Historians define eras by their most advanced technology. In ancient times, Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. In modern times, the industrial revolution, the nuclear age, and the information age. The information age is still far from finished, with humanity hurtling ever deeper into cloud computing, machine learning, and the internet of things.
Computers are obsolete within months of their release, and every old appliance now has a microchip that transforms it into a new “smart” version. The pace of technological advance is ever quickening. As such, the need for workers who can both maintain and advance technology continues to expand. A bachelor’s degree in a technology field can easily grant the recent college graduate numerous high-paying career paths.
The money in technology is not just in jobs but also in research opportunities. Colleges and universities realize that technology-based curricula have a great chance of procuring grants from government and from large corporations. A school with great humanities but no technology will remain a nice, local college. A school with leading technology programs will quickly become a world renowned university with the resources to buy leading humanities departments. Thus, money-making technology departments are often treated as the cash cows and first among equals within the academy, as their ample resources reflect.
Of course, the best reason to get a technology degree is not money or prestige, but the inherent interest and value of the work itself. The technology field will never be boring because it is ever evolving with exciting new inventions and discoveries. As it evolves, it creates measurable advances in everything from entertainment to medicine to national defense.
If one is serious about pursuing a technology degree, the schools in the ranking below deserve your special attention. They are respected the world over as major technological research centers. Here students can do more than just study technology: they can also help guide its future.
For this ranking, it was necessary to maintain the right balance of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary excellence — technological disciplines do not exist in isolation but mutually reinforce each other. Accordingly, we looked to the Center for World-Class Universities operated by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (right). This center specializes in ranking universities as well as their individual programs of study. International in scope and focused on academic performance, these are known as the “Shanghai Rankings.”
From the Shanghai Rankings, we therefore identified the 50 best programs in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities in Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences. Taking this Shanghai Ranking as our point of departure, we researched the most important characteristics of each of the top 50 Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences programs on the list in order to reveal why each university’s program appears where it does.
Note: There were substantial discrepancies between the 2015 and 2016 Shanghai Rankings, especially in the fields of Engineering/Technology and Computer Science. While there is supposedly no change in methodology, the differences in the two rankings raises serious questions about the ongoing integrity of the Shanghai rankings. It’s as though schools that came out of nowhere have now suddenly made it to the top of the engineering professions. We are concerned that these Shanghai rankings are being “gamed.” In the 2016 Shanghai ranking, for instance, two Saudi Arabian schools that were nowhere to be found in the top 50 of the 2014 rankings now appear in the top 10 and top 25. We believe this is an artifact of schools hiring high-profile researchers, thereby claiming their publication record, but where the hires are pro forma and the researchers actually have very little to do with the schools in question. To understand the discrepancy we are witnessing, here is a side-by-side comparison of the 2018 and 2019 rankings.
The Best Engineering/Technology and Computer Science Programs
Founded in 1861 with the mission to promote knowledge within the sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has excelled in its educational goals. This privately owned university has the advantage of a 13.4 billion dollar endowment and has been credited with numerous scientific advancements including the first chemical synthesis of penicillin, the invention of magnetic core memory, and the discovery of quarks.
Organized into five schools, the School of Engineering is the largest on campus, accounting for more than 60 percent of undergraduate enrollment and conducting over half of the sponsored research projects. Academic programs in the School are organized into eight departments and one division. There are over 350 faculty members and more than 5,500 students. Of the 55 laboratories, centers, and programs within the university at large, the School of Engineering operates 20. Additionally, there are 10 cross-departmental graduate and professional training programs and six international programs.
Ideally located in the home of perhaps the world’s largest assembly of high-tech corporations, California’s Silicon Valley, Stanford University has been in operation since 1891. Now affiliated with a total of 20 Nobel Laureates, many great advancements in science and engineering have been attributed to faculty members and alumni. Out of a 22.2 billion dollar endowment, 1.2 billion dollars is dedicated to research.
The study of Engineering has been prominent since the school’s founding. Out of the first 15 faculty members on staff, five were engineering professors. The School of Engineering itself, however, was not formally established until 1925. In the 2014 academic year, there were over 1,600 undergraduate and 3,100 graduate students enrolled in the School with more than 250 faculty members on staff. There are nine departments and over 80 laboratories, centers, and programs under the jurisdiction of the School of Engineering.
