A question to Electrical Engineers

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In summary, the experience of studying electrical engineering at a prestigious university was difficult and not particularly helpful. The job market was very tough and it was very difficult to find work.
  • #1
dejan
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Hello there,

I'm seriously considering doing Electrical Engineering (and to branch out into Aerospace) but i still am not sure. I have a few questions if anyone could help me with them...
Being an Electrical engineer, is it a job that allows you to travel and work over seas? Do you have free time for yourself? Do go out to restuarants, cafes and the likes? Is it a job that puts pressure on you? Is it competitive? Can you continue with your own hobbies once in the industry? Is it lucrative? Do you get to meet a lot of people, mainly those who arn't engineers?

That's all that comes to mind and i would greatly appreciate it if i was helped out:smile:
 
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  • #2
Dejane, go for it, you will like it if you are good in physics, math-calculus.
It is a very hard program but doable. Good luck bro!
 
  • #3
Being an Electrical engineer, is it a job that allows you to travel and work over seas?

Depending upon the specific job you take, the answer could be either yes or no. People who work directly with fab or packaging houses based in southeast Asia do quite a bit of travelling. Engineers who deal directly with customers (like field applications engineers) travel even more. Other kinds of engineers (design, process, etc.) generally don't travel much. If you want to travel, you can find a job that will enable you to do it -- after all, most people view travel as a disadvantage, and don't wish to take those jobs where a lot of traveling is necessary.

Do you have free time for yourself?

I work fewer hours than most real-estate brokers and lawyers that I know. Some companies will expect you to work 60 hours a week, but, for the most part, engineering companies are pretty laid back.

Do go out to restuarants, cafes and the likes?

Of course -- I don't know why a job would have anything to do with that.

Is it a job that puts pressure on you?

It puts a pleasant amount of pressure on me. I'm challenged, but not overwhelmed. This is largely because I have an excellent boss.

Is it competitive?

The market's pretty good these days. Most engineers can find some kind of work fairly easily.

Can you continue with your own hobbies once in the industry?

Of course, I have tons of hobbies.

Is it lucrative?

It pays well. Not as well as some business positions, of course, but it's good work.

Do you get to meet a lot of people, mainly those who arn't engineers?

Generally, the people you'll interact with professionally are either engineers or business people. If you're looking to find love within your professional circle, engineering probably won't be good for you. On the other hand, it's not a good idea to mix your social and professional circles too thoroughly.

- Warren
 
  • #4
Is EE conceptually difficult? Is it harder than physics and math in terms of theory? How do people get PhD's in EE?
 
  • #5
EE is considered one of the more math- and physics-intensive engineering majors. It's not as theoretical as either pure math or pure physics, of course, because it includes a lot of hands-on coursework.

Some people would probably find pure math or physics easier than EE, but many more would probably find EE somewhat easier than either pure math or physics.

People get PhDs in EE by going to grad school.

- Warren
 
  • #6
Hi,

Don't take any of the following statements as something that's guaranteed to apply to you. All I can do is recount my own experiences and to be frank they're not good. They concern a period of several years spent in the North of England between 1998 and early 2006.

The course at University (1998-2002) was very difficult and the electrical department was not run very well or particularly helpful most of the time and this is a top internationally reknowned engineering University I'm talking about. Obviously there were some very good lecturers but the overall experience was bad.

After graduating with my honours I could not find work anywhere. Neither could any of my friends who graduated. One worked as a TV salesman for several years afterwards. One is now a snow-boarding instructor who won't have anything whatsoever to do with engineering at all. I can think of only one who has done well and he works for a car-chipping company in London. I worked as a labourer/shelf stacker/bar tender/bin man till 2005. They were 3 very degrading and extremely difficult years, which put an enormous strain on my life at home with my parents to the point at which it almost destroyed it.

I have been treated for moderate/severe depression during that time as a result of this experience and had to have time off work as a result of it.

I then got a job working for a small electrical engineering firm near where I live who do very technical jobs for big clients like British Steel and Powergen. Laid back is the last thing I can describe that place as. I received no training whatsoever for the first several months but was still given lots of work to do and scolded when it was not correct regardless of the fact I was un-trained. I ended up doing two people's jobs within a year of being at the place and was working anything up to 12 hours a day being paid only for 8 and being on minimum wage at the time (£5 an hour) because the company was in trouble.

I had to go and have an operation on my nose in January this year. I was out of action for a while and when I popped back into see how things were going I realized I could never go back there, nor could I ever go back to engineering.

