The 10 Best Engineering Schools in California

The 21st century brings a wide range of challenges, from a growing demand on resources to a need for developments in energy, healthcare, and sustainability. To tackle these problems head-on, engineers apply practical scientific knowledge to the real world to bring about change. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an additional 140,000 engineering jobs over the next decade

California is the best state for engineers, with a high median salary, good career prospects, and growth opportunities. The state is at the forefront of environmental regulation, allowing researchers to use recent research to shape the area’s environmental laws. This provides many opportunities for solar-powered technologies and environmental engineering. 

California is also a hotspot for engineering jobs due to the congregation of defense contractors, tech companies, and the aerospace industry. Silicon Valley, known as the global center for high technology and innovation, is home to over 2,000 tech companies.

These companies drive innovation in computer, robotic, environmental, and medical technologies, all of which need engineers to succeed. Civil and aerospace engineers earn more in Californian metropolitan areas than anywhere else in the US.

Students who study engineering require a world-class education to develop an analytical mindset and gain expertise in problem-solving and hands-on research. This breadth of talents allows future engineers to pursue a wide range of future careers and projects. 

The best engineering schools help students meet the demands of engineering through experienced professors, pioneering research, and opportunities to translate research from labs to the real world. Students are encouraged to use their problem-solving abilities to make positive contributions to society.

Here are the ten best engineering schools in California, based on their appearance in the US News National Engineering Schools Ranking.

10. UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering (Riverside, CA)

UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering
Jwang026, Bournbuild, CC BY-SA 3.0

UC Riverside is constantly pushing the boundaries with its research and entrepreneurship. The university has over 300,000 square feet of space devoted to research, including the world’s largest atmospheric chamber and a mechanical engineering machine shop. Thanks to prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation and Defense Threat Reduction Agency, students have many opportunities to perform research. 

In 2020, UC Riverside was honored with a $7.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to create a secure command, control, and communications infrastructure. This research center expands possibilities for students to get involved with revolutionary engineering solutions.

Students also lead projects in the entrepreneurial space. A startup funded by UC Riverside engineering students was recently chosen as one of seven finalists for Blackstone LaunchPad’s nationwide pitch competition. This company reimagines recycling for the modern world and aims to make recycling easier for firms and customers alike through new technologies.

9. UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering (Irvine, CA)

UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering
Mikejuinwind123, UC Irvine, School of Engineering, CC BY-SA 3.0

The faculty at UC Irvine are widely recognized for their pioneering research and dedicated instruction. More than a third are fellows in professional societies, with 14 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

Outside of the classroom, students are encouraged to work cross-functionally to invent new technologies for the ultimate benefit of society. This is shown in the research sphere, where electrical, computer, and biomedical engineers worked together to create a biochip for studying cancer cells. This early detection technology will be useful in developing nations that do not have the money or access for additional medical devices.

The UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering is committed to increasing representation in their engineering programs. Due to their efforts, there has been an increase in underrepresented students over the past five years.

8. UC Davis College of Engineering (Davis, CA)

UC Davis College of Engineering
photo by UC Davis College of Engineering via Flickr Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0

UC Davis claims the honorable distinction as the number one most sustainable university in the United States and third globally out of 780 schools, as decided by UI GreenMetric World University Rankings. UC Davis uses the most renewable energy out of all the colleges nationwide, providing plenty of research opportunities for environmental engineering students.

Additionally, the College of Engineering supports a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The Student Startup Center provides resources to advance and commercialize new technologies developed by engineering students and faculty. This office has helped to form 115 startups over the past 10 years that seek to benefit society through groundbreaking innovations. 

These companies focus on medical technologies, therapeutics, and food technology platforms. For example, Storx Technologies is developing a noninvasive fetal pulse oximeter to help make the birthing process safer.

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