From Earth Quake Science to the purification of the Bovine growth hormone, the University of California at Berkley has made great strides to be at the forefront of research in science and engineering. The success of the University can be found in the 72 Noble Laureates, 45 MacArthur Fellows, and 13 Field Medalists among the faculty members and alumni.
Of the 14 colleges and schools which comprise the University at large, the School of Engineering is home to approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate level students and over 220 faculty members. Academic programs are organized into eight major departments. The school also manages over 50 centers and institutes for research including the Berkeley Water Center, the Blum Center for Developing Economics, and the Synthetic Biology Institute. An international outreach program managed specifically by the School of Engineering operates through the Center for Global Learning and Outreach from Berkeley Engineering.
The second oldest institution for higher education in the state, the University of Illinois was founded in 1867. Over 150 fields of study are available within 15 academic colleges operating on a 3.3 billion dollar endowment. Counted among the 44,000 students, 2,700 faculty members, and 80,000 alumni are 11 Nobel Laureates.
The College of Engineering has over 12,000 graduate and undergraduate students and 430 faculty members. Academic programs are organized into 12 departments, many of which are also available as distance learning degrees. The College has 19 years of experience providing engineering online with four master’s degrees and 18 certificates available.
Additionally, there are 12 major fields of research. Much interdisciplinary work is done in conjunction with the Illinois Applied Research Institute, which oversees 2,000 research projects. As a point of pride for the subject of computer science, the school has been attributed with the invention of the first graphical web browser.
Just one mile from the state capital, the University of Texas has the fifth largest single campus enrollment in the nation with over 50,000 total students. With an endowment of $3.27 billion, the school manages nine academic universities and six health institutions across the state. The flagship campus in Austin operates 18 schools and colleges with over 3,000 faculty members.
The Cockrell School of Engineering, operating since 1882, offers nine undergraduate programs and 13 graduate programs. There are 280 teaching professors for 7,700 enrolled students. Entering students have an average SAT score of 1420. A total of 15 research centers are under the jurisdiction of the School including the Center for Electromechanics, the Construction Industry Institute, and the Center for Space Research. There are an additional six affiliated research units and seven facilities.
Research focus areas include the development of new technologies to extract natural gas and oil from the Earth, building customized prosthetics for veterans, and designing more effective wireless video networks.
(London, United Kingdom)
Though it is comprised of only four main disciplines, the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine has contributed, among other achievements, the discovery of penicillin and the development of holography and fiber optics to history. Established in 1907 by the Royal Charter of Queen Victoria, the school is affiliated with 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medalists.
The Faculty of Engineering is organized into 10 academic departments including Aeronautics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Additionally, there are four major research institutes: the Data Science Institute, the Institute for Security Science and Technology, the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, and the Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering. More than 1,500 faculty and staff members strongly encourage the 6,000 enrolled students to engage in cross-college multidisciplinary study and research. Supporting facilities include an additional 23 laboratories and study centers.
Located in the beautiful capital city of Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology opened for classes on October 8, 1888. The school became a landmark in history for the start of the industrial economy in the South. Over 21,500 students are enrolled within six schools and colleges, including the College of Engineering.
Marked as the largest institution of its kind in America, there are over 13,000 students and more than 450 faculty members in the College of Engineering, 24 of whom are members of the National Academy of Engineering. The College has also been ranked number one in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellows.
There are eight key areas of study including Biomedical, Industrial, and Materials Science Engineering. The 150 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes include the Center for Drug Design, Development, and Delivery, the Fusion Research Center, the Institute for Paper Science and Technology, Robotics and Intelligence, and the Supply Chain and Logistics Institute.
(Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Established as a public research university in 1817, the University of Michigan is the oldest institution for higher education in the state. With a 10.26 billion dollar endowment, the University manages 19 schools and colleges which offer more than 200 undergraduate majors, 90 master’s programs, and 100 doctoral tracks. There are over 43,000 students in attendance.