I quit and have since re-trained as a domestic electrician and I'm really enjoying the job and looking forward to being self employed within the next few months as quite unlike engineering there's lots of work around for electricians in this area. Also there's no corporate bull**** or mind games involved and no puffing of chests to see who's the biggest academic alpha male in the company the likes of which you always get to an incredibly boring and very nasty extent in any engineering related job.

So to conclude...

Sorry to go on mate but that's the side of the coin nobody ever told me about when I was thinking of going to University. My school teachers/advisors got their little gold star for one extra pupil sent to University and my dizzy parents thought they'd secured my place in financial security and happiness for life. Hmm... I wish a bit more research had been done by those who influenced me at the time. It would have saved so much hassle and I wouldn't be in thousands of pounds of debt like I currently am, nor would I have had to got through all that.

So there's my story. I'm really not trying to put you off, but you asked the question, and I'm just being as honest with you, as I wish someone had been with me all those years ago. If you're 100% committed you should be fine. But my advice would but be don't even consider it if you have any doubts :wink:
 
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  • #7
Interesting perspective, Adder_Noir. Admittedly, it seems like the exception rather than the rule.

It's very likely that there are few worthwhile electrical engineering jobs in the north of England. I suspect that looking for a EE job there is like a fireman looking for work in a rain forest, and I don't doubt that you had a hard time of it. Had you been willing to look for jobs in the US or various hot spots in the EU, I doubt you would have had such a hard time.

I'm a chip designer, and I live and work in the silicon valley of Northern California, which is something of a Mecca for technical professions. I went to school on the east coast, but was willing to relocate 3,000 miles away for the promise of work opportunities. I suspect that every profession presents workers with these kinds of decisions, and you sometimes have to be willing to rearrange your life to accommodate the career you want.

The company you worked for also sounds pretty remarkably bad. The big blinking warning sign is that they're paying someone with a degree minimum wage. Engineers typically make upper-middle class salaries, even in entry-level positions. No engineer should settle for less.

I also don't really agree with your generalization that all engineering jobs are full of alpha-male posturing or corporate bull****. My group, in fact, is an excellent example of competency and teamwork, all led by an easy-going and very well-adjusted guy. My company has spent enormous resources in educating me and advancing my abilities, and I think I have done excellent work in return.

I will admit that not all engineering jobs are as rewarding as mine; I am probably lucky. On the other hand, I believe your experience is at the other extreme of the spectrum of job experiences, and shouldn't be considered representative of the profession as a whole.

- Warren
 
  • #8
dejan said:
Do go out to restuarants, cafes and the likes?

does going to starbucks on a regular basis align with your career goals? :biggrin:

my dad is an electical engineer and as far as i know the starting pay works out pretty well, and you will probably be far outnumbered by MEs, but that also means they will come to rely on you.

You plan on branching out into aerospace? how so
 
  • #9
Dejane, go for it, you will like it if you are good in physics, math-calculus.
It is a very hard program but doable. Good luck bro!
Thanks for that!

Depending upon the specific job you take, the answer could be either yes or no. People who work directly with fab or packaging houses based in southeast Asia do quite a bit of travelling. Engineers who deal directly with customers (like field applications engineers) travel even more. Other kinds of engineers (design, process, etc.) generally don't travel much. If you want to travel, you can find a job that will enable you to do it -- after all, most people view travel as a disadvantage, and don't wish to take those jobs where a lot of traveling is necessary.
Thanks chroot! I see why traveling is viewed as a disadvantage, but maybe working on a contract abroad would be better i assume.

Generally, the people you'll interact with professionally are either engineers or business people. If you're looking to find love within your professional circle, engineering probably won't be good for you. On the other hand, it's not a good idea to mix your social and professional circles too thoroughly.
Well not that i would be out and about to find someone within the industry, but why do you say that engineering wouldn't be good for that? Less females??

That's quite a story Adder_Noir. I guess every profession/job has it's down side.

I'm a chip designer, and I live and work in the silicon valley of Northern California, which is something of a Mecca for technical professions. I went to school on the east coast, but was willing to relocate 3,000 miles away for the promise of work opportunities. I suspect that every profession presents workers with these kinds of decisions, and you sometimes have to be willing to rearrange your life to accommodate the career you want.
Indeed that's a very good place to live. Just wondering, why did you move from the east coast? I don't live in America (Australia), but from what i hear the eastern part of America has more jobs?? Are there electrical or even other engineering jobs in the eastern part of the country?

does going to starbucks on a regular basis align with your career goals? :biggrin:
Haha:wink: I was only wondering if you still get to go to such places like you would during university study and such...

my dad is an electical engineer and as far as i know the starting pay works out pretty well, and you will probably be far outnumbered by MEs, but that also means they will come to rely on you.

