1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I ruined my future EE career?

  1. Jul 14, 2013 #1
    Hi (second post), I'm sorry if this topic has been discussed already, but I think my case is a little unique. I had planned to attend University of Arizona for a B.S. in EE. Unfortuoately, due to awful life events, my mother's finances were destroyed. So, I'll be attending my local state university, Wichita State University, to help. At first, this was ok with me, since their math and engineering requirements are strong. However, one day I was talking to a guy going to UIUC. He asked me where I was going, so I said, ''WSU.'' He paused, almost snickered, and asked me why. When I explained, he said, ''I would rather go in debt than go to a no-name school. Honestly, I think you ruined your future in electrical engineering.'' Now, unless they know what they're talking about, I don't base what I think on people's opinions. However, it did get me thinking. Did I ruin my future in EE? Can I go to my local university and be succesful in any EE field I choose (namely, communications and medical devices)? Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2013 #2
    Go to WSU. The work ethic is what makes the difference in the end. Get involved with everything you can to network and stand out. Finally kick butt on grades. You will be fine.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2013
  4. Jul 14, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    The short answer is no. Just do stuff that helps, get internships, good grades, and take the time to build a strong resume.

    Edit: For some reason I typed yes when I meant to type no at first! No your chances are not ruined!
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  5. Jul 14, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Sounds to me like this guy you were talking to attended a rival of W.S.U.! Generally speaking, attending really top-notch university (and I cannot speak to A.S.U. vs W.S.U) can improve your chances of a really good first job. But how you do after that depends upon you and how you do on the job.
  6. Jul 14, 2013 #5
    I think a lot of people adopt an attitude like his to justify how much they overspent for a fancy name.
  7. Jul 14, 2013 #6
    I agree. When you get qualified as a professional engineer, it matters little which school you went to.

    Perhaps you will do a masters degree one day when you have more money & can make other choices.
  8. Jul 14, 2013 #7
    Thanks for all the replys. To Emane: You're right. It's you and your work ethic that determines your success. I do plan to join IEEE, my local radio club (after I get my ham radio license, if it doesn't get too much in the way of schooling), and as many other societies/clubs/events as I can. I'm already a member, though not that active of one, of my local Engineers Without Bourders. Other than that I've been just reviewing my calculus and getting ready. To HallsofIvy and ModusPwnd: Well, he had more of a pitty attitude with an ego, like a let me save you kind of thing. But I agree with ModusPwnd.
  9. Jul 14, 2013 #8
    Yes, that is my plan.
  10. Jul 14, 2013 #9
    My PhD advisor went to Wichita State University. He did fine in his career.
  11. Jul 14, 2013 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Next time you see him you should ask why he didn't do that :rolleyes:

    Get involved in some extracurriculars you think will be fun and educational, if you want to go to grad school look into doing some research at the end of your sophomore or junior year, and it doesn't really matter what school you go to
  12. Jul 15, 2013 #11
    When I was sourcing for internships, one of the advisers of a large engineering firm in Huntsville AL told me that little mind is paid to where a student goes for undergrad work. He went on to say that the real concern is where you do your graduate studies.

    He said keep up thee grades and work ethic, everything else will fall into place if you work hard.
  13. Jul 16, 2013 #12
    Well, to be more clear, getting a job after graduation isn't what I'm concerned about, it's the field. Everybody I know and have found that graduated from WSU only work in aircraft. I don't have a problem with aircraft (EVERYBODY in my family works in aircraft), other than their bust and booms and the fact that your resume becomes so specific to aircraft that you can't get a job in any other field when you're laid off (in fact, this happen to my mom and one of my uncles), but it's just not a field I'm interested in. So it's a little discouraging when you can't find even one person that got into communications or medical devices after graduating from WSU. In short, I'm worried that this pattern is here for a reason. I guess I'm just sceptical and am probably just worried for nothing. I'm sorry for another long message. Again, thanks for all the replies.
  14. Jul 16, 2013 #13
    Just because everybody who graduated ended up working in aircraft doesn't mean you will too. If your school does not offer an education to your standards, you can always supplement what you learn in school with your own readings/work/projects. I am an EE student, I found the first year courses very boring by themselves (math, chemistry, physics etc.) so I went ahead and read some books on cryptography, accounting, sociology, totally random things and designed an encryption system on Python to test my programming expertise and understanding of cryptography.

    The big disadvantage to attending a "no name school" is that it may be difficult to find peers who share the same enthusiasm about learning as you do and that this may demoralize you, but if you really enjoy the material you will find yourself naturally compensating for anything your school lacks by picking up the skills/knowledge yourself.

