Road Trip: Georgia Institute of Technology

We toured some of Georgia's top schools and found out what it's like to attend them.

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An electronic glove that helps an accident victim regain movement in his hand while at the same time teaching him how to play the piano; a virtual space where coworkers across oceans can feel like they're sitting in the same room; a robotic limb that through stem cell technology can be integrated directly with a veteran's war-damaged nerves and tissues. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, undergraduate students have a hands-on role in making these innovative concepts a reality. 

Though its College of Liberal Arts and College of Management are expanding their programs, there's no denying that Georgia Tech is a school built with engineering and science in mind. Step away from the old campus's red brick buildings and you'll see state-of-the-art research facilities, such as the year-old Marcus Nanotechnology Building, the first of its kind to house nanoelectronics in the same structure as a biotechnology clean room, facilitating interdisciplinary research. Elsewhere on the 400-acre campus are a full garage for mechanical engineers to build and tune up racecars and entire lab rooms devoted to developing video games and augmented-reality applications, not to mention plentiful labs where chemists and chemical engineers can conduct experiments. 

Women make up only 30 percent of the Georgia Tech undergrad community. Nevertheless, the public school graduates more female engineers than any other university in the country. And through the Women in Engineering recruiting program, it hopes to bring more top students into the profession. 

Time management is key for students, especially those who want to be involved outside of their research and schoolwork. It's the first lesson for new students, according to Valerie Uyemura, who graduated in May. "Freshman year, everyone tries to get involved in everything, and you learn fast that you need to balance," Uyemura says of the highly competitive campus atmosphere. "School always comes first, but you still have time to dedicate yourself to one or two clubs or activities." Like joining the Yellow Jacket Flying Club, following the football team (2009 ACC champions), or visiting the High Museum of Art, the Georgia Aquarium, or the Atlantic Station movie theater complex, all fairly close to campus. If only Georgia Tech students could engineer a machine that did homework. 

More About the Georgia Institute of Technology:

Fact: About 2,700 Tech undergrad engineers get work experience through the school's co-op program.

Undergrad enrollment, 2009: 13,515

Est. annual cost, 2010-2011: in state, $20,082; out of state, $38,292

 Georgia Road Trip:

• Emory University
• Oglethorpe University
• Morehouse College

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