T Nation

Any Engineers Here?

Whats up guys.

After giving medicine careful consideration and finally deciding that im not yet capable of making that decision ( high school senior ), ive been thinking about what im going to do in college.

Engineering intrigues me, because im a big fan of math and i like things like problem solving, puzzles, etc. Civil engineering in particular seems awesome to me.

So, any engineers here? What was your schooling like? How do you like your job, and what’s a normal day like?

Thanks.

I’m a mechanical engineer.

If you’re thinking of studying it, make sure you’re the type of person who enjoys studying maths and physics and doesn’t mind working at a computer for long hours.

Above all, you need to be a practical person. If you can’t make the connection between practical things (like what goes on in a workshop or how to weld) and the theory then you will struggle in working life. I am always wary of an engineer who can’t change their engine oil.

University is hard. The first year is maths and physics and then you branch off into whatever discipline you choose. Civil Engineering would have the least maths of all disciplines. After first year you will start doing specialist subjects on the different areas of work, namely traffic, water, structures, environmental science, construction, project management and civil (roads and shit).

My job is 8 hours a day at a PC designing things in CAD with lots of calculations and analysis software. Which would be pretty typical of most Civil engineering consultancies too. Civil engineers can be involved with construction and the project mgmt that goes with it, that’d be a different sort of work.

Well I’m not an engineer but I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the California Maritime Academy. The difference here from other schools is that in addition to the theoretical course load ME’s receive, students here also take part in applied learning, specifically in the marine engineering field (training cruises and simulators, for example).

Personally, I think engineering is a lot simpler than people make it out to be, as long as you pay attention to the details. I think you would enjoy engineering.

I got my BS in mechanical engineering from Columbia U. Don’t regret it, just regret not studying harder and applying myself more. Engineering of any type is the hardest major and is very demanding. Your career opportunities after you graduate will be a lot broader then for any other discipline because it shows that you can problem solve with the best of them.

You must be very good in higher level math. Calculus was considered easy in comparison to some of the higher level engineering math. you must love the stuff or else you will struggle in theoretical type classes. I did a lot better in lower level graduate engineering courses that had to do more with application then theory.

As far as a career within engineering goes, don’t expect to move on up without a masters or professional engineering license and a lot of years of experience. The pay sucks in the beginning but i guess it is worth it in the long haul if you enjoy what you do.

I went into banking and finance after i graduated and pursued a masters degree in finance also. I specifically chose not to do business as an undergrad because of the non challenging curriculum and because an under grad degree in business does not really mean much in comparison to engineering. laters pk

Well, I’m not a civil engineer yet, but I’m working on it (freshman on college).

I can only tell you how is school like (from my experience so far), and basicly it’s all mathematics and physics.

It’s interesting, but hard work.

I just finished up my BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology with Old Dominion University in August of this year. Currently I’m a design engineer and product babysitter with a small precision sheetmetal and machining company. The typical day for me involves not only design and engineering tasks, but project management, quality control, and customer relations as well.

School was a little different because I was taking classes while working, so it took me a little longer than usual. One of the main things I regret is not going full time and having a college “life” like everyone else I know. My college memories consist of working 8 hours a day then taking 4 to 6 hours of night classes.

Engineering and manufacturing can be alot of fun, but there is no denying that it can be stressful. Also don’t count on working 8 hour days. Sometimes ya gotta stay late.

La’
Redsol1

My undergrad degree was in Aerospace Engineering and I’m currently a Process Engineer at a factory, which means I’m responsible for certain areas of manufacturing and any improvements or resolution of problems in them.

School was hard, but also one of the most fun things I’ve done. I definitely agree with everyone else that says you have to enjoy physics and math and have a general tendency toward figuring things out. The pay is nice, where I work engineers tend to be the second highest paid group below management.

I suppose that would depend on your area. But at the same time, I’ve discovered you have to also enjoy it for more than financial reasons, because it can be stressful. In my position, you also have to be good at communicating with the people around you. Sometimes when I’m chasing a problem it turns more into deductive detective work than technical troubleshooting.

You certainly don’t have to decide right away. I didn’t for a little while. You’re doing the right thing, ask around and see what you like. When you get to school try out clubs and student organizations for the things that interest you too, they’ll give you lots of insight.

So how much do you like trains?

thank you all for your replies, i appreciate them all.

ive been looking over the coursework for the civil engineering major and its exciting to see all the stuff that there is to learn, though im sure those that are already in school are scoffing at my naivity (word?).

id appreciate anything that anybody else has to say.

