Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

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psteinx
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Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by psteinx » Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am

OK, there are a lot of college-oriented threads at the moment - I'll throw mine onto the pile.

My son will be attending Univ. of Missouri Science & Technology in the fall (Missouri S&T, formerly known as U of M - Rolla to an older generation). It's our in-state science and engineering-focused public, and while a solid school, it's not super well ranked, and unfortunately far less prestigious than some other publics.

He had the stats (high ACT and grades) for, and applied to, Georgia Tech and Michigan (and one other besides Rolla), but the whims of college admissions offices - such is life... He will be, in effect, significantly overqualified academically, compared to his typical on-campus peers.

Thanks to AP tests and some dual enrollment credits, he will enter with a LOT of credit - something like 37 credits, perhaps more. But engineering majors have assorted critical paths (must take class A before B before C, etc.), and furthermore, he's not certain what specific discipline(s) he's interested in. He's leaning towards nuclear engineering (a good program at this school), but open to others.

So, the question/issue of interest is, what should his target educational (+internships/early career) pathway look like? In particular, how might he best use the ~37 credits?

* Could try to graduate in 3.5 or 3 years
* Could co-op for a semester (or two)
* Could study abroad for a semester (with, presumably, less academic credits gained, but interesting life experiences)
* Could double major or add a minor or two
* Could target picking up a masters while only being on campus for 4-5 years
* Could graduate conventionally in 4 years
* Could add degree(s) (i.e. masters, etc.) or change path after being out in the workforce for a year or five
* Could use summers for extra classes, conventional summer jobs (not very STEM-related), or try to get useful internships, research gigs, or the like

At the moment, he's not that inclined towards pure research (i.e. a PhD program), nor towards some sort of substantial shift down the road (i.e. med school or the like), but of course, he's young, so who knows?

I'm particularly interested in the feedback of anyone who has pursued an engineering degree in the 2-3 decades - what pathways seem productive (or not) for a kid who has options, has some specific interests, but where there is of course the possibility of changes in interest over time?

(EDIT: Clarified/corrected a bit on where he applied.)
Last edited by psteinx on Mon May 06, 2019 2:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

student
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by student » Mon May 06, 2019 12:03 pm

I would say try to graduate in 3 to 3.5 years. Given that you said he is academically better than his peers, then his professors will likely notice him, and maybe he can work on a project with a professor. This will certainly help when he asks for a recommendation letter.

Topic Author
psteinx
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by psteinx » Mon May 06, 2019 12:05 pm

Also, I fully realize that:

1) Any plans made now are quite likely to change in the years to come
2) This is likely to be driven mainly by our son, not by me or my wife.

That said, it doesn't hurt to have a decent feel for the options and possible pathways, and at least be thinking about that stuff, before the time comes to really make the key decision(s).

BanquetBeer
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by BanquetBeer » Mon May 06, 2019 12:08 pm

My experience:
Co-ops are good if you can get internships.
Masters typically isn’t worthwhile.

You need at least 1 internship/coop. Faster graduation is key (earn way more than taking more time to do a coop)

Study abroad can be fun, growing experience. I’d encourage if the kid wants to and you can finance.

ohai
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by ohai » Mon May 06, 2019 12:10 pm

Hi, OP. Assuming you are correct about him being at the upper bucket of this school, the best plan by far will be to graduate with a high GPA and get an MS at a better reputed school. I am not looking down on this university, but the fact is that a degree from Berkeley or MIT on your resume will increase his opportunities substantially, not to mention that MS applicants get higher starting salaries to begin with. It is also much easier to "prove" with grades and numbers that you belong in an MS program that is above your current stature, compared to making the same argument for working at Google or something.

PhD, from what I have seen, is a miserable existence and 99% of people are better off in the normal workforce.

Graduating early has the only benefit of saving 1y of cost and education. Compared to taking advanced classes or getting better grades, this cost is nothing.

In the summers, you should prioritize work experience over anything else. Even if the first internship is a no name crappy one, it will help lead to incrementally better ones later.

I would not think that nuclear engineering is the most practical major of all engineering fields. However, I know nothing about this school's departmental strengths and its recruitment record.

Regarding my own experience, I finished college in 3 years and got an engineering MS in the same school during year 4. This was purely a cost/benefit optimal decision and I did not care about any field. Ultimately, I did not do anything related to engineering, but the technical knowledge did open up opportunities in what I ended up doing.
Last edited by ohai on Mon May 06, 2019 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KlangFool
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by KlangFool » Mon May 06, 2019 12:11 pm

OP,

1) Avoid nuclear engineering. Go with EE, ME, ChemE, or Civil Engineering.

2) It is too early to tell. There are 3 good possibilities

A) Go with good STEM internship during summer if you can get one.

B) Earn a master degree in 4 years if we hit a recession when he graduated and cannot find a good job.

C) Graduate in 3 to 3 1/2 years if neither (A) or (B).

In summary, it is too early to plan. So, be prepared for (2) (A) to (2) (C).

KlangFool

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon May 06, 2019 12:12 pm

I'll talk about co-ops/internships specifically. They can change the life of a student who has no clue what he wants to do. Or even if they do. Did for me, where I was required to specialize within EE and I returned from my co-op and changed from digital hardware to analog hardware. This was early 80's and I noticed that the group I worked for had a dozen digital hardware engineers and one analog hardware engineer. Being the low employment, high layoff period, I was focused on getting a job I could keep. I realized that this group could lay off some digital people, but had to keep that one analog guy.

My son did a summer internship and he now is focusing on exactly what he was doing at work. Finite element analysis, modeling of stresses and even developing modeling programs for these functions. His senior project is in this area.

A co-op that's outside engineering completely will get some money, but is sort of a waste of time and I'd submit that it's a great time to take some summer courses if the college offers any that he needs. My son's summer has all courses 30% off and if a course had been started but dropped, 50% off.

My engineering group would bring in co-ops and even those working on Masters degrees sometimes decided that the specialty was not for them and they'd return to the college and change what their specialty within major would be. It's a good time to do this before graduating. Harder if one graduates and realizes he hates doing the work.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

KlangFool
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by KlangFool » Mon May 06, 2019 12:18 pm

ohai wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:10 pm

Regarding my own story, I finished college in 3 years and got an engineering MS in the same school during year 4. This was purely a cost/benefit optimal decision and I did not care about any field. Ultimately, I did not do anything related to engineering, but the technical knowledge did open up opportunities in what I ended up doing.
ohai,

I worked part-time at the University computing center while going through college. My part-time job and independent consulting work plus tuition discount pay for my college education. I graduated with a BSEE and an MSEE plus 5 years of working experience. Nobody care where I graduated from and my CGPA since I am not a fresh graduate.

