ot; kid studying engineering

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Submitted by scaredyclassic on August 24, 2011 - 10:25pm

so, if you were a kid starting college interested in science and engineering, is there any particular school or area of study that seems particularly attractive nowadays?

Submitted by blake on August 24, 2011 - 10:32pm.

Stay away from compsci

Submitted by AN on August 24, 2011 - 10:44pm.

School depends on whether your kids want to be done w/ school after 4 years or want to go on and get their MS/Ph.D. UC tend to teach more theories, which would benefits those who go on to get their MS/Ph.D. CSU on the other hand tend to be more practical, which would be more beneficial if you go directly to the work force after college. If you have the money and your kids have the smart to get in and succeed at that level, try to shoot for MIT/Caltech/Standford/etc. It's a little easier to get into the top companies (Google/Apple/etc). Example would be (guessing at GPA here) a 3.0 GPA ant those top universities would get you an interview those top companies but a 3.0 GPA at SDSU might not (assuming everything else is similar).

With regards to which discipline, I think it's easier to get a job with Compsci vs the other engineering degrees. So go w/ Compsi if your kid like it.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on August 24, 2011 - 11:11pm.

thanks. he's not a computer type person, he's more of a reality type kid. doing very well in ap science classes. some hs alum attending cal st san marcos came by to recruit and he was excited by the guy's pitch. maybe he should shoot a little higher though...hate the idea of encouraging him to go out and away into the world, but maybe it is the right thing after all...

Submitted by AN on August 24, 2011 - 11:22pm.

walterwhite wrote:
thanks. he's not a computer type person, he's more of a reality type kid. doing very well in ap science classes. some hs alum attending cal st san marcos came by to recruit and he was excited by the guy's pitch. maybe he should shoot a little higher though...hate the idea of encouraging him to go out and away into the world, but maybe it is the right thing after all...

What AP sciences are you referring to? Bio/chem/etc? If he tried programming and doesn't like it, then I agree, stay away from compsci. If he like bio/chem/etc. he can go into Bioengineering or Chemical engineering. UCSD was #1 in Bioengineering about 15 years ago. Not sure where they are today. Whether you encourage him to go out or not, whatever you do, don't make him stay if he wants to go. He'll remember it forever and he'll replay the what if in his head periodically.

My thinking is, if you have the $ to pay for him to apply to various colleges, it doesn't hurt to apply to all the big names as well as the locals (have the dream colleges, the realistic colleges, and the back up college). After he get all the acceptance letter back, then you can sit down and decide which one is right. It better to have choices and be the one who do the deciding vs being forced to go to a particular college because you didn't apply to enough and get rejected from the one you thought you would get into.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on August 24, 2011 - 11:33pm.

chem. physics.

i generally believe the secret to happiness is aiming kind of low.

i am not very good at making my kids do anything.

Submitted by sdrealtor on August 24, 2011 - 11:37pm.

My niece is at Cal Poly Pomona and is a Physics Major. She is doing great and spent the past Summer on Capital Hill as a Congressional Intern. Very good school, not obscenely expensive and far enough away to be independent but not too far not to come home for a weekend if she wants.

Submitted by CDMA ENG on August 24, 2011 - 11:42pm.

DONT DO IT!!!

:P

CE

Submitted by AN on August 24, 2011 - 11:48pm.

I have a lot of respect for Physics majors, especially after I took Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Thinking about the law of relativity makes my head hurt and the more I think about it, the more confuse I get.

I don't know much about either majors, so I'll leave it to those who know to advise you.

Submitted by eavesdropper on August 24, 2011 - 11:50pm.

walterwhite wrote:
so, if you were a kid starting college interested in science and engineering, is there any particular school or area of study that seems particularly attractive nowadays?

With the incredible advances in microbiology and genetics, and the advances in computers and instrumentation over the past 30 years (hey, the baby boomers did some things right), there has never been a more exciting and challenging time for a high school kid to be starting a career in the sciences. Here are some of my recommendations:

* Biomedical engineering (including cellular, tissue, genetic, biomechanical, and biopharmaceutical engineering)
http://www.bmes.org/aws/BMES/pt/sp/about

* Medicine, particularly infectious disease, epidemiology, public health

* Informatics (incl. public health informatics, clinical research informatics, and translational bioinformatics)
--The link below is for the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). If you look to the left of the page, you'll see links to the various areas of informatics.
www.amia.org/about-amia/science-informatics

Below is the website for The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which is kind of an umbrella advocacy organization for researchers in the biological and biomedical sciences. The link opens to a page of the professional societies they cover; each of those links should be a good place for you and your kid to gather info on possible career choices.
www.faseb.org/Who-We-Are/Constituent-Soc...

