A closer look at the QS Subject Rankings for Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering

by Danny Byrne

MIT consolidates its dominance of the technical disciplines by topping the 2011 QS World University Ranking® for Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering, ahead of Cambridge and Harvard.

The department of mechanical engineering was one of MIT’s original departments at its foundation in 1861, and continues to go from strength to strength. The university also produces cutting-edge research and highly regarded programs through its Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, alongside a well established Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity. Its excellence was reflected in the academic reputation indicator, in which MIT was the best-performing university in each of the five technical disciplines measured in the QS World University Rankings® by Subject.

Of the US’s other leading universities, Harvard puts in its strongest performance across the four engineering disciplines, ranking third. Prospective undergraduate students will note that while Harvard was the 16th most popular among academics, it ranked first among graduate employers. This indicates that even if a greater amount of cutting-edge research may be taking place elsewhere (MIT is comfortably top for academic reputation), a Harvard degree still makes employers sit up and take notice.

Germany’s historic strength in manufacturing is reflected by the performance of its universities in this discipline. Technische Universität München (36) and RWTH Aachen (47=) make the top 50, with 17 German universities in the top 200. Though Germany has a greater number of top-200 universities than any other country in continental Europe, its top institutions are outperformed by those across the border in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. Switzerland’s ETH Zurich and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne rank 11th and 26th respectively, and are joined in the top 40 by France’s École Polytechnique, ParisTech (29) and TU Delft (32) from the Netherlands.

Despite the strength of ETH Zurich, it is the UK that boasts Europe’s top-ranking universities in this discipline, with Cambridge (3), Oxford (6), Imperial (7) making the top ten and University of Manchester (18), University of Edinburgh (40=) and University of Bristol (47=) in the top 50. Oxford is the UK’s most popular university among employers (coming second to Harvard in this indicator, one place ahead of Cambridge), but among academics it is outperformed by Cambridge and Imperial College London.
A strong reputation among employers underpins the performance of Australia’s universities. Of the 13 Australian institutions that make it into the top 200, all are ranked higher by employers than academics, a notable trend for those who place employability above research in their choice of degree course. Melbourne is the nation’s top-ranking university across all of the technical disciplines covered in the 2011 QS World University Rankings® by Subject. It ranks 17th overall in this subject, and is the sixth most highly regarded university among employers across the four engineering disciplines.

China’s universities put in their strongest performance of the five technical disciplines, with Peking and Tsinghua both making the top 40, at 35 and 38 respectively. National University of Singapore (10) again demonstrates its excellence across the technical disciplines by ranking number one in Asia and breaking the world top ten. University of Tokyo (19) is the only other Asian university in the top 20, while Nanyang Technological University (38) puts in another strong performance, underlining its status as one of the continent’s fastest-growing research institutions.

IIT Delhi (40=) is the top-ranked Indian institution, with 10 of the nation’s universities making the top 200, including five in the top 100. IIT Bombay ranks as high as 16 among graduate employers. In fact, all but one of India’s universities performs better in the employer reputation category than in the research-oriented measures, testament to the extremely selective undergraduate intake of its leading universities and underlining the high regard in which their graduates are held.

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