- Class: Senior
- Major: Engineering
- Gender: F
- High School: Lake Braddock Secondary
- Transfer Student: N
I would change the focus of the school. I know RPI needs to bring in research money to stay afloat, but so many of the professors that they hire care only about research and hardly at all about the students. I've had some really bad experiences where the professor, while very nice, just could not teach. The lectures we basically just repeats of the book, and he/she seemed confused when going over problems. RPI still has a great reputation though. When I tell people I go there, it's almost always "wow, you must be smart." Same reaction when I say I'm in engineering. A few people have even referred to RPI as the step below MIT. It's nice to have that kind of recognition for your college. The Union is where a lot of students spend a huge amount of time. There are places to eat, so many people will grab lunch and do homework between classes, and almost every group meeting I've been to has started at the Union. Also, lots of club meetings take place there as well. It's probably the "social hub" of campus. RPI's administration is the one thing that angers me to no end about the school. There seems to be a lot of student disapproval for the president and other high-ranking officials. The biggest recent controversy was the president and dean of engineering getting rid of the environmental engineering program, and combining it with the civil engr curriculum. This eliminates the requirement that Env. Engrs take organic chemistry, which is part of what made the program so highly regarded by environmental professionals. Also, it was the first Env Engr program in the country, and still one of the best. Also, the president is trying to shift the school to be more of a university, which a lot of people don't agree with (largely because most people are engineering majors, and that is what the school is known for - we think it should continue to be its main focus). The Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is going to be completed soon - millions of our tuition $ going towards something that most people view as unnecessary. The administration claims that people will be able to use their skills to help put on performances, but honestly, what is a nuclear engineer going to do? Also, RPI is NOT known for its athletics. The only division 1 sport is hockey, and they have been seriously lacking wins the past few years. But that didn't stop the admin from building the East Campus Athletic Village. Most people I've talked to agree that it is also a large waste of money, and annoying because it shut down one of the main roads through upperclassmen housing. BUT that said, I love RPI and I am glad I made the decision to go there. I love the people I've met, the things I have tried (rock climbing, for example), and I've even enjoyed the majority of classes I've taken.
In the big classes professors will only know your name if you ask questions, speak up, or go to office hours. In smaller classes, they will learn names fairly easily, whether you talk or not. I've never had a professor NOT make an effort to learn names. Some students at RPI are very competitive, but others just seem not to care. Lots of people have a shock freshman year, because they are used to being at the top of their class, without having to do much work. You have to work to do well at RPI though. Even really really smart people tend not to be able to "skate by." Also, most people seem to find RPI very challenging. I agree that it is, and I wouldn't have done nearly as well the past few years had I not started going to office hours my sophomore year. Not only do you get questions answered and difficult topics clarified, but you also build a relationship with the professor. He/she knows you're putting in effort above what most people do, and they might be inclined to bump your grade up when the end of the semester rolls around. And yes, that happens. I have had professors give me a higher grade because I was in their office every week, trying, at least. The civil engineering department, as compared to other engr ones, seems pretty laid back. The biggest classes are the intro courses (structural, geotechnical and transportation engr), because every one has to take them. But other than that they are very small, and the professors are really nice. More civil engineers seem to slack though, as compared to say, biomedical.
One of the things that does disappoint me is the lack of diversity in my friends. I have casual friends of all races, but the ones I see on a regular basis are all white (and largely male). RPI's various groups seem to be fairly clickish. I think this is largely due to clubs like National Society of Black Engrs, Society of Professional Hispanic Engrs, the Bengali Student Association, etc. Not that you HAVE to be black or Hispanic or Bengali, but most people are and simply because they are heavily involved with the organizations, most of their good friends are the same race/religion.
The Best Things
The reputation - I'm going to make that money back! (or so they tell me)
The Worst Things