KlangFool

workerbeeengineer
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by workerbeeengineer » Mon May 06, 2019 12:20 pm

BanquetBeer wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:08 pm
My experience:
Co-ops are good if you can get internships.
Masters typically isn’t worthwhile.

You need at least 1 internship/coop. Faster graduation is key (earn way more than taking more time to do a coop)

Study abroad can be fun, growing experience. I’d encourage if the kid wants to and you can finance.
Have to disagree on Masters not typically being worthwhile. While a solid BS degree in Engineering might get one in the door, in many companies a Masters degree in needed to advance. I do fully agree on value of coop / internship. And foot stomp here...that should be a paid position! Unpaid internships are for liberal arts degrees.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon May 06, 2019 12:24 pm

He had the stats (high ACT and grades) for, and applied to, Georgia Tech and Michigan, among others, but, the whims of college admissions offices - such is life... He will be, in effect, significantly overqualified academically, compared to his typical on-campus peers.
First, if this is his attitude and not just yours he has until August to lose it. It's toxic, and will hold him back. Also, you'll be surprised at the talent at Rolla. I've hired and worked with a bunch of them. There are goof-offs at every school, and at Rolla like at any engineering campus they will disappear in a year or two, and he'll graduate with a talented cohort.

Second, as mentioned above, his best bet is to do an excellent job at his current assignment, which is acing his freshman courses. He will be what he can demonstrate he can do.

Finally, I highly recommend a co-op plan, or maybe internships - there are differences, but industry work will do him good and help him focus on his future. Even, or especially, if he decides that the place he interns in not the industry he wants to be in.

A masters is not a bad idea, and he won't be limited in the engineering field by getting his masters at Rolla instead of someplace else. But doing an excellent job starting from fall of freshman year, followed by demonstrating he can work with engineers in a co-op or internship job are top priorities.

Also, MS&T has an excellent program in studying explosives, but it's serious study not for hobbyists. So if he wants to learn to blow stuff up he should look into that.

Topic Author
psteinx
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by psteinx » Mon May 06, 2019 12:25 pm

What % of engineering co-op/internship situations are typically during the summer, versus what % during the school year (requiring missing a semester)?

How early/late in the undergrad college path can one typically get decent co-ops/internships?

Are they typically found through job fairs at the college, through a professor that likes you, independently by the student researching and reaching out to employers, or by other/combination methods?

Are they typically paid, and if so, about how much?

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon May 06, 2019 12:26 pm

student wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:03 pm
I would say try to graduate in 3 to 3.5 years. Given that you said he is academically better than his peers, then his professors will likely notice him, and maybe he can work on a project with a professor. This will certainly help when he asks for a recommendation letter.
Thing is, trying to graduate early may be inconsistent with doing a very good project.

> 1) Avoid nuclear engineering. Go with EE, ME, ChemE, or Civil Engineering.

Nuclear engineering is a crapshoot at this point. It looks like there are many openings NOW but who knows down the road. A more generic degree gives more options.

ohai
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by ohai » Mon May 06, 2019 12:28 pm

Klang, when did you graduate? This is now a world of FB engineers getting $200k+ starting packages in college, and the "typical" Bay Area engineer household making $300k + $300k = $600k or possibly higher.These are normal, run-of-the-mill graduates, and not the ones who take risks by starting a company or doing something special. I was making $500k+ in San Francisco in my mid 20s, and I am just an average graduate of a good school. It is worth reaching into this world, because your success is so reliable, provided that you satisfy the common prerequisites as I have described.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon May 06, 2019 12:33 pm

Check the MS&T website for resources on coop and internship possibilities, and your son can do more research once he gets to campus. There is a very active program on that campus, he'll have to put his head in the sand not to find it.

Most internships and coop opportunities for engineers are paid, and they pay quite well. I'm out of date on what "quite well" is these days, but I expect you'll be pleasantly surprises.

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fizxman
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by fizxman » Mon May 06, 2019 12:33 pm

I'm not sure I'd go with nuclear engineering. I live a few miles from Three Mile Island and if the state doesn't bail them out, they are going to close down. Just my two cents.

I'm an EE myself, (Signal Integrity engineer for 10 years) and I know the school you're talking about is a good school. Perhaps not MIT or CalTech but still a good school. I don't know anyone personally but I hear about EEs from there working in Silicon Valley. If that's appealing to him, I'd at least look into it.
Addressing your points:

1. Graduating early would be nice to save money. Other than that, I don't see any other advantage.
2. Co-op/internship would be highly recommended. Coming out of college with an internship on a resume is nice.
3. Studying abroad as an engineering undergrad may be nice or maybe a waste of time, I'm not sure. Probably depends on the school.
4. A double major is a good idea, depending on how well the two go together. A minor won't help with anything. I have a minor and no one ever cared.
5. A master degree would be nice and start him off on at higher pay and higher title.
6. Graduating in 4 years instead of less could be less stressful and allow him to enjoy college life longer.
7. Getting a master degree after getting a job could mean the employer will pay for it. However, depending on where he gets a job will dictate where the master degree is obtained, so maybe a different school.
8. Summers for an internship is recommended.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by KlangFool » Mon May 06, 2019 12:38 pm

ohai wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:28 pm
Klang, when did you graduate? This is now a world of FB engineers getting $200k+ starting packages in college, and the "typical" Bay Area engineer household making $300k + $300k = $600k or possibly higher.These are normal, run-of-the-mill graduates, and not the ones who take risks by starting a company or doing something special. I was making $500k+ in San Francisco in my mid 20s, and I am just an average graduate of a good school. It is worth reaching into this world, because your success is so reliable, provided that you satisfy the common prerequisites as I have described.
ohai,

1) I wish you the best of luck.

2) I do not consider anyone as successful until they are FI.

KlangFool

ohai
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by ohai » Mon May 06, 2019 12:50 pm

You did not answer my question, and you once again, just gave advice based on some platitude regarding your own vague self defined success. This is not helpful input.

To OP: I'm just trying to give an idea of the reality for the current graduates I described. It will take effort and talent to achieve this, but there is a clear path for people who decide to pursue this sort of life.
Last edited by ohai on Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

btenny
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by btenny » Mon May 06, 2019 12:51 pm

Let him take 4 years or so to graduate. Give him time to mature. He may not know what he wants to do or is good at until he gets older so taking more time now is important. When he is a sophomore help him find a good fit summer job in engineering if possible. Repeat for his junior summer. Try to help him take only a few classes his last semester in college so he has time to really study companies and interview for lots of jobs. If this means extending to 4.5 years so be it. Really studying where you can work and who is hiring and so forth is really important when you are young.