    There are people in poor countries who go to atrociously bad universities simply because the university/country does not have enough financial resources to offer a top quality education. But even in those schools the best students find a way to work with what they have, some get into the best graduate schools.

    EE is a field where your projects speak the loudest words, not the name of your alma mater. While it's true that the best projects are built with the collaboration of many people (and such collaboration often exists only in top/large schools), one-man projects can often say a lot about a job-applicant. A single project can require so many different skills (design process, building, troubleshooting, documentation, presentation, programming, software skills, fast learning, welding, soldering, MATLAB, information theory etc.) that the completion of such a project by a single person instantly showcases the person's vast skillset. With a few tools, some enthusiasm, creativity and passion you can design a lot that would easily impress employers, especially more so if the odds were against you. So do not lose faith in EE. I don't know about other fields of engineering, I don't think a single person could build a bridge by himself/herself but a lot can be done alone in the field of EE provided you learn some CS and some math along the side whether you go into signals, RF, optoelectronics, VLSI etc...

    Work hard, appreciate the good sides of your school. There is a special kind of relaxed atmosphere in state schools not easily found in the highly competitive schools in the northeast. Try to enjoy it, use it to your advantage etc. There is great satisfaction to be got from being able to accomplish a lot despite the lack of opportunity/resources. The resourcefulness is a sacredly important skill in EE and CS. The less you use to make what you want, the better! Good luck!

  15. Jul 16, 2013 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I glanced at the WSU EE web site - there is only so much one can tell from course titles, but on its face the program looks very solid.

    Highlights for me (as an EE who has been in industry 10+ years):

    2 semesters of English and 1 of public speaking. No one wants an engineer who cannot communicate. Don't underestimate speaking!

    Good mix of required courses in a) circuits and electronics; b) systems (signals and systems, communications, controls), c) applied science (electromagnetics, thermo, statics), and d) design projects. When I interview recent graduates from even some very highly regarded programs it is astounding how many departments let students take whatever they want almost - one school I know of lets students pick either electromagnetics or electronics I, but they don't have to take both! Why would i hire an EE like that?

    They may you take linear algebra. This is more important than it may seem, and some schools let EEs get away without this class.

    They make you take a half dozen or so humanities - so you will become more educated in general, not just trained for a technical job.

    AS others have said, what you make of the oppportunities you have is more important than the school. Work hard, get involved in projects (especially your jr and sr years) and get to know some/all of your professors. Go to office hours and ask good questions, and be prepared for class. These professors will give you recommendations for internships, summer jobs, and perhaps your first "real" job upon graduation.

    I wish you the best - and I hope you get excited about your upcoming college experience!

  16. Jul 17, 2013 #15
    timatom, if you haven't figured out yet that where you went to school is nearly irrelevant in this field, allow me to make this one small point:

    After about three years of work experience, nobody cares where you graduated from --only that you graduated from somewhere. Get certifications, get experience, and get busy. That's what matters.

    Also, your choice of career largely depends upon what you feel like doing. If you feel constrained by your degree, you have this all wrong. Your degree only gets your foot in the door. It does not define you.

    Contrast this with practices of law or medicine where snotty attitudes, posturing, and hero walls seem to be de riguerur. And do note that, despite their flaccid and fragile self promotion efforts, there are still lots of hacks and quacks.

    Engineering is a solid, honest choice and a good career. You aren't destined to build airplanes or work in aviation, if you don't want to. There are many places where you can work, doing some surprising and virtually overlooked work that is absolutely essential to building effective cities and civilization. Good Luck!
  17. Jul 17, 2013 #16
    Thank you so much guys for all the replies. Honestly, I feel kind of stupid for posting this thread now, since they all say something that I should have learned a long time ago. One shouldn't focus on the success a college can give them as much as the success they can give themselves. To jasonRF: From what I seen, their course requirements looked strong too. I know that the guy who teaches all the communication courses worked for Lockheed Martin in satelite communications (an area of communications I'm interested in) before coming to WSU, so I'm sure he would have alot of great advice. And yes I'm VERY excited about starting my EE degree, almost to the point I can't sleep. Again, thanks guys. I definitely know the people to ask if I have any questions!
  18. Jul 22, 2013 #17
    It seems like this fellow you spoke with has his priorities a little backwards and needs a little advice before giving it himself. That would be very frustrating to hear. But it is also a poor statement
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook