to go off on a wild goose chase trying to satisfy my conditions, thatís for me to do. Iím just wondering if you know of any colleges off the top of your head.

    My dad said that there are three things to consider when looking for colleges: quality of education, cost, and enjoyment. With that in mind this is what Iím looking for in my college experience.

    1. I want to go into some kind of engineering, namely mechanical or aerospace.
    2. This school, if costly, must be willing to provide scholarship based on merit.
    3. It must have a decent tennis program. Iíd really appreciate playing tennis in college.
    4. Location relative to home is not super important.
    (now this is where you guys come in)
    5. I want riding that can be done for a majority of the year. I'd appreciate a short trail nearby that I can ride to but there has to be a larger network of trails within a short car ride.

    I know that there may not be a school that satisfies all these conditions but Iíd appreciate any and all input.

    Thanks in advance,
    Reed.
    Last edited by reedfe; 12-09-2012 at 05:22 AM.

  2. #2
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    Well I have one option that you may consider! However is far from your current location and really only meets 4 of your criteria.
    Check out Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ:

    1. They have an engineering program that does include Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental based programs (also Forestry)

    2. They do from my past (4 years) experience have a respectable tennis program and have known people to be on scholarship with the team (ex-girlfriend).

    3. See #2

    4.The school itself is what I would consider medium sized. Campus is 1 mile x 0.5 miles.

    5. This is where I'm going to lose you. The region does have a winter season, unlike most parts of AZ. (riding season is late April- early November) But, the town has great variety of trails and numerous places to go ride. additionally the school has a Mountain Biking Club that travels to some surrounding states for competitions.

    I have been a student at NAU for 4 of the last 6 years and spent 2 years living in Flagstaff attending school in the Mechanical Engineering program. I loved it, but decided to change majors to Criminal Justice. I'm sure there are many other places that will fit your criteria, but this is one you may consider.

  3. #3
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    Take a look at Clemson.

  4. #4
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    Wanting a school with real mechanical and aerospace engineering programs is going to narrow things down some. So is a school with scholarship money for sports. Pretty much all of them will have merit money. Check out abet.org for a list of schools with current accreditation in engineering. Note that engineering is not the same as "engineering technology." One of them has pretty heavy requirements in basic sciences and in the other you'll get course credit for learning to use a lathe. Not that everyone shouldn't know how to use a lathe, but it tells you something about the program's emphasis.

    So, if you look at the list of schools that are all of ABET accredited in real engineering, compete in Division I or II, and have tennis as a scholarship sport, you're probably going to be looking at a pretty manageable set.

    Some other stuff to think about is whether you want to be close to home or to make it a pain for your parents to show up at random, and how close to places where new technology is emerging the University is located. It's helpful to go to a school closer to a place where you'd like to live, on purpose, although if you're good at engineering, recruiters from all over the country do the job fair circuit at programs they take seriously.

    I'm at UW right now. I like the engineering program and I believe UW is D1, although I don't know if they do tennis, but it's a big school in a crappy neighborhood and it takes on the order of forty minutes by car to get to the nearest MTB. On the other hand, Seattle's a great place to be for aerospace and there's a bunch of other device companies and a mini-biotech thing going on here.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    What's your definition of middle size? Where I am now is considered a "regional" state school, and the price of a credit hour here is MUCH lower than elsewhere. but opportunities in certain fields are limited....like engineering (we have nothing). you might want to rethink that criterion.

    since you have a pretty specific program interest, you should start your search there. IME, from my own undergrad search, state schools have HEAVY requirements for merit-based scholarship money, so you'd better have really good grades and test scores (I had the grades, but my test scores were lower than minimum requirements at most state schools). if I had gone to a state school, even in the state where I went to high school (in-state tuition), it would have cost me more than the out-of-state private college I wound up attending, because that private college threw a TON of money my way (they did not have the hard standardized test score minimum criteria that the state schools had). I had almost a full tuition free ride between scholarship and grant money (half tuition scholarship plus slightly less in grant money).

    do you really fancy yourself as being THAT good at tennis that you'd qualify for any kind of athletic scholarship? those things are tough to come by for athletes. being good enough to be a walk-on is a totally different thing, and IME, would be more likely to be more fun.

    finding a school with a complex network of mtb trails less than 10mi away that are year-round is going to be harsh. that many trails that close to a big university will be tough to find. add in year round access, and you eliminate a lot of mountainous areas. you're going to have to be more flexible here. expand your radius. say, have some shorter trails available close but the expansive networks less than an hour away is not a terribly unreasonable way to go about it. the year round question is also relative. most places will have certain times of year that riding is not the best idea for different reasons. For me in TX, that time of year is the middle of summer when it's 100+ for months and very dry, so the trails get super loose and the heat just makes it less fun. where I'm headed to Indiana, the summer is less nasty, but winter riding needs to be done when temps are below freezing (meaning early morning and late night rides) and spring riding can be hit or miss early because of a lot of rain. if you get a dry spell, or you can find some rockier trails that hold up to moisture better, then you can ride year round. you just have to adapt to whatever conditions are available. my campus now has about 6mi of trails right on campus, and it's a great resource. that sort of thing is not terribly uncommon, so I'd recommend loosening your distance/quality criteria some.