If he is serious about nuclear engineering he needs to look into the Navy programs. From what you say about his grades and qualifications he should look into the Naval Academy. That is a good career if you like nuclear.

I am an EE. I got a engineering lab technician job (did not call them internships back then) for two summers when I was in school. Because of these I actually understood how to do real EE work. I also got lots of job offers for good $$ due to these. I took 4.5 years to graduate but was a Teacher Assistant (ran a school lab for class) and job hunter for my whole last semester.

Daughter has a BS Computer Science. She started in Architecture with 35 college credits. She changed majors after 2 years so she needed more time to graduate. Worked in computer retail and computer training for 1.5 years of 4.5 year college career. I supported her quitting for her last semester so she could look for a good job. She had multiple offers.

Good Luck.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by rj342 » Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm

0. First (unfamiliar w the school) - is his particular major accredited by ABET? It almost certainly is, but the overall accreditation for the university as a whole means nothing.
1. NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THIS -- Regardless where he goes, as an engineering student recommend do NOT skip the college version of Calculus, Physics (calculus based), or Chemistry course if he got AP credit for those- absolutely not on the first two at very least. *Maybe* skip if we went to a top ranked national prep school. Maybe. AP is NOT the same as the real thing. Consider the AP a familiarization.
re: Bio, English, History etc by all means use AP to skip those classes.
2. You're right, those engineering sequences will almost certainly NOT allow him to magically jump ahead much in his overall timetable. Rather, he will end up with a little lighter load some semesters - which can be a godsend with some of the harder courses - and a smaller bill. FWIW in Mechanical Engineering junior year was the hardest (assuming you made it thru weed out in first year).
3. Two big thumbs up on an engineering co-op job. IMO better to use a couple summers on that than squeezing in some more courses. Have a brother in-law who blasted through his accounting BS way back when (now a CFO) -- he told my son to not rush it, its time in your youth you won't ever get back.
4. Studying abroad is a TERRIBLE idea for an engineering major -- you can't count on any STEM credits transferring back (in a way that advances him in his curriculum at least, vs generic hours), and he will be a year getting rusty in his major. Correction -- a summer semester for the experience would not hurt, that should be neutral impact. But at expense of co-op?
5. re: Nuclear, agree that's a bit questionable at this time. Shame we don't have a crash program on thorium reactors for power.
NOTE -- US Navy has had scholarship programs for nuclear engineers, not necessarily NROTC. Might look into that. A stint here and those certs would carry a lot more weight than a masters - Navy prob help him GET a masters and pay for it.
6. In general agree the get work experience after graduation, then let his employer help pay for masters a bit later-- and by that time maybe he wants branch out with an MBA, or a CS masters instead of same engineering field. Tip: Easier to work on that employer paid MS before you have a kid!!!
7. ABSOLUTELY... take the national Fundamentals of Engineering exam early his SENIOR year. He will never be more prepared for it. When people go back to take it a few years after graduating it can be very rough. Along with the ABET accredited BS, passing this gets you your EIT "Engineer in training" certification, which is required to later get your PE license. Even if he thinks a PE is not relevant to him, 1) get EIT just in case, and 2) the EIT itself is more evidence of core competence on resume, nationally recognized.
Last edited by rj342 on Mon May 06, 2019 1:13 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Glockenspiel
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon May 06, 2019 1:05 pm

No point in taking extra summer classes unless it's needed to graduate a semester earlier. Studying abroad is an experience I truly regret not doing, so if he has the chance, go for it. Once he figures out a discipline, work to get any type of internship, as that will nearly guarantee him a job offer upon graduation. It depends on the discipline, but a lot of times, Master's programs in engineering aren't really worth the cost/time commitment needed to acquire it. Also, many employers will outright pay for the Master's degree, so I getting the B.S., get a job, then see if you want to get a Master's. I'm a civil engineer, and I know there are tons of jobs out there. But it's not as high paying as anything computer science-related.

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psteinx
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by psteinx » Mon May 06, 2019 1:05 pm

Thanks all. Keep 'em coming!

Re: the Navy - yeah, this seems like one obvious path, and from my observation, Rolla (aka Missouri S&T) seems to play quite well with the armed services. I even posted a thread along these lines about year ago here on BH. At the moment, though, my son is anti-military, mainly for ideological reasons. This may change though.

Re: having a "big head" (essentially - my comments about him being overqualified). He's actually pretty level headed this stuff, pretty happy going to Rolla (though Ga Tech was his first choice, and he would have also liked a U of Mich acceptance, even if possibly he didn't go there). That said, based on both the hard numbers, and some observations/experiences (including his math placement test(s) at Rolla, which he's already taken), he WILL be at the upper end of the incoming class on academics. Yeah, he could slack off and flame out (and motivation/effort is, at least sometimes, an issue for him), but I think it's also useful in framing a discussion about his possibilities.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon May 06, 2019 1:07 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:24 pm
He had the stats (high ACT and grades) for, and applied to, Georgia Tech and Michigan, among others, but, the whims of college admissions offices - such is life... He will be, in effect, significantly overqualified academically, compared to his typical on-campus peers.
First, if this is his attitude and not just yours he has until August to lose it. It's toxic, and will hold him back. Also, you'll be surprised at the talent at Rolla. I've hired and worked with a bunch of them. There are goof-offs at every school, and at Rolla like at any engineering campus they will disappear in a year or two, and he'll graduate with a talented cohort.

I agree with this. Don't let him think he's overqualified academically. There are TONS of smart kids out there at every engineering school. Regardless of how smart he is, he will have to put in the work to do well in his classes and graduate. Most engineering schools "weed out" the kids that aren't willing to put in the effort, so please, don't let him think he's better than the rest of the kids.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by miamivice » Mon May 06, 2019 1:07 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am
* Could try to graduate in 3.5 or 3 years
* Could co-op for a semester (or two)
* Could study abroad for a semester (with, presumably, less academic credits gained, but interesting life experiences)
* Could double major or add a minor or two
* Could target picking up a masters while only being on campus for 4-5 years
* Could graduate conventionally in 4 years
* Could add degree(s) (i.e. masters, etc.) or change path after being out in the workforce for a year or five
* Could use summers for extra classes, conventional summer jobs (not very STEM-related), or try to get useful internships, research gigs, or the like
I think the goal your son should set should be simple, like "graduate with a degree in engineering'.

