University, located in Flint, MI
and named for Charles Kettering
, is a school that offers degrees in engineering
, applied science
, and management
. Charles Kettering was an inventor in the early part of the 20th Century, whose first invention was a mechanical cash register
. Kettering was a fan of the school's focus on being applicable and particularly on the cooperative education system, wherein students work at corporate sponsors between school terms.
Due to its history as GMI and General Motors Institute, Kettering is regarded as the place to go if you want to be a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry -- the mechanical engineering department is the biggest department, the chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers is the largest in the country, and the automotive specialty in mechanical engineering is the favorite specialty for MEs to pursue. In fact, at my graduation there an alumnus claimed that within the auto industry Kettering was referred to as The Academy.
Likening it to a military school is not mere poetic license. The school has 12 week quarters, but the classes have more hours in the week than most schools, with the idea that one credit equals one credit at a semester school. A usual load in my time was 18-21 credits. (Of course, they have since undergone curriculum reform) Along with being in Flint, this produces a sort of monastic existence (complete with drinking heavily). Of course, I would tend to think that most engineering programs produce a similar effect. Still, people who have flunked out have done well in state school honor programs while holding down full time jobs and having a life. Non-engineers, particularly managers, are constantly poked about their major. On the other hand, the managers seem to take it in stride, perhaps because they have more time on their hands.
The Greek system is big on campus because it took until the late 1960s for any dormitories to be built, and even then, until recently there was only enough room for the freshman class. With the construction of new apartment-like housing near campus that has high-speed internet and infighting between fraternities, however, the Greek system had less than 50% membership when I graduated.
The campus is quite small; total enrollment is around 2600, but only 1300 are there at any one time due to the quarter system being used (usually, one set of students is there in Spring and Fall quarters; they work at co-op jobs in the Summer and Winter while another group attends class). Having a co-op job is mandatory; if they can't find a co-op, you had better find one or it will take a while for you to graduate. There is a thesis requirement that is done at your workplace, with the idea being that it is a project fully under your control.
Because the school itself has the pragmatic aim of teaching students to find a place in the corporate world, there is an anti-intellectual streak in the student body. The number of humanities courses students take is lower than other schools' requirements, and students often grouse about those they do take, since they do not see the applicability to them. I recall a discussion on the Communist Manifesto from a World History course wherein most of the students seemed to be reasoning along the lines of communism is bad because it is bad. The love of learning isn't always to be found, particularly outside a student's major.
I wouldn't trade the friends I made there for the world, but I'm not so certain about the stress and the environment — while the small size lets you talk to professors, there is not as much opportunity to deepen oneself.