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Schools Applying to schools without the type of engineering I want?

  1. Aug 5, 2017 #1
    I'm a rising high school senior with an interest in industrial engineering. Although I'm aware that plenty of people graduate with degrees completely different from what they wanted to do in high school, industrial engineering is what I want to major in right now.

    Industrial engineering isn't a super common major, so it's definitely restricted my college search. To broaden my choices, I've also been considering schools that offer systems engineering, manufacturing engineering, operations research, or more general engineering programs that include a concentration (ABET accredited). I've thought about including schools that offer engineering management but I've heard that's not a good idea for an undergrad degree and the starting salary tends to be substantially lower.

    People have been telling me I should still apply to schools that have none of those things, though so I can "keep my options open". I know it's totally possible that I'll change my mind about engineering in my first year of college, but if I want to go back to math just about every school offers a math major. They say I can just get a more general major and then do industrial engineering for grad school. Honestly though, I really don't want to make plans that are contingent on me going straight to grad school.

    I guess it's possible that I'll change my mind between now and when I have to decide where I'm going to college (May 1), but I think it's really unlikely I'll change to something outside of STEM. People are telling me to not limit my options by not applying to schools that don't have anything I can make into an IE-type major, but I feel like that's actually limiting my options more.

    How much should the available majors be affecting which colleges I apply to? Should I apply to schools that I like that don't offer what I think I want to major in, or anything pretty close to it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2017 #2
    You should speak to people in the engineering colleges at the schools you're interested in (not just the ones with industrial engineering degrees) to see if there's any way you can tailor your degree to be like an industrial engineering degree. For example, a particular concentration you could undertake in a mechanical engineering degree. For one, it would be my impression that many jobs that require an industrial engineering degree involve close collaboration with mechanical (or maybe even chemical/electrical) engineers, or could be done with a mechanical engineering degree. Do a search on "industrial engineering jobs" and see what the requirements are. Your flexibility on this, of course, depends on your future plans and what exactly you hope to accomplish with your degree.
  4. Aug 7, 2017 #3
    Thanks, there are some schools that explicitly offer programs in general or mechanical engineering with a concentration, and I've been considering those. I've been checking the program requirements for schools I'm interested in but haven't actually contacted departments or anything. Engineering majors tend to be pretty limited as far as electives go though, from what I've seen.

    I looked at a few job postings and they generally wanted an industrial engineering degree or manufacturing engineering degree or "other related degree". MechE could probably count toward "related" but I really don't feel like I'm necessarily MechE material... The IE advisor at one school I visited told me that some IEs will go into business and never touch physics again while others will work alongside MEs, and I think I'm closer to the former. Of course, all of the job openings also wanted experience ("entry level" today can apparently mean 2 years of work experience and a PhD) so I'm looking at schools that have co-op programs (Northeastern, Pitt) or are known for being good at helping students get internships and jobs (Cal Poly SLO).
  5. Aug 8, 2017 #4
    Relax. The first two years of almost every engineering degree are essentially identical. You've got two years to figure out what, and where.

    There are plenty of Industrial Engineering degree programs. Rightly or wrongly, I jokingly refer to IE as "Industrial Accounting" because the curriculum is highly focused on analysis of operational parameters (that means "costs") and optimization strategies. IE and MfgE are very closely related, and are sometimes combined in Industrial & Mfg E (IME) programs. And in the case of the Uni at which I teach, we offer at this time a BS-Engineering ABET-accredited degree with an IE emphasis. Soon we will be able to offer a bona fide BSIE degree. Recently we have been granted to offer a BSMfgE program. So there are many options.
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