Engineering Majors

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Engineering Majors

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:04 am UTC

Note: All of the below is the semi-rambling thoughts of a high school sophomore. Some/Most/All of it may be naive or misinformed. Be gentle.

So, when people ask me what I plan to do in college, I usually reply "Engineering of some sort". To me, it seems to be a profession both well-paying and intellectually fulfilling, and as such seems perfect for me. The problem is, I have no particular one in mind. Now, to be fair, I have some time before having to choose such a specified option (considering that, from what I've heard you can even change majors in the first year or so of college without much penalty) but I'm still bothered by how little leaning I have at the moment. I was just wondering how you guys feel the different fields are in terms of job market, where there's exciting research, etc. (Forecast a few years into the future, if you can)

Oh, I do have one leaning--I'd rather not go into petroleum engineering. I don't know if anyone was going to mention it, but I hear about it living here in Oklahoma. Frankly, I'd really not like to devote my life and career to the study/use of a substance that is doomed to run out, possibly in my lifetime. It just doesn't seem like a good idea.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Fledermen64 » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:03 am UTC

It really depends on what your interested in. After that you just fine tune a bit. Take me for example, I love electronics and all things to do with them. Making an LED blink "Fuck You!!!" in binary almost gives me a hard-on. So naturally I went electrical engineering. What interests you, what do you like. And yes you can change majors for the first bit especially between engineering fields if you want to go from one feild to the other you have like 2 years where you can change with little to no credit loss. Also, don't apply to college as an engineering major. It makes it harder to get accepted just fill in undecided.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby marshlight » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:09 am UTC

With an engineering degree in any field you can basically go anywhere. For example, I'm majoring in chemical engineering, but that doesn't mean that I strictly have to sit at a plant and design tanks all day. I'm hopefully applying my degree to something in the sustainable energy or environmental field after I graduate. Of course petroleum would pay me much better but I have zero interest in working for them for some of the same reasons you said, and others. If you're going for well-paying and intellectually fulfilling/rigorous, though, I would have to agree that this would be one of the better education choices to make!

My brother had the same deciding problem earlier this year when applying to colleges, and I sent him a bunch of links to common engineering degrees - chemical, mechanical, electrical, computer, civil, environmental - on wikipedia and on my university's website. That way you can read descriptions of the practical applications of the major (wiki) as well as descriptions of courses you'd have to take for any given major (uni). There also are options at some colleges to go into a general engineering major, where they have classes in the first year that let you experience bits of all of the engineering types. You chose which way to go later on in your career. But initial research is always good! (and you might as well get used to it now rather than later...)

Although, as a sophomore, you've got plenty of time. See which courses (and clubs or hobbies!) you like most after the next two years and let that sort of guide you. When I was a sophomore I was still thinking I'd be a teacher or a writer/photographer. A lot can change. Good luck! :)

Edit:
Fledermen64 wrote:Also, don't apply to college as an engineering major. It makes it harder to get accepted just fill in undecided.

Umm... I would definitely not agree with that at all. A lot of engineering programs are very competitive and tend to have small class sizes, so you want to be officially in as soon as possible. It also is significantly harder to switch IN to engineering rather than OUT, at least at my school. You have to get all sorts of crazy forms and things signed if you want to take engineering classes as a non-engineering major. If you know you want to do engineering, it makes no sense to not fill out the form correctly from the get go.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:17 am UTC

Electrical engineering does look interesting...next year I"ll be taking AP E&M, so I should have an opinion on that soon. It's a really broad field, as well.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Fledermen64 » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:20 am UTC

Fledermen64 wrote:Umm... I would definitely not agree with that at all. A lot of engineering programs are very competitive and tend to have small class sizes, so you want to be officially in as soon as possible. It also is significantly harder to switch IN to engineering rather than OUT, at least at my school. You have to get all sorts of crazy forms and things signed if you want to take engineering classes as a non-engineering major. If you know you want to do engineering, it makes no sense to not fill out the form correctly from the get go.


