Introduction from the Author
“Oh, Cal Poly Pomona” is the mistaken response I often get when I tell people where I go to school. “No, Caltech,” is the reply I give all too often. Caltech is a small math, science, and engineering school, so many people don’t know about it. Often, people will describe Caltech as the MIT of the West. Since MIT is huge compared to Caltech and has a higher female to male ratio, the comparison is inaccurate, to say the least. Caltech does, however, boast of a truly unique combination of academics, student body, and sunny weather that only Southern California can provide.
Caltech is currently one of the nation’s top five academic schools, according to numerous national surveys. The school is recognized by academic scholars as one of the best places to earn a math, science, or engineering degree. Caltech offers a top-of-the-line education that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Caltech is extremely challenging and demands a lot of dedication from its students. The workload here is above and beyond that of most schools, including the Ivy League.
From the beginning of freshman year, students at Caltech have the opportunity to work with the leading scientists of today. Some of the leading researchers in the fields of physics, geology, chemistry, and many more teach courses here. Caltech also has many connections to larger national organizations. Caltech runs the NASA-owned JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) and has access to much of the top-notch astronomical equipment of the day. Palomar Observatory is often used by Caltech professors and students. Also, Caltech is affiliated with the USGS (United States Geological Survey). Many of their seismic processing systems are on the Caltech campus. If there’s a tremor brewin’, we’ll be the first to know.
Caltech is unique in areas other than academics. Some of the Caltech residence houses were constructed in the early 1930s and are now considered historic structures, so they cannot be torn down. These buildings have unorthodox pathways lined with olive trees, and they weren’t built in a conventional two-story system. The Caltech house membership system is one of a kind. A good way of describing the housing system is by comparing it to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School where each of the seven houses has a unique personality. The only way to truly appreciate the aesthetics of the Caltech housing system, and Caltech in general, is to come and take a look for yourself. I hope my book provides you with a good enough mental picture to persuade you to make the trip to sunny Pasadena.
Mayra Sheikh, Author