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100% Online Electrical Engineering Program

  1. Jan 16, 2014 #1
    Good evening (afternoon, morning, depending on where you are),

    I'm very interested in Arizona State University's Electrical Engineering program. It is one hundred percent online, just like the title says, and the labs are given to the student in kits. The advisers can't give me more information about the kits until I'm actually enrolled. The degree is ABET accredited. I am married and I work full time, I also live in a state in the USA where colleges are few and far between, so this seems to be my only option for a degree that works with me.

    My question to you all is that, if I enroll in this program, would I be at a disadvantage going into a career? Would my lack of proctored labs be a hindrance to me? Will I be that kid on the block who doesn't known what the heck they're doing?

    I'd appreciate any feedback. Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2014 #2
    While I cannot say much about how potential employers will view this degree, I think it is definitely worth a try. I think this is the direction education is heading in the future.

    On the other hand, receiving the lab materials in a "kit" and figuring everything out on your own without a TA sounds like it could be quite nerve wracking. Who knows though, this could just as well be the best way to learn!

    I can say that having a lab TA has been a positive experience in more ways than one. An example would be asking indepth questions that might be irrelevant to the given lab. I've had very long, meaningful discussions with my lab TAs and even landed a research job because of it.
  4. Jan 16, 2014 #3


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    Waht about equipment like oscilloscopes, power supplies, waveform generators, etc? Do you have to purchase all of these things yourself? What about cad software and whatnot?
  5. Jan 17, 2014 #4


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    The ASU website (found by Google) seemed to list only the EE-specific courses for the online degree. It didn't seem to mention other things (e.g. the math calculus sequence of courses, some classical mechanics, etc) that are presumably prerequisites. If those things are NOT prerequisites, there's something strange going on here IMO.

    No doubt you could get a reasonable "practical labs" experience in some areas of EE (e.g. computer hardware, etc) but I don't see how you could do that for say power engineering, without working with equipment that would be completely impractical to use on your "kitchen table" at home.
  6. Jan 17, 2014 #5
    Yeah, I really have no idea how that would work. I mean even the circuit labs for my circuits 1 and 2 courses at my university use expensive proto-typing boards, oscilliscopes, and waveform generators. Any one of those things can cost 500-2000 dollars, so I really doubt they are shipping them to you in a kit. I mean if it is ABET accredited, then great but I don't really understand how they give you alot of the practical experience you get from a university lab.

    Edit: Note, I am not trying to discourage you from doing it. If that is what your circumstances allow, then do what you can. But I would ask some more questions of the faculty before paying out tens of thousands of dollars. Even if they won't be specific about the kits, just asking how you can get practical experience from the kit compared to a university lab would be something they should give some kind of information on.
  7. Jan 17, 2014 #6
    I know the Lab practical for microelectronics was pretty intimidating. They usually weed out the members of your group that did nothing in lab but mooch of other members of the group. The Machines lab was pretty dangerous DC motors,induction motors,synchronous generators. I dont know how they mail that kit
  8. Jan 18, 2014 #7
    I found the 'course map', which lists the suggested courses in the suggested order. It starts from term one with Calculus I, and the next term has some English comp in there. Just seems to be missing all the typical sociology and history general educations that most students are required to take.

    Something to note - these courses are A and B term classes (half semesters), which means each course will be just less than three months long. Not sure if this is more common in other schools or not (I'm used to semesters). It's just something to note, and IMO adds a significant degree of difficulty to this path.

    I am skeptical about this, but it sounds better and better the more I read into it (maybe that's by design). It will still take a significant amount of work to do and will by no means be any easier than a normal university degree, besides the logistics. I would think that you don't actually have to put on your resume "BSEE, Arizona State University Online", since an accredited degree program is an accredited degree program after all. Just make sure to have some internship experience or something similar before graduating in order to check yourself with the real world. It is my understanding that Engineers work on teams, and teamwork is very important. No matter what you say on your resume, IMO your experience (or lack of) with teams would quickly become apparent after being hired.

    Also to anyone who happens to be digging into ASU's catalogs, I learned that the 'iCourse' and 'Online' courses are different. iCourse is an online course for on campus students, and an 'Online' course is for anyone else, like OP (off campus). All of OP's courses appear to be 'Online'.
  9. Jan 19, 2014 #8
    It may seem like an attractive option to go 'online' but you will get far more out of the classroom. I understand juggling a family while going to school (I'm in the same boat) but ASU has family resources that will help with things like daycare (although cuts have taken a huge hit on available options).