You plan on branching out into aerospace? how so
So are there more MEs out there, than EE?
Well the degree at the university is here . And I've always had an interest in technology and the likes...but also with things to do with flying, aeroplanes, space type planes...things like that. And the future seems to be promising for that area of work as new technology is always needed to advance planes and such.
Also here is the Engineering program at my university, it has quite a few other Engineering degrees that have been put together with Aerospace. Note that Mechanical Engineering is the only one with Space engineering. I was interested in this for some time, but I'm not so sure, so i guess i fell back on Aerospace.

Thanks again everyone for your contribution!
 
  • #10
There honestly aren't many females in the engineering and technical professions. Besides, like I said, it's generally regarded as a Very Bad Idea to date people from work.

I moved from the east coast because I like the people, the geography, and the weather better out here. The east coast of the US is, in general, more heavily populated, so there are consequently more jobs there. On the other hand, the major cities in California (San Francisco and Los Angeles) are very prosperous, and have no shortage of jobs available. Silicon Valley, an area a bit south of San Francisco, is probably the best place in the country for people who wish to pursue technical careers.

- Warren
 
  • #11
chroot said:
There honestly aren't many females in the engineering and technical professions. Besides, like I said, it's generally regarded as a Very Bad Idea to date people from work.

I moved from the east coast because I like the people, the geography, and the weather better out here. The east coast of the US is, in general, more heavily populated, so there are consequently more jobs there. On the other hand, the major cities in California (San Francisco and Los Angeles) are very prosperous, and have no shortage of jobs available. Silicon Valley, an area a bit south of San Francisco, is probably the best place in the country for people who wish to pursue technical careers.

- Warren

But its so expensive to live there... I've heard stories of how some people are paid huge salary but can't afford to purchase a decent home in that area unless they are willing to drive more than 2 hrs to work each day. Their huge salaries could buy a huge home in other parts of California though.
 
  • #12
Corneo said:
But its so expensive to live there... I've heard stories of how some people are paid huge salary but can't afford to purchase a decent home in that area unless they are willing to drive more than 2 hrs to work each day. Their huge salaries could buy a huge home in other parts of California though.

That's all entirely true -- except you won't get that huge salary if you live anywhere else. It's all adjusted for cost of living.

It does take a few more years to accumulate enough wealth to buy a home out here, it's true, but you also stand to make more money with your real estate investment. There's a good and bad side to everything.

- Warren
 
  • #13
chroot said:
I also don't really agree with your generalization that all engineering jobs are full of alpha-male posturing or corporate bull****.

I'm more than prepared to accept that it's probably a problem confined mainly to English companies :smile:

Most of the people I know who work in any technical profession in this area have to deal with it on a daily basis, but then again as I've always said, the biggest thing that holds back the majority of the United Kingdom as a nation is its attitude problem and constant opposition to change and professionalism :wink:

Sounds like the company you work for is spot on. A real equal give and take scenario which is exactly how it should be :approve:
 
  • #14
chroot said:
There honestly aren't many females in the engineering and technical professions. Besides, like I said, it's generally regarded as a Very Bad Idea to date people from work.

I moved from the east coast because I like the people, the geography, and the weather better out here. The east coast of the US is, in general, more heavily populated, so there are consequently more jobs there. On the other hand, the major cities in California (San Francisco and Los Angeles) are very prosperous, and have no shortage of jobs available. Silicon Valley, an area a bit south of San Francisco, is probably the best place in the country for people who wish to pursue technical careers.

- Warren
Thank you!
 
  • #15
I hope there are not going to be to many obstructions finding a job because I am a girl in EE:-)
 
  • #16
I personally think it might be an advantage to be a girl when trying to get an EE job.
 
  • #17
I don't know about Canada, but in the US, there are some companies that have male-oriented cultures, but at the same time, there are ant-discrimination laws that provide a positive advantage to companies that employe or are owned by women or minorities.
 
  • #18
guys thank you for your insight.
 