  6. #6
    Gears... I hate gears
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    Thanks for the advice. I've loosened some criteria in the original post but Engineering is set in stone. It's the only academic thing that I've actually enjoyed.

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    There's always ASU. Engineering is offered for a whole bunch of disciplines. If you're more hands-on, there's always the Manufacturing Engineering department on the East campus which teaches manufacturing, automation, cad/cam design, FEA analysis, etc.

    Because Phoenix is heavily into supporting Aerospace industries (Boeing/MD builds the Apache here, and there's also Honeywell, Sundstrand, GD, Lockheed, and several others) the program has a strong leaning towards aerospace, including composites engineering (couple of the Boeing engineers teach as adjunct in the manufacturing program). I've been through the graduate manufacturing program there and I can tell you, first hand, that it's a good place for engineering.

    It's by far not a "medum sized" school - it's one of the largest colleges in the country... that does mean more hot undergrads....

    -S

    BSc Mech Eng.
    BSc Elect Eng.
    BSc Comp Sci.
    MSc Mech/Manufacturing Eng.

    (yeah I collect engineering degrees LOL)

  8. #8
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    Look into Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA. The engineering program is solid, the year round weather is phenomenal and the local riding is superb. Not so sure about tennis, though. I grew up in the area and now that I'm a college teacher, I may just go back. The local trail stewards are mountainbike friendly and more trails are always being built.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by shibiwan View Post
    There's always ASU. Engineering is offered for a whole bunch of disciplines. If you're more hands-on, there's always the Manufacturing Engineering department on the East campus which teaches manufacturing, automation, cad/cam design, FEA analysis, etc.

    Because Phoenix is heavily into supporting Aerospace industries (Boeing/MD builds the Apache here, and there's also Honeywell, Sundstrand, GD, Lockheed, and several others) the program has a strong leaning towards aerospace, including composites engineering (couple of the Boeing engineers teach as adjunct in the manufacturing program). I've been through the graduate manufacturing program there and I can tell you, first hand, that it's a good place for engineering.

    It's by far not a "medum sized" school - it's one of the largest colleges in the country... that does mean more hot undergrads....

    -S

    BSc Mech Eng.
    BSc Elect Eng.
    BSc Comp Sci.
    MSc Mech/Manufacturing Eng.

    (yeah I collect engineering degrees LOL)
    +1
    This is what I was going to say as well.
    Having lived in the Valley of the Sun for 20+ years, I can't think of a better place to enjoy outdoor activities nearly year round!

    ASU is a great campus and a great school. But like stated above, it is by no means medium sized, in fact ASU may have the largest enrollment of state universities in the country with somewhere in 60k range.

    https://asunews.asu.edu/20110913_usnews
    This article states that ASU is ranked 42 in engineering for schools where the highest degree is doctorate...not bad!

    Good luck with your search!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    Thanks for the advice. I've loosened some criteria in the original post but Engineering is set in stone. It's the only academic thing that I've actually enjoyed.
    Good work prioritizing. The education should come first, the hobbies second. You have a lifetime to play tennis and ride your mountain bike. You have four years to earn the degree that will determine your life course.

    D1 and D2 schools are wicked competitive in sports. You have to be the best of the best, so if you are not consistently winning your high school matches you probably don't have a chance. Not to discourage you! Start talking to college coaches to get an idea of your recruitment potential. Don't discount recreational league/interscholastic league tennis (though of course there would be no scholarship money for it).

    You have plenty of time. It sounds like you are doing a great job of sorting out your options and desires.
    Duchess of Dab

  11. #11
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    Back in the late 2000's when i returned to college. Mechanical Engineering was starting to be to general. Employeers where starting to want more specific Engineers, such a Elect, Civil. etc.....

    Well, I'm returning back to school yet again this spring and from what I have gathered in research. Mech. Eng is rather broad. It appears you need to be in the top 2% of your class to land a really good job. Meet many people with a Bach. of Mech. Eng. degree that are doing AutoCAD drafting work for 15$ hour with $60K in student loans. You can get a certificate or Assoc. degree at a community college much cheaper for drafting.

    My point is. You might consider researching Engineering and consider something more specific then just Mech.

    It's great that you are starting to research college. It's an excellent experience. The best advice I can give you is. Study something you are passionate about. Don't do it for the potential money you might be able to make in the future.

    Oh yeah, eat your veggies and listen to your parents.

