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Math vs. EE

  1. Sep 15, 2008 #1
    I'm currently heading towards an engineering disciple(electrical), but have thought about switching to math, since I think I'd really enjoy being a professor. I've always had a passion for math, I find myself enjoying math classes more than any other subject. Although, I do understand that I've yet to take any "advanced" mathematics topics. I've chosen the engineering route due to the possible better job security.

    I've also heard that the requirements to get to the professor level are daunting. Aside from the PhD, you're going to need published material, research, etc. Also, working your way through the murky waters of promotion to become a full-time professor.

    The only downside is that, even though I plan on going to graduate school, should I not, what options does a bachelors in mathematics leave me with? Business? I've heard about doing "actuary" work, but aside from that, you mine as well forget teaching math at the college level unless you have a masters. Without a PhD, I doubt you'll be hired full time at any major university. Not to mention I couldn't teach public school(k-12) without the proper certifications/training. And no, I really don't have any interesting in teaching at primary/secondary schools.

    Although I've heard the benefits can be great, what are the odds of becoming a full-time professor should a person continue into the doctorate level and get involved with research? What skills would a BS in math provide to make you attractive for the job market? /w a PhD? What other careers are possible with a math degree? Where do you see math in the future? How is the salary? I bring all of this up since, I've read stories of engineering being shipped overseas, therefore lowering my once implied thought of job security.

    Either way, I plan on becoming a hired math tutor for my university when I meet the requirements, and see how I enjoy it.

    Any input is welcome.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2008 #2


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    A PHD is just a piece of paper, it all depends on you what you will do with it.
  4. Sep 15, 2008 #3
    I'm in your shoes. I've decided to take as many math courses as I can to cover potential grad school requirements (without pursuing a math major), and stick to my EE major for job security.

    Not sure it's the best option, though.
  5. Sep 15, 2008 #4
    Could you not do a double major?
  6. Sep 15, 2008 #5
    I believe a good many engineering jobs are being outsourced, but you still can't go wrong with those degrees in terms of job security when compared to other degrees. If I were you I would sample a few upper level math courses before totally bailing on EE. I've known some physics and engineering students that find those classes to be a bit too proofy and abstract compared to the more practical math that their used too (maybe thats what your into, I don't know). If your frustrated with that lack of rigor in your EE classes, see if you can take some grad level courses. The math used there is usually pretty advanced, but not so abstract as say a Real Analysis class.
  7. Sep 16, 2008 #6
    As an engineer, you don't know math. The reason you are enjoying it so much is because it is watered down bull s__t. I strongly suggest you take a real math course, ie. real or complex analysis or abstract algebra from the math department before deciding to drop EE.

    As for becoming a math professor, you have to be a genius. If you do well in your math courses then consider it as a career. Too many naive students don't know how difficult it is to become a prof. And if you stop at BS with math, you'll be lucky to make half of what your EE degree would pay you - unless you snatch a job in a bank and/or complete some examinations.
  8. Sep 16, 2008 #7
    You can do a PhD in engineering and still become a professor. If that's your ultimate goal. I don't suggest dropping EE until you have taken a hardcore math class like abstract, real analysis, or an upper level linear algebra class. If you find the subject rewarding, despite the difficulty, and at that time you still find EE bland, then switch, but I wouldn't prior to that point.

    As a side note, you don't have to be a genius to be a professor. I attend a reasonably respectful graduate school and I'm not genius and as of now, my prospects look good. Is it difficult work, of course, but that what it is work, not natural ability.
  9. Sep 16, 2008 #8
    I 2nd your advice to take some "real" math courses before dropping EE. As for the watered down bull... Hmm, I don't say I 100% agree, but you got a point here. In my book, the difference is between using math as a tool and really "doing" math.

    RedBarchetta, do you like doing mathematical proofs ? This might be an indication that are you are made of the right stuff to be a mathematician...
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