He needs nothing more complex than that as a goal.

btenny
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by btenny » Mon May 06, 2019 1:10 pm

In my case my older brother got me my first summer job as a EE technician. I got my second job the next summer through people I met the first summer. I also did a rotation program for the first year at my first job which was very helpful in teaching me about various job types.

My daughter did not want to work for my company when she was looking for a summer job. She found her summer job via her college. I am not sure how.

Good Luck.

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Watty
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Watty » Mon May 06, 2019 1:12 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am
My son will be attending Univ. of Missouri Science & Technology in the fall (Missouri S&T, formerly known as U of M - Rolla to an older generation). It's our in-state science and engineering-focused public, and while a solid school, it's not super well ranked, and unfortunately far less prestigious than some other publics.
Old time UMR alumni here. There have been a numbers of threads about Rolla that you can look up. While it is obviously not on the same level as places like MIT I have found that people like technical recruiters on both the east and west coast are familiar with it and have a favorable impression.

It would me a mistake to think that your son will not find it challenging since students in say the top quarter of his class will likely have a similar or better, background. If he also starts basically as a sophomore that leap will also put him up against more advanced classmates. It is a small university so the freshman class will only have around a thousand students in it. Many of the top STEM students in Missouri will go there because of the cost even if they could get into a higher rated school. He may be in for a rude awakening if he expects his college classmates to not also be really good students.

One option that you didn't mention was that he could go to Rolla for year and then transfer to one of the schools that he was not able to get into. It might be good to research the other colleges to try to make sure that as many of his credits would transfer as possible to keep that option open.

I'm in Georgia now so I am familiar with Georgia tech and it is expensive for out of state students so you would also need to consider if it really worth an extra $50k for him to go there the last two years to get a Georgia Tech degree. Some of my sons high school classmates went to Georgia Tech and it can be high pressure and it is located in downtown Atlanta which also has some negatives. Not every kid will thrive in that situation so him going to Rolla could be a blessing in disguise if he thrives there. If he is a top student at Rolla he will also get a lot more attention from the professors than being an average student at some place like Georgia Tech.
psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am
I'm particularly interested in the feedback of anyone who has pursued an engineering degree in the 2-3 decades - what pathways seem productive (or not) for a kid who has options, has some specific interests, but where there is of course the possibility of changes in interest over time?


I have a BS in Computer Science and I am retired now. I was a "techie" so I did have the right personality to go into management, which I hated doing so that was fine with me, but I have seen a lot of people that had a technical degree that eventually got an MBA and that helped them advance there career.

When I was in college I changed majors a couple of times but I ended up working on a Geology degree with a strong minor in Computer Science. It turned out that I was not really all that good at Geology and the price of oil collapsed so the job market for geologists was not good. In my junior year I switched majors to Computer Science and that worked out well for me. He might start out with a strong minor then in about his junior year he could decide if he likes his major or minor better and then focus on that.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by SC Anteater » Mon May 06, 2019 1:20 pm

rj342 wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm
0. First (unfamiliar w the school) - is his particular major accredited by ABET? It almost certainly is, but the overall accreditation for the university as a whole means nothing.
1. NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THIS -- Regardless where he goes, as an engineering student recommend do NOT skip the college version of Calculus, Physics (calculus based), or Chemistry course if he got AP credit for those- absolutely not on the first two at very least. *Maybe* skip if we went to a top ranked national prep school. Maybe. AP is NOT the same as the real thing. Consider the AP a familiarization.
re: Bio, English, History etc by all means use AP to skip those classes.
2. You're right, those engineering sequences will almost certainly NOT allow him to magically jump ahead much in his overall timetable. Rather, he will end up with a little lighter load some semesters - which can be a godsend with some of the harder courses - and a smaller bill. FWIW in Mechanical Engineering junior year was the hardest (assuming you made it thru weed out in first year).
3. Two big thumbs up on an engineering co-op job. IMO better to use a couple summers on that than squeezing in some more courses. Have a brother in-law who blasted through his accounting BS way back when (now a CFO) -- he told my son to not rush it, its time in your youth you won't ever get back.
4. Studying abroad is a TERRIBLE idea for an engineering major -- you can't count on any STEM credits transferring back (in a way that advances him in his curriculum at least, vs generic hours), and he will be a year getting rusty in his major. Correction -- a summer semester for the experience would not hurt, that should be neutral impact. But at expense of co-op?
5. re: Nuclear, agree that's a bit questionable at this time. Shame we don't have a crash program on thorium reactors for power.
NOTE -- US Navy has had scholarship programs for nuclear engineers, not necessarily NROTC. Might look into that. A stint here and those certs would carry a lot more weight than a masters - Navy prob help him GET a masters and pay for it.
6. In general agree the get work experience after graduation, then let his employer help pay for masters a bit later-- and by that time maybe he wants branch out with an MBA, or a CS masters instead of same engineering field. Tip: Easier to work on that employer paid MS before you have a kid!!!
7. ABSOLUTELY... take the national Fundamentals of Engineering exam early his SENIOR year. He will never be more prepared for it. When people go back to take it a few years after graduating it can be very rough. Along with the ABET accredited BS, passing this gets you your EIT "Engineer in training" certification, which is required to later get your PE license. Even if he thinks a PE is not relevant to him, 1) get EIT just in case, and 2) the EIT itself is more evidence of core competence on resume, nationally recognized.
re studying abroad -- my engineering kid's school has specific locations set up to allow engineering students to study abroad and have credits count. For example, CivEng students can only go to three places to study; EE students have a different set of locations, etc. So some schools are putting some thought into creating programs so that engineering kids can go abroad.

Re AP credit, my son did skip the first 2 quarters of Calculus, and the first quarter of Physics. So far he's been fine; we'll see if it comes back to bite him in the future.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by gogleheads.orb » Mon May 06, 2019 1:21 pm

this has already been stated, but just because he has 37 credits done, doesn't mean he needs to use them all. Retaking classes in college that you already took in high school is not a bad idea. You will end up learning it better and have a good shot at getting good grades. It's not uncommon to study the same thing a few times in an engineering career. Hopefully, you learn it better each time.

I think the most important thing for him to do is get good grades. All A's in technical courses is a reasonable goal. This will open up opportunities for grad school and for jobs. The second thing is to get good technical internships or coops.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by rich126 » Mon May 06, 2019 1:23 pm

While I think a school is important, it is also how you study. Also while schools can open doors, the best companies will quiz you on a variety of topics and see how you think. You aren't going to be given a job at Google just because you went to a certain school, you still will need to show that you can do the work.