The College of Engineering is one of the most popular with more than 9,500 students enrolled. The various programs are organized into 12 major academic departments managed by nearly 400 tenured and tenure track faculty members. The numerous research centers and institutes include the Automotive Research Center, the Center for Future Architecture Research, the Center for Dynamic Magneto-Optics, and the Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology. Other supporting facilities include a large vacuum chamber, 10 wind tunnels, the Space Physics Research Laboratory, and the Ion Beam Laboratory.
Established in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical School, the institution merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research in 1967 to create the current Carnegie Mellon University. There are seven schools and colleges with more than 13,600 students in attendance who represent 114 countries. A total of 19 Nobel Laureates of both past and present alumni and faculty members are affiliated with the school.
The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon has seen 53 members of the National Academy of Engineering. There are 140 tenure track faculty members, seven departments, and three institutes: the Cylab, the Information Networking Institute, and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. Along with the traditional majors, a unique joint degree with the Tepper School of Business is offered for students to earn both a BSE and an MBA in five years.
Research centers and institutes include the Bone Tissue Engineering Center, the Electricity Industry Center, the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, the Green Design Institute, and the Smart Infrastructure Institute.
(College Station, Texas)
Originally an Agricultural and Mechanical school at its founding in 1876, Texas A&M University is now recognized as the fourth largest institute for higher education in the United States with over 64,000 students in attendance. Counted among the faculty and alumni are three Nobel Laureates. The 16 schools and colleges which comprise the University offer over 130 bachelor’s degrees, 170 master’s degrees, 93 doctoral tracks, and five first professional degrees.
Dwight Look College of Engineering is the largest of the schools on campus. The 14 departments, including Nuclear, Ocean, and Petroleum Engineering, are managed by over 350 faculty members. More than 15,000 engineering students are enrolled within over 20 graduate and undergraduate degree programs.
The college maintains five key areas for research: Energy and the Environment, Transportation and Infrastructure, Healthcare and Quality of Life, Informatics and the Knowledge Economy, and Homeland Security.
In 1981 the Nanyang Technological Institute was established. In 1991, the school merged with the National Institute of Education to create the current Nanyang Technological University. This public, autonomous institution for higher education located in Singapore is home to more than 33,000 students. There are eight academic schools and colleges spread over three campus locations which comprise the University.
Of the eight schools and colleges in the university, the College of Engineering is the largest on campus and one of the largest in the world. The six schools within the College of Engineering cover the areas of Chemical and Biomedical, Civil and Environmental, Computer, Electrical and Electronic, Materials Science, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. There are more than 16,000 students in attendance and nearly 2,000 faculty and staff members on campus. Twelve single degree programs are offered in addition to double majors and integrated programs. Nanyang University manages the only aerospace engineering program in the country.
China has undergone the greatest industrial buildup of any nation in history over the last two decades. Not long ago the country was largely rural and underdeveloped. Now, it has the largest manufacturing capacity on the planet. But the nation’s economy is transitioning from a purely industrial to technically sophisticated state, as it builds its own research centers to complement its factories.
Located in Beijing,Tsinghua University is at the forefront of this transition. The school was formed in 1911, and in 1952 was remodeled into the current polytechnic institute with a focus on engineering after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The current academic organization includes 14 schools and 56 departments, offering numerous degree programs to more than 25,900 students.
The School of Information Science and Technology at Tsinghua University manages four departments: Electronic Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, Automation, and Microelectronics and Nanoelectronics. Additionally, the School of Software and the Institute of Information Technology are under the jurisdiction of the School of Information Science and Technology.
(Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Cambridge has an outstanding academic and research-based reputation. Established around 1209, the school today maintains an endowment of 5.89 billion pounds which goes towards the operation of the University’s 31 colleges and 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions. There are over 19,000 undergraduate and graduate level students in attendance and 92 affiliated Nobel Laureates representing all categories of the award.
Recognized as the largest department of the University, the Department of Engineering celebrated its 125th anniversary in the year 2000. By the numbers there are nearly 200 academics and principal investigators, 300 contract research staff and research fellows, 900 graduate students, and 1200 undergraduates. Additionally, there are six academic divisions within the department covering topics such as Energy/Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery, Manufacturing and Management, and Information Engineering. Two undergraduate tracks and five post-graduate options are available.
