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UCLA vs Cornell vs GaTech Mech Eng PhD


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Hi All,

I was supposed to do a grad school visit to ucla today for a PhD in mechanical engineering. However, I'm stuck at O'Hare so it's looking like that might not be possible.

Since I probably won't make it out to ucla, I want to ask a few questions.

What the overall grad student community, particularly engineering or mechanical engineering?

I also noticed there are quite a few undergrads compared to grads overall compared to Cornell and Ga Tech (two other schools I'm looking at which are bout 1 grad to 2 undergrads). Does this mean ucla has more of a reputation as a learning institution? Or is it still a research heavy institution?

Also, how do you think UCLA reputation compares to Cornell and Ga Tech in terms of mechanical engineering? I know engineering overall they are pretty good, but not exactly sure about where they stand in Mech E.

Finally, how is living as a grad student? Is it possible to live alone within a 15 min biking distance on an RAship?

On that note, one more question, any idea what percent of Mech E's end up being able to receive fellowships later on?

Also I should add, I received a fellowship from both Cornell an GaTech so funding would be a bit better there, I can also get a fellowship at ucla though, and don't have the funding amount.

Oh and I guess I should mention, I'm interested in nanotechnology. At Cornell I'd do micro/nano fluidics and at GaTech I'd do nano heat transfer or micro/nano fluidics. At UCLA I already know why prof I'd work with (idk if I should mention his name or not) but he has a really interesting sounding project funded by DARPA and is very cross disciplinary.

My pro/con list for each is


Very friendly advisors and community, great school.

Location kinda sucks but I am from Ohio State so I can handle cold.

Also most the projects are cancer related, and I get queasy very easily, talking about cancer treatment even.


Very good engineering and mech E school.

Liked the school and Atlanta. Lower cost of living+fellowship = plus. Pretty friendly advisors I think, and lots of nano heat transfer

However I've heard the program can be incredibly hard and make students very miserable.

Also, I'm not decided on industry/academia/startup yet, and I'm worries GaTech could nix any academia chances but be good for industry or startup, while Cornell has all 3.


LA seems cool, and I really like the project.

Concerns are cost of living as a grad student (plan to live alone)

Also I'm not really sure what UCLA's mechanical engineering reputation is compared to Cornell or GaTech. Also not sure about their industry/startup/academia paths?

Thanks a bunch, I appreciate any and all input.

And I aplogize for typos, this is coming from my old phone.

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Bumping cause I could really use some input.


One of my biggest concerns is that UCLA isn't as well respected in engineering and particularly mechanical engineering as georgia tech or cornell, but that could be completely wrong?



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As much as I LOVE Southern California, I'd go to Cornell. Also, Ithaca is a very underrated place to live. (It's actually quite beautiful and the cost of living is far from outrageous for a college town)


edit: I should add that I lived in Ithaca for five years. 

Edited by WalterSobchak
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In terms of "ranking", GaTech is the best option.


I'm more into dynamics/vibrations, and I can tell that Cornell's presence in journals is solid( GaTech comes in a second place, for my area of interest). [We are talking about ASME, Springer and Elsevier.]


In MechE, I think that GaTech and Cornell belong to the next rank up as compared to that of UCLA. So I would only pick UCLA if the research fit was vastly better than in the other two(plus, if you decide to go into academia, Cornell will pressumably open many more doors than UCLA ).


A point in favor of Cornell(I dind't really check GaTech website very much) is that their faculty is massive, interdisciplinary and many professors at different levels seem to cooperate. This is a symptom of a healthy faculty. UCLA had only 1 professor in my area of interest(red flag for obvious reasons). 

Edited by Mechanician2015
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Just curious, but if I think UCLA has the most interesting project, isn't that one of the strongest reasons to go there?


I thought 1 and 2 were: project interest, and advisor compatibility?

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