As someone in my 50s, I was interviewed for a position at one of the top tech companies not long ago. I was shocked they interviewed me since I didn't think I fit the demographics they were looking for and don't have advanced degrees (only a BSEE). I didn't get the job because it was out of my area of strength but those companies cast throw a wide net looking for talent.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by wmackey » Mon May 06, 2019 1:29 pm

Just my two cents. When I did my engineering degree I wound up taking all of my math classes before doing any engineering courses. This gave me a significant edge over other students. This may not be possible, but the more math he can knock down the better.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Taz » Mon May 06, 2019 1:30 pm

My son was a nuke eng major. He managed to get his BS & master's in 5 years. The downside to this method is that he took fewer courses in his major as several were essentially dual credit.
- Used his AP credits credits on humanities/econ and a few calc/physics courses rather than try to jump ahead too far in the STEM core classes. Not all advanced HS/AP credit classes end up being as complete or rigorous as those in college. GPA matters for scholarships and fellowships -- it's nice to start off with a couple of A's rather than C's. (The downside is that having all higher math and engineering classes is a bear.)
- Got research experience. My son wasn't hired for an internship but he volunteered for a year and then started getting paid working on a professor's (funded) research project. As a result he was able to be the second author on a couple of papers/presentations. Plus, his first real job will draw heavily on this specific area of research.
- Got involved in the national engineering society for his field and received a couple of thousand dollars in scholarships just for the asking.
- Applied/got a paid fellowship after graduation for a government lab program that essentially was an intro to various nationwide opportunities and an extended job interview.
- His salary was 30% higher with his master's over a BS. :moneybag

Also, not all nuclear engineering jobs deal with running or designing a reactor - his doesn't.

According to my daughter (aerospace engineering student with an internship :happy ), all of her friends who were EE and CS majors found internships this summer.
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by bryansmile » Mon May 06, 2019 1:38 pm

OP,
First of all, if your son is disappointed at his school, he can always apply to transfer to GT/UM. Start early, his chances will be high if he does well in freshman year.

If he's not looking at grad school, then internships are very important. But freshmen typically do not get the offer. My son studies at a top engineering school and was lucky to get an internship offer as a freshman but declined since the work's not really something he'd enjoy doing. A good engineering internship offer starts at $30/hour. CS/CE offers are higher.

Studying abroad in the summer is an excellent choice, they can travel a lot, experience new things, while completing several major courses.

In my limited opinion, if they manage to do 2 summer internships and some campus research, then co-ops are not worth it. Would you rather co-op and graduate one semester or two later, or do summer internships, graduate on time and start working at a full time job? Sure, the former will graduate with more co-op experience, but during the same amount of time, the latter would have obtained more full time professional work experience, which is much more valuable. That's why Northeastern Univ, even with its merit scholarship offers, was not attractive to my son, since graduating in 5 years with some co-op experience is not a good deal compared to graduating in 3.5 years from a top school, with 2 summer internships.
Last edited by bryansmile on Mon May 06, 2019 1:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by snowman » Mon May 06, 2019 1:39 pm

Not an engineer, but we were in your shoes 4 years ago. Son was HS academic “superstar” but wasn’t lucky enough to get into MIT or Princeton. He “settled” for University of Minnesota on full academic scholarship. He had so many credits (I think he took 12 or 13 AP classes) that he officially entered university as a second semester sophomore. Here are some things we have learned.

First, despite his HS credentials, he was not “overqualified” compared to his peers. Just the opposite was true – for the first time in his life he actually had to work really hard for his grades! He was surrounded by kids equally as strong academically, or stronger than him. I don’t know much about MST, but I would guess the same thing applies there; the peer group at engineering public flagships is very, very strong, to the point it’s almost as hard to get admitted there as it is to many private schools. He lost the notion of “over qualification” his first week on campus.

Second, he – like your son and thousands of other kids – wasn’t sure about major. He loved both physics and chemistry in HS, and was deciding between mechanical and chemical engineering. One reason (among others) he applied to UMN was that decision on major was made during sophomore year, and kids with higher GPA had first dibs. That allowed undecided students to sign up for easy “intro” classes that would help them decide their major later. Not sure if that’s how it works at MST, but I would look into it.

Third – he learned right away (at least at UMN) that graduating in less than 4 years is not an option in College of Science and Engineering! They have a sequence of classes that need to be taken, and you cannot skip/shortcut them no matter how many AP classes you took in HS (he finished HS math in DiffEQ and LA). The one option he had was to finish combined BS/MS in 4 years, but couple years in he decided not to pursue it (he had a guaranteed job offer from his future employer that would also pay for his masters degree).

Fourth – internships and co-ops. They are important, and the school has job fairs twice a year (again assume MST is similar). Most of my son’s friends did internships over the summer, some did co-ops which will delay their graduation by a semester or two, and some didn’t do either.

All in all, I would say let him find his own path at his own pace. The craziness of college admissions process will fade away over the summer, and will disappear completely in the fall. Talented kids with similar interests will find each other on campus and will create strong bonds that will last for decades. Even if graduating in less than 4 years is possible at MST, it would be really, really hard. If he actually graduates in 4 years with engineering degree in his pocket, I would consider it a success!

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by pennywise » Mon May 06, 2019 1:46 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:24 pm
He had the stats (high ACT and grades) for, and applied to, Georgia Tech and Michigan, among others, but, the whims of college admissions offices - such is life... He will be, in effect, significantly overqualified academically, compared to his typical on-campus peers.
First, if this is his attitude and not just yours he has until August to lose it. It's toxic, and will hold him back. Also, you'll be surprised at the talent at Rolla. I've hired and worked with a bunch of them. There are goof-offs at every school, and at Rolla like at any engineering campus they will disappear in a year or two, and he'll graduate with a talented cohort.

+1000

He will not be significantly overqualified, however he will be setting himself up for a very rude awakening if he goes into first year with this attitude and expectation. This is the #1 downfall of entering engineering students; they ALL, and I do mean all, believe that because they were the smartest bears in whatever HS they attended they are the smartest bears at college....and there's nothing but damn smart bears in any engineering program. I call it the second term crack up and I've counseled far too many kids who are absolutely shattered when they realize that, which occurs when they receive their first B or C or D or F.


Second, as mentioned above, his best bet is to do an excellent job at his current assignment, which is acing his freshman courses. He will be what he can demonstrate he can do.

See note above, this is excellent advice.