Not an engineer, but I do deal with engineers, blueprints, and calculations in my career (Union Laborer), hence my comments will be directed to the construction/demolitions aspect of engineering specifically.

Many of the craftsmen think engineers don’t know shit and vice versa. I believe one cannot work without the other in my field. Not all engineers are idiots and not all craftsmen are idiots, remember this and it will serve you well.

An engineering degree doesn’t give you the right to talk down to a coworker who isn’t “formally” educated as he/she may “know” more than you ever will. Your calculations NEED to be correct or you may end up killing/seriously injuring someone or yourself.

PLEASE take criticism/differing opinions constructively and be willing to go over everthing so those involved understand their role(s).

One last thing, don’t EVER insult a union craftsmen, or anyone else for that matter, in front of their peers or you may not make it home in one piece. Take them aside and explain your thoughts/ideas/disagreements in a calm/civil manner.

[quote]TheSicilian wrote:
Not an engineer, but I do deal with engineers, blueprints, and calculations in my career (Union Laborer), hence my comments will be directed to the construction/demolitions aspect of engineering specifically.

Many of the craftsmen think engineers don’t know shit and vice versa. I believe one cannot work without the other in my field. Not all engineers are idiots and not all craftsmen are idiots, remember this and it will serve you well.

An engineering degree doesn’t give you the right to talk down to a coworker who isn’t “formally” educated as he/she may “know” more than you ever will. Your calculations NEED to be correct or you may end up killing/seriously injuring someone or yourself.

PLEASE take criticism/differing opinions constructively and be willing to go over everthing so those involved understand their role(s).

One last thing, don’t EVER insult a union craftsmen, or anyone else for that matter, in front of their peers or you may not make it home in one piece. Take them aside and explain your thoughts/ideas/disagreements in a calm/civil manner.[/quote]

… So did your agent decide this was the best way to practice for a Sopranos audition? Jesus, lay off the melodrama.

I did not graduate with an engineering degree but instead, computer science. I agree with what everyone has said since I had several friends graduating with engineering degrees. The course work is hard and the math and physics is intense. But, with anything else, if you enjoy it and put some effort, you’ll do fine.

jet

I’m a EE major.

Be very careful in selecting a school. Frankly, I hate mine.

[quote]LoneLobo wrote:
… So did your agent decide this was the best way to practice for a Sopranos audition? Jesus, lay off the melodrama.
[/quote]

Sopranos eh??? I haven’t heard THAT one before. I’m trying to help the kid. I’m not here to impress anyone, just to learn and offer advice whenever I think something I know may be useful.

YOU tell me how YOU’d react if:

A) An ENGINEER devised a plan for YOU to pick something.

B) Said item was 30 tons and supposed to be TWO pieces of steel, welded together.

C) It can’t be picked the way YOU would because the ENGINEER designed the pick.

D) It doesn’t matter that the ENGINEER has NEVER picked anything with a crane and YOU’ve picked FAR heavier things than 30 tons.

E) The ENGINEER DOES NOT check if the pieces are welded, as any responsible person SHOULD if they are potentially putting others in harms way.

F) YOU ask the ENGINEER repeatedly if the pieces are connected and WILL NOT come apart.

G) The ENGINEER confirms the pieces ARE welded together because the ENGINEER checked them.

H) YOU pick said item 30 feet and it FALLS APART with BOTH PIECES of steel taking off like ROCKETS.

I) YOU and 3 of YOUR guys nearly get KILLED because of the ENGINEER’s incompetence and LAZINESS.

J) YOU find out the things holding the pieces together were gravity and a few layers of PAINT…NO WELDS!!!

K) The ENGINEER trusted 30 year old blueprints telling him it was “supposed” to be welded and NOT PHYSICALLY CHECKING FOR HIMSELF.

L) For some reason the ENGINEER is seen leaving the construction site with his laptop FIVE MINUTES after the pieces ALMOST KILL 4 guys.

M) WTF would YOU do if someone almost cost you YOUR life and YOU might never see YOUR kids grow up, never again kiss YOUR wife goodnight, never tell YOUR parents one last time that you love them…etc

N) The ENGINEER will get to go home and do all the things YOU can’t because YOU are dead.

Tell me WTF would YOU DO in that circumstance…I know what I’d do AND shat I DID because I lived IT…

I’m a civil engineer (Class of 2001) from a small engineering school in Indiana. I’d agree with everyone here about the 1st year knocking out the basics: math (up to differential equations was how far they made us go), physics (only through Physics 3), and a little bit of chemistry (I only took Chem 1 and 2).