Well i guess its different for each school then. I just switched to engineering as soon as I was accepted. But, I suppose thats the way it is. To the OP, ignore my statement, find out specifically for the schools your going to apply to.

Also look around. If i didnt cock up my first application and get rejected I wouldn't have found where I am now. Dont be married to one school. Oh and if you do find the school you want to go to dont cock up the application. lol

And yea it is a big field. Practically everything these days uses a computer at some level. So there is a lot you could do with it. I have my own bias of course.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby adjective » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:46 am UTC

Just remember there are lots of different types of Engineering so it's more like, what tickles your fancy?

I had a natural choice of going with Mechanical seeing I love cars, I love learning how things work, and making things work. But most engineering involves that in some sort of fashion. So my love of things-- mechanical-- narrowed that down quickly.

Visiting programs is always a good thing to do, also. I remember visiting TAMU's Genetic Engineering department and decided to not go that way based on what I saw. (Nothing too horrible, but not something I would be able to stomach constantly!)

As for switching, I believe it depends on the school, also, and the year you are in. In the US I know it usually easy to switch between courses, but in the UK you have specific years you have to decide things by.

In the long run though the best advice I can give you is that Engineering degrees have been some of the most needed degrees for the last 10-some-odd years. Even more-so at Masters and PHD levels. Good luck!

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Bruce » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:36 am UTC

First thing I must say is that in my experience Engineering is NOT where you go to get money. For the amount of education abilities and responsibility required if anything they tend to be underpaid. There are exceptions, but it is just not the best way to chase dollars. I do it because there is nothing I would rather be doing.

My degree is Robotics and Mechatronics (and a second CS degree). This gives me a very broad coverage, including manufacturing, software, electronics, electrical and mechanical. Most of the subjects in my first year were generic engineering, so I could have moved course pretty easily, but I am very happy with what I did.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby hobbesmaster » Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:40 pm UTC

marshlight wrote:For example, I'm majoring in chemical engineering, but that doesn't mean that I strictly have to sit at a plant and design tanks all day.


Right, you also design pipes. :P

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Electrical engineering does look interesting...next year I"ll be taking AP E&M, so I should have an opinion on that soon. It's a really broad field, as well.


While I can't really say that EE has nothing to do with the E&M you learn in physics, I'll just say that physics educators suck at teaching introductory E&M. (partially because from the way they're teaching it, for it to really make sense you need vector calculus to understand maxwell's laws and tie everything together)

Out of the first few classes at my school in the subject anyways, we drill home circuit analysis, and then semiconductor devices, basics of digital logic, and then how a microprocessor is organized (200 and 300 level classes). The thing is that physics will only briefly give you a glimpse at the first topic here, and odds are you won't understand it very well (if you're like me anyways, it took me quite a while to really get decent at KCL/KVL analysis). From there we do motors, signals&systems, electronics (transistors, diodes) and then E&M (here we do the physics 2 stuff with vector calculus and then transmission lines/antenna type stuff). Then you have your chance at specializing. Physics won't give you much of a peak at any of this, and to be honest, I don't really like the physics-class type stuff, theres plenty of the field outside of that however.

Bruce wrote:First thing I must say is that in my experience Engineering is NOT where you go to get money. For the amount of education abilities and responsibility required if anything they tend to be underpaid. There are exceptions, but it is just not the best way to chase dollars. I do it because there is nothing I would rather be doing.


And if you get a PE and do what you don't like doing (drawing wires for buildings, safety shut offs for pipelines, etc) you'll be making 6 figures. (at least, thats what I've seen) With a bachelor's degree though, your earning capabilities are far above someone with say, a BA in english.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby alexgmcm » Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

Hmm.. I'm in Sixth form in the UK and am thinking of studying Physics at Uni atm but Engineering looks pretty decent too especially as it tends to get a better salary. I understand that it is good to study what you enjoy rather than what pays but spending years as an overworked and underpaid physics graduate or PhD student isn't really appealing.

