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IT vs Engineering

  1. Feb 7, 2010 #1
    I'm a junior in high school.

    Right now I'm considering two majors:
    Aerospace engineering

    I originally was set on engineering - I love the sky (just a thing of mine), and I love building things. Naturally I'd love building things that fly. However my math skills gets increasingly worse as we move into theoretical things. I just have problems with things I can't see. As such, I am horrible at things like chemistry and calculating imaginary numbers; but I can easily beat anyone at geometry and physics (high school level), provided I can draw diagrams or play with my eraser (as a model). I love problem solving things, I'm known as MacGyver to my friends because I can easily figure out anything and find a way around it, and I can go into an absolute focus mode to solve physics problems, making up an mental image taking into account tiny details and the whole thing at once. CAD also extremely easy for me.

    Since Algebra 2, I've been thinking aerospace engineering might just be too much theoretical math. It's fun in that I would get to work on big, awesome projects and always have something exciting. But the math may be just too much. IT on the other hand, seems to earn even more than engineering (from a quick google), however, it seems like a very boring job, sitting in a office all day. Although, IT stuff comes naturally to me. I've surfed the web since 5 and built PC's since I was 13. I am "that kid" that gives school tech departments headaches by beating them.

    I need to know what comes with each job. Is Engineering THAT much theory? Is IT THAT boring?
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2010 #2
    Nope, it gets to be all applied math and applied physics. Actually, most everybody complains that there isn't enough theory in the major. Imaginary numbers show up sometimes, but they're not that bad.

    IT is only interesting when things blow up, but then you're under insane amounts of pressure 'cause the boss wants it fixed yesterday. Otherwise, yeah it being boring is probably a sign you're doing something right.
  4. Feb 7, 2010 #3
    I'm enrolled currently taking electrical engineering. A good way I have found to help understand things I can't see is analogies. I don't think engineering is boring. With an bachelors in engineering I can do lots of different kinds of jobs so there wouldn't really be anything holding me back if I wanted to switch.

    What you learn in engineering really depends on what kind of engineering it is. It's good your thinking about it now but your only in junior high so you still got lots of time to figure it out. Once you understand the fundamentals in chemistry and what not you might find it really fun.
  5. Feb 7, 2010 #4
    Adding to this, I have a few friends putting themselves through engineering degrees by working in IT.
  6. Feb 8, 2010 #5
    You can plan to enroll in undergrad as an undecided engineer. Usually all kinds of engineering have the same first year courses. Then you can get more of a feel of what kind of engineering you'd like.

    Also plenty of kids that decide not to stick with engineering then move to comp sci or to ist. The three, for the first year, can be pretty interchangeable.
  7. Feb 8, 2010 #6
    I'm sorry, I may not have made myself clear enough. When I say "IT" I mean Information Technology, and I say I'm a junior in high school I mean in the 11th grade. Also, I happen to be horrible in chemistry just because it can't see it.

    You mean comp sci majors and engineers take the same courses for 3 years? I'm not sure how college works... I'm a bit confused.
  8. Feb 8, 2010 #7
    I'll give my two cents here, because I think I can speak truthfully about some aspects of the IT industry vs what university level computer science is like.

    Firstly, IT is very boring. Very. I don't know how to say it any other way and I apologize in advance to anyone that is passionate about the industry. See, I studied Computer Science with a focus in Networking and Database Managment during my first college outing. All through school I worked at a local computer repair shop, made decent money and even took on some short-term business level internships along the way. I graduated and decided I would go study science at another school (that's way too long of a story) but before the semester started, I took a position as a network technician/database assistant for a fairly large IT consulting company. Up to this point, computers and the industry that comes with them had made me pretty happy and held my interest. But, after the first 2 weeks I learned that working in IT is not much more thrilling than becoming a mechanic or a carpenter. Point being, outside of the university, IT is really just a trade. The money is pretty good, but there is long, ungodly hours, tedious problem solving and even more tedious customer relations. Oddly enough, the man that I was partnered with was a Aeronautical Engineering graduate! After college he had "lost his way... and wandered into IT" (his words). He said all the time that he regrets the decision he made and that he absolutely hates his job. He was with the company for 8 years. It was very disheartening to meet someone so disgruntled.

    So, that's my rant about IT... Sorry for the length. As for the math and theory involved in engineering majors.. First, don't think on it too much. You're still young and haven't even entered into college leve maths. Give it some time. Second, I enjoy theoretical topics personally, but I have a friend who is an engineering major and is definitely more of an applied guy. He loves his major and everything he studies, so that may be an indicator. Good luck to you, and remember not to rush anything, just focus on getting good grades and taking an interest in many subjects.
  9. Jul 30, 2010 #8
    You will have more fun in engineering if that's where your passion is. IT can be a little mundane after a while (I worked in consulting for a couple years). Not every project is fun, some of your bosses will suck, you may not like the client (or company), there are lot of "buzzwords", and you're in front of a computer most of the time (although that's a lot of jobs for you). The pay can be good, but it usually happens in management (which isn't always an engineer's goal). Engineers "create" things that can last a lifetime where as computer systems are updated all the time. IT can be rewarding, but I would aim for engineering (maybe even mechanical engineering to keep more options open) and see where that path leads.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  10. Jul 31, 2010 #9


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    They take the Calculus sequence, the Introductory Physics sequence, and possibly L.A. and DiffEq, for the first 2 years of college, plus the gen-ed requirements.

    So you usually declare your major at the end of soph year, then in junior year you start courses that pertain to your specific major.

    That is unless of course you have AP credits which can place you out of certain classes.
  11. Jul 31, 2010 #10


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    According to his profile, bentrinh hasn't even visited PF in more than five months. :wink:
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