Engineering Programs for B Students

Written by CIT Consultant Suzy Fallon

Contrary to popular belief, not every future engineer has a 4.0 and a perfect ACT or SAT score!  We know plenty of college students currently studying engineering who were solid B students in high school.  As a whole, engineering is a competitive major regardless of your high school credentials.  The key for B students (2.7- 3.3 or 80-89) is finding programs looking for you instead of focusing on rankings and the usual well-known options.

Engineering encompasses multiple disciplines such as mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, computer, and other specialty areas such as aerospace, biomedical, environmental, industrial, and more. Below are several schools that offer comprehensive programs that should have offering that will appeal to most students. 

UW Stout – is “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University” and, like all polytechnics, offers career-focused, technology-driven degrees based in applied learning and research.  You may not know Stout, but you’ve probably heard of MIT, CalTech, or Georgia Tech – all, including UW Stout, are considered polytechnic universities. Hallmarks of applied learning are hands-on learning, prolific lab experiences, and research.  If that doesn’t cause you to take a look at UW Stout, maybe the fact that 99.4% of graduates are employed or seeking graduate education will. 

MSOE – for students looking for a smaller and very focused experience, Milwaukee School of Engineering is a dream come true. They boast more labs than classrooms and focus on hands-on learning,  immersion into your major on day one, and strong connections to local and regional employers. 

Iowa State University – including their College of Engineering is a great option for students who want a helping hand between the transition of high school to college. Iowa State boasts a significant number of study abroad, internship, and service learning opportunities for future engineers. Iowa State offers fifteen engineering majors and welcomes undecided engineering majors. 

Montana State – the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering provides a hands-on learning environment with impressive undergraduate research opportunities. Students love the state-of-the art lab facilities and accessibility of faculty and staff. 

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) – is a public, polytechnic university strategically situated in Newark, NJ. Their Newark College of Engineering offers robust, structured co-op opportunities giving students the ability to earn a year of paid work experience while completing their undergraduate degree. 

WPI – for students who are at the higher end of the B average, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s College of Engineering is an attractive choice. The focus is on project-based learning where students learn in the classroom and then can immediately apply their skills to solve real-world problems.  Worcester, MA is a mid-sized city located about 45 minutes west of Boston and is a significant player in the region’s strong biotech industries. 

University of St. Thomas – offers a liberal arts education with four ABET accredited engineering programs. St. Thomas sees their externally sponsored Senior Design Project as a hallmark of the undergraduate engineering program that leads to strong employment results for graduates. Co-ops and internships are encouraged and the university has invested in numerous new and state-of-the-art STEM + Arts (STEAM) facilities.

3-2 and Liberal Arts Programs – students should consider the advantages of 3-2 and other liberal arts based programs.  Please check out our companion piece on this topic!  There are a number of liberal arts colleges with engineering programs that would be ideal for the B student.

Preparation is key.  If you have an idea that you want to study engineering in college, a student should take the highest levels of math and science (especially physics) available to them in high school. You should also demonstrate an interest in this discipline through your structured and unstructured extracurriculars. 

 If you realized late in high school that you have an interest in engineering or perhaps it just took you awhile to hit your academic stride, all is not lost! Please consider liberal arts college programs, a major that will allow you to pursue engineering as a graduate degree, and mostly approach your college search with an open and curious mindset!