  12. #12
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    Some of the people I was doing undergrad prereqs with are having trouble finding work. On the other hand, most of the people I did a lot of classes with (Mechatronics emphasis) had jobs lined up before they finished.

    Last summer's internship was paid. I've been landing on-campus interviews this Fall, and have already had a serious interview for a little company (knock on wood) and have a phone interview set up next week. It all feels pretty promising.

    I'm figuring out that getting the "real" engineering job does take some planning and application, something I wasn't accustomed to in the theatre. But I also wonder what people who are having real trouble are doing, or not doing. All the companies around here are whining about how they can't get enough STEM people, Microsoft is offering to pay ten times as much for H1B visas to import them, etc.

    To some degree, BS and STEM degrees are more interchangeable than it sometimes seems at the outset - all of them require similar basic sciences and math prereqs and at most institutions they all require a student to learn to program computers to at least some basic level of understanding. So even if a professional engineering practice isn't your cup of tea long-term, it's not like you'll be locked in by having that degree, and it's versatile enough to do all kinds of other things. Choose the branch of engineering that seems most interesting and give it your shot. The chips will fall where they may, but it won't be like owing $100000 on an English degree.

    Mechanical engineering is really broad and the default BSME degree is a generalist degree that prepares a person to learn one of the traditional engineering trades. Take a look at the graduation requirements - want to learn about HVAC? Doesn't matter, you're going to. I'd actually rather be in ME than Aero, but then I came in as a grad., got to design my degree program to emphasize what I wanted to. (dynamics and controls, thank you )

    Something that I could have stood to research a little more is EE. I actually really like modeling physical systems and they're a sexier thing to be able to control, but EE is a huge segment of the device industries, so if you're more interested in devices than buildings, it's a good place to be. They also get some pretty wild math that doesn't show up as much in ME. Also - avionics? Usually an EE or ME thing, rather than an AA thing. Weird, but there you go.

    BioE is getting huge. So that's something else to think about. A presenter at a seminar I went to recently was talking about picking a field by choosing one that's growing. Her point was that the medical companies are figuring out they need real engineers and they're having to pull them in from outside their traditional area of expertise, biology, because it's easier for an engineer to learn to model a biological system than for a biologist to learn that kind of systems, statistics, experiment design, etc. And of course, a ton of medical products are devices anyway.

    At the end of the day, I don't think there's really a wrong answer.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    Reed where in FL are you?

    Im on the cusp of finishing my B.S. In Mechanical Engingerring at USF. There are plenty of campus's in FL that have great bachelors programs. Cost of attendance will also be lower in FL as I assume you are a resident.

    Either way check out schools programs, most of it is online. Check out your local univeristy as well.

    CofE | College Of Engineering | University of South Florida

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by akaBrowntown View Post
    Reed where in FL are you?

    Im on the cusp of finishing my B.S. In Mechanical Engingerring at USF. There are plenty of campus's in FL that have great bachelors programs. Cost of attendance will also be lower in FL as I assume you are a resident.

    Either way check out schools programs, most of it is online. Check out your local univeristy as well.

    CofE | College Of Engineering | University of South Florida
    Thanks for the oncoming recommendations and tips for selecting a school. I'm definitely considering USF as my tennis coach has connections there. Plus lower in state tuition. I'm in Palm Beach County by the way.
    Cal Poly also intrigues me. Ultimately, in the spring, I will be visiting some schools to get a better understanding of the atmosphere but first I need to know where to look!
    Keep the suggestions coming. I really appreciate all the help!

  15. #15
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    If you visit USF in the spring shoot me a pm, ill do my best to make time to show you around the campus/M.E. side of things.

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    this sounds silly and off topic, but I'd look into getting a degree in accountancy.

    I just finished up school at Northern Illinois university, and although its not a great school for a lot of things, it happens to have one of the top 10 undergraduate accounting programs in the country.

    Needless to say I'm not a top student, probably just in the top 40%, but before graduation I received 5 job offers for 54k+ a year for various public accounting firms, and one corporate company.
    Three of these jobs I was given an option to start at idk 10-12 different offices around the U.S..

    I don't really love accounting, but contrary to popular belief its only about 30%. Numbers and technical knowledge, and about 70% people skills.

    Average tuition there for accounting is only about 12k a year in state, but they give out a lot of scholarships. Housing is super cheap aswell.

    The biggest problem is, is that for anything but xc. and dj, you're going to need to travel an hour or more, but the way I see it. I put up with limited riding for a few years, take a bunch of trips outwest in the summers with the money I saved for cheapo tuition, and end up with a valuable degree that'll let me take business anywhere.

    Another caveat of this is that to be successful you're going to need to get your CPA, which isn't the easiest to obtain, but it'll more than pay off in the future.