Finally, I highly recommend a co-op plan, or maybe internships - there are differences, but industry work will do him good and help him focus on his future. Even, or especially, if he decides that the place he interns in not the industry he wants to be in.

But please, please, please don't expect or hound him to get that internship with Google or Boeing or Johnson & Johnson as soon as he finishes his first year. Parents, here's a news flash: just because junior has 37 (or 42 o r58 or 81) credits brought in to university, companies really don't care. They want kids with some of the core discipline coursework; a college student completing freshman curricula in engineering is in grade 13 in their eyes. If he's doing a ME/aerospace degree for example they will want him to have mechanics of solids/fluids and thermodynamics. If he's EE or CE he they will want data structures, if he's BME tissue engineering they hope he's finished orgo...and so on. I see so many kids being totally stressed out by parental expectations that are completely unrealistic.

That said, go for a study abroad experience, whether summer or during term. The engineer with some international travel/learning experience is always better off; our world is a lot narrower than it ever was and engineers are perfectly positioned to be leaders. Encourage him to explore.



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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by psteinx » Mon May 06, 2019 2:16 pm

Following up a little on Master's/PhD programs.

(Early, granted, but this also may have impacts on the amount(s) we choose to add to 529s and 529 management in general.)

I'm going to lay out what I sorta think, based on stuff I've heard/seen/surmised, and invite others to please correct me/fill in the gaps on the reality.

For an engineer:

A Master's is typically 2? years. It might be possible to compress this some if done in conjunction with what would be an ordinary 4 year undergrad degree. Cost per year is similar to or a bit higher than what the school in question would charge, per year, for undergrad. Some employers might pay for this, but often with strings attached (and you'd have to be at the right employer, etc.) A Master's isn't really necessary for an engineer, but might be helpful, and for certain career paths, may become strongly adviseable/necessary later. Also more helpful for more research-directed careers. Getting good grades/professor recommendations, and using that to get into a masters program at a more prestigious school (MIT, Ga Tech, etc.) might be a way to help overcome any prestige deficit from Rolla, though it sounds like Rolla (undergrad) should open a reasonable number of doors on its own.

A Master's can also provide a useful course correction if one gets out in the workforce and realizes things aren't going in a direction one likes.

A PhD (in engineering) is typically ~4 years, is focused on leading to paths in research and/or academia, and (a good one) is typically a sort of fellowship, financially - i.e. the program basically pays the tuition for the student, and a modest degree of financial support/income besides. It is typically possible to downshift from a PhD program to a Master's degree, but that's probably not the ideal path to a Master's.

A Master's program, on it's own, is not typically a gateway to a PhD - the choice is more either/or.

===

OK, is the above about right? If not, corrections/additional detail would be appreciated.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by KlangFool » Mon May 06, 2019 2:30 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 2:16 pm
Following up a little on Master's/PhD programs.

(Early, granted, but this also may have impacts on the amount(s) we choose to add to 529s and 529 management in general.)

I'm going to lay out what I sorta think, based on stuff I've heard/seen/surmised, and invite others to please correct me/fill in the gaps on the reality.

For an engineer:

A Master's is typically 2? years. It might be possible to compress this some if done in conjunction with what would be an ordinary 4 year undergrad degree. Cost per year is similar to or a bit higher than what the school in question would charge, per year, for undergrad. Some employers might pay for this, but often with strings attached (and you'd have to be at the right employer, etc.) A Master's isn't really necessary for an engineer, but might be helpful, and for certain career paths, may become strongly adviseable/necessary later. Also more helpful for more research-directed careers. Getting good grades/professor recommendations, and using that to get into a masters program at a more prestigious school (MIT, Ga Tech, etc.) might be a way to help overcome any prestige deficit from Rolla, though it sounds like Rolla (undergrad) should open a reasonable number of doors on its own.

A Master's can also provide a useful course correction if one gets out in the workforce and realizes things aren't going in a direction one likes.

A PhD (in engineering) is typically ~4 years, is focused on leading to paths in research and/or academia, and (a good one) is typically a sort of fellowship, financially - i.e. the program basically pays the tuition for the student, and a modest degree of financial support/income besides. It is typically possible to downshift from a PhD program to a Master's degree, but that's probably not the ideal path to a Master's.

A Master's program, on it's own, is not typically a gateway to a PhD - the choice is more either/or.

===

OK, is the above about right? If not, corrections/additional detail would be appreciated.
psteinx,

In my opinion, you do not pay for STEM master/PhD degree. If you do, you should not get it. In general, the university pays you to get a master/Ph.D. degree. They will offer you a teaching/ research assistantship to pay for the degree. If you are not good enough to get the university to pay for it, you should not do it.

The exception is like 4+1. Aka, you take a few extra classes to get a master degree in addition to your Bachelor degree, Anything more than that, get the university to pay for it.

<<Some employers might pay for this, but often with strings attached (and you'd have to be at the right employer, etc.)>>

I am aware of any string from my megacorp or any typical megacorp. But, there is a limit on how many semester hours they pay per year for a typical tuition fee reimbursement plan.

KlangFool

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon May 06, 2019 4:51 pm

An engineering masters right after bachelors would probably be a year, and the student would probably pay.

I don't know much about PhDs in engineering, but in the sciences they are all funded, and if you wash out you can take a masters. Tuition is covered, and a stipend is paid. You are sort of an indentured servant at the beck and call of your research sponsor, but you have enough to live on.

Some companies still pay for masters degrees - Megacorp paid for my BSEE and EMBA. They would have paid for a law degree, but I have my standards.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by livesoft » Mon May 06, 2019 5:06 pm

I wanted to respond since my daughter has gone through something similar as an engineer who graduated a few years ago with a masters degree.
psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am
* Could try to graduate in 3.5 or 3 years
complete undegraduate degree in 3 years, complete a masters in 4 years

* Could co-op for a semester (or two)
Did engineering internships in the summers and worked in non-engineering job part-time during school year

* Could study abroad for a semester (with, presumably, less academic credits gained, but interesting life experiences)
Did not do it, I don't think it would be worth it. I have worked overseas which helped me immensely, but I am not an engineer.

* Could double major or add a minor or two
Did not do it, but perhaps worth if student would not work as an engineer.

* Could target picking up a masters while only being on campus for 4-5 years
Do this faster, 4 years or even 3.5 years, don't sandbag.


