Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Degree in electrical engineering

  1. Oct 1, 2003 #1
    I am in college to get a degree in electrical engineering. Of course the college knows best and thinks I should get a feel for mechanical engineering too! This is quiet annoying considering I am wasting many, MANY class hours with subjects I do not need. Has anybody else found this a terrible waste of time and annoying as hell? Perhaps someone could tell me the line of reasoning my college has undertaken?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2003 #2
    I don't get it.

    When you say “the college” thinks you should…
    Do you mean some councilor?
    Why aren't you simply following a prescribed bunch of courses leading towards a degree?

    Remember, you're in charge, not them. Take what is needed unless you have a desire to take something else.
  4. Oct 2, 2003 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What classes?
  5. Oct 2, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The college has a vested interest in your education. When they send someone into the world with a degree, that person becomes a reflection of them. They have decided that they want those with EE degrees from their college to have a broader base of engineering skills than is absolutely necessary. For better or worse, this is the image they wish to portray of their institution.

    You are free to choose another college, but I think you will find that they are all similar.

  6. Oct 2, 2003 #5
    This is the problem, its a prescribed collection of courses that first lead me to a decision on electrical or mechanical engineering...I know which one I want so it is unecessary for me to take these 'prescribed bunch of courses'.

    Courses such as a mechanical drawing class. I don't think chemistry is related to electrical engineering? Except a general idea of how electricity flows...I have an Engineer Seminar that is entirely for mechanical engineering.

    I don't believe this. This may be their justification but I think they want you to take more courses so they get more money. I worked with engineers for IDOT this summer and I didn't know where any of them got their degrees. I doubt many people do know where a specific engineer got his degree and they certainly wouldn't say "This guy is a terrible engineer, must be the college!"

    I know they are similar and that was the core of my first post, why. I understand, and already knew, this reasoning, I just don't think it is sufficient. It's not that easy to just choose another college:smile: Some things don't transfer and you may get stuck taking courses you already took, at your expense.
  7. Oct 2, 2003 #6
    Re: I don't get it.

    As for this, I am a freshman Taking what is needed is out of the question. Another crazy thing. Why are there required courses in college? I have been taking English all my life, I am learning nothing in this class. There are, due to the religious nature of this school[zz)], required religious courses, arts, and communications.
  8. Oct 2, 2003 #7
    Remember: regardless of what they WANT you to do, you're the customer, so to speak. A paying customer, and you can take any class you so choose. They can't force you to do anything. If you don't feel it's in your best interests, don't let yourself be bullied into taking extra classes just to benefit the school's image.
  9. Oct 2, 2003 #8
    Re: Re: I don't get it.

    Hmmm, I was probably misunderstanding you as I was thinking that the coursework you were being pushed into fell outside the requirements for the degree you are seeking. I imagined it more as someone attempting to coax you into taking additional courses with perhaps a promise that you’d become more marketable afterward…
    The university is offering a degree, so they get to tell you what classes are required.

    Now I think I see what you were talking about, and you seem to have a complaint about the general education courses required. Well, the universities seem to have it in their mind that a ‘well rounded’ individual is desirable. Here are the words of a history teacher;

    “You students may be wondering why you are required to take history all over again in college. The reason is that it is known you likely did not pay any attention to it the first time around during High School.”

    You won’t be able to escape the general education classes without going to a trade school or something like that. That is, unless there is an option to CLEP. You might look into that.
  10. Oct 2, 2003 #9

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Engineering

    Yes, they do know best, because they know that there is no such thing as a real world project that is uni-disciplinary. You may have to design a system that interfaces with a mechanical engineer's system, or you may even have mechanical engineers on your design team.

    "Mechies" take circuits for the exact same reason.
  11. Oct 2, 2003 #10

    Claude Bile

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    A University degree is NOT vocational training. Your tertiary institution is equipping you with a diverse range of skills that you will need when you enter the workforce.

    The more skills you have, the easier you will be to employ, at that reflects well on your tertiary institution. Good for you, good for them, everybody wins.

    The knowledge you gain during your degree is necessary for your chosen field, but it is hardly sufficient if you intend to be a professional. Your ability to research and your technical aptitude will get the knowledge you require to lead a successful and rewarding career.

    Good Luck.

  12. Oct 3, 2003 #11


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Oddly enough, when I was getting my mechanical engineering degree, I had to take 1 course in electrical engineering. No offense, but I hated taking EE in much the same way you hate taking Mech. Eng. classes. I don't recall the reason my school required it, but it was probably something along the lines of what Boulderhead was talking about (to produce well-rounded engineers). My career is not Mech. Eng., so I don't know if that froggin' EE course would have helped me or not.

    p.s. We got an engineering forum now for this kind of topic.
  13. Oct 4, 2003 #12
    Tom hit the nail right on the head.

    Developing plans for a building design involves the coordination and input from the various engineering disciplines. For instance, electrical engineers need to know what type of heating, ventilating and air conditioning system the mechanical engineer intends to use and how he intends to route the ductwork for the system. He needs to know where ceiling exhaust and supply vent are going so as not to conflict with his lighting layouts. He needs to know the requirements for pumps, diesel electric generators., water heaters, etc. He needs to know all of this information in order to size the building transformer(s) and determine the number and sizes of the electrical panelboards that will be needed. You’ll need to know how to DRAW and READ plans. Uhmm, now that I think about it, I’ve never met an electrical engineer that could draw worth a damn.
  14. Oct 6, 2003 #13
    Tom, Boulderhead, and Robert Zaleski
    have hit the reason on the head.

    I have been doing Mechanical design for the last 20+ years. My first boss was both a Mechanical and Electrical Engineer. So I would first design a mechanical system then I would have to find the information I would need to circuit the equipment, coordinate the ceiling for optimum position of Ceiling diffusers, lighting, speakers, sprinkler heads, etc.

    As a Mechanical designer, I know what equipment cuts to give the Electrical department because I have also done Electrical design. I know approximately how many lights will be needed so I can place my ceiling diffusers, etc.

    As an electrical designer, you need to know that the mechanical designer needs ceiling space for equipment (diffusers, Air Handling Units, etc). You need to know the options available to the mechanical designer. Is he or she going to hit you with Electric Baseboard Heat, are the pumps going to be 10 hp or just 1/3 hp. are the fans going to be 10 hp or just fractional hp?

    I am the only designer in my office that is equally comfortable with Plumbing, Fire Protection, Mechanical and with some background in Electrical design. Guess who they would keep if they ever downsize the office? I was in an office that I have since quit that downsized from 15 designers to 2, I was one of the 2.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook