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Top 15 Engineering Schools by Salary

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Elizabeth M
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A few surprises
Elizabeth M   5/19/2014 6:30:59 AM
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This is a really interesting list, with some schools on there that I didn't even know about. It's no surprise MIT tops the list, but it was interesting to see the salaries and potential for some of the more specialized colleges. This is great information for kids thinking of engineering careers and looking to pick a solid university for their studies.

engineerBob
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Re: A few surprises
engineerBob   6/5/2014 11:29:45 AM
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I never heard of Harvey Mudd, except as the creator of android women on an old Star Trek episode: that was an incentive for a teenage boy to become an engineer!

Greg Goodknight
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Re: A few surprises
Greg Goodknight   9/15/2014 8:55:44 PM
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That was Harry (aka Harcourt Fenton) Mudd, not Harvey, in the classic "Mudd's Women" Star Trek episode.

Debera Harward
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Re: A few surprises
Debera Harward   6/8/2014 4:40:28 AM
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Ekizebeth, I totally agree with you that this information will be very helpfull for students chossing which university to enter . It will also help them calculate the returns they expect to get back on the amount invested in University . 

Elizabeth M
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Re: A few surprises
Elizabeth M   6/9/2014 4:47:12 AM
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Yes, you're right, Debera, so hopefully the information is accurate so the best and the brightest can make the best decisions about their future.

Greg Goodknight
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Re: A few surprises
Greg Goodknight   9/6/2014 6:28:40 PM
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Mudd isn't "more specialized". When I graduated in physics mumble years ago, while everyone took a major in math, physics, chemistry or engineering (a quantitatively oriented biology has since been added), everyone took the same classes for 3 semesters and many still overlapped in the fourth, with specialization only really starting in the 3rd year. Yes, that meant kids expecting to speclalize in pure math would take physical  chemistry and introduction to systems engineering with the chemists and engineers. No grade inflation either... the most common grade in any class at Mudd was (and apparently remains) something like a C+. What you get are graduates in one major field knowing the basic vocabulary of all the others.


And unlike CalTech which has a similar immersion for the school's foci,  everyone has to take a minor course of study in a humanity.

Greg Goodknight
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Re: A few surprises
Greg Goodknight   9/16/2014 3:41:25 PM
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"It's no surprise MIT tops the list"

 

It should be noted that Harvey Mudd topped the mid-career salary list, followed by Caltech.

Arden Dulou
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something else to factor in
Arden Dulou   5/19/2014 9:06:21 AM
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Most companies pay based on the cost of living of your area. So if the graduates mostly stay on the east and west coast, of course they will be paid more. It just so freaking much to live there, you have to pay more. I can earn more in more rural America doing ME work and have more in savings than any of those you listed because my cost of living is 1/4 to 1/3 of those areas...
Not saying your stats are bad but they don't take into account where the jobs are. Now, you can run the numbers and compare salraies per college in the same regions, and that is more fair to publish for those seeking to move.

richnass
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Re: something else to factor in
richnass   5/19/2014 9:51:19 AM
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Hmm. Can I question the data? I'd liked to see exactly how the information was attained. I don't doubt that MIT should top the list, but there's a bunch of others that I would expect to see on the list. And there were more than a few that I never heard of. Maybe someone from Payscale.com could respond?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: something else to factor in
Rob Spiegel   5/19/2014 10:31:37 AM
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It's worth looking into, Rich. I'll let everyone know what I discover.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: something else to factor in
Rob Spiegel   5/19/2014 10:51:37 AM
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Rich, PayScale explains its methodology on this page: http://www.payscale.com/about/methodology

Basically, they're managing incoming surveys of pay data. They do explain the validation process:

"Each completed survey is run through a data-cleaning algorithm. Additionally, our crack team of data scientists analyzes the data to identify potential biases and outliers."

So, while PayScale stands by its data, the company does not conduct comprehensive and systematic outreach to job holders.