Also, as mentioned above the deadlines are quite strict over here and its harder to transfer between courses as far as I know so I have to be fairly sure that I make the right decision the first time round.

Of all the engineering disciplines, Electronic, mechanical and civil engineering look the most interesting.. but that's a lot of choices to make :(

Or maybe I should just study physics and hope that science isn't as poorly paid/appreciated as people make out..

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:20 pm UTC

I just switched from Physics to EE - after 2 years. The prospect of being in school for a decade is not all that attractive to me.
I'm currently taking the Physics dept E&M class and I have to say that it sucks. It is most likely the teacher however, since he basically reads to us from the textbook in a monotone. It's a real shame, since I enjoyed the E&M in physics 2. Maybe i'll take it again later with the ECE dept, I imagine it's pretty important since I want to go into power engineering and work on big machines.

In any case, I imagine that an EE graduate with a physics background would be very hireable :wink:

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby alexgmcm » Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:23 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:The prospect of being in school for a decade is not all that attractive to me.

In any case, I imagine that an EE graduate with a physics background would be very hireable :wink:


That's whats making me think about doing EE instead of Phys. Because I don't want to choose to study something that will force me to choose between doing long hours for poor pay for several years or else leaving with just a degree and being forced to do an uninteresting and probably poorly paid job as it appears that most physics careers etc. require a PhD.

But I'm not sure if a PhD is as bad as it sounds although apparently the funding is worse over here than it is in the sates.. still that's years away I just need to choose the right degree programme but I'm worried that decisions that I make now will remove opportunities later on.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:37 pm UTC

I have been thinking the same stuff, but I feel better now that i've made the decision and stopped worrying about it.

Just for some perspective, there is a new professor in my physics department who has his B.S. and PhD in Electrical Engineering. But he is considered a professor of physics (since his research is in electromagnetics).

You have to really really really love physics to study and do it, and I think it is true that no other program will prepare you for a graduate program in straight theoretical physics than a physics B.S., however one can very easily get into applied, computational, or experimental physics with an engineering degree.

I actually think that EE will give me many more opportunities, while only perhaps removing one (theoretical physics).

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby alexgmcm » Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:53 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:I have been thinking the same stuff, but I feel better now that i've made the decision and stopped worrying about it.

Just for some perspective, there is a new professor in my physics department who has his B.S. and PhD in Electrical Engineering. But he is considered a professor of physics (since his research is in electromagnetics).

You have to really really really love physics to study and do it, and I think it is true that no other program will prepare you for a graduate program in straight theoretical physics than a physics B.S., however one can very easily get into applied, computational, or experimental physics with an engineering degree.

I actually think that EE will give me many more opportunities, while only perhaps removing one (theoretical physics).



Hmm.. Doesn't this also work the other way though? I mean if you can get a lot of physics jobs with an engineering degree then presumably you can also get a lot of engineering jobs with a physics degree? I'm just guessing though so that might not be true.

Still it seems like a hard (i.e life-changing) decision to make, and I only have until September to make it.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

No, in general a physics graduate will lack critical skills necessary for the engineering world. That's not to say they can't learn engineering concepts, it's just not part of the physics curriculum.

That is also not to say companies won't hire physics majors, but they will be much more likely to hire someone who has a well rounded education in the specific area they are looking for (Mech Eng, EE, whatever). At the last job fair I was asked if I had taken any power engineering courses, I definitely plan to, but a physics major would not have the pre-requisite courses nor the time to do so.

The concept of "Physics Jobs" is a strange one. The academic physics world seems to be less about "jobs" and more about appointments, fellowships, professorships. What I am saying is that an engineer could quite easily fill the role of a "senior scientist" at some business, or participate in applied physics research, but his expertise would most likely stop at researching quantum field theory :wink:

Of course, you can always take extra physics classes. I'm taking quantum mechanics because it's interesting, and also parallel processing because supercomputers are awesome. Who needs a good reason?

