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MS Robotics Northwestern or MS MechE Columbia?

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Hey everyone,


My goal is to start a career in the robotics industry after my master's (no PhD plans for now). I have to decide between the MS Robotics program at Northwestern and the MS MechE program at Columbia. I definitely prefer NU over Columbia due to the active robotics research going on there, but the catch is, it is an accelerated 1 year program (10 courses + final project in 4 quarters). I am unsure if this is a good or a bad thing in view of job prospects after graduation. And the program just started last year, so there are no stats.


I heard from some people that 'networking' is really important for getting internships/job interviews. To what extent is this true? Will being immersed in an accelerated program allow me to devote time to seek these opportunities? 


Based on what I got from grad students at Columbia, the job scenario in NY is bleak (in mechE/electronic hardware), and they're having a tough time finding internships. I'd be grateful if someone could share insights about the robotics industry in Chicago area.


Also, is it typical for students to intern (or recruiters to take interns) only at places close to their university?


Thanks in advance! :)

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