Interestingly, PayScale's client base consists of universities and colleges that want data about their graduates' salaries. So presumably, PayScale is generally doing a better job of tracking alumni salaries than the universities and colleges themselves.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: something else to factor in
Rob Spiegel   5/19/2014 11:02:37 AM
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Interestingly, PayScape provides salary data to The New York Times, Time, CNBC, Forbes, Bloomberg, CIO and US News and World Report among many other well known media outlets. 

PayScale seems to be the major source for salary data in the business press.

Of course, that doesn't mean there are not holes in the engineering school salary data -- to use a double negative.

Elizabeth M
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Re: something else to factor in
Elizabeth M   5/20/2014 4:37:19 AM
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Sounds like a pretty reliable source then, Rob! It sounds like maybe pure salary alone, then, isn't really enough to judge the quality of the school. Perhaps there is another reason some of the students coming out of some of these little-known institutions are netting so much after graduation.

Pubudu
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Re: something else to factor in
Pubudu   5/20/2014 12:34:38 PM
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And also Elizabeth definitely the decision makers of the organization will favor the graduates who came from the same institute of the decision makers. 

Bill G
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Surprisingly low starting salaries
Bill G   5/20/2014 1:08:27 PM
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I was surprised how low starting salaries are, especially for high-cost private schools in high-rent regions.  One might have a hard time making loan payments after a CalTech or MIT education, and tough for those BS graduate to even consider graduate school unless they have rich parents.  My son had multiple offers of 70-85K after a UC Berkeley computer science BS several years ago, which is reasonable for the San Francisco area.  He was soon well above that, but still far from a salary that could finance even a small home there.  A salary <$60K would yield almost a poverty lifestyle in NYC.  The Rose-Hulman salaries looked most promising, especially since most grads stayed in the low-cost Mid-west, where one can buy a house for the price of a VCR.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Surprisingly low starting salaries
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/20/2014 4:29:45 PM
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I don't want to come across as confrontational, but if someone can't support themselves as a single person graduating on $58,000, they should re-examine their lifestyle choices.  One might be feeling a little too entitled to the finer things before really earning them.

My son is starting his Doctorate program in Southern California (UCRiverside) and will be living on a paltry $24,000 annual stipend.  That's less than half these starting salaries.

Charles Murray
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Re: Surprisingly low starting salaries
Charles Murray   5/20/2014 5:18:43 PM
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According to the 2012 U.S. Census, JimT, the average annual family income was about $50,000. By that measure, for a young engineer leaving school, these numbers are quite impressive.   

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Surprisingly low starting salaries
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/20/2014 5:38:16 PM
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Exactly.  Very Impressive.  My first salary out of Engineering school in '83 was $17,500.  Twenty years later, I was hiring fresh-outs in 2002 and couldn't believe HR was offering them close to $50,000.  I thought those numbers were staggering, and today's (10 more years later) are crossing the $60's !  A single guy could really live well on that!

benmlee
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Re: Surprisingly low starting salaries
benmlee   5/21/2014 11:48:11 AM
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In 85', my mom bought a house in CA for $175k. Today, that same house would be about $700k with Chinese investors driving up the price. A house cost 4 times as much. Your 83' salary times 4 for now is about right. Gas back then was $1.15. Now is $4.20. Again, close to 4 times. Lunch at work use to be $3 in the 90's. Now is $7. With a drink is $9.

 

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Surprisingly low starting salaries
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   5/22/2014 3:54:43 PM
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If you follow a sliding scale of everything 4x, you're right.  But much to our collective chagrin, salaries have never paralleled inflation. Altho' according to these top 15 universities, they pretty-much do! Pity the non-engineers at lesser schools to get the big salaries ,,,,,

On another note, I had expected the So.CA housing marketing to be staggering for my son (to your point, of ~$700k) but the housing crash of '08 has hit the area, and he is looking at 3 bedroom ranches in the $150's.  I was very (happily) surprised, for his opportunity !