If your child has worked hard and has very impressive academic records and SAT results, and money is not a huge problem, have him/her apply to Ivy League or private schools that have strong science reps (e.g., Duke, Johns Hopkins, Stanford). He can probably earn scholarships, and many of these schools are well-endowed and provide a LOT of aid.

If money is a problem, there are many very fine state schools with great science programs (Univ. of Michigan, Ohio State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UCLA, UC Berkley). Very competitive, so grades/record will have to be excellent.

If both money and grades are a problem, try a wide range of state schools, or else send him to a GOOD community college for two years to get the grades up. Keep in mind that, in many of these jobs, postgrad education is a virtual certainty. So there is time to get those grades up after high school if necessary. Plenty of mediocre H.S. students end up in Ivys for their graduate science studies. Also, many graduate science programs carry stipends for teaching that can cover tuition and room/board. So look for schools/career choices that are more likely to offer that.

If your child is not fluent in at least one foreign language (or even if he/she is), I'd recommend language courses in all four years (in all 8 semesters, if possible). Think about the possibility of Chinese. I may get my ass kicked by some, but more and more of the significant research is done overseas, in Europe and in Asia. While our esteemed all-wise congress has sweated over creating a favorable atmosphere for corporations, they've basically told science to go to hell by slashing budget after budget for research and education assistance, and by "reforming" education with programs like "No Student Left Behind" that teach students to pass nonchallenging standardized tests rather than teaching them to think. Unless there is a drastic and immediate change in attitude by our congress and our political "leaders", your child will have to seek a postgraduate job overseas.

Submitted by eavesdropper on August 24, 2011 - 11:56pm.

Also, there are lots of documentaries where your kid could get an idea of what these people really do, and whether the field would interest him. You can get them on Netflix, and some of the professional societies offer them, too.

I'd definitely check out Bioengineering: it's a very diverse, expansive field, and the stuff that they are doing is incredible. Like sci-fi.

Submitted by briansd1 on August 25, 2011 - 12:02am.

I hear a report just today on radio about petroleum engineering. In the near future, they will need to come out with new ways of extracting.

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/displ...

One of my young cousins is in TX/LA in the oil industry. Just got married, doing great and having a great time.

Might get a chance to travel the world too.

Submitted by AN on August 25, 2011 - 12:10am.

BTW, you mentioned Chem and Physics but you didn't mention Calculus/Pre-Calc or Bio. How did he do in those?

Submitted by Zeitgeist on August 25, 2011 - 1:07am.

I recommend robotics.

Submitted by maybe on August 25, 2011 - 2:09am.

There's some good input already on these threads. Here's a couple of thoughts:

Electrical Eng: It is hard to go wrong with EE. They are always in demand, but it may be a little too abstract for a kid who likes to touch things. Math is life and death in this field-- if you can't do it, you die.

Petroleum Eng: steady demand, well-paid work, and very applied field of study. If you want to study it, though, I'd recommend finding a school in Texas. A petroleum engineer from UT is in much greater demand by the oil industry than any scientist/engineer from Harvard.

Chem. Eng: also steady high demand, but also very math-driven.

Aerospace Eng: demand comes and goes depending on how much money gov't wants to spend on the military. Plus-- the salaries tend to be a little low since there are people who would work for free designing planes. I'd stay away from the field if I were young and wanted job stability.

Civil Eng: low demand unless/until you become a professional engineer. However, the math is relatively easy.

Mechanical Eng: Steady demand, but the hands-on people in this field (e.g., design engineers) get paid relatively low.

Bioeng/ Biomedical Eng: May have changed over the last 20 years, but it used to be that there was not a lot you could do with an undergrad BioEng degree other than go to grad school or go to medical school. May have changed, but I'd still be cautious.

Submitted by AN on August 25, 2011 - 2:25am.

maybe wrote:
Electrical Eng: It is hard to go wrong with EE. They are always in demand, but it may be a little too abstract for a kid who likes to touch things. Math is life and death in this field-- if you can't do it, you die.

I can personally vouch for this statement. But the demand is much less than CS. Out of the handful of EE friends that I still keep in touch with, only 2 are doing EE related work. One is doing PM (Project Management) and 5 are doing CS work.

Submitted by UCGal on August 25, 2011 - 8:53am.

AN wrote:
maybe wrote:
Electrical Eng: It is hard to go wrong with EE. They are always in demand, but it may be a little too abstract for a kid who likes to touch things. Math is life and death in this field-- if you can't do it, you die.