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby alexgmcm » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:12 pm UTC

Yeah, I think I will look at the different physics and electronic engineering courses that are offered and then make my decision.. it doesn't look like there is gonna be an easy answer though :(

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:57 pm UTC

How about a tiebreaker.
If you like to build stuff and get your hands dirty, do engineering.

At least that was the tiebreaker for me...

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby lazarus89 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:30 am UTC

Bruce wrote:First thing I must say is that in my experience Engineering is NOT where you go to get money.


Not so. Electrical engineering taught half my classmates how to code like the wind. Come graduation, they were snapped up by investment banks. If you stick it out for seven or eight years at those places, it is not unreasonable to net half a million every year.

Don't ever sell yourself short as an engineer. The fact that you chose to pretty much torture yourself for four years and gain analytical skills that the vast majority of college graduates do not have marks you as special in employers' eyes. Bargain accordingly during job interviews.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby rdub » Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:52 am UTC

If you like science and math engineering is a good way to go. You tend to be more marketable as an engineer than as a pure science major.

I am an electrical engineering grad student, and in my completely unbiased opinion, EE is the way to go. It tends to be one of the more broad engineering fields, so you can study anything you want. Computer science to signal/image processing to communications to semiconductors, you pretty much have the full range. Energy and nanotechnology are also big for EEs, though they are both pretty multidisciplinary, so no matter what field you get into, you can do those.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby cypherspace » Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:21 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:No, in general a physics graduate will lack critical skills necessary for the engineering world. That's not to say they can't learn engineering concepts, it's just not part of the physics curriculum.
I disagree. As a physics graduate, I am biased, but I've moved into the engineering (electrical engineering specifically) world, where there are many other physics graduates, and I was told that my background was actually an advantage over many others. The general perception is that physics gives you such a wide range of abilities that you can easily adapt to any specialisation.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:53 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:
Angstrom wrote:No, in general a physics graduate will lack critical skills necessary for the engineering world. That's not to say they can't learn engineering concepts, it's just not part of the physics curriculum.
I disagree. As a physics graduate, I am biased, but I've moved into the engineering (electrical engineering specifically) world, where there are many other physics graduates, and I was told that my background was actually an advantage over many others. The general perception is that physics gives you such a wide range of abilities that you can easily adapt to any specialisation.


Like I said, physics graduates can still learn engineering practices, it just takes some extra time. It may be an advantage in certain specific fields of EE (such as electromagnetics, or semiconductors), but in general engineering companies will hire an EE B.S. way before a physics B.S. just because of their immediate usefulness.
I also figure that a graduate program in EE would be close to applied physics, there isn't THAT much to learn in straight EE.

In the end, it comes down to your work experience and skills.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby DeputyVanHalen » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:16 pm UTC

Depending on your focus, you can get your B.S. and M.S. in engineering and then get a PhD in physics. My concentration was in optics (in EE) and unless I went to Amherst, Cal Poly, or MIT, I would have to go into the Physics department to get a PhD.

Choosing your engineering discipline isn't set in stone until after your 2nd year of university... and after that you can switch but you'll have lost time. If I were you, I'd go into one of the major four for your B.S. and then choose a more focused engineering discipline (Computer, Fire Protection, Aerospace, etc) for your Masters. The only one I would stay away from is Industrial as it is considered THE cake engineering major.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby lazarus89 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:59 pm UTC

DeputyVanHalen wrote:Depending on your focus, you can get your B.S. and M.S. in engineering and then get a PhD in physics. My concentration was in optics (in EE) and unless I went to Amherst, Cal Poly, or MIT, I would have to go into the Physics department to get a PhD.


Would it be out of line for me to ask what variant of optics you studied? I studied optics (concentrating on semiconductor lasers) at undergrad, and I'm looking to get back into the field... any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby hobbesmaster » Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:36 am UTC

I also figure that a graduate program in EE would be close to applied physics, there isn't THAT much to learn in straight EE.