Elizabeth M
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Re: something else to factor in
Elizabeth M   5/21/2014 6:22:26 AM
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That's a good point, Pubudu. So there are likely a variety of factors affecting salaries, and what school's graduates do well. Still, I think some of the names on this list are surprising.

Elizabeth M
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Re: something else to factor in
Elizabeth M   5/20/2014 4:35:20 AM
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Good point, Rich. I noted my surprise at some of the schools in my previous comment--schools I didn't even recognize. But as you note there are a lot of other institutions that could be on here, but aren't. Would be interesting to find out more about the data, too.

Dave Palmer
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Re: something else to factor in
Dave Palmer   5/19/2014 12:05:23 PM
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@Arden Dulou: I was going to make the same point.  As Design News salary surveys have repeatedly shown, there is a big regional variation in engineering salaries across the U.S., which tracks (more or less) with cost of living.

Montana Tech probably made the list because of the oil and gas boom in neighboring North Dakota; then again, I've read that you can make $11 an hour and get a $300 signing bonus just to work at McDonalds in North Dakota these days.  Not coincidentally, North Dakota also has among the highest housing and food costs in the nation.  After the boom ends, North Dakota will probably go back to being just another rural Western-Midwestern state.

One thing I didn't see in the article is a discussion of tuition costs.  I think Montana Tech and Missouri S&T (a.k.a. Rolla) are the best values on the list, at least for in-state residents.  For many of the private schools on the list, the starting salary is about equal to one year's tuition.  That doesn't sound like such a great deal, unless you have a good scholarship.

I don't agree with the mindset of approaching college purely as an investment decision, but since we live in a market economy, it would be unwise to ignore economic realities.  A high starting salary can easily be offset by high student loan debt, high cost of living, etc.  I certainly hope no students make decisions about where to go to school based on lists like this.

naperlou
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Re: something else to factor in
naperlou   5/19/2014 1:52:32 PM
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Arden, that is a very good point.  I was thinking the same thing as I went through the slideshow.  Frankly, I am on my second and last looking at engineering/computer science schools.  The final decision has been made.  It was not one of these, but we looked at several of them and visited a number of them. 

Cost of living considerations have always been important.  I had a professor at Villanova many years ago who got a job in New York City toward the end of the semester.  He went from a large townhouse to an apartment on a much higher salary.  Sometimes the differences can be striking.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: something else to factor in
Cabe Atwell   5/20/2014 3:19:49 AM
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I agree with the 'cost of living' sentiment, however I wonder if those numbers would change based on the number of graduates each school has for their engineering courses.

CDaeda
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School versus Jobs
CDaeda   5/19/2014 11:20:57 AM
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The jobs available to school engineering grads depends on location and the available local industries near a particular school not so much the quality of the college academics itself. Location is the most important factor for salary not education quality. MIT is over rated.

velcro
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Re: School versus Jobs
velcro   5/20/2014 9:58:54 AM
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I agree, the location of your first job will have a large effect on your salary.  If a school is in a location where salaries are high, and graduates stay in the area, then the school will have an advantage. But if you read the paragraph on MIT, you would see that 3/4 of their graduates leave Massachusetts.  Your basis for calling MIT overrated is not really valid.

pelengr17
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Re: School versus Jobs
pelengr17   5/20/2014 10:16:42 AM
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It also said that most MIT grads go to the west coast and work for companies like Google and Microsoft, reinforcing the location and first job arguements, which I agree with.

velcro
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Re: School versus Jobs
velcro   5/20/2014 10:22:11 AM
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So what we are saying is that higher paying jobs are higher paying largely because of location.  If graduates of a school have an advantage in getting local jobs, and those jobs pay more because of that location, then this study is biased in favor of that school.

My point is, MIT does not fit that category - graduates have no location advantage if they are working for Google or Apple.  If every Stanford graduate worked for Google and Apple, I would say that based on that information Stanford might be overrated.

pelengr17
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Re: School versus Jobs
pelengr17   5/20/2014 10:35:51 AM
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I think there are a few theories being floated around the data of this article.   Location is one of them. 

