Hello Chris, a good college for mechanical engineering is both strong academically and hands-on ... the later is key. Academically strong includes but not limited to: a wide breadth of courses in traditional and new technologies, instructors who are leaders in their fields of study, publish papers, and connected to projects in industry, connections/activities/opportunities for learning with industry leaders. Hands on experience is key ... just because someone has a license to drive, does not mean they can do it or do it well ... it includes, but not limited to: labs connected to courses in traditional and new technologies, enough labs that allow you not compete for your hands on time, labs that are up to date, labs that are supported by industry leaders, labs that have lots of assistance to learn, labs that allow you to fail, labs that give you time to do your own projects, labs that are focused on subjects (machining, plastics, materials (fiberglas, ...), ...), labs that combine subjects for system solutions. Too many new engineers without hands on sound good, but cannot compete with those with hands-on and they loose out on many exiting opportunities. Both myself and my son are mechanical engineers and have used the above to be successful. I hope this helps.
Michael recommends the following next steps:
- Visit the mechanical engineering colleges that are tied to the industries of your interest (i.e., if you interested in high tech Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo or San Jose State University for example)