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Advice in pursuing an Engineering Degree online.

  1. Sep 12, 2013 #1
    Because of my current financial situation, I must work at least part time while furthering my education. I've been looking into accredited online colleges that offer some kind of Engineering program, I haven't found any. What I have found: Southern New Hampshire University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Maths, all online, which once completed I think would show that I have a solid background in Maths. What I really want to get into is Electrical Engineering and then Mechatronics. Does anyone have any advice on transitioning from a Maths degree into an Engineering degree online? What hurdles can I expect from potential employers? What do you think I would miss out on from a traditional brick and mortar schools?

    Here is the page outlining the course: http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate-degrees/mathematics-BA-online.asp
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2013 #2
    The most important stuff, like labs, face to face interactions, collaborations, research and internships. All of that is more important than classes.

    Plenty of people work part time to pay their way through a brick and mortar university program.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  4. Sep 12, 2013 #3


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    Employers will be very suspicious of the quality of an online engineering education, based on all the things you'll miss out that ModusPwnd mentioned.

    You'll also miss out on developing a strong professional network. That has been very valuable to me in my career.
  5. Sep 12, 2013 #4
    The university of Alabama has a completely online engineering degree. I think you have to go to campus for like two labs other than that it's online. As others have said you will miss out on valuable interactions and other things. Even if you get a math degree you're still going to need basic engineering courses before grad school so why even bother with doing that
  6. Sep 12, 2013 #5


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    I don't understand where the allure to complete this degree online is coming from.

    Is it due to scheduling conflicts for courses/major requirements? A perception that it will take less "effort" or time to complete? What are your motives?

    I don't think any online engineering degree is likely going to be worth the time and money. The investment towards a paper without any recognition and hands on work (labs, seminars, interacting with peers) is not going to be worth the flexibility of doing it online.

    Anyways. I work full time and attend college full time (currently taking a period of time off due to my father nearly dying and a bunch of other super heavy touchy-feeling things).

    I imagine that as I transition from community college to university, I'll have to cut back to part time work in order to fulfill the immense coursework expected from upper division courses.
  7. Sep 12, 2013 #6


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    My hat is off to you. I simply cannot imagine working (besides a few hours a week grading papers) while I was studying engineering. It would have been way too hard. I spent easily 50 hours a week on my studies... a job on top of that. I don't know how people do it, but I'm very impressed.
  8. Sep 12, 2013 #7


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    It's not *that* hard in a sense that you get a work momentum. But, that being said, little things like what I ran into (having to fly to visit a parent, etc) will ruin everything. Like a budget where you live paycheck to paycheck with no wiggle room, your time is spread thin. Any "surprise" obligations can ruin you.

    I know that when I start taking more advanced courses, it simply won't be possible (IE when I transfer to UMD a year from now). I also don't get any time to party or attend many social functions. Which actually does impact me, as I do enjoy going out for drinks with coworkers.

    But, if you want it, you'd make it work. It was -- work full time to pay the bills and pay for school, or don't go at all. It became obvious what the best choice was!

    One does have to make sure there is time for themselves and not let anything bleed into that. Even if it's just 6 hours on a Sunday. Even if I have things that are due, that 6 hours is off limits. That's for me. You have to work very hard to keep centered, healthy, and focused.

    I get easily frustrated with excessive work commitments too. That "one last thing" that my boss requests right before 4:30 means I'll have to run (literally) to class.

    But I consider myself to be very employable now, and will only continue to be so. I'm in college with 2 years of analyst experience, 1 year of lab experience and a decent list of employer recommendations. Most of my friends graduating with their B.S have maybe a few REU's or internships. I have concrete ties with people in my area. When I get to the end of the schooling tunnel I'll have something to fall back on when the post-docs don't rain from the sky.

    Also, I just really freakin' love physics. It's a hobby, and sure there are some problem sets that make me hate it. But only for a moment. Study what you love is a good mantra, especially when you only get 6-10 hours a week to yourself.

    OP: I wouldn't suggest that it's easy to go school full time/work full time. But if you're only working 20 hours or so a week (30 depending on the work)-- it's entirely plausible to attend a standard school. You'll have more access to scholarships, staff support, peer support, and hands on learning than you would online. And I'm betting that doing a 2 year to 4 year school transfer would be cheaper than studying out of state, and online.

    This may not have been the advice you wanted, but it is what it is.

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  9. Sep 12, 2013 #8
    Wow! That's really impressive! Thanks a lot for sharing this!

    Sorry for off-topic, but how were you able to get your first skilled job (especially without a degree)? That's what I and many of my friends are really struggling with at the moment.

    p.s. Also I wish a lot of health to you and your parents.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  10. Sep 12, 2013 #9
    To OP

    Math is important, but math is not everything for EE. 5 classes are really all you need for EE. Getting an online degree on math for EE degree is not the most efficient way to go.

    You talked about what is not possible. If you have the passion and if you have the heart, you'll find a way to do it. When I was young, I was in bad situation also. I graduated in a degree of Chemistry which I hate, been pizza delivery rather than finding a job in that. I was just married at the time with a young wife and have no resource. I fell in love with electronics and I managed to get into the field and completed a full career as an EE and manager of EE. I studied hard, so hard I got fired from my first job because I spent too much time studying.

    It's all about heart, not what is the reason you cannot do. Only question is " Do you want it bad? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to reach your dreams?"

    If this is your dream, enroll in college, take it from there. a few years is a short time and you have the rest of your life to do things you missed when you have money.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
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