As for MIT or whoever being over rated or not, is somone else's opinion. I personally don't see anything in this article that tells me any one of these schools is better than the other.

paulvoss
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Re: School versus Jobs
paulvoss   5/20/2014 11:33:07 AM
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When I first started clicking through these schools I was quite sure that I would NOT see my alma mater because it is a somewhat obscure school.  Much to my surprise The Colorado School orf Mines placed 4th.  It kind of debunks the school location idea.  I know from years in IT that the average pay scale in Colorado stinks.

Pubudu
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Re: School versus Jobs
Pubudu   5/20/2014 12:15:16 PM
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True CDaeda I also do agree with your point of view, location is important as well as the applicability of the knowledge is also important in performing the job tasks.

Charles Murray
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Definition of an engineering school
Charles Murray   5/19/2014 12:28:55 PM
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As I look through this, I presume that the only schools shown in this list are the ones that can be easily identified as engineering schools, and not as major universities. By that I mean that we don't see Purdue, Penn State, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, Southern Cal, Northwestern, Stanford and many other universities in which engineering is a just small portion of the overall enrollment. Rob, is that the case? Would it have been possible to break out, for example, the engineering population at Purdue and find out what their average salaries were?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Definition of an engineering school
Rob Spiegel   5/19/2014 12:46:06 PM
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That's a great line of questioning, Chuck. I was surprised to not see U of Mich. or Stanford, since they are both top engineering schools that are near industries that employ engineers by the thousands. I'll be talking with PayScale, so I'll ask whether the survey just looked at engineering schools rather than schools with engineering "departments." I would think the engineering departments at Michigan and Stanford are larger than many -- if not most -- engineering schools.

BRedmond
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Re: Definition of an engineering school
BRedmond   5/20/2014 9:46:18 AM
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Good observation, Charles.

I also noted that the buildings selected for the photos are likely the campuses' iconic buildings and architectural award winners but not necessarily connected to engineering.  I know from an article in another engineering journal that the building shown for RPI is a performing arts center (way cool just the same).  The photo selected for Rose-Hulman looks like a chapel.

johnr
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Re: Definition of an engineering school
johnr   5/28/2014 6:48:24 PM
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Not in all cases.  For my school (Georgia Tech) the picture is ... well, I'm not sure where that picture was taken.  Probably somewhere in the northern part of the campus where a bunch of new buildings have been put up, long, long after I graduated.  If they'd wanted to use an iconic (and more appropriate picture) they would have used a photo of the Tech tower.  The picture they did use looks like some generic high-tech office park.

dbull
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Re: Definition of an engineering school
dbull   9/6/2014 9:31:22 AM
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I did not attend Purdue but in the midwest it is most definitely thought of as an engineering school.

Measurementblues
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WPI at #6
Measurementblues   5/20/2014 9:07:09 AM
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WPI graduates also end up as editors!

Last week, WPI received a gift of $40 million, largest in school history.

We still think we're better than that engineering school in Cambridge.

J. Williams
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Re: WPI at #6
J. Williams   5/20/2014 11:33:54 AM
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We have three alum here (2x '84, 1x '85) in our one little division of a certain major defense contractor in Maryland so Whoopee Tech folks don't always stay in the Boston area.  I do think that salaries for various schools may be skewed by where the students home was (near school) then got jobs locally to stay near family. 

rickgtoc
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Re: WPI at #6
rickgtoc   5/20/2014 12:06:18 PM
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As a graduate of the "North Avenue Trade School" located in downtown Atlanta, I have to note that we used to have T-shirts for sale imprinted, "MIT - The Georgia Tech of the North."  Go, Jackets!

