8. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical (Daytona Beach, FL & Prescott, AZ)
Founded in 1926 to support America’s new aviation industry, Embry-Riddle is now the world’s largest university system dedicated to aviation and aerospace education.
Its main campus is in Daytona Beach, Florida, conveniently adjacent to the Daytona Beach International Airport.
The Prescott, Arizona campus is the site of Embry-Riddle’s Aerospace Experimentation and Fabrication Building; it also provides $60,000 in annual grants, to support student participation in design and research competitions.
Students who cannot attend a traditional residential campus now have the option of 130 learning locations around the world, and an extensive online program.
The university’s degree programs span the breadth of aviation: from air traffic control and flight training, to engineering and crash investigation.
Its alumni include multiple astronauts and Air Force generals.
They also include such luminaries as Dr. Moriba Jah, who served as a spacecraft navigator on five separate unmanned Mars missions for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
7. Lawrence Technological University (Southfield, MI)
LTU was established during the Great Depression, not long after Embry-Riddle.
Its motto, “Theory and Practice,” expresses a similar mission: to prepare students for an America rapidly transformed by technology.
LTU alumni created many of the aspects of modern life that we take for granted. John W. Laister created the distinctive design of modern cargo planes, with high-placed wings and a rear loading ramp.
George W. Seriant developed the rear-facing car safety seat for children.
And Ronald Knockeart invented the supermarket barcode scanner.
Innovation at LTU continues today.
Among its facilities is the Center for Innovative Materials Research, launched with an $11 million grant from the U.S. Army.
Among its large-scale testing equipment is a laboratory furnace that can heat a 32,000-pound load to 1000°F in five minutes.
Dr. Nabil Grace uses the furnace to develop carbon fiber as a replacement for steel rebar in reinforced concrete.
He is currently developing projects for several highway bridges based on his work.
6. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)
Founded in 1997, Olin College of Engineering is the youngest institution on this list – and the most innovative in its approach to education.
Its teaching philosophy proceeds from a vision that all knowledge constitutes a unified whole.
Courses are taken as integrated blocks: a freshman taking calculus, physics, and engineering will find that the three classes examine the same material from different perspectives.
Real world problem solving is a distinctive and pervasive aspect of Olin’s curriculum. As freshmen, students take the “Design Nature” class, in which they design and build toys based on biomechanical principles.
By the time they are seniors, they are ready for capstone courses in which students are hired to carry out engineering projects for corporations and non-profits.
True to its philanthropic roots, Olin provides abundant scholarship money for its students.
Admission is need-blind, and all students are eligible for a merit-based scholarship that covers more than half their tuition for eight semesters.
The college offers additional need-based scholarships to cover the remaining costs.