An engineering tour at Yale

albert-einstein-alphabet-black-and-white-256369In my last post, I discussed making the most of the college tour.  Today, I went on one myself.  My oldest daughter and I are visiting old friends of mine in New Haven for the holiday weekend.  I decided to spend some time on campus, partly because I so loved my time at Yale that just walking around the campus feels good, and partly because I wanted to stay up to date with what is going on at the university.  A campus tour seemed like a good opportunity to do both.  In fact, I had my pick of three different tours:  a general campus tour, a science tour, and an engineering tour.  I narrowed it down to either science or engineering.  As it turned out, one of the engineering tour guides was wearing a Yale Track and Field tee shirt.  I ran cross country in my freshman year, so that sealed it.  And what a treat it was.

Our tour guide was clearly loving his Yale experience.  He talked to us about his course work, about his experiences on a robotics team, about juggling athletics and academics.  Even more important, he talked about the spirit of collaboration that he felt in the engineering department, with both students and faculty.  Here are some points that stood out for me as he spoke:

  • At Yale, you don’t have to apply to a particular college based on discipline (some universities have a college of business, a college of engineering, etc. and you pick the one to which you want to apply).  You apply to Yale college and then study whatever you want once you get there.
  • The engineering department has laid out several different course sequences for engineering majors, including one for students who get to the university without a strong previous focus on mathematics and science.
  • Each lab section in the sciences is capped at 14 students.  If a 15th student enrolls for a lab, the university opens a new section and splits the enrollment between the two.
  • In Yale’s Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classroom, circular tables promote collaboration.
  • Our guide spoke about multiple instances in which fellow students and even tenured professors stayed up together until 3:00 AM to make sure that everybody understood the concepts necessary to complete a problem set.

The tour took an hour, at the end of which I wondered if I would have explored an engineering major if all of these resources had existed back when I was in college.  Keep a running list of highlights on your own campus tours (I jotted them down in my phone as we walked around campus) and then take them into consideration as you and your child start to put together the college list in the fall.