When Christopher Combs was looking at colleges, the University of Evansville wasn’t even on his radar.
“I had gone on a trip to Rose Hulman, knowing I wanted to study engineering, and we were driving home and my dad was like, ‘Hey – the University of Evansville is on the way; we should stop there and check it out,’” Combs said. “I didn’t want to go; it was the beginning of my senior year, and I’d been on a ton of college visits and was tired of it.
“But I came in, they showed me around campus, and I just had a great visit.”
That was the fall of 2005. In May 2010, Combs graduated from UE with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering; today, he is a graduate research assistant in the Ph.D. program at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the nation’s top 10 graduate programs for his field, aerospace engineering.
Combs credits his time at UE for preparing him to succeed beyond the undergraduate level. From opportunities to take part in design projects and competitions to his personal relationships with faculty, Combs’ time at the University of Evansville offered him the tools and mentoring he needed to be ready for graduate school.
“All of our classes at UE were actually taught by professors with PhDs,” Combs said. “I TA classes here (at UT-Austin), and I see the level of instruction that the undergraduate students get in a good program, but I feel like I was much better prepared at UE, because of daily interaction with professors with doctorate degrees; I think that really goes a long way.
“(At UE), it wasn’t a big deal to walk into the dean’s office and ask, ‘Hey, I don’t understand problem #2 of the homework – can you help with that?’ I think that’s really unique and beneficial.”
Which is why Combs now credits that side trip back in 2005 as one of the best decisions of his life.
“Evansville immediately jumped to the top of my list after that,” he said. “So I thank my Dad for forcing me to go on a visit – it turned out for the best.”