  17. #17
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    University of Nevada, Reno has a great engineering program. It's more suited towards mechanical and chemical engineering, though, which is mostly because of our connections with the mining industry throughout the state.

    I'm not sure about the tennis program, but we do have a D1 cycling team with the school. At collegiate mountain bike nationals, we placed 9th overall, and our team president placed 5th in the omnium. We also won conference! Out of the five divisions (Women's A and B, and Men's A, B, and C), we had a rider win omnium for all but Men's C. So I have no idea how our tennis program is, but we do have a great mountain bike team.

    Unfortunately, we don't have year-round mountain biking because of the snow. We have great trails in the summer/fall, though. Only ~30 minutes driving from Northstar, and during the winter everyone hangs up the bikes and heads out for skiing and snowboarding. Our winters aren't too harsh, but we're only half an hour from Mount Rose and all the other resorts at Truckee/Donner.
    Sometimes, I question the value of my content.

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    I'm at the University of Virginia, started as a Mech-e went to Materials Science and really enjoy it. Check it out, it's a lot of fun and a great school. Also give Virginia Tech a look, lots of friends who go there have need-base scholarships.

  19. #19
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    I'm in the same boat as you dude, exept although I play tennis, my skills are at a minimum.
    I work at a bike shop. Trek, Gt, fuji, DB, etc...

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    Soon to be 2014 trek slash 8

  20. #20
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    Va Tech would be a great choice

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    if you are looking at engineering schools, try UC Berkeley or Cornell. Neither has an aerospace specific program, but offer civil, mechanical, IEOR or ORIE, biomedical, engineering physics, EECS, etc. both are also top ranked, and should offer good recruiting prospects after graduation.

    you may want to spend some time at your local bookstore, and flip through one of those us news and world report education specials, where they have a brief blurb and some stats on most major universities.
    94 Specialized Rockhopper

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    I am probably old enough to be your Dad. I have a Bachelor of Economics degree and have been working in the IT industry for 25 odd years.

    If I had to do it all over again I would have become a dentist or a plumber. Given todays cost of university I would become a plumber. You get to run your own hours, be your own boss, make a very decent wage and if you have to put up with any **** at least you can see where its coming from.

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    Sophomore ME student here...

    Before you commit to engineering, make sure that you actually ENJOY and UNDERSTAND math and physics. I know so many fellow students who did well in math and sciences in high school which made them think they could be engineers only to be dropping out left and right when stuff starts getting serious . Parents and other adults in your life will also probably encourage you to become one too because it is a great career. There is a reason why it is a great career though. The education is difficult and those who graduated need to be well rounded and solve an immense array of problems thrown at them. You name any technical skill out there and I bet there is a slew of engineers out there doing it. Machining, programming, microscopy, experimentation, and anything else you can think of. That is basically a typical day in the life of my job and I'm only an intern... The real engineers I work with are incredibly intelligent people

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by p2rider426 View Post
    Sophomore ME student here...

    Before you commit to engineering, make sure that you actually ENJOY and UNDERSTAND math and physics. I know so many fellow students who did well in math and sciences in high school which made them think they could be engineers only to be dropping out left and right when stuff starts getting serious . Parents and other adults in your life will also probably encourage you to become one too because it is a great career. There is a reason why it is a great career though. The education is difficult and those who graduated need to be well rounded and solve an immense array of problems thrown at them. You name any technical skill out there and I bet there is a slew of engineers out there doing it. Machining, programming, microscopy, experimentation, and anything else you can think of. That is basically a typical day in the life of my job and I'm only an intern... The real engineers I work with are incredibly intelligent people
    Follow this advice, I wish I had! I loved the design and problem solving aspects of engineering, but the math is where I lost interest.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coondog#77 View Post
    Follow this advice, I wish I had! I loved the design and problem solving aspects of engineering, but the math is where I lost interest.
    the math thing has been the toughest part of grad school for me. stats. I've taken 3 different stats classes and I've gotten good grades in those classes, but I never really felt like I understood them well. not the more advanced stuff my research deals with, anyway. basic statistical tests, sure, that's not a problem. but back-transforming logit models and stuff...not quite. it's one reason I'm not taking my education further. I just don't love it.

    so definitely, don't go into a math-heavy field unless you LOVE it.

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    UGA has a lot of what you're describing. The engineering department just broke out of the ag college and probably has a bunch of new stuff. No clue about tennis scholarships, but there's definitely lots of tennis courts around town and on campus. regarding trails, not as good as clemson (hr or so away), but we've got lots of in-town trails and many many more if you drive 45 min to 1.5 hrs and awesome mountains for epic rides only 2.5 hrs to the north.

    plus epic music scene and tons of the hottest girls in the universe.

  27. #27
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    More just general advice from me, I am the 'artistic' geeky type, I have no patience for math!

