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10 Unusual Facts About the Top Engineering Schools in 2018

10 Unusual Facts About the Top Engineering Schools in 2018 main image

Discover the top engineering schools based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Published today, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 include a ranking of the top 500 institutions around the world for the broad subject area of engineering and technology. If you’re interested in studying any of the various branches of engineering offered at university, it would be easy to just look at the top engineering school in this ranking and decide that’s where you want to study, but any of the top 10 would be a fantastic choice of study destination.

In this article, we’ll reveal the 10 top engineering schools in 2018, along with an unusual fact for each one. Alternatively, you can read more about studying engineering here, or view the full engineering ranking here.

10. Tsinghua University was founded on former Imperial gardens

Tsinghua University

Ranked 10th in the world for the broad subject area of engineering and technology, Tsinghua University is located in Beijing on the site of the former royal gardens of the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China (which ruled between 1644 and 1912).

It was originally founded as Tsinghua College in 1911 to serve as a preparatory college for students who would be sent by the government to study in the US. Tsinghua has retained many traditional Chinese buildings and landscaping, with Western style architecture mixed in, and is known for having one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.

=8. You can get the Hogwarts experience at the University of Oxford with Formal Hall

Ranked joint eighth this year in the engineering ranking, one of the centuries-old traditions of the UK’s University of Oxford is Formal Hall. These events are formal dinners which occur once or twice a week, hosted by each college and usually costing around £10 to attend.

Everyone usually wears full “sub fusc” (academic dress), which is also worn for your matriculation ceremony, examinations and graduation ceremony. Formal hall isn’t compulsory but does give you a great chance to meet students and tutors in your college, and gain a Hogwarts-esque experience from your surroundings (all that’s missing are floating candles). Harry Potter fans might also be interested in joining the university’s Harry Potter Society.

=8. The University of Tokyo has produced sweating robots

University of Tokyo

Sharing eight place with Oxford in our ranking of top engineering schools is the University of Tokyo. Japan itself has a long history of innovation in manufacturing increasingly high-tech robots, and researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Johou Systems Kougaku laboratory have managed to build two humanoid robots which can do push-ups, sit-ups and stretches just like humans. Intended to replicate the human body as much as possible, one of the robots can even sweat.

7. National University of Singapore (NUS) has its own huge museum


Ranked seventh in the engineering ranking, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has a museum with a permanent collection of over 8,000 artifacts, focusing mainly on Southeast Asian art and culture. It also owns the Baba House museum, built in the 1890s, which is one of the best-preserved Peranakan heritage homes, showcasing Peranakan history, architecture and heritage. NUS itself was originally founded in 1905 as the King Edward VII College of Medicine.

6. Rock band Queen met at Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Yes, not only has Imperial College London been the site of a number of scientific discoveries (such as penicillin), but the university was also the place where iconic rock band Queen first formed. Guitarist Brian May was working towards a PhD in astrophysics when he placed an advert for a "Mitch Mitchell/Ginger Baker type" drummer, which Roger Taylor responded to. Brian May abandoned his PhD to pursue Queen, but eventually completed it 36 years later in 2007. (You can read about more bands that met at university here).

5. You can get married at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)


Not only is Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ranked one of the world’s top engineering schools, but alumni can tie the knot on campus at the Nanyang Executive Centre. The director of Alumni Affairs, Mr Soon Min Yam, has presided over more than 90 marriage ceremonies over the years, having been a licenced marriage solemniser since 1992. You can read more interesting facts about NTU here.

4. Albert Einstein was an alumnus and professor at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) is up one place this year to rank fourth in the world for engineering and technology, and boasts Albert Einstein as one of its most famous graduates. Einstein studied physics at the university from 1896 to 1900 and returned in 1912 as a professor of theoretical physics, teaching analytical mechanics and thermodynamics. In total, ETH Zurich has been associated with 21 Nobel Prize winners.

3. The first official game of football was played at the University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Ranked third in the engineering ranking this year, the University of Cambridge may not be the first English-speaking university founded in the world (this distinction goes to its rival, Oxford) but it can claim to have been the birthplace of football.

The first official game of football with rules we would recognize was played on Parker’s Piece, a green space in Cambridge, in 1848 (it was City vs University, with City winning 2-1). However, the earliest records of football being played in Cambridge go back even further to 1579. 

2. Something happens on the first full moon of the Autumn Quarter at Stanford University

…And it’s not that anyone turns into a werewolf. Between midnight and 1am on the night of the first full moon of the Autumn Quarter, Stanford University freshmen traditionally receive a kiss from seniors. Live music and entertainment turn the night into a big celebration, but unfortunately a few days later everyone is ill from the same virus.

Other traditions at Stanford include fountain hopping, in which people jump in and out of Stanford’s many water fountains (very refreshing on a hot day).

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) traditions include throwing a piano off a building


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is ranked first in the world for the broad subject area of engineering and technology and is known for its “hacks” (used in this context to mean elaborate but harmless practical jokes).

One particularly famous hack is the Annual Baker House Piano Drop, in which students of the Baker House dorm drop an old, irreparable piano off the roof and let it plunge six storeys to the ground, marking the spring semester’s “Drop Date”, the last date students can drop classes.

Other hacks have revolved around the university’s iconic Great Dome (for example, being transformed into R2-D2, or having a fire truck/police car/Apollo Lunar Module placed on top of it over the years).

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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