* Could graduate conventionally in 4 years
Did not do this, don't sandbag

* Could add degree(s) (i.e. masters, etc.) or change path after being out in the workforce for a year or five
Only useful degrees after being in the workforce would be one's to get into management of engineers and the C-suite at a company such as MBA

* Could use summers for extra classes, conventional summer jobs (not very STEM-related), or try to get useful internships, research gigs, or the like
Summers are when engineering firms do internships


At the moment, he's not that inclined towards pure research (i.e. a PhD program), nor towards some sort of substantial shift down the road (i.e. med school or the like), but of course, he's young, so who knows?
I think a PhD in engineering is only useful if one is going to be university professor.

I'm particularly interested in the feedback of anyone who has pursued an engineering degree in the 2-3 decades - what pathways seem productive (or not) for a kid who has options, has some specific interests, but where there is of course the possibility of changes in interest over time?
Skills in managing people will lead to higher salary and for many people increased job satisfaction. There are some engineers who only do engineering and thus are not always as useful to a company. I do know some folks hate to manage people and would want to stay on the technical side of a company. But if one is going to be a mover or shaker, then one cannot be a normal engineer.

(EDIT: Clarified/corrected a bit on where he applied.)
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Taz » Mon May 06, 2019 5:15 pm

You may find that universities will find ways to help pay for the 5th year. No longer our dependent because he had gotten married, they gave him a 10 hour tutoring supervisor position (not a TA) plus a full tuition waiver.

Leftover 529 money paid housing and food. It all worked out 😀.
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon May 06, 2019 5:22 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 5:06 pm


I'm particularly interested in the feedback of anyone who has pursued an engineering degree in the 2-3 decades - what pathways seem productive (or not) for a kid who has options, has some specific interests, but where there is of course the possibility of changes in interest over time?
Skills in managing people will lead to higher salary and for many people increased job satisfaction. There are some engineers who only do engineering and thus are not always as useful to a company. I do know some folks hate to manage people and would want to stay on the technical side of a company. But if one is going to be a mover or shaker, then one cannot be a normal engineer.

Good point about the possible management track - reminded me that back in the 1970s by father observed that engineering was one of the better ways for students without family connections to get into management. Smart guy he was.

From a few decades of watching the rating/evaluating/promoting/sidelining of engineers, my observation was that the ones who made it into management and succeeded were just as good at engineering as most* of the ones that stayed in the technical career path, but they also had the people and organization skills to be managers and sometimes even leaders. It wasn't that they couldn't or wouldn't do the technical work, but that they could expand their influence by getting into management.

*There are and were and will always be a few who are so technically excellent it brings tears to your eyes, and it is a waste to try to push them into management, and smart companies will find ways to keep them happily productive.
Last edited by NotWhoYouThink on Mon May 06, 2019 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by DonIce » Mon May 06, 2019 5:23 pm

psteinx wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:55 am
So, the question/issue of interest is, what should his target educational (+internships/early career) pathway look like? In particular, how might he best use the ~37 credits?

* Could try to graduate in 3.5 or 3 years
* Could co-op for a semester (or two)
* Could study abroad for a semester (with, presumably, less academic credits gained, but interesting life experiences)
* Could double major or add a minor or two
* Could target picking up a masters while only being on campus for 4-5 years
* Could graduate conventionally in 4 years
* Could add degree(s) (i.e. masters, etc.) or change path after being out in the workforce for a year or five
* Could use summers for extra classes, conventional summer jobs (not very STEM-related), or try to get useful internships, research gigs, or the like

At the moment, he's not that inclined towards pure research (i.e. a PhD program), nor towards some sort of substantial shift down the road (i.e. med school or the like), but of course, he's young, so who knows?

I'm particularly interested in the feedback of anyone who has pursued an engineering degree in the 2-3 decades - what pathways seem productive (or not) for a kid who has options, has some specific interests, but where there is of course the possibility of changes in interest over time?

(EDIT: Clarified/corrected a bit on where he applied.)
I took an engineering degree (Engineering Physics) from 2004 to 2009, and then did a Master's from 2009-2011. Here's some thoughts:

- Definitely spend the time to do some internships. Don't waste time on conventional summer jobs. Earning a few bucks is irrelevant compared to getting relevant experience in the field that he can put on the resume when applying for jobs after finishing the degree. In any case internships in STEM are usually paid and will probably earn more than conventional summer jobs. If he has specific companies or industries he wants to work in, definitely try to get internships at those specific companies. Oftentimes, someone who does decently well as an intern will be offered a full time job when they graduate.

- If the engineering program he is in has an option for internship/co-op where the school will help place him as an intern at companies definitely pursue that option.

- Graduating 6-12 months early is nice but is probably less important than making sure he gets the most from the program/university. If given a choice between graduating 6 months early or doing a 6 month internship at a company he may be interested in working for, I would definitely pick the internship. Yes, starting a full time job 6-12 months early puts you a bit ahead in terms of finances, but on the other hand trying 1-2 more places as an intern while still in school can lead to much better insights about where he wants to work and what kind of job he wants.

- Study abroad can definitely make for a fun life experience but is not very productive from an educational standpoint for most STEM degrees. That said, if he has interest in working in a different country, or for a company that has an important market in a specific country, doing a study abroad there can be very valuable, especially if he can use the opportunity to learn the language.

- Try to find at least one professor to impress and get to know outside of class. This can be saved until 3rd/4th year, wouldn't bother trying to do it as a freshman. A professor that knows a student will write a much better and more personal/insightful reference letter than one who simply knows that that student got a good grade in their class. Doing a research project for that professor or working in their lab is great if that opportunity is available, but if it isn't, even just coming to their office hours and talking to them a few times about interests related to the class or the professor's work can be enough.

- If he is interested in grad school (even just a Master's) and gets good grades in undergrad, strongly consider getting the graduate degree at a different university. A good record in undergrad even at a middle of the road university can still enable attending some of the top universities in the country for a master's. Even if it's not one of the top schools, going somewhere else allows exposure to new people, new ideas, new research projects, etc.

- EE/CS is all the rage right now but any type of engineering opens the doors to a career that is more than adequate financially. Being good at your job is more important than being in the most lucrative field, and you can only truly be good at your job if you like what you do. You are far better off being a top 10% nuclear engineer than an average software engineer, even though you might get a higher salary right out of school as the software engineer. Average engineers will be laid off in a downturn even though the demand for them right now seems infinite, whereas leading experts in a field will always have plenty of opportunities, even if its a smaller field.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by TravelforFun » Mon May 06, 2019 5:23 pm

Civil engineer here. I started interning with the State DOT during the summer before my junior and senior year and got hired by the DOT right after graduation. After my second year with the State, they sent me to graduate school and paid my tuition, fees, and books. After 4 years with the State, I obtained my PE license. I left the State after about 10 years and started working for private firms and I've been very happy with my career path.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by livesoft » Mon May 06, 2019 5:36 pm

I went back and read some of the responses. I wanted to say that somebody has to be the top student, so I've never been intimidated by other students. Never been worried about competition. I suppose other students have to be stressed because there are other students who do better than them. But one won't know until you get there. Maybe one is in the top 5 students.