I can personally vouch for this statement. But the demand is much less than CS. Out of the handful of EE friends that I still keep in touch with, only 2 are doing EE related work. One is doing PM (Project Management) and 5 are doing CS work.

EE's mostly end up doing software or embedded software. (Raising my hand as an example)

Personally, I'd be looking at it from a few perspectives... what is easily outsourced vs what is harder to be outsourced.

Civil and structural engineering are harder to outsource since they have to be able to be at a job site. That said - who knows when large development will kick back in - civil is all about dirt, grading, water, etc. Structural is everything from retaining walls, to support beams in buildings. Both civil and structural seem to charge high fees (at least it appears that way from a consumer point of view - we had a civil and 2 structural engineers on our casita.)

Petroleum engineering was mentioned - but what about Geology. You can have careers in the oil/nat'l gas field - or do soil reports for building. So there are multiple career paths.

The other fields, depending on how motivated a student. Nursing - especially if you go for nurse practitioner... cheaper than getting an MD, but lower future salary potential. Physicians Assistant - much shorter school commitment, but only a few schools have programs. More demand for PA's and NP's to contain healthcare costs.

If your son is really motivated - along the nursing line... but teaching... Get a PhD in nursing. There is a HUGE shortage of nurse educators. My stepmom is a Phd nurse and they won't let her quit/retire. It's a field with HUGE demand.

Submitted by jstoesz on August 25, 2011 - 9:48am.

Without reading anyone else's postings...sorry guys, I am just too excited to wait to answer this question...

CAL POLY SLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best school, best price, best location.

The location and price alone put it in the top ranks, but the quality of education is amazing, assuming your kid is self motivated and stubborn. There is no hand holding there. ½ of my freshman class did not make it to graduation in the ME department. But the ones that did, all got jobs and still have them at least of the people I stay in contact with.

It is a state school price with an education far superior to any UC engineering programs (at least my last 2 employers have felt that way)!

Getting in can be a problem though.

edit: The Alum have a strong sense of nepotism. My two jobs post grad have been populated with a large percentage of Cal Poly Grads. And people who come to interview who are from Cal Poly rise to the top of the stack.

Edit X2: Did I mention that San Luis Obispo is the finest place to live in the entire country? If I could get a job there, I would move back in a second. The finest place.

Submitted by Hobie on August 25, 2011 - 10:18am.

First, congratulate yourselves for motivating him this far. Has he been accepted to a college or will you be in application hell this year?

His professors and experiences now will spark an interest better than whatever is the career du jour listed in Forbes.

Encourage him to intern in various specialties. Meet and talk to folks in field and he will find his interest.

Submitted by sdduuuude on August 25, 2011 - 12:04pm.

I tell people that my path through college was the right one - go to a big, cheap state school with a half-decent program in your area of interest. If you go to grad school, pay the big bucks and go to a top school. This way only 1/3 of your education is expensive and you still get the big-name school on the resume, and you get the better education when you are more mature and actually interested in learning something.

It didn't come to my mind right away, but I think SLO is a decent choice. Many large state schools have good engineering programs, though.

There is nothing wrong with general engineering degrees, either. Make sure they can handle at least pre-calculus in high-school. Math should be easy for them. If not, it's off to business school.

And please, for god's sake, make your little engineers take economics.

Submitted by flu on August 25, 2011 - 12:35pm.

UCGal wrote:
AN wrote:
maybe wrote:
Electrical Eng: It is hard to go wrong with EE. They are always in demand, but it may be a little too abstract for a kid who likes to touch things. Math is life and death in this field-- if you can't do it, you die.

I can personally vouch for this statement. But the demand is much less than CS. Out of the handful of EE friends that I still keep in touch with, only 2 are doing EE related work. One is doing PM (Project Management) and 5 are doing CS work.

EE's mostly end up doing software or embedded software. (Raising my hand as an example)

me too.

Quote:

Personally, I'd be looking at it from a few perspectives... what is easily outsourced vs what is harder to be outsourced.

Imho this is going to be lesser of an issue moving forward...With a weakened U.S. dollar and predicted shortages of people not entering this profession in the U.S., the demand will be there, since "outsourcing" isn't necessarily going to be on cost moving forward.

Submitted by eavesdropper on August 25, 2011 - 12:42pm.

AN wrote:
BTW, you mentioned Chem and Physics but you didn't mention Calculus/Pre-Calc or Bio. How did he do in those?

AN makes an *excellent* point, scaredy. Your kid's got to have the complete package to get into a good university program in any science or engineering-related major.