    From your original post it sounds like you are starting from scratch? If so MCC is a wonderful community college as it is inexpensive education that is fully transferable to ASU.

    I would also talk to financial aid and consider switching to part time work. The engineering program is very demanding and takes a lot of personal time (and you already will have more on your plate than the average student with your family responsibilities).

    Pell grants are a good option, plus ASU (and MCC) have many scholarship programs, the State of Arizona has a Legislature Grant, and the ASU site has a scholarship/grant search on their website. I would also look into the 'work study' program as most jobs have little to no responsibilities and afford you the opportunity for quite study (a rare treat for a family man).

    Whatever costs you can not cover through grants, scholarships, work study, etc. can be made up with student loans.

    I understand wanting to 'take advantage' of online classes but without the lecture learning this material can be difficult and you likely will not get as much out for the same amount of effort (in other words, going to lecture will probably be a time saver overall).

    Good luck, and I hope to see you on campus!
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  10. Jan 19, 2014 #9
    I just saw that they also have an MSE in E.E. Do you guys think that potential grad schools would look down upon this if an applicant for PhD studies had done it?
  11. Jan 19, 2014 #10
    (Note) my background is: recent graduate in bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and second year Phd student in electrical engineering.
    With regard to the student labs, this is probably what they will ask you to work with: http://www.ni.com/mydaq/
    It is pretty cool and has a function gen, oscilloscope, multimeter (I have and used in my Mech Eng undergrad). It is not exactly the same as the real thing, but a undergraduate just trying to learn probably will not see the difference. I do not think you will miss anything you cannot quickly make up later.

    That being said, eventually your prospective employers will find out that you did your degree online during interviews and I think that will look bad. My guess (just a guess) is that it wont look good and you likely will not get hired. Also, university is challenging and time consuming, even online. It is difficult enough to go to school full time with a family, I can't imagine the pain of doing it while working full time.

    I would say that an fully online undergrad program in any field will not have much street cred in the industry. However, that should not stop you from learning, if that is your goal. Check out the link that I posted. You will get a bunch of cool experience with circuits and programming (with labview). There are a lot of free classes online too and don't forget the great help from physics forum members to guide you.

    If you are interested, I might suggest you get accredited in labview programming http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/201888 and look for a job with that. It will not take as much training and you will get to do the cool things that electrical engineers do. Maybe you can open another thread to ask the community this.
  12. Nov 17, 2014 #11
    Admittedly late to this party - posting in case it helps someone: As a hiring manager, I don't care where a candidate obtains their education. I care that the candidate's competencies align with the job and that s/he has the motivation, integrity, curiosity and sense of ownership that will produce effective results. In my experience, comprehensive interviewing techniques do a good job of selecting candidates that fit the above criteria. How they obtained their education (traditional, online or other) doesn't correlate with job performance.

    One might argue that all else being equal, an employer would select the candidate with the traditional education. In the 30 years I've been hiring engineers - I have yet to encounter an "all else being equal" situation. Mine is only one voice. So, take it for what its worth. There are those out there that can't look past the credentials. However, I doubt anyone meeting the above criteria would have trouble finding an engineering job just because their degree was obtained online.
  13. Mar 4, 2015 #12
    I know this thread is over a year old, but it still one of the top search results when people are looking into the ASU online electrical engineering degree, so I'll share what I've learned. I am currently enrolled in this program. The circuitry class I just finished did have a lab component. This required a USB oscilloscope called Analog Discovery TM. This oscilloscope is purchased from the Digilent website for $100 if you are a student(regular price is $280). You also need the analog parts kit for $65, a breadboard, and a multimeter. The USB oscilloscope is used in every online EEE lab I have seen at ASU online. The Analog Discovery website features it's own free electronics course and the labs there can give you a good idea of the labs at ASU. You will need to pass differential equations and linear algebra before taking most of the EEE classes. Matlab is used extensively and is available for free download through ASU. We also used LTspice in my circuits class.

    Having the some lab equipment available 24/7 has proven very beneficial. As a technician in a room full of electrical engineers by day, I believe this program is training me well to practice what I see in industry.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  14. Mar 4, 2015 #13


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    And confirm that it is ABET accredited. This is the MAGIC word for pursuing state licensure as a Professional Engineer. It is far more Golden than an EE degree that is NOT ABET accredited, obtained through traditional on campus learning.