    Be sure you apply to an array of colleges, don't just set your heart on one! Tour the campuses of your top choices to narrow the field a little. Customize your application letters for EACH of the colleges you apply to. I know plenty of people with 'meh' credentials that blew away the admissions people with their cover letter, and got into better colleges than peers with better grades. There are workshops and classes for them, just like there are some for the SATs and ACTs. Tons of resources online as well. If you are not strong in writing, you may want to consider taking a class or workshop. If you are strong in writing, just be sure you have the letters looked over by some favorite teachers, and get some advice and tips! And, edit, edit, EDIT. Proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. You don't want to get tossed out of the applicant pool because you screw up something stupid and trivial like that.

    When it comes to scholarships, I can guarantee there is money out there for you. There are tons of scholarships for minorities, there are ones for religious groups, military family, ethnic groups, engineering family (if your parents are engineers), alumni, etc. It isn't just sports and academics that will get you money! It was over a decade ago I went through all this (gawd I feel old now...) so I don't remember exactly how I got the run-down on scholarships available. I actually think we were just given flyers with lists of local scholarships, and leads to national ones. I imagine your school has something similar, but your counselor should be able to point you to resources where you can find out what kind of money is out there. Once again, EACH scholarship, even little $500 ones, need customized letters. The letters are even more important here! I swept up a tidy number of little scholarships for high school (went to private) based on my letters. I didn't apply to any for college, because I got a full ride to the local university thanks to a big court settlement with the tobacco industry.

    Which leads me to my next point... don't automatically discredit in-state. First off, the first two years of credits are universal. English 101, math 101, philosophy 101, etc. You can save yourself quite a bit of money (ie, LESS DEBT) by starting off in-state. I was fortunate to have a FULL RIDE available to me if I chose to stay in-state, which I did. A lot of my peers turned their noses up at me for my decision, especially since I was accepted elsewhere. But I didn't want to be paying off student loans for the next 10+ years, and I still wasn't sure what I wanted to study anyways! I found the state university had some really solid programs, ones that people traveled from all over the world for. They are mostly known for their Education, Nursing, Business, and Engineering schools (four strikes for me, not interested in any of those!) but also have solid programs basically everywhere else. I ended up in one of the smallest schools, the Arts, and found it to be filled with passionate, gifted, motivated, and energetic teachers. They make that school what it is. The funding for it blows, as evidenced by it being housed in one of the oldest buildings, small classrooms, and creative use of materials and space available to make things work. The small classrooms ended up being a perk, as it allowed the teachers more time to work with you, and there was always just enough equipment for the few students in each class. Ending up in an understated program can give you just as good of an education as a popular one-- it is all about the teachers! The only thing I regret is not hanging around to get my masters in that school.

    So shop around for schools, and don't overlook local! Tour it, talk to some teachers and admissions people and fellow students, and poke your head in some of the buildings to see the cool stuff they have going on.

  28. #28
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    Oregon State.

    Strong engineering/aerospace, relatively affordable. Good riding around Corvallis, and year-round for the most part if you don't mind wet. Don't know about their tennis program, though.
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  29. #29
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    Hello all, long time lurker here, but I feel I have something to contribute to the discussion. I obtained a BS in ME from Cal Poly Pomona (the ďotherĒ Cal Poly, as the San Luis Obispo school calls us) in the not too distant past. Here are my thoughts in no particular order.

    -My brother is a junior in high school right now, in your circumstance. This is no time to mess around. If you want to look good to a college admissions officer, you need to get as many science classes as you can right now, and do well. Get involved in extracurricular activities like the science club, the math club, and other good stuff to put on your college application. Youíre too young to have a work resume, but that college application is the same thing at your stage of life, and you need to show them youíre serious about your chosen major.

    -When applying to colleges, donít forget to have a fall back school, one that you know youíll qualify for. This is actually harder than it appears, because you want one thatís on the lower ranks, but still has a robust enough program that can set you on a stable carrier to keep advancing. Donít apply only to the cream of the crop. The best outcome is you get accepted into the university you really want. The worst is you get rejected by all your choices, but at least you have a safety net to fall on.

    -Do some soul searching and find out why you want to be an engineer. Are you fascinated by why things work, and how they do what they do? Do you like looking under the hood, or do you care more about what the exterior looks likes? Being good in math helps, but itís not a sure indicator of engineering aptitude. The weird thing when describing an undergraduate level engineering program to people is they are surprised by how little advanced math is used in solving 90% of classroom engineering problems. All you need is a solid foundation in algebra, trigonometry, and linear algebra. The other 10% will be calculus level math, and most of that will be differential equations. The real challenge of engineering is to understand how the math is used to model the physical phenomenon. This is the part that separates engineers from mathematicians. And donít be discouraged if you find some subjects easier than others. Everyone has strong and weak subjects. Personally, I never got on well with fluid dynamics.