If your son does manage to zero in on a field that interests him, check out the HS courses that are required for admission. Don't know what grade he's in, but make sure he takes the entire math-science-language curriculum laid out for HS students headed for science/engineering undergrad, following the recommended schedule.

Also, if your kid does get excited about a particular career, have him look at the 4-year undergrad course schedule so that he clearly understands the demands. Many times, students are floored by the type, number, and difficulty of required courses for a particular major (e.g., kids that are "C.S.I." fans/forensic criminology hopefuls are often shocked to learn of the 4 or 5 required chem courses, along with several others in biology, genetics, physics, and anthropology), and they end up dropping the major, having given no thought to a back-up career choice. All they have to show for their time (and parents' money) is a permanent transcript sporting an abundance of Ds, Fs, or Ws.

If your child has a genuine interest in science, but doesn't always appear be the most motivated student, or isn't earning the excellent grades that some of his "science superhero" classmates are, DON'T assume that he can't have a career in the sciences or in engineering. As I mentioned earlier, he can attend a good-quality community college for many of his introductory English, mathematics, and science courses and, for 2 years, work on building up his academic record. A good CC will have a reciprocity agreement with your state university system (be sure to check this out ahead prior to enrollment), which pretty much means that the CC's course is very closely aligned with that of the state university. If he meets the admission requirements for a particular state university degree program, they have to apply his CC credits toward the degree. This scenario will give your kid a chance to develop the discipline required for an academic and professional career in the science/engineering fields, at a fraction of the cost, and definitely increase his chances for success.

Submitted by briansd1 on August 25, 2011 - 12:59pm.

Another option: aerospace engineering.

How about becoming a pilot? Perhaps first in the military then, after 20 years, retiring from the military to become a commercial pilot. Then you get the government defined pension benefits, free lifetime healthcare, plus you get the private job salary that's protected by a union.

Commercial aviation in America is not that stable because legacy US airlines are not that profitable, but the market is steadily growing. Starting pilots are not as well-paid anymore (unless they are old and grand-fathered in a union contract).

I'd rather be a pilot flying 3 days a week, and still have plenty of time to goof-off or work a second job, than an engineer working boring 60-hour weeks at the office.

Commercial aviation is a huge growing business worldwide. Developing nations have huge growing demand but they don't have the pilots and won't be able to train them fast enough for decades.

As a pilot, you can easily go work overseas if you want adventure. Pilots have more glamorous jobs and if you're good-looking there will be plenty of women chasing you. Even the old fat pilots, when in uniform, don't lack women chasing them.

Not a recipe for a stable family life, but it can be a fun filled adventure for those who want it.

Submitted by AN on August 25, 2011 - 1:01pm.

flu wrote:
Imho this is going to be lesser of an issue moving forward...With a weakened U.S. dollar and predicted shortages of people not entering this profession in the U.S., the demand will be there, since "outsourcing" isn't necessarily going to be on cost moving forward.

I totally agree with this.

Submitted by briansd1 on August 25, 2011 - 1:08pm.

AN wrote:
flu wrote:
Imho this is going to be lesser of an issue moving forward...With a weakened U.S. dollar and predicted shortages of people not entering this profession in the U.S., the demand will be there, since "outsourcing" isn't necessarily going to be on cost moving forward.

I totally agree with this.

Yes, I agree also.

But the people who work in engineering are not the type of the average middle-class of the 1960s.

Plenty of foreign-born people in the engineering field. American born students don't really like math but that's another story.

It's interesting that now even Indian outsourcing firms are setting up shop here and hiring American engineers.

Submitted by flu on August 25, 2011 - 1:30pm.

walterwhite wrote:
chem. physics.

i generally believe the secret to happiness is aiming kind of low.

i am not very good at making my kids do anything.

Most physics people that I know are the smartest people I know...Coincidentally, they are often more or less the poorest people i know. Unless your kid plans to stay in research, you really can't get by with a physics degree without a PHD, and even with one, you're confined to research and academia for the most part. Same thing can be said for biologists imho....

Aerospace engineering imho isn't a good place to go into either...Because this industry will downsize...For one, our space program is shot and I doubt your kids would entertain the idea of working on some other foreign country's space program. Second, defense spending is shifting from aircrafts and big toys to things like counterintelligence, forensics, security...And there are fewer and fewer options if you want to work in the commercial, non-defense sectors. Private sector startups in aerospace is difficult, because it requires a huge investment with very low chances of success. The few startups are funded by self-interested folks in this area, but actually making $$$$ appears to be challenging.