What is straight EE? Computer architecture? Signals? Controls? Power distribution?

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby adjective » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:13 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:How about a tiebreaker.
If you like to build stuff and get your hands dirty, do engineering.

At least that was the tiebreaker for me...


If only it were this easy anymore. Majority if Engineers don't "get dirty" anymore. But ones who do "get dirty" are usually better at it in the long run. This is also why I'm doing internships in workshops and the like rather than in an office. Knowing what you're dealing with = +++ ;]

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Military » Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:45 am UTC

I would say whether or not you are getting dirty in the job field isn't an issue, the same things that make getting dirty fun make engineering fun, tinkering with things and solving a problem. With engr its mainly theoretical.

Don't let the term chemical in front scare you away, with chem engr your dealing with a lot of abstract data, I believe more so then MechE, and EE, definitely more so the CS. you have to have the ability to make assumptions, is this pressure low enough so that I can assume Ideality and save 2 hours of work or do I need to look up 10 constants make sure the corilate and do 5 or six iterations. Maybe the pressures good enough but are you willing to risk a $1/2 million reactor on that? MechE deal with loads and heats that beams and such can take, when will an axil break(this is what I understand from my statics and deformable class). EE is alot of pushing electrons the right way to get an intended result and from what I understand is a lot like programming in many ways, though you do seems to have a more concrete product.

With all that, I am a third year student at a mid-level engineering school with no real world experience. these are just my impressions given to me by professors and other students in different engr fields

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Solt » Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:06 am UTC

Bruce wrote:First thing I must say is that in my experience Engineering is NOT where you go to get money. For the amount of education abilities and responsibility required if anything they tend to be underpaid. There are exceptions, but it is just not the best way to chase dollars.


My guess would be that engineering is the highest payed profession in terms of how long it takes to get the degree. Only two years of engineering courses and you can make $45k+ starting- that's not for the better candidates, that's pretty much the minimum starting salary you'll find. Sure you can make more with a 2 year MBA, but only if your degree is from one of the top ranked schools. Engineering is definitely well compensated.



For OP:
The classical advice is to follow your interests and not the market, otherwise you'll be miserable. And believe me, you do NOT want to be miserable in an engineering curriculum. You won't survive.

The job market is obviously heavily in favor of EE and CS majors right now and probably will be for a while. Next is ME, which in addition to its traditional role as a mainstay of engineering is becoming very important because of issues like the energy crisis and the need to manufacture smaller electronics (and nanotech), as well as the materials renaissance.

Civil Engineering, in the opinion of anyone who is not a civil engineer, is boring as hell. Sure you get to build skyscrapers and bridges, but the thing is the designs are all the same and you don't do anything new or exciting until you get to the Ph.D. level. Think balancing a building on enormous steel balls to reduce the effects of earthquakes. Yea, they're not going to let some guy with a Bachelor's do that. Although I imagine there is excitement to be had in urban planning (ie, how do you bring water to 15 million people across 100 miles of desert kind of stuff). And CE does get points for the way in which it impacts people's lives- after all they design the cities we live in. Given the typical size of civil engineering projects, I think the forecast for CE won't change for a very long time- steady but an overall low level of demand.

I must warn that like other posters I am pretty biased, but I personally think ME has the most promise in terms of demand and job market and general interest. EE and CS are the most interesting, but they are becoming limited and single minded. EE is obsessed with shrinking electronics and making them more powerful/versatile. With the advent of super cheap microcomputers, a lot of what EEs used to do is being handed over to ME or CS. That means that like CE, you have to get a higher degree to do new and interesting things in EE (and you might as well get a physics degree instead).

