Last fall, when Nicolas was taking a College and Career Planning class, he researched a bunch of engineering programs, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology ended up in his Top 3.
I had forgotten about it being in Rapid City until last weekend, so when I remembered, we decided to stay an extra day and requested a campus visit for Monday. We filled out the online request form, but weren’t sure if we were going to get an appointment. We didn’t hear anything on Monday morning, but decided to go on over there and see if they could fit us in.
As we arrived on campus, we felt like we were back at home – they use the same M for their logo as the University of Michigan!
We walked into the admissions office, and Nicolas’ name was on a list of prospective students being welcomed to campus . . . so I guess they got our request!
We talked to the Admissions Secretary and she clarified which departments Nicolas was interested in visiting. While she made the arrangements, we walked through the Geology Museum.
In addition to Engineering, the school has a very strong Science program, including geology and paleontology. Much of the fossils in the Badlands have been discovered by students from the School of Mines.
Some of the discoveries are not as glamorous as others!
We were still in the Museum when one of the girls from the Admissions Office came to get us for Nicolas’ first appointment. He had appointments with Professors from Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, the University Provost, and a campus tour.
Everyone we met with was very nice, and the atmosphere of the small university was really apparent. Both of the professors were very generous with their time, showing us around and answering everybody’s questions. It was very clear that they want the incoming students to be confident in the college they choose, and they want every student to be successful.
We toured the campus with a Student Ambassador and two other families.
We saw the dorms, the Student Center, the cafeteria and Snack Shop, and the fitness center and pool. The school has been around for over 125 years, but most of the buildings, especially the student buildings, are all new.
One unique aspect of this school is something they call CAMP – Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Production. This is an extracurricular activity that all students are encouraged to join (at no cost to the student) beginning right in the Freshman year.
There are multiple teams – including Formula I, Baja, Aero, High Mileage Vehicle, Electric Snowmobile, and several others – each team works as a Corporation and includes students from all areas of the University.
They work on their project vehicle all year, and at the end of the year they compete against other colleges from around the country. Several of their teams have done quite well in these competitions, proving to themselves and others that this small school from South Dakota can go up against any major engineering school and at least hold their own, or even win!
In fact, they are particularly proud of the times they have out-performed the University of Michigan!
We ended up spending over 4 hours on our campus visit, and we were all really comfortable with the campus and impressed with the school. I think a small school like this would be a really good choice for Nicolas, and he likes the Black Hills area! It’s definitely one he’ll keep on the list!