(San Diego, California)
One of ten campus locations within the University of California school system, the San Diego campus is comprised of six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions, and five graduate and professional schools. Since its founding in 1960 there have been 16 Nobel Laureates affiliated with the school. Currently there are more than 33,000 students in attendance.
Open to students since 1964, the Jacobs School of Engineering is perhaps best known for housing the Supercomputer known as Gordon. With four petabytes of disk storage, 64 terabytes of random access memory and 300 terabytes of flash memory, Gordon is one of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Other affiliated research centers include the Contextual Robot Institute, the Center for Wearable Sensors, the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, and the Center for Memory and Recording Research. There are over 8,900 students enrolled within the school’s six departments.
Europe forms one of the world’s leading economic and education centers. Directly in the middle of this vast expanse of western culture and commerce lies Switzerland, a nation famous for its political neutrality and its intellectual creativity. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology located in Lausanne was established in 1853 along with its sister institution located in Zurich. Both schools specialize in teaching the physical sciences and engineering. The Lausanne campus enrolls approximately 10,000 students within 13 complete study programs. There are five schools, two colleges, 28 institutes, and more than 350 laboratories and research groups on campus.
The study of engineering is dividing into two institutions, the School of Architecture, Civil, and Environmental Engineering, and the School of Engineering. The schools are comprised of three and five divisions respectively some of which include Bioengineering, Electrical, Materials Science, Mechanical, and Micro-engineering. Each division manages corresponding research institutes.
(University Park, Pennsylvania)
Since its founding in 1855, Pennsylvania State University has grown to an impressive 24 campus locations with nearly 100,000 students in attendance. More than 17,000 faculty and staff members provide over 320 undergraduate and graduate level degree programs. All of these factors, in addition to a 3.64 billion dollar endowment, contribute to Penn State being recognized as one of the largest universities in the United States.
Penn State’s College of Engineering continues in the tradition of quality education held by the University. The College is comprised of 12 departments and degree programs and manages four institutes: the Engineering Energy and Environmental Institute, the Facilities Engineering Institute, the Institute for Natural Gas Research, and the Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute.
Over 30 research centers and laboratories are affiliated with the college including: the Center for Combustion, Power, and Propulsion, the Center for Neural Engineering, the Indoor Environment Center, and the Protective Technology Center.
(Santa Barbara, California)
Of the ten California campuses, the Santa Barbara location is the third oldest, having joined the school system in 1944. The original school, however, traces its history back to 1891 as an independent teachers’ college. The University is comprised of five schools, a graduate division, and two professional schools: the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. More than 23,000 students are enrolled in over 200 degree tracks offered by the various academic divisions.
In the College of Engineering, degree programs are offered in seven academic areas. Approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled within these seven disciplines. Students are taught by 104 full-time professors, three of whom have been awarded Nobel Prizes. There are 26 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes affiliated with the college including the Chemical Life Cycle Collaborative, the Institute for Energy Efficiency, the National Nanofabrication Infrastructure Network, and the Terabit Optical Ethernet Center.
The oldest public institute for higher education in Singapore is its National University. Founded in 1905, the current institution was formed from the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University in 1980. The University is also the largest in the country by student enrollment and diversity of curriculum. There are presently more than 27,000 undergraduates and nearly 10,000 post graduates in attendance.
In 1968 the National University of Singapore established its Faculty of Engineering. Today it is the largest faculty in the school. Some of the divisions and departments of the Faculty include Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Engineering Science Program, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and the Division of Engineering and Technology Management.
(West Lafayette, Indiana)
On September 16, 1874 the first classes were held at Purdue University with six instructors on staff and 39 students enrolled. Now the school manages six campus locations, has nearly 2,000 tenured and tenure track faculty members, and has more than 39,000 students in attendance. Across the six campuses are 10 schools and colleges, a graduate division, and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The West Lafayette campus offers over 200 majors for undergraduates, and more than 70 master’s and doctoral programs.
Within the College of Engineering there are over 400 faculty members and 11,000 students. The College is comprised of 13 schools and programs including Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Division of Construction Engineering and Management, and the School of Nuclear Engineering. More than 50 laboratories and facilities are managed by the various departments including the Center for Coal Technology Research, the Institute of Nano electronics and Computing, the Perception Based Engineering group, and the Purdue Institute for Competitive Manufacturing.