I have no idea what to say about CS since I am but a lowly ME. On one hand, it's always possible that people will decide they like 2-D visual interfaces and the internet as is and that AI is a futile pursuit, and the field will die out. Or, crazy shit could keep happening, like new kinds of networks and machine intelligence and new applications of computer technology. Note: CS is not the same thing as programming. Every engineering field will have tons of programming. CS is more of an obsession with the very concept of a computer. Pure computer science is a guy looking back and forth between a human brain and a math book and going "that is SO cool."

Compared to the other kinds of engineering, Mechanical Engineering is less about the specifics, and more about the process of engineering. It is concerned with taking scientific knowledge, math, and preexisting technologies and combining them to create new solutions to any given problem. ME is less about the technology, more about how the technology interacts with the world. That also means ME deals a lot more with things like project management and interaction between systems than the other types of engineering. This all means it has a fabulous outlook and growing demand. On the research side, ME is more of a jumping point into other fields. There's the materials aspect: how to build stronger and lighter and cheaper materials, and how to use them in your machines. Nanotechnology is a subfield of materials with heat transfer and fluids thrown in, though there are strong elements of electrical engineering, chemistry, biology, and pure physics as well. Energy deals with ME's second oldest field (after mechanics), thermodynamics/fluids. How to get work from heat, how to do it more efficiently, how to burn stuff, and so on. There are also newer sub-disciplines to consider, like combustion and heat transfer. The newest field of mechanical engineering is embedded systems and controls, using programming, mechanical design, and physical modeling experience to build things like robots and planes and rockets and cars.

All the other fields are some combination of the big 4. Chemical Engineering concentrates on a chunk of mechanical engineering. Petroleum is chemical with civil thrown in (I think). Bio engineering is mechanical and electrical combined with, well, biology. Nuclear engineering is mechanical with nuclear physics.

Damn. I really need to stop typing. Basically I'm trying to say, choose what you're most interested in, but consider if you want to do research or engineering projects.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby jmorgan3 » Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:39 am UTC

This is a great satire article from Georgia Tech's newspaper about the different engineering disciplines.
http://www.nique.net/nique/article/121
One thing to add about aerospace engineering: it's a lot like mechanical, but with much cooler classes and much worse job prospects. You should still do what interests you, though.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Steve » Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:24 pm UTC

as a soon to be graduating Aerospace Engineer, the job prospects can be true or false depending on how you look at it. It is certainly true that the strict aerodynamics job market is both small and shrinking, however due to the class structure, the amount of jobs available to you is HUGE. Some common threads are investment (apply the advanced math skills used), myriad fluid dynamics jobs (I know firsthand these can go for 100k+ per year if you are gold hunting), and we are a prized commodity for the government contracting area, as an Aero has the breadth of knowledge to tie everyone else together when it comes to advanced military technology.

The real downside to aerospace is that the difference between it and mechanical is harder classes and less ability to drink beer.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby kid c » Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:09 am UTC

Hello there, I made it all the way through school and got my shiny mechanical engineering degree, and have been working for about a year and a half now.So heres a few scraps of info that nobody told me.

1. All engineering classes are curved.
2. Be prepared to have mostly engineering friends.
3. No girls. They are all robots.
4. Its harder than you would guess.

theres other stuff too, but you gotta learn it on your own :wink:
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:54 am UTC

Wow, good advice all. My comment on jobs and money seems to have made some people think I overvalue the economic aspects of things--in reality, I just mean that if I have a degree and can't get a job with it, it doesn't do me much good does it? I, like everyone, like to make money, but that isn't the principal goal in engineering--I'd go be a lawyer or doctor, both of which are probably well within my capabilities, if I were after solely money.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Steve » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:11 am UTC

kid c wrote:Hello there, I made it all the way through school and got my shiny mechanical engineering degree, and have been working for about a year and a half now.So heres a few scraps of info that nobody told me.

1. All engineering classes are curved.
2. Be prepared to have mostly engineering friends.
3. No girls. They are all robots.
4. Its harder than you would guess.

theres other stuff too, but you gotta learn it on your own :wink:


Yea, the hardest adjustment I had to make was understanding that sometimes getting a 50% on a test is phenomenal...and sometimes you just failed.