Regarding which college....Any reputable 4 year college would be just fine, as the material doesn't really vary as much from school to school.
UCSD would just be fine if your kid can get in.

Submitted by 8bitnintendo on August 25, 2011 - 1:35pm.

From what I've seen in the defense industry EEs seem to be the most versatile as to which kinds of companies they can get hired by. My old company (aircraft environmental control systems) and current company (ship combat systems) have loads of EEs.

If your kid likes smaller schools I'd recommend seeing if you can arrange a visit to CalTech or Harvey Mudd (my alma mater, which I recommend! But it has gotten crazy expensive.) HMC only has General Engineering degrees, you get a broad background in various engineering disciplines, then you can concentrate in an area.

Submitted by bobby on August 25, 2011 - 1:42pm.

physics majors who went into finance can be quite wealthy.
the bankers need someone with a strong math background to invent all those financial investment vehicles. Most of those people are from physics and math.

Submitted by eavesdropper on August 25, 2011 - 1:47pm.

sdduuuude wrote:
I tell people that my path through college was the right one - go to a big, cheap state school with a half-decent program in your area of interest. If you go to grad school, pay the big bucks and go to a top school. This way only 1/3 of your education is expensive and you still get the big-name school on the resume, and you get the better education when you are more mature and actually interested in learning something.

Dude, your advice is absolutely spot-on!! Parents practically bankrupt themselves to send their kids to superexpensive undergrad schools. As is often the case, kids either screw off academically, or change majors because they can't keep up with the demands, and the end result of this huge monetary investment is a kid with a degree in 18th-Century Canadian Literature or The History of Dance, and a transcript with lots of Ws, and a mixed bag of unrelated courses, half of which carry C and D grades.

If you ask the parents why they are sending their kids to I-Got-the-Bucks University, they'll tell you they're trying to give their child the best competitive edge in their future careers. If you ask what it is about this particular school that guarantees them this "edge", 95% of the time they'll tell you that it was in the top 10 of some bogus chart published by US News and World Report. The other 5% will offer up some marketing gem straight from the pages of the college website.

As I mentioned above, if your kid is going to pursue a career in R&D in the sciences that is anything beyond lab tech level, postgraduate education is a given. And that's what's going to count when they get into the career field. Any good state college or university should be able to give a student the foundation they need to get into grad school and handle the extreme work load there. Not only will it be much cheaper, it will probably be a far less competitive and less pressured atmosphere for the student, giving him a better chance to earn good grades and to really think about whether their major will result in the type of lifetime career they really want.

And, as also mentioned previously, many institutions give stipends to their science grad students that completely cover their tuition (sometimes more) in return for the teaching and lab duties the students are expected to handle.

sdduuuude wrote:
Make sure they can handle at least pre-calculus in high-school. Math should be easy for them. If not, it's off to business school.

Will you freakin' science and engineer types please shove your "People who excel in math become scientists and engineers; the people who can't handle math get on the short bus to B-school" stereotypes where the sun don't shine?! Admittedly, it's been a very long time, but I can recall having some fairly stringent math adventures in some of my more advanced finance, econ, and statistics courses (fortunately, electroshock therapy has erased the nightmare memories of those happy times). And calculus was required.

Keep in mind that many undergrad professors at the time would not permit the use of calculators (not that we poor students could begin to afford the relatively simple models available).

I do realize that the undergrad business curriculum has expanded, and that college courses at many institutions have been "dumbed down" (which probably explains the state of today's businesses and financial institutions). But I am still very sensitive to remarks that allude to mathematically-clueless business curriculum students. I'm married to a Ph.D.-level chemist, so that could explain a lot of my antagonism on the subject.

sdduuuude wrote:
And please, for god's sake, make your little engineers take economics.

You're a god, sdduuuude!! I agree wholeheartedly! In fact, it should be a requirement of both engineering and science curricula, IMHO.

Submitted by briansd1 on August 25, 2011 - 1:54pm.

eavesdropper wrote:

sdduuuude wrote:
And please, for god's sake, make your little engineers take economics.

You're a god, sdduuuude!! I agree wholeheartedly! In fact, it should be a requirement of both engineering and science curricula, IMHO.

That should start in middle school, IMO. There should be mandatory classes on consumer finance so kids understand the credit cards they get when they turn 18.

Submitted by jstoesz on August 25, 2011 - 2:13pm.

Engineers can easily go into business and sales (assuming they have the personality for it)...business majors can not go into engineering. Enough said.

Stay away from science...Press for applied science.

In in that vein is Cal Poly's Motto

“learn by doing”

Or as we all joked in the ME department when I was a student there.

“Learn by you doing”

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