    That's all I have now. I'm sure more will come to me.

    Sorry for the lengthy first post!

  30. #30
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    Sorry I haven't gotten around to replying to all of your posts but I'm definitely absorbing all the information and suggestions thrown at me. Some of it I already knew but some of it is new and welcome advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zuarte View Post
    Do some soul searching and find out why you want to be an engineer. Are you fascinated by why things work, and how they do what they do? Do you like looking under the hood, or do you care more about what the exterior looks likes? Being good in math helps, but itís not a sure indicator of engineering aptitude. The weird thing when describing an undergraduate level engineering program to people is they are surprised by how little advanced math is used in solving 90% of classroom engineering problems. All you need is a solid foundation in algebra, trigonometry, and linear algebra. The other 10% will be calculus level math, and most of that will be differential equations. The real challenge of engineering is to understand how the math is used to model the physical phenomenon. This is the part that separates engineers from mathematicians. And donít be discouraged if you find some subjects easier than others. Everyone has strong and weak subjects. Personally, I never got on well with fluid dynamics.
    I mostly want to be an engineer because I love taking apart things and figuring out how they work then putting them back together. Its great to here that some subjects come easier than others cause my parents expect me to be perfect when in reality, history is weak for me. I really liked my physics class that I'm taking up until we got into fluids. All the newton and projectiles before was really fun. Math I only look at as a tool. What I learn in my calc class the day before I can sometimes apply to my physics class and that always feels good. Before, math came easy but just felt useless. Now I know I can actually use it. I'm not sure if my point is coming across but it's hard to put into words exactly what I like about engineering.

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    Something I didn't realize about engineering until I was midway into it is that, at least as an academic subject, it's rarely concerned with whole devices. It also tends to be quite abstract.

    If you like to get your hands dirty, take a look at Manufacturing Engineering. There are many manufacturing engineering jobs for each design engineering job, and manufacturing engineers seem to have much more varied days. I had a lot of fun pretending to be one last summer.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If you like to get your hands dirty, take a look at Manufacturing Engineering. There are many manufacturing engineering jobs for each design engineering job, and manufacturing engineers seem to have much more varied days. I had a lot of fun pretending to be one last summer.
    I like to get my hands dirty AND think of new ways to build things/draw up concepts. I was going to write that in my original post but couldn't figure out a way to word it effectively. Evidently, I still cannot.

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    Well, I might as well add to this considering I'm in the same boat.

    I'm also a high school junior and starting to consider colleges and this thread was really helpful for me. Another college you might consider is Penn State (I might be a little biased considering I live close by.) After the recent "incidents" they got better with the scholarships though I don't know too much about tuition.

    As far as academics go, the engineering school is good (as far as I've heard) and for majors, acoustic, chemical, materials, and mechanical are pretty popular. There are many tennis courts scattered through the town though I have no idea what the college tennis is like.

    For biking, there are two main shops and one bike/hockey shop in town all of which are excellent and the town itself is very bike friendly. There is some very good singletrack about a 10 min ride from the campus. You could go for hours in the area as long as you don't mind roots. Also, there is the Allegrippis trail system about 45 min drive from the town and Tussey/Rothrock about 15 min from town. I guess if you felt like it you could also go about 30 min away to Bald Eagle State Park. All the riding is very nice and I'd be happy to show you around if you came up for a visit.

    Good luck with your search.

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    Consider University of Florida if you're a Florida resident. Strongest engineering program in the state with all disciplines, in-state tuition is a great deal, mountain bike trails all through town, Santos 45 min south, San Felasco trails to the north. Strong D1 sports programs but the life of a D1 student athlete is not particularly compatible with pursuing an engineering degree. There are still tons of sports opportunities through club sports and intramurals.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post

    I mostly want to be an engineer because I love taking apart things and figuring out how they work then putting them back together. Its great to here that some subjects come easier than others cause my parents expect me to be perfect when in reality, history is weak for me. I really liked my physics class that I'm taking up until we got into fluids. All the newton and projectiles before was really fun. Math I only look at as a tool. What I learn in my calc class the day before I can sometimes apply to my physics class and that always feels good. Before, math came easy but just felt useless. Now I know I can actually use it. I'm not sure if my point is coming across but it's hard to put into words exactly what I like about engineering.
    This brings us to one of the hardest parts about predicting how youíll do in engineering. Mechanical engineering will have you go through a bunch of varied subjects. My brother wants to study for mechanical engineering, and I still have a hard time explaining to him what itís like, because thereís nothing to compare it to for someone coming out of high school. Itís good that youíre enjoying physics, as youíll be seeing a lot of that in the subject of kinematics, motion, and electrical. But it really takes getting engrossed into the program before one can assess whether or not theyíd like to keep going. A lot of people donít make it through. In my introductory class to ME, the professor told us to look around the room, and imagine each person on either side of us washing out before graduation.