And when it comes to girls, you HAVE to do some outside clubs or take non-engineering classes or something.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby adjective » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:52 am UTC

kid c wrote:Hello there, I made it all the way through school and got my shiny mechanical engineering degree, and have been working for about a year and a half now.So heres a few scraps of info that nobody told me.

1. All engineering classes are curved.
2. Be prepared to have mostly engineering friends.
3. No girls. They are all robots.
4. Its harder than you would guess.

theres other stuff too, but you gotta learn it on your own :wink:


God if only. Professors in England do not believe in curves. This is why 40% is passing in this country.

And also. I'm a female engineer! And there are some others on my course, too :) We're just as rare as the females in the physics department though ;]

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Angstrom » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:23 pm UTC

Hmm, i'd almost go so far as to say that there are more girls in physics. At least that's been my experience. However, I have to say that I like the girls in engineering better (as far as personality - just nicer people).

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby adjective » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:12 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:Hmm, i'd almost go so far as to say that there are more girls in physics. At least that's been my experience. However, I have to say that I like the girls in engineering better (as far as personality - just nicer people).


A lot of my Physics friends have actually said that. Well, that Engineers have better personalities. Then again we're all kind of odd.

Right now in my year there are 2 girls in physics and 3 (including myself) in Engineering. This number will most likely go up next year though.

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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby kid c » Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:46 pm UTC

well the biomeds had a rather large selection of the fairer sex, but in the mechanical department my class started out with maybe 8 girls, and it got whittled all the way down to 3 by the time we graduated.

And now in my company we have.... 2 actual female engineers out of 180ish people. Although we have some women drafters.

so basically hope you have friends of friends who know women for you to date lol. thats how i survived. :wink:
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby marshlight » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:21 am UTC

My year in cheme has a ton of girls; a little less than half our class(of ~50) is female, I believe. It's pretty cool to not be a total minority.

Also guys I have been in the computer lab for over 12 hours straight. Just wanted to vent. Sometimes this major is gross. x_x
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby der inititator » Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:57 pm UTC

If you really know what you want to do, and what fantasizes you, study this. But if you don't know for sure, I would advise to study ME, because it is the most open field. If you find out you like electronics, during you time at college, go into mechatronics. There is always a tech major for every interdisciplinary field you like. And you can also major in the ME fields like building cars or automatisation or whatever.

And ME is mostly not about getting dirty. Well we have to do internships while studying, but only eight of the 26 weeks we have to do, are somewhere where you can get dirty. Most of the time you are sitting in front of your computer and design machines or write programs to make it easier to design better machines.

Steve wrote:as a soon to be graduating Aerospace Engineer, the job prospects can be true or false depending on how you look at it. It is certainly true that the strict aerodynamics job market is both small and shrinking, however due to the class structure, the amount of jobs available to you is HUGE. Some common threads are investment (apply the advanced math skills used), myriad fluid dynamics jobs (I know firsthand these can go for 100k+ per year if you are gold hunting),



Besides that most of the aerospace engineers at our university go into leightweight structures, and can work everywhere they want.

kid c wrote:
1. All engineering classes are curved.
2. Be prepared to have mostly engineering friends.
3. No girls. They are all robots.
4. Its harder than you would guess.




We started with 300 hundred male engineers and about thirty female engineers, and I don't want to sound sexist, but mostly it's hard to recognize them, cause they almost look like male students. Not all of them, but almost all.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby RockoTDF » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:45 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:So, when people ask me what I plan to do in college, I usually reply "Engineering of some sort". To me, it seems to be a profession both well-paying and intellectually fulfilling, and as such seems perfect for me. The problem is, I have no particular one in mind. Now, to be fair, I have some time before having to choose such a specified option (considering that, from what I've heard you can even change majors in the first year or so of college without much penalty) but I'm still bothered by how little leaning I have at the moment. I was just wondering how you guys feel the different fields are in terms of job market, where there's exciting research, etc. (Forecast a few years into the future, if you can)


Keep in mind that after about 10 years of being an engineer in the US, you'll probably end up managing more projects than doing actual engineering. Unless you go into academia or work at a company that takes on less traditional approaches to how things are done, you might lose a lot of the fulfillment if leadership isn't your thing. But I'm not an engineer so I can't say much about that in depth.