 

Charles Murray
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Re: WPI at #6
Charles Murray   5/20/2014 5:40:06 PM
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Even though I didn't go to Georgia Tech, I like that T-shirt, rickgtoc. For years, I've heard schools call themselves "the Harvard of the West," and "the Harvard of the South," and "the Harvard of the Midwest," etc, etc, etc. Yours is better...and deserving. Georgia Tech's a great school.

johnr
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Re: WPI at #6
johnr   5/28/2014 6:50:45 PM
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Ha!  I used to have one of those shirts.  A woman came up to me in the grocery store after seeing my shirt and began carrying on about what a wonderful school MIT was.  I didn't have the heart to tell her she'd missed the whole point of the shirt!

WTGW?  THWG!

a2
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Re: WPI at #6
a2   5/28/2014 11:09:17 PM
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@johnr: Well that's  a good one . Maybe she was a dropout of MIT

bdcst
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Re: WPI at #6
bdcst   5/20/2014 12:49:03 PM
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WPI graduates also become game software developers like my son-in-law to be on June 1st when he weds my daughter.  Prior to meeting him I didn't think much of WPI, mostly due to its location in a rusting old New England industrial city.

I was surprised that RPI in Troy NY didn't do as well.  Also, how about engineering graduates from liberal arts colleges and universities?  I'd think a couple of the big named schools would provide very good sendoffs to newly minted engineers.

Uncreative
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How about sorted by employment %
Uncreative   5/20/2014 12:47:40 PM
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Nice but.... I think an even more important metric is what is the total employment in terms of percentage for these recent graduates. Salaries matter little if employment numbers are low and thereby could deem these figures next to wortheless.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: How about sorted by employment %
Rob Spiegel   5/20/2014 1:04:14 PM
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Great point, Uncreative. I wonder if it would be possible to get those numbers. Unless a school has a very good record with graduate placements, I don't think it would release that data.

Pubudu
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Re: How about sorted by employment %
Pubudu   5/21/2014 12:39:52 PM
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Yes Uncreative and also combination of the percentage of employment and salary will give a better understanding. 

LED MAC
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Where is Purdue?
LED MAC   5/21/2014 6:24:21 PM
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I'm suprised that Purdue University is not included in the list....perhaps the Boilermakers, despite being perennially listed in the top 10 ranked engineering schools, are producing more philanthropic engineers willing to improve society for less? Or, perhaps Purdue needs to include also some salary negotiation guidance to new grads! More likely, I think, is that Purdue graduates are too busy with their engineering work to respond to such frivolous surveys!   ;)

Charles Murray
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No big surprises
Charles Murray   5/20/2014 3:12:19 PM
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For me, the only real surprise was Montana Tech, but as readers have pointed out, there's a strong geographiocal factor there. Harvey Mudd and Rose-Hulman, while not well known, are repeatedly at the top of U.S. News & Reports' best engineering schools list, usually as the top two in the "highest degree is a bachelor's or master's" category. And MIT and Cal Tech are always at the top of the category called, "highest degree is a doctorate."

Tim
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Guidance Counselors
Tim   5/20/2014 9:24:10 PM
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This is the data that high school guidance counselors need to show their graduating seniors. You seem to hear alot about how hard an engineering degree is versus a liberal arts degree and that seems to push away some potential candidates. Perhaps seeing the potential pot of gold would help to motivate some into the harder path.

William K.
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Are they really telling the truth?????
William K.   6/7/2014 7:38:06 PM
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Amazing high salaries are claimed. But what else would the school possibly say if they want to attract engineering students. 

But it seems to me that there is a bit of inflation going on. Of course, in other parts of the country not so depressed as the greater detroit area incomes may be a bit higher. But just like all of those salary surveys, if the resulkts are truthful than I am depressed. 

I would suggest only accepting claimes backed up with a copy of a 1099 form.

dbull
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I would think...
dbull   9/6/2014 9:24:09 AM
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that a smart person would be more interested in mid-career salaries, adjusted by geographical standard of living pay differences, if they were interested in pay at all. In fact the last person I would want to hire is someone picking a school by the amount of money they could expect to make immediately after graduation. And I mean the absolute last. Though I would personally expect that statistically those would be the first to drop out. Is anyone aware of a list that has adjusted salaries of engineers at mid-career? 

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