    One thing I might suggest is go on youtube and search for full length lectures posted on there by universities. I know MIT posts tons of their lectures there. Of course, itís MIT, so the lectures will be taught at an appropriately advanced level. But watch some, and see if you can see yourself learning about this stuff for the next few years. Donít worry if a lot of it doesnít make sense at first, because you havenít been exposed to some of this stuff before. The important thing is to see if you feel excited to understand what youíre seeing, or fearful and overwhelmed.

    Whatís great about engineering is youíll start realizing why certain things are the way they are. Take bikes for example. Why does your air fork have an air valve on only one stanchion, and a damper dial on the other? Because air (or a coil spring) resists compression in a linear fashion with respect to how big a bump you ride over. But itís only concerned with how big the bump is, not how fast you hit it. Itís a first order equation. Thatís where the oil in the other stanchion comes in. It acts as a damper, which reacts to the speed that the fork hits the bump at. The damper is a second order equation. Engineers have calculated what values are best for your fork so that it tracks bumpy terrain with finesse. It's exciting stuff.

  36. #36
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    In addendum to what I just posted about watching MIT lecture videos, search for the following subject matter, preferably as introductory level lectures:

    Kinematics - statics and dynamics, strength of materials, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, control systems, signal analysis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    I mostly want to be an engineer because I love taking apart things and figuring out how they work then putting them back together.
    This is why I started my college in ME, but the reality is it's mostly math.
    In my case engineering calc weeded me out the first year.

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    University of Boulder Colorado. I am a current student here and on the Mtn and Road bike team. We have world class trails that you can ride to and weekly shorttrack races hosted by the University Bike team. On top of that I believe you said you wanted to go into engineering. CU Boulder has a highly regarded engineering department as well. You can also ride most of the year and are not very limited by the seasons. It will snow a few inches but melt off in a few days.

    If you have any questions message me

    Ari Steinberg

  39. #39
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    I hated strength of materials! Still do. Which brings me to where I am now - systems and controls.

    You don't necessarily have to like ALL of it. But you do need to be able to pass all of it, and you should like most of it, at least. Or the two years of discipline-specific classes are going to be pretty long...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I hated strength of materials! Still do. Which brings me to where I am now - systems and controls.

    You don't necessarily have to like ALL of it. But you do need to be able to pass all of it, and you should like most of it, at least. Or the two years of discipline-specific classes are going to be pretty long...
    I actually like strength of materials, and did ok in the single cursory class on block diagraming, PIDís, and Labview. Besides fluids, another one that laid me to waste was instrumentation/calibrations. Just didnít click with me the entire time.

    Another thing that comes to mind for OP...Your first year or so in college will be mostly taken up by introductory classes and general ed classes. Donít blast through these all at once if you can help it. Sprinkle them throughout your engineering degree, so that if youíve got a few super difficult engineering classes in a semester, you still have some easy GEís left to fill out your units quota. Think of actual engineering and math classes as grueling granny gear (dat alliteration) climbs, and GEís as welcome downhill reprieves in any given semester. Use them wisely if you can.

    Also, donít bring your fancy bike at first when you get to school, or any valuables that arenít necessary. Youíll most likely be living with other people, so you need to get a feel for the safety and security of your living quarters first. Some roommates may be absent minded and leave the dorm unlocked all the time. Theft can be a problem in university housing. Other places might not allow you to store your bike with you in your room. If you are allowed to store it in your room, still cable lock it to your bed. If they require you to keep it outside, you better bet it will be a high value target that will disappear one night. I highly recommend a bike for getting around campus, but it may have to be a $50 craigslist beater.

  41. #41
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    I'm going to put in a plug for Virginia Tech (I go there and am an engineer).

    It's a beautiful school, hard not to fall in love with. At the start of my Sophomore year, I went mountain biking with my friends and soon fell in love. In Southwest Virginia, there are plenty of trails to ride and just plenty of outdoors things to do. The one I frequent the most, Pandapas, is about 10 minutes away. Plenty of trails, I've been a dozen times and still find a new trail every times a go. Tech also allows freshman to have cars, so you could easily keep it on campus and go mountain biking whenever you want.

    On to education, what's most important!
    Tech has a great engineering program, on average top 15.
    Scholarships are easy to come by, you just have to look! I am one who has definitely needed scholarships to get through school. The engineering department has several. I know when I applied, I got one or two scholarships based on merit, but now that I'm in engineering, there are so many more opportunities available.

    As for tennis, one of my fraternity brothers plays on the club team and loves it. He was very competitive in high school (top 10 in Georgia) but due to injury and time commitment, wasn't able to do Varsity. I am under the impression that we have a very good program, though.