The odd thing about high school is that people are led to believe that all fields are basically core classes in more depth. For example, I hated high school biology and all the physiological stuff in my AP psych class. Now I'm applying to go to grad school for Neuroscience. So I guess what I'm saying is that high school students really need to do more research on what the related fields are so that they don't shut out potential majors. Ie if a student hates physics, he shouldn't write off EE and so on. You seem to be asking the right questions, unlike so many others your age.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby Tau_Zero » Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:29 am UTC

Hurray for engineering! I'm currently a second-year Chem Engineer at the Rutgers School of Engineering. There's a lot of good advice in here so far, so I'll just add what I've gotten so far from my experience.

I was like you for a long time in high school. The general feel I got was that the straight up physicists, chemists, etc. would be doing more of the theoretical and subject-oriented business, while engineers would be doing more of the application of this knowledge, but can also do research. Saying you do engineering, but don't know what kind, is like saying, "I want to major in solving problems with MATH and SCIENCE!" But, not to worry, you'll learn eventually where you want to be.

I was fortunate enough to take a metric ton of math and science courses taught a bit above standard AP level through a program at my high school, so I got a decent feel for the basics of the various major science fields and the applications. Throughout the years we had small projects, but senior year we had two major "engineering" projects where we worked in groups of 3 for half a year on each (I did inductrack trains for one and holographic security for the other). After all of this in conjunction with what I got from reading bits and pieces on the various engineering fields, I had a pretty good idea going into college that I wanted to be a ChemE. However, many of my friends had a set of fields they were considering or had no real preference yet.

The first year for engineers is usually a core year that all engineers do. This is the math and low level science courses and such that form the basis for all of the fields. You're then asked to choose where you'd like to go, which by this point you probably will have a decent idea of. Once that choice is made, you start taking more field-specific courses. You may find that what you chose isn't really as great as you thought and that you might be happier elsewhere. As long as you don't mind staying a little longer to make up for lost time, you can switch. From what I've seen, they treat engineers as more mature individuals and let you make your own choices based on whether you can handle what you want to do.

Graduate education varies from field to field. Some engineering areas you're going to want to get your masters. Others, like ChemE, you're better off working a year and then getting your MBA instead of a masters in ChE if you want to work, or go all the way through a ChE PhD and do research or academics. You said you don't want to work in the petroleum field. Don't discount ChemE as a field solely involved with that; even the professors are saying now that 75% of us are going to be working in other areas, whether it's alternate energy or something else. The job market for engineers is pretty good. Civil is near the bottom starting around 47k (all numbers as of 2006-2007 grads) to ChemE at the top with 60k.

And I'll finish with one example of how even with an engineering major, you might be working in some totally different field. My uncle graduated as an EE from RU. The job market was kinda crappy, so he went to law school. Now he's a patent attorney and is doing rather well. Sure, he had to do some extra work, but that engineering degree gave him a HUGE advantage and head start to wherever he wanted to go.
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Re: Engineering Majors

Postby iop » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:26 pm UTC

marshlight wrote:With an engineering degree in any field you can basically go anywhere.

How true.

I did a masters in materials engineering. I did an internship with Procter&Gamble where I worked on packaging, and at the uni I did for example a project designing new metal/ceramic composites for computer heat sinks. Even though I loved materials engineering because of its flexibility, and its interdisciplinarity, life went a bit different than anticipated, and now I'm a postdoc in cell biology.

Whatever kind of engineering you do, learn math, statistics and coding, and the important numbers by heart.


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