    Note that every school that is ABET accredited, doesn't mean all their engineering programs are ABET accredited. I suspect Arizona's EE program is, or else you wouldn't have had it sold on you.

    The suggestion to attend a local Community College (if available) is a good idea for some of your first classes to help you start out. Most colleges accept up to 64 semester credits to transfer in (2 years worth of full time college coursework). You need to be judicious in which classes to take though.
  15. Mar 9, 2015 #14
    I, too, am currently enrolled in this program. I had to basically start over since I switched from Middle Eastern Studies to EE. I had about 80 credits in the MES but couldn't take the long papers, more of a math and science guy. I'm now on my second year with ASU. The reason I chose online is for the same reasons the OP brought up. I'm working full-time with a wife and two kids. I can't afford to take a break from work to go to school full time in a traditional brick and mortar school.

    ASU offers classes that are 8 weeks long, super quick and extremely fast paced. I believe it has ups and downs to that style. You get classes done quickly but at the same time, I don't believe you can retain as much since you're more worried about just passing that class than really retaining the information. I have completed most of the pre-reqs, Calc I, II and III, English, Chemistry and a few others. It is a great program and I'm hoping to continue. The program itself is ABET accredited, you can look it up on the ABET site if you want to confirm it yourself, there's also other online engineering courses that are ABET accredited that may interest other people. Some teachers seem to put a lot of effort into the classes while others don't and you rely on Yahoo Answers, Chegg and Khan Academy or other videos to help you understand the material.

    But I do believe I am learning a lot, I am currently the only one at my work without at least a Bachelor's of Engineering, most have either a Master's or doctorates. While I haven't done any of the real courses yet, just the Calc alone I have been able to hold a conversation with them, which can sometimes be very hard...

    To anyone that is looking for something like this, I highly recommend it but it isn't for the faint of heart. Even though there are times where online may be easier, I feel there are probably more times when it is harder. Expect to spend at least a couple hours per course a week, and that's at a minimum I'd say. There might be a course or two where you feel you're basically teaching yourself the coursework since the instructors aren't doing much. The students have always stepped up to help each other out. This has been a tremendous help.

    As the years go by, I would imagine ASU would make the courses better and more intuitive and informative. It does seem that they are at their trial stage right now and still trying to get out the kinks. They're slowly offering more and more courses a semester, seemed before you could only take one or two a semester that could count toward your degree. I have heard of some people that transferred with more courses that haven't been able to take a full schedule because they aren't offering a lot of EE classes every semester, especially the upper levels. But as I said, they are becoming more abundant and I believe this will continue. The first years, I recommend taking an easy class paired with a more demanding course. I've been doing English paired with an engineering(math or science) class or Econ paired with an engineer(math or science) class or History, well I think you get what I'm saying.

    Bottom line, I believe it's a good program, especially considering it's the first of it's kind and with a pretty well known school. Get ready for fast paced courses, and at times a hurry up and wait mentality. You might be able to get a full schedule this semester but next semester might not be the same. Try and do some research on the teachers you select, you may not have a choice with most but it can pay off with the ones you can. Don't be afraid to ask help from teachers, students, tutors or anyone, it could pay off. I had to get my first tutor ever for Calc I, it was a summer class so it was only 5 and a half weeks long, so that was quicker than usual.

    I wish anyone good luck with whatever choice they decide.
  16. Mar 15, 2015 #15
    2 hours per week? I spend more like two hours per day taking one class at a time (two being a full course load). The classes I am taking are at the 300 level right now. It is not an easy program.
  17. Mar 16, 2015 #16
    I don't think the OP has a choice with his other responsibilities.
  18. Mar 16, 2015 #17
    I'm saying that is mighty impressive regardless of reason. Most will not be able to pass with that amount of time allotted. I just want to provide an example on the other end of the spectrum of how much time other people might need to get by in this program.
  19. Apr 2, 2015 #18


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    This a great thread, answered a lot of questions about ASU Online.

    For those curious about the ABET accreditation of the online program, take a look here: http://www.abet.org/online-programs/. You'll notice that the ASU BSEE is the only 100% online BS in engineering that is ABET accredited.
  20. Jun 5, 2015 #19
    I was wondering if any of you that posted that you are currently in this program have graduated yet? I'm trying to get some feedback from someone who has graduated from the online EE program, and according to ASU they just recently graduated their first class from this program.
  21. Jun 7, 2015 #20
    Why don't you ask ASU for the contact information of a recent graduate?
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