Nevertheless, the top people test-wise and grade-wise don't always get the top or most desirable jobs. But also don't forget what is a top job or desirable job is in the eyes of the beholder.
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by dknightd » Mon May 06, 2019 5:44 pm

rj342 wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm
1. NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THIS -- Regardless where he goes, as an engineering student recommend do NOT skip the college version of Calculus, Physics (calculus based), or Chemistry course if he got AP credit for those- absolutely not on the first two at very least. *Maybe* skip if we went to a top ranked national prep school. Maybe. AP is NOT the same as the real thing. Consider the AP a familiarization.
re: Bio, English, History etc by all means use AP to skip those classes.
I agree. Take at least the math and physics sequence from the beginning. Things will be taught in a different order, and a different degree of difficulty.

Edit: some other thoughts:
If they want to get a good internship, which I recommend, they probably need to get good grades from day one.
I suggest every collage student take some computing classes.

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Globalviewer58 » Mon May 06, 2019 6:03 pm

One suggestion for choosing a path is to look at open positions posted on SpaceX or Nvidia or Google and see what background is sought for those roles. Designing antennas for a satellite network may spark further inquiry into roles for EE, ME, etc. Those companies and others may not have a recruiting presence at his school so some networking may help your son find the right folks to discuss internship goals and prerequisites.

Good luck!

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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Zoe » Mon May 06, 2019 6:08 pm

In engineering, a Masters degree is extremely helpful. It's cost-effective in the sense that it opens more doors, and salaries are likely to be distinctly higher immediately upon graduation and indefinitely into the future. These days I recommend that all successful students in engineering and the sciences complete a M.S. degree. It doesn't take much longer than a B.S., and it pays off for life. Do it consecutively to a B.S. degree rather than delay it (once in the real world, life happens and gets in the way).

If a student is "overqualified" academically (quite premature to believe that before even starting!), then:
  • Graduate as fast and efficiently as possible. Double-majors, etc., are "nice" but less helpful than getting out into the real world more quickly.
  • Gain entry into a combined B.S. / accelerated M.S. program if available.
  • Transfer to a "better" school after 2 years if that can be done efficiently.
  • Target enrollment into an M.S. program at a top-10 school.
A Ph.D. degree should be reserved for those whom the goal is a faculty position (but tenure-track at a research university is only realistic these days if the Ph.D. is from a top-10-class school), or if the student otherwise feels absolutely no choice in the matter for personal or professional reasons. It's a very uncertain and frequently-miserable experience with a staggering opportunity cost (and so is a tenure track position!).

DonIce
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by DonIce » Mon May 06, 2019 6:14 pm

Zoe wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 6:08 pm
A Ph.D. degree should be reserved for those whom the goal is a faculty position (but tenure-track at a research university is only realistic these days if the Ph.D. is from a top-10-class school), or if the student otherwise feels absolutely no choice in the matter for personal or professional reasons. It's a very uncertain and frequently-miserable experience with a staggering opportunity cost (and so is a tenure track position!).
There's some industry roles for PhD engineers too, probably more such roles than tenure track faculty. If you look at any of the cutting edge tech companies they usually have job postings for engineers with PhDs. By tech companies here I don't just mean the hot software companies but all kinds of tech... aerospace, test/automation, hardware, semiconductor, biomedical, etc. There's also jobs at national labs and agencies.

Zoe
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by Zoe » Mon May 06, 2019 6:36 pm

DonIce wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 6:14 pm
There's some industry roles for PhD engineers too, probably more such roles than tenure track faculty.
Yes, no doubt that's true. But with some exceptions (sensors and AI for self-driving cars, as one current example), it's hard for a Ph.D. to pay off. Even at national laboratories, relatively few engineers have Ph.D.'s., as the positions are mostly support roles for researchers in other fields.

For most people, as I obliquely mentioned, it's their own inner desire that drives them to a Ph.D. rather than strictly career prospects. A clear exception is a faculty position, which essentially requires one.

DonIce
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by DonIce » Mon May 06, 2019 6:51 pm

Zoe wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 6:36 pm
DonIce wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 6:14 pm
There's some industry roles for PhD engineers too, probably more such roles than tenure track faculty.
Yes, no doubt that's true. But with some exceptions (sensors and AI for self-driving cars, as one current example), it's hard for a Ph.D. to pay off. Even at national laboratories, relatively few engineers have Ph.D.'s., as the positions are mostly support roles for researchers in other fields.

For most people, as I obliquely mentioned, it's their own inner desire that drives them to a Ph.D. rather than strictly career prospects. A clear exception is a faculty position, which essentially requires one.
PhDs usually pay off. Here's some data. Few years old now but I've seen more recent data that still shows the same thing, just can't quickly find it right now.

Image

https://www.wes.org/advisor-blog/salary ... sters-phd/

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon May 06, 2019 6:57 pm

So a Masters in Engineering out-earned every category on the chart except a PhD in Engineering?

livesoft
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Re: Educational pathway(s) for future engineer

Post by livesoft » Mon May 06, 2019 7:04 pm

dknightd wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 5:44 pm
rj342 wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm
1. NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THIS -- Regardless where he goes, as an engineering student recommend do NOT skip the college version of Calculus, Physics (calculus based), or Chemistry course if he got AP credit for those- absolutely not on the first two at very least. *Maybe* skip if we went to a top ranked national prep school. Maybe. AP is NOT the same as the real thing. Consider the AP a familiarization.
re: Bio, English, History etc by all means use AP to skip those classes.
I agree. Take at least the math and physics sequence from the beginning. Things will be taught in a different order, and a different degree of difficulty.
Maybe things have changed, but my high school AP Calculus, Physics, and Chemistry courses were more rigorous than my university courses that I skipped. I went right into 2nd year math (DiffyQ, Physics, and Chemistry) and got the best grades of my university career including a letter from the Organic Chem prof that I had the top grade in the class in the university. I did not attend a slouch university either.

I went to public high school, but had (in retrospect) outstanding teachers.

One can take my statements with a grain of salt, but I'd also recommend taking the other comments with a grain of salt, too.
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