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Aspiring Engineer

  1. May 1, 2012 #1
    I am a person who enjoys math and physics in high school as well as chemistry but my preferred subject is physics since I find it the most interesting. An obstacle is that I am not doing well in math currently because my mom threw out an important lab material by accident and I had to pull all nighters to finish it and could not study for the 2 math quizzes.

    Anyways I also like to read online articles on the latest technology. I am also a science fiction fan (finished watching the entire series of Babylon 5). I am not sure however which engineering path is right for me. Should I use my final math marks to determine it?

    77-80 civil engineering(structural engineering)
    80-83 mechanical engineering
    83-higher electrical engineering

    I know electrical engineering has the most abstract math overall and I think mechanical is harder then civil assuming the person has the same interest in all 3 subjects.

    By the way I want to know if any of you know engineers in your personal life who are sci fi fans and you could include yourself if you are.

    I also might need more time to think about it. So that can be a possibility but lets say I had the same interest in 3.

    The math class I am in by the way is math 506 which is considered to be high math at my school but it is just essentially pre cal.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2012 #2


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    I think it is a very bad idea to select a course based purely on which arbitrary boundary your math grade falls within. All engineering courses will require that you study a lot of math beyond what you do in high school. Electrical engineering is quite different to mechanical engineering, so read more about them and choose a branch that actually interests you the most; don't choose mechanical because you scored 83 in math and not 84. It is a bit irrational to base your decision purely on a math grade, because math is not the only thing you will study in engineering. I am studying chemical engineering, and I can be certain that the most difficult classes I have taken were not math classes, although a strong background in mathematics is very helpful (and essential sometimes).

    It is not the end of the world if you couldn't study for two math quizzes, just make sure that you catch up on any material and take it as a lesson in study habits and organization. What really matters is your longer term performance in the class.
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  4. May 7, 2012 #3
    I heard in engineering that I can do 4 courses per semester at certain universities, should I do that If I want to persue a masters in engineering which requires a good gpa?
  5. May 7, 2012 #4


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    Here in Australia (Western Australia at least) it is fairly standard to do four courses per semester, and doing any less would only mean that it takes longer to complete the degree (which I don't think would affect masters prospects). Some people may choose to "overload" and take 5 courses, however this is not as common as four. Is four courses per semester pretty standard where you plan on studying? I don't think I can really give much advice when it comes to postgraduate courses, so somebody else could probably better answer your question.
  6. May 8, 2012 #5
    What danago said in his second post really sums it up. Mathematically all those branches of engineering have a huge amount of overlap, you don't really start getting a major specific math class until your junior year and even then 80% of the content is the same as what the other engineering majors cover.

    As far as class loads I'd say don't worry about taking a little too much. In college you're allowed to drop/withdraw from a class before a certain date (They just give you a W grade which has no affect on your GPA). The idea is if you find yourself in week 4 and you're way over your head you can just drop a course without ruining your GPA (this could mess with your scheduling though but in freshman year you'll have plenty of General Ed classes which can be easily filled later).
  7. May 8, 2012 #6
    Would trying to get a physics minor increase my career prospects for an engineering job or would it be more based on xp and education?

    On a side note, I am doing my schooling in Quebec and hope to attend an american or canadian university sometime in the future.
  8. May 8, 2012 #7
    I don't think doing a physics minor will have much of an impact on your prospects. I'm not trying to be rude, but the reality is no one is going to care. If you want to take additional physics to get a minor, do it for the love of the subject. Be aware that there are generally very, very few unrestricted electives available in an engineering program, so you may have to spend an additional quarter or two in college to finish a minor.

    The most important things for your prospects for an engineering job are:

    1. Your degree and what school you got it from
    2. Internships you've had (hopefully in industry if you're looking to work in industry)
    3. How well you do in a technical interview
  9. May 12, 2012 #8
    What are the prospects for structural and microwave rf engineers in Canada?

    Should I get a grad degree in one of these fields?

    I do not need higher pay but I want to know if I would have a higher chance of getting hired with it.
  10. May 17, 2012 #9
    I would also like to know if prototyping is commonly used in structural engineering.
  11. May 17, 2012 #10
    You will already have a 99% chance of getting hired once you have your engineering degree.

    As said before, don't pick based on your grades, just ask yourself what you want to be doing 5 years from now, and pick that. Even the highest intellectual barriers will fall given time and effort, and if you are doing engineering you're gonna have to work hard anyway.

