I graduate a year from now (Dec. 2012) and am planning on going to grad school for my masters in mechanical engineering. Right now, however, I'm kind of at a loss as to what schools I should be looking at/what ones I would actually have a chance of getting into.
I currently attend Michigan Tech. Tech is usually ranked just below the top 50 mechanical engineering schools for undergrad and grad. Tech also is more known for training engineers for industry - not so much for academia.
I currently just got my GPA up to a 3.75. My GRE scores (in the new scoring system) are 160 for the verbal section and 162 for the quantitative section (86th percentile and 87th percentile, respectively) although those scores aren't technically final (those are the ones reported at the end of the test). The big kicker is that I do not have any research experience. However, I will have 2 years of engineering work experience as of the end of this summer. I'm pretty certain I could get 2 solid letters of recommendation from professors. I have taken two classes from both - one undergrad level, and one grad level - and I'm pretty well know to them. However, both of those professors don't really do any research - they just teach. With any luck, I hope I could befriend another professor this semester and I believe 3 recommendations is what's standard.
Soo, what tier of grad schools should I be looking at? I know I won't be able to get into MIT or anything that ridiculous, but I'm wondering beyond that what seems realistic. I know my grades are fairly reasonable, but it's the lack of research and the recommendation letters from not well-known research profs, that I'm worried about.
I am currently deciding between two concentrations - controls and vibrations. With controls, I'd be looking to go more into the robotics side of things and with vibrations, pretty much just vibrational analysis.