Timing can sometimes be fortuitous. Hundreds of Virginia Tech College of Engineering students queued up this week for possible jobs and internships at the annual Engineering Expo at Squires Student Center, during the same week “The Wall Street Journal” released a survey ranking Virginia Tech as 13th in the nation for top colleges favored by employers looking for workers.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and its computer science department each ranked fifth on the survey, released Monday. By comparison, Penn State was the No. 1 ranked university and the No. 9 ranked college of engineering.

Hundreds of engineering students sought out possible jobs, internships or mere face time with roughly 240 companies and government agencies at the annual Engineering Expo, held Tuesday and Wednesday. The Student Engineers’ Council, a self-funded student organization that hosts the Expo, expected more than 5,000 students from the college’s 13 departments to attend the event.

“It is a very important recognition that comes from all our industry folks who understand how good the Virginia Tech students are,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, of the survey as he visited the Expo on Tuesday.

Released by News Corp.-owned “Wall Street Journal,” the survey quizzed 479 of the nation’s largest public and private companies, nonprofits and government agencies for their top pick universities that produce undergraduates best prepared and most able to succeed on the job. A large chunk of the Top 25 schools were public institutions, as is Virginia Tech. The survey did not include small business owners, nor did it include students graduating with master’s or doctoral degrees.

“Many companies said they need people with practical skills to serve as operations managers, product developers, business analysts, and engineers,” the “Journal” article stated. “For those employees -- the bulk of their work force -- they turn to state institutions or other private schools offering that.”

The ranking came as no surprise to the College of Engineering’s dean’s office on the week of the student-initiated Expo.

“The Student Engineers' Council has consistently produced one of the largest engineering career fairs in the country,” said Lynn Nystrom, faculty adviser to the Student Engineers’ Council and director of news and external relations for the College of Engineering. “The interest of the engineering companies and government agencies in recruiting at Virginia Tech remains constant, in both lean and boom economic times.”

She added, “To maintain a fully registered Expo each year, the students have done an excellent job expanding their data base over the years, following trends such as homeland security contracts, and adding companies to the invitation list. By doing so, they have continually offered a tremendous two-day career fair to the Virginia Tech engineering students.”

The “Journal” survey comes on the heels of the “America’s Best Colleges 2011” rankings released in mid-August by “U.S. News and World Report.” On that poll, the College of Engineering also ranked No. 13 among the nation’s top 20 U.S. engineering schools, a move up from last year’s placement at 14. Among public universities, the College of Engineering ranked seventh.

The Engineering Expo is an extension of the Student Engineers Council's mission to promote the personal and professional development of student engineers at Virginia Tech by helping them to define career goals, pursue career opportunities, and develop leadership skills.

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