Basically, if you want to be a EE or ME, you’re going to have more math and physics. If you want to be a Chem E, you’ll have a lot more chem. To be a Civil, you have to be able to drink beer. One of the jokes civil engineers make is that there are 4 laws: you can’t push a rope, water (and shit) flows downhill, water + dirt = mud, and the most important: if it moves, it’s broken.

As for your job after school, there are a variety of things you can do, with any engineering discipline. I know plenty of engineers that got into business and sales. Others go into design firms and work at a desk. Still others go into project management and work on construction sites. Some do manufacturing…bottom line is that any engineering discipline will set you up with options for a good career and give you flexibility that is important in today’s world.

One thing I would stress that I wish I had done in school is to focus on how the classroom stuff applies to the real world, and try to get as much experience as you can during the summer and with internships.

I also should go ahead and throw in a plug here for the military. I was on a ROTC scholarship, which helps if you pick an expensive school. Free schooling, plus a guaranteed job for 4 years after ward. If you go to work for a civilian firm, you might spend the first year runnign the copy machine and working small projects. Working for the government, you’re thrown right into the fire from the get go because we’re cutting resources.

If you have any questions about any of this, PM me.

I am an economics major. Seeing how much my friends that went into engineering actually treat subjects and situations that deal with the real world, I regret my initial choice. I think that the effort which is needed to go through the first year of time-and-fatigue expensive exams pays off, absolutely.

If I were in charge of deciding which people to contact for a job of whatever kind, I would surely give priority to engineers over every other kind of degree-holders.

Make sure of something, though: do you have the ability to actually sit down for the time required to study? I know one guy which is very smart, but that struggles with the most loaded courses because he is too restless and unable to study for hours straight without first excersizing on an almost daily basis.

Reading comprehension…

Not a flame, guys. Work on being able to READ.

[quote]ZachDelDesert wrote:
thank you all for your replies, i appreciate them all.

ive been looking over the coursework for the civil engineering major and its exciting to see all the stuff that there is to learn, though im sure those that are already in school are scoffing at my naivity (word?).

id appreciate anything that anybody else has to say.[/quote]

I’m an EE and I’ll be graduating from Georgia Tech in the spring. The school is really fucking hard but just about every big company recruits from there (our career fair is the nation’s largest and yes I already have a job). As was said before, the choice of school will dictate how much you like engineering (a lot of people at my school dropout into management) and the kind of job you will get. So look at top rated schools (Georgia Tech, UIUC, Berkely etc).

I know that some civil engineers HAVE to be professional engineers (PE, FE,EIT) as in they have to take an exam (fucking hard) to certify they actually know what they are doing.

Again, you must be proficient in Calculus, Abstract Math Concepts (EE), and Physics (GPA of at least a B in those courses otherwise you’ll die).

Edit: The job I have lined up is in the controls and automation industry (I worked there over the summer). Lots of EE and ME involved but I’ll still be sitting in a cubicle all day with occasional client visits. Overall I enjoy it except for the long ass commute.

Good Luck,
TMJ

ZachDelDesert,

I think that engineering is a good career choice but only if you enjoy it. I received my undergraduate degree over 25 years ago and it’s been a great ride.

Folks here have implied it’s the hardest degree to get. I don’t agree with that. I think it depends on your interests, and abilities. I found my core engineering classes much easier than some of the humanities classes.

I met my wife in school - she too was an engineering major. She’s very bright (in fact she’s one of the smartest persons I have ever met). Someone convinced her that very bright people get engineering degrees. Long story short - she hated engineering classes and eventually she dropped out of school. After a few years she went back to school, received a couple of degrees in English Literature and has been very successful since.

My point is figure out your passion and go for it.

Carlsbad

[quote]TheSicilian wrote:
Tell me WTF would YOU DO in that circumstance…I know what I’d do AND shat I DID because I lived IT…
[/quote]

I check the welds myself. Especialy the ones that are essential to the integrity of the item being lifted, and all of the rigging equiptment.

Nuts and bolts are important too. You can’t have things slipping off and smashing people either. (like the legs on the condensor unit that we had to adjust before placing, earlier this week.)

The fault you are trying to place on the engineer does not lie solely on him. It lies on everybody that was involved with that lift.

If your life is at stake, you don’t take someones word, you check yourself.