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Engineering Doing economic minor for engineering students

  1. Sep 23, 2009 #1
    Does economic minor means anything when you are at work ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2009 #2
    Very unlikely. Most minors are essentially worthless, so you need some good reason that one wouldn't be.

    I don't think there is such a reason.
  4. Sep 24, 2009 #3
    A double major or minor in something like econ, or especially in the humanities, can be extremely valuable for setting an engineer apart in the application process both in engineering and in other fields like management or finance.

    The stereotypical engineer can't write or communicate well, and this causes all sorts of problems in business. While English Lit won't help you in grad school, you can be sure that Big Corporation's HR manager will be blown away by that honors thesis you completed on Thoreau.

    Even if most engineers actually can communicate, having that extra credential (and interviewing well) will guarantee to the hiring manager that you aren't "that guy" that they occasionally end up with.

    I absolutely recommend a double major or minor with engineering if you aren't focused exclusively on grad school. Econ is one way to go, and it can be valuable. But if you can handle it, I'd suggest something in the humanities as an even stronger complement to engineering.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  5. Sep 24, 2009 #4
    I don't understand this grouping together of double majors and minors in the same analysis. No one has mentioned a double major, and it seems like it would need to be weighted very differently.

    I’m really suspicious of this idea that an econ minor would have value in management, and would be interested in hearing what skills you think they’d bring to the table. I’ll admit to knowing less about engineering management, though my own research (way back in 2006) suggested an MBA was what was on hiring manager’s minds. Most engineering departments have been adding management classes for the past decade, and some even have engineering management degrees. I’d bet grabbing a few of those classes would be more valuable than a touch of econ.

    I feel very strongly that an econ minor will have no value in finance. My experience reading career forums like the actuarial outpost, wilmott and quantnet tell me that those hiring career changers are looking for specific skills – mathematical skills, programming languages, computer knowledge, etc. – that don’t appear in the kind of low level classes you take to get an econ minor. Heck, I have a hard time thinking of any skills a minor in econ imbues someone with. A bit of statistics? Some frighteningly basic macro/micro knowledge? If you’re an engineering major who wants to work in finance, you’re better off in the computer science department than the economics department.

    Even a BS in economics doesn’t take you all that far these days – most people seem to be searching for masters or more. However I’ll certainly grant that a double major in economics and engineering would make a candidate stand out from the crowd.
  6. Sep 24, 2009 #5
    I'm not suggesting that an econ minor would qualify any engineer for any job that a straight engineering major would not be qualified for. As for the MBA, those are mostly useful outside of engineering. Engineers generally get MBAs to change careers, although many engineers do get part-time MBAs to enhance their skills within engineering.

    An econ minor certainly would not qualify someone for a job in quantitative finance, but general finance jobs do not require specific majors. It could be a way, along with clubs etc, to show an interest in finance while majoring in engineering. That may be all that is required for an investment banking job or something similar. It could also add a bit of an edge for a business school app.

    I would still recommend a straight humanities double major as the best option for standing out on the job market or in business school apps etc, but econ can work too. I only meant to say that it will help one engineer to stand out from the crowd when compared to others. I believe anything that helps in that regard is valuable.
  7. Sep 24, 2009 #6


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    The engineering program at my university required a single course in engineering economics, which was actually been pretty practical. I think an economics minor would be useful, especially if one wanted to go more into management as opposed to research or production. One should also look into the requirements of a economics degree to see what difference there is between one's intended minor and the full degree requirements. If they are not much, then one should consider a double major.

    In this day and age, it's helpful to have both a technical background as well as economics/finance.
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