    I personally love babalon 5 and so does one of my close friends, but I don't like much other sci-fi. I wouldn't recommend engineering as the program to take to meet sci-fi fans beyond the odd trekky.
  12. May 17, 2012 #11
    It depends upon what you're pursuing. Oddly enough, a microwave systems engineer can have many things to do including figuring tower designs, wind loading, power systems for emergency backup, air conditioning loads, not to mention telecommunications equipment design, network interfaces, grounding, battery chemistry, and so many more things.

    I got my start in microwave telecommunications more than 25 years ago, and it was interesting work. I got to climb structures, steer antennas, install all sorts of gear, and diagnose things when they went wrong. This later lead toward a career in SCADA and control systems.

    Earth station design is another element to all this.

    You can have loads of fun this way, or you might hate it. Some of these jobs may take you to places so far away from home that you may not want to be there for very long.

    Its up to you...
  13. May 18, 2012 #12
    Sci-fi does not define engineering in any way nor a lot of engineer's interests. If you want sci-fi to be an element in your studies or work, you might be more interested in literature or film/art degrees. Of course, you can enjoy it and be an engineer too, but you should not confuse the 2 as being involved in any way.
  14. May 26, 2012 #13
    Personally I am afraid of heights, I think you described yourself to be a technician and construction worker too. I am more interested in engineering since it is not as much hands on as those jobs.

    I think that may be up to an HVAC engineer but I may be wrong.

    I never expressed any interest in writing science fiction themed literature in my posts.
    I just said I liked it. The 2 are involved in some ways. Star Trek T.O.S inspired Martin Cooper to develop the cellphone. I can name more examples if you like and I know not all inventions were inspired by science fiction.

    The thing that intimadates me is the coursework for engineering. I need to pass with certain grades or else the university will put on academic probation.Do some electrical or civil engineering positions require a graduate degree at least?
  15. May 26, 2012 #14
    If you confine yourself to just RF and Microwave engineering, you will be limiting your options pretty severely.

    The design of Avionics, for example, includes weather radar, lightning detection, transponders, Ground detection radar, and so many more things. These are often optimized for environments that could take you to the edge of space, very cold or very hot temperature extremes, shock, vibration, and more.

    The point is that to design for things like this, you can not be "just an RF and microwave" engineer.

    As for whether graduate degrees are required, you tend to see that more in civil engineering jobs than electrical. However, if you get a P.Eng. certification that is often superior to having a Master's degree. As for Electrical engineering, unless you think you'd like to sit in a cube all day long and design circuit boards that you'll never see, I suggest learning about other engineering fields. Cubicle life gets really boring after a while.
  16. May 31, 2012 #15
    I want to add to my previous reply, another reason I do not want to consider technician work is the fact that I do not do well on my lab exams. For example today I think I may of failed a chemistry lab to determine the speed of a reaction of magnesium in 2 different acids (since I did not determine it). The thing is the teacher does not tell us what the lab exam will be on specifically and I know I should of followed a person who is known to get high marks in chemistry but I did not and did not have time to get the lab that we did that was based on it inenevitably. As for the physics one, I will try to look over different mechanics experiments since it will be based on mechanics and I do not know if it will be based on one that we had done as a class. Will there be lab exams in university?

    I think radar is included under rf microwave engineering plus rf microwave engineering also includes antennas, microwave ovens, radar, optimization and includes most of avionics. How is the employment for the satellite industry in Canada and the United States by the way?

    I am by the way. The prospect of designing something in an office though is attractive and I think electrical engineering includes prototypes for every project but I might be wrong.

    Something I need to know is I am doing my schooling in Quebec and I want to know if I can apply to a university and start in the winter? (since I did not get accepted into the appropriate cegep program) I am also considering taking up a hobby in the summer and will start to learning programming.
  17. Jun 1, 2012 #16
    Your lab example should be taken as a life warning. Unlike your instructor, Mother Nature doesn't tell you a damned thing. The things you overlook, fail to measure, or fail to anticipate will plague your designs.

    This is why I detest engineers who live in small boxes designing things that they will never see. There is very little feedback on how well the design works. I strongly prefer to visit the site itself to see how things are doing, but if I can not, I will at least endeavor to find out how well the design worked. Often, nuisance problems or glitches are not reported because the people experiencing them don't know who the design engineer was. And so an office-bound engineer will often continue to design the same mistakes over and over.

    At a relatively young age, I saw what cubicle life could look like. I didn't think much of it, even though we did have labs that were pretty interesting.

    For examples of what I'm talking about, try reading EDN magazine's back-page feature called "Tales From The Cube".
  18. Jun 19, 2012 #17
    Is the technician partly responsible for the wrong doing if there is a problem since they troubleshoot it? and can someone tell me the difference between an electronics engineering technician and technologist? and why the technologist might need training in calculus?
  19. Jul 22, 2012 #18
    Hmm still no reply up until now
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