In 1891 the school known as Throop University was established in Pasadena, California. In 1920 Throop was renamed the California Institute of Technology as the school emerged as a leader in the areas of Science and Technology. There are currently six major academic divisions in the school: Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Engineering and Applied Science, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physics/Math and Astronomy. More than 2,000 students are in attendance and a total of 34 Nobel Laureates are affiliated with the school.
Points of pride for Caltech include the establishment of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1930’s, which has been managed by NASA since 1958, and the establishment of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory.
There are over 45 cross-disciplinary research centers and institutes including the Center for Bio inspired Engineering, the Einstein Papers Project, the Jacobs Institute for Molecular Engineering for Medicine, and the Materials and Process Simulation Center.
Established in 1851, Northwestern University manages 12 colleges across three campus locations. More than 20,000 students are enrolled within 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees. By its endowment of 10.5 billion dollars, Northwestern has been recognized as the eighth richest institution for higher education in the United States. With the endowment, they are able to support over 1,500 research laboratories.
Northwestern University established its McCormick School of Engineering in 1909. Since then the faculty has grown to 181 professors and the student enrollment is now up to nearly 2,000 persons. In terms of research, the school maintains 24 major centers and partnerships. Some of the interdisciplinary research centers and institutes include: the Center for Quantum Devices, the Institute for Catalysis and Energy Processes, the Steel Research Group, the Segal Design Institute, and the Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics.
(Princeton, New Jersey)
As the fourth-oldest institute for higher education in the United States, chartered in 1746, Princeton University has a well-known reputation for quality education. Comprised of three schools with 36 academic departments, there are approximately 5,200 undergraduate and 2,600 graduate students in attendance. Over the years the school has become affiliated with 40 Nobel Laureates, including both faculty members and alumni.
Of the nearly 8,000 students at the University, approximately 1,000 undergraduates and 580 graduates are enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The 145 tenured professors include 19 members of the National Academy of Engineers.
There are six departments which comprise the School including the department of Computer Science and the department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering. Interdisciplinary research centers include the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Gigascale Systems Research Center, and the Mid-Infrared for Health and the Environment Center.
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
The three campuses of the University of Toronto are home to more than 86,000 students who are enrolled in 700 undergraduate programs and 222 graduate programs. The academic tracks are organized into 12 colleges. When it comes to the sciences, the University has been on the cutting edge of new research. The school is considered the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research, and was the site of the first practical electron microscope.
The College of Engineering has 5,500 undergraduate and over 2,000 graduate students enrolled within six departments and two academic institutes: the Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. There are four strategic areas of research: Sustainability, Bioengineering, Information/Communication Technology, and Enabling Technologies. Other research centers and institutes include the Center for Aerial Robotics Research and Education, the Center for Atmospheric Aerosol Research, the Center for Applied Power Electronics, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy.
The Harbin Institute of Technology traces its history back to the Harbin Sino-Russian School for Industry which was established in 1920 for the education of railway engineers. Located in China, the Institute is comprised of 20 full-time schools, the majority of which mainly focus on the study of science and engineering. The three campus locations include facilities such as the School of Civil Engineering, the School of Electrical Engineering and Automation, and the School of Municipal and Environmental Engineering.
There are nine primary disciplines of study including Mechanics, Power Engineering and Engineering Thermophysics, and Computer Science and Technology. Nearly 25,000 students, 1,500 of whom are international, are enrolled within 2,000 bachelor’s, 1,400 master’s, and 500 doctoral programs. As a result of the Institutions strong emphasis on the sciences, the school is one of only ten in the world to have designed, built, and launched its own satellite.
As the oldest private research university in the United States with a 37.6 billion dollar endowment, Harvard is one of the most influential institutes for higher education in American history. The academic programs are organized into 11 principal units, 10 facilities and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. There are 2,400 faculty members and 21,000 students. The school is affiliated with 47 Nobel Laureates.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science formally began as the Lawrence Scientific School in 1847. There are more than 136 faculty members, nearly 900 undergraduate students, and 440 graduate students in attendance.
Multidisciplinary centers and institutes of research include: the Center for Brain Science, the Center for Research on Computation and Society, the Microbial Sciences Initiative, the Rowland Institute at Harvard, and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.