best in class

Annual report ranks Houston university as the best in Texas

Rice University ranks in the top 10 universities in the country, per this new report. Photo courtesy of Rice University

There's something to be said for consistency. In a new report card from Niche.com, Rice University retains its No. 7 ranking among the best colleges in the U.S. and its No. 1 ranking among the best colleges in Texas.

Niche.com, which helps students and parents pick schools, relies on data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education to compile its annual rankings, as well as reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents.

Here are the top 10 schools in Niche.com's ranking of the country's best colleges:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Harvard University
  3. Stanford University
  4. Yale University
  5. Princeton University
  6. Duke University
  7. Rice University
  8. Brown University
  9. University of Pennsylvania
  10. Dartmouth College

Only two of the top 10 schools — Rice and Stanford — are west of the Mississippi River.

In this year's ranking, Niche.com de-emphasized the importance of SAT and ACT scores by 50 percent. In making that decision, Niche.com cited socioeconomic and racial disparities perpetuated by standardized tests, challenges making appointments for in-person tests due to COVID-19, and a rising number of institutions adopting test-optional policies.

"Our team recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as new variants such as the delta variant arise, will continue to have an outsize impact on the college admissions process this year," Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche.com, says in an August 16 news release. "We wanted to make sure our 2022 rankings reflect the current reality."

Rice is no stranger to accolades like the Niche.com ranking. It appears at No. 16 on U.S. News & World Report's most recent list of the top national universities, and at No. 16 in the most recent The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings of top U.S. colleges. In both cases, Rice is the top-rated school in Texas.

On Niche.com's national list, the highest-ranked Texas school behind Rice is the University of Texas at Austin (No. 52). Meanwhile, UT holds the No. 14 spot nationally among the best colleges for student life, making it the top Texas school in that category.

Among nationally ranked schools, UT Austin is followed in Texas' top 10 by:

  • Texas A&M University in College Station, No. 80
  • Southern Methodist University in Dallas, No. 88
  • Trinity University in San Antonio, No. 96
  • Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, No. 115
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 145
  • LeTourneau University in Longview, No. 162
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 168
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 209

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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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