    I have no doubts that if you visit Virginia Tech, it will be hard to say no. It's something about the school, the experience, the location. I don't know, it's indescribable. Maybe I'm just weird... But it's a great school and for what you're looking for, I'd suggest you check it out.

    Good luck in your search and applications!

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbikeloco View Post
    Look into Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA. The engineering program is solid, the year round weather is phenomenal and the local riding is superb. Not so sure about tennis, though. I grew up in the area and now that I'm a college teacher, I may just go back. The local trail stewards are mountainbike friendly and more trails are always being built.
    I second this.

  43. #43
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    Save your money. Go to a tech college.

  44. #44
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    Sweet, as an aerospace engineer who also plays tennis, I'm glad to hear you're thinking about this!

    I spent quite a bit of time at UCLA (and still do), and can definitely vouch for their aerospace program, it landed me a pretty sweet job. Obviously year round riding with tons of trails nearby. Top level tennis program, but to be honest unless you're being recruited it would be tough to walk onto the team. There is, however, a strong intramural team and also thousands of other students who play regularly.

    I also went to Berkeley. Their engineering program speaks for itself, although they don't have a dedicated aerospace degree designation. I think you can get some sort of "aerospace" concentration though by choosing certain electives.

    I wouldn't get too hung up on choosing exactly the right engineering discipline right away. Things change once you start taking courses since college is really the first time you can sample different fields, so my suggestion would be to take as broad an array of engineering courses as possible. For an undergrad degree, being aerospace or mechanical isn't necessarily a dramatic difference.
    buzzes like a fridge

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattbryant2 View Post
    Save your money. Go to a tech college.
    Some career paths actually do require a 4 year degree. Some require more. Good luck getting one with a 2yr tech college degree.

    Tech college is good for some degrees and some jobs should really require that type of degree instead but i suspect most types of engineers would benefit from the 4yr plan.

  46. #46
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    Colorado State and Colorado Mines both have good mountain biking trails ridaeble from campus almost all year. The closest trails to University of Colorado are not as easily accessible.

    I loved math (calc, physics, etc) in high school and always wanted to be an engineer. Was accepted into the Aerospace Engineering program at Auburn and the Mechanical Engineering program at Colorado State, both with academic scholarships. Elected to attend Colorado State due to the proximity to mountain biking and skiing. A couple of years into my ME program, I lost interest, took a year off and skied 200+ days and then returned to get a degree in marketing. I don't regret my choices.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Some career paths actually do require a 4 year degree. Some require more. Good luck getting one with a 2yr tech college degree.

    Tech college is good for some degrees and some jobs should really require that type of degree instead but i suspect most types of engineers would benefit from the 4yr plan.
    Not sure about every state, but where I am, it takes a BS to qualify for the licensure exam. Companies recruiting for design engineering positions are also only looking for people holding a BS and up.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Check out the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There are 30+ miles of trails within 5 miles of campus. You can ride year round as long as the trails aren't muddy. Pisgah, Big South Fork, Chattanooga, Tanasi, Tsali, are all less than a 2 hour drive away. Cost of living is pretty low here.

    If I were you I would start planning some trips to check out schools. Meet with someone in the Mechanical Engineering department, get a tour of the facilities, see about tennis scholarships etc. Maybe bring your bike and do some riding. Just remember that you're going to school to get an education, so riding, tennis, etc. should come second to that.

  49. #49
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    Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, in Prescott, AZ.

    All the best parts of Flag, but 2 hours closer to the Black Canyon Trail System.

    Best aerospace engineering school in the country (ERAU holds the #1 and #3 spots for undergrad, according to USA Today).

    I may be slightly biased.



    As far as tennis... well... there are three tennis courts on campus. Not sure if there's a team for it. They definitely do offer huge merit scholarships though.

    -Signed, the guy who builds rockets - with a degree in Aerospace and a 'design' job straight out of school.

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    Didn't read so sorry if someone else already posted but Clemson and NC State could be good options. Clemson has the Issaqueena (or however you spell it) trails nearby as well as FATS and some good stuff in Greenville/Spartanburg right up the highway. Could even get up to Western NC on the weekends.

    NC State has several parks nearby and while attending NCSU I regularly rode about 3 or 4 miles of road/greenway to a nice park (Umstead state park) with about 13 miles of fireroad that links up to around 25 miles of trails (Lake Crabtree and surrounding trails). There's some good stuff within an hour or two in almost every direction. Greensboro has the Burr Mill trails, Danville has Angler's Ridge, Greenville, NC has the Bicycle Post trails, and you're only a few hours from Charlotte which has lots of options for riding and a pretty healthy racing scene. Also only a couple hours from Wilkesboro and the Dark Mtn, OVT, and Warrior Creek trails.

    Edit: Not sure about either schools tennis team...

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