These 10 Incredible Public Universities Are Changing The World

8. University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI)

University of Rhode Island
Kenneth C. Zirkel, URI Carothers Library, CC BY-SA 4.0

Did you know a University of Rhode Island professor discovered the remains of the Titanic?

And CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour graduated from the journalism school.

And the fitness guru who developed P90X, Tony Horton, also graduated from the university.

All of this is only a sampling of notable alumni and faculty members who come out of the public research university.

Current students are making waves, too. The school encourages undergraduate research with its Undergraduate Research and Innovation program (also known as URI squared). Recently, students have developed a peer-to-peer app for students that helps them buy and sell items across campus and advertise side gigs. Another student duo created an artificial intelligence curriculum for kids.

The University of Rhode Island also offers students research opportunities and fellowships over the summer. For example, science, engineering, and math students can take part in a 10-week oceanography program.

7. Ball State University (Muncie, IN)

Ball State University
Daniel Hartwig, Bracken Library, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, CC BY 2.0

Ball State University is focused on environmental sustainability. In addition to investing in hybrid vehicles and shuttle buses, Ball State uses a geothermal energy system. It’s the largest project of its kind in the country, and it’s allowed the university to cut its carbon footprint nearly in half.

For students, Ball State offers immersive learning projects. These projects allow students to earn course credits while getting out into the community and gaining real-world experience.

In the past, some of these projects have included teaching computer science to middle schoolers, studying archaeological sites in the Ottawa National Forest, and conducting research to treat patients diagnosed with dysphagia.

Ball State University’s list of notable alumni is quite, well, notable. It includes David Letterman, former host of the “Late Show;” Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and a current Apple executive; and Jim Davis, the creator behind the “Garfield” comic strip.

6. San Diego State University (San Diego, CA)

San Diego State University
Geographer, Sdsumain, CC BY 1.0

Last year, San Diego State University received $148.5 million in research funding, and its emphasis on research is evident if you attend the school’s annual Student Research Symposium.

At the most recent symposium, approximately 500 students presented their research, receiving awards for up to $500. Last year’s winning research explored coral reef microbiomes, trans and gender nonconforming experiences within eating disorder treatments, and talking and listening healing circles.

This research extends even further. For example, university researchers recently discovered a third planet in the Kepler-47 Circumbinary System and studied a compound that reduces cardiac damage after heart attacks.

There are abundant opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in this research. The school offers a number of summer research programs (anyone want to go to Alaska?) and makes it easy for students to find mentors to work under.

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