  • #19
ha, there should be more girls in EE. In my entire department, there isn't one girl (I think). I'm sick of being around guys
 
  • #20
hey guys pls come to Toronto, there are 27 girls in EE:-)
 
  • #21
Electrical Engineering Specialization

Hello, I'm considering Electrical Engineering as well but I'm undecided on what to specialize in...
Electrical Engineering - Microelectronics Concentration
Electrical Engineering - Wireless Communication Concentration
Electrical Engineering Technology - Computer Systems Concentration
Electrical Engineering Technology - Electrical Systems Concentration
Electrical Engineering Technology - Articulated A.S. to B.S.E.E.T. Track
Electrical Engineering Technology - Photonics Track (B.S.E.E.T.)
I was wondering if anyone here can provide me with some ensight on these various areas of specialization. Do any of you find yourselfs saying to yourself "Man, I should of specialized in Wirless Communications or Photonics". Perhaps you came across a high paying job opportunity that you wasn't qualified for but wish that you had.
Many Thanks for you replys!
 
  • #22
You should not worry about specialization until you're already a couple of years into the program. There's no sense in deciding on a specialty without any experience.

- Warren
 
  • #23
Serbian.matematika said:
I hope there are not going to be to many obstructions finding a job because I am a girl in EE:-)
gender should not have any bearing on anything... everyone is treated equally in my EE or CompE. So what if you are a girl? so, being a girl in EE means being in monority, so what?
At times being a girl in EE/ECE is not all that "advantageous", you have to be able to handle the pressure involved in the major, keep up on a decent level, and NEVER exploit the fact that you are a girl and hence should be "spared" in some way...otherwise might as well go somewhere else... just my experience.

As far as I know, jobs in US do not look at gender...
 
  • #25
Hi Chroot, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, there is a vast difference in degree curriculum with each area of specialization. Thus, I'm trying to plan it out.
 
  • #26
Well, CyberSoda, I'm a little unsure of what degree you are pursuing. The truth is that very few (if any) BSEE degrees are broken down into specialties like the ones you listed. It seems you are pursuing a BSEET (Electrical Engineering Technologist), am I right?

If so, my advice for you, seriously, is to avoid the BSEET altogether and get a real 4-year BSEE degree.

- Warren
 
  • #27
Hi Chroot, these degrees are 4 year degree programs that are offered by UCF (University of Central Florida) http://www.catalog.sdes.ucf.edu/current/degree_programs/
Any particular reason as to why you do not recommend the BSEET track?
 
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  • #28
I've been leaning towards microelectronics.
 
  • #29
EET degrees are generally regarded, at best, as "an inch deep and a mile wide." At worst, they're viewed as glorified associate's degrees for people who want to be engineers, but aren't good with math. This will be a hindrance.

I'm not saying you're not smart, or that you aren't good at math -- but an EET degree will cast that light on you. Be careful.

- Warren
 
  • #30
Also, note that three BSEE programs offered are so similar (only a couple of upper-division classes are different) that there's no point in trying to decide one versus the other until you're pretty far along.

- Warren
 
  • #31
Thanks a million!
 
  • #32
Does someone who has a BSEET and is a PE, still regarded in the way as you stated, chroot?
 
  • #33
It depends on the specific field, ranger. If you want a design position, you need theoretical training, and a BSEET is not going to cut it. Also, no one really cares about the PE cert for design work -- at least not for microelectronics or communications, the fields I work in.

Other areas, like power systems design, etc., may provide excellent opportunities for BSEET/PE people, but I don't have any experience in those areas.

- Warren
 
  • #34
chroot said:
At worst, they're viewed as glorified associate's degrees for people who want to be engineers, but aren't good with math.
- Warren

Can you elaborate on this?

I know that at one technical college where I live(not mentioning names), they have an 4 year EE program that focuses on the theoretical more than the application (not having to take many labs, and not having to take the labs at specific times). and at another technical college, they have a 4 year EET program that focuses a lot more on the application (every non-elective class requires a passing lab in addition to passing the class). This is the way they were described to me. And I know both require the same amount of math classes. Maybe most 2 year EET schools aren't like this, but if anything, I'd think the labs would provide for more mathematical practice.
 
  • #35
Labs don't provide mathematical practice.. they're.. labs. They provide hands-on experience with oscilloscopes, soldering, wiring up circuits, etc. The amount of math you're going to do in an undergrad EE lab is essentially nil.

Theory classes -- and their homework assignments -- are what provide mathematical practice.

And if you look at the UCF curricula listed here, you'll see that the EET is missing a handful of math classes that I would consider critical for a person working at the level of a BSEE.

- Warren
 

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