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Sophomore in Engineering

  1. May 11, 2008 #1
    I'm still having difficulty deciding on which field to pursue.

    Completed my first year in engineering, along with some of my sophomore classes. I'm spending next year finishing my math sequence (Multi & Diff-EQ) along with the rest of my general education courses while I decide on a path. I've got a GPA in the high 3 range.

    I'm 26 (work/school both full-time) with 8+ years experience running a wastewater treatment plant (with the highest grade license in the state) - I'll be 29/30 when I graduate, with 12 years in the field. Lot's of hands-on experience running batteries of lab-tests, trouble-shooting electrical/mechanical/hydraulic systems, running equipment, etc.

    I'm interested in all the engineering fields, but I think I have it narrowed down to Civil or Electrical (specifically Environmental or Control Systems). Civil really ties in with my current line of work, and I would certainly have a solid foothold/edge when entering this field upon graduation if I pursued employment in the Environmental sector. I think it makes the most sense financially, and certainly has a strong future. I'm also interested in the field for personal use - selecting land and designing the home of my dreams. Then there is the romantic notion of starting off in the oldest branch of engineering.

    Electrical engineering interests me much more on a personal level (probably twice as much as civil). The extra physics primarily, which delve beyond I and II into things like optics, quantum mechanics, and relativity (at my school anyways). I'm really interested in control systems (which are being heavily implemented into the environmental sector for automated measurements and metering). Also, almost everything in a treatment plant is electrically powered. I'm a private pilot, and would also love to build my own plane someday (along with a great avionics system).

    The more I think about it, the longer these two lists become supporting these two fields.
    I would love some more advise. I've talked to advisors at school and (depending on the department they're located in) the opinion differs drastically.
    Last edited: May 11, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2008 #2
    Go for where you want to work. I doubt engineers need to recite physics the way a physicist would. So what if you learn baby quantum and optics. I doubt you will ever use it.

    If you prefer electrical work, do it. If civil do that. It seems interest has attracted you to EE, not work. You're not going to learn physics from engineering. Once your done school, what is stopping you from learning these topics on your own? At a real level too.
  4. May 16, 2008 #3
    I've been on the fence for so long, but I think I've settled on Civil/Environmental. It's very interesting to me, I have close to a decade of experience in operations within the field, and it's an area that continues to grow and is projected to continue to do so. The education is diverse, including classes common to the MechE and ChemE curriculum along with many courses exclusive to it's own identity. It has the strongest focus on economics/business (at least at my school), and will be an excellent gateway into other areas.

    Spent some time with some friends looking around the new Engineering Lab II at UMass today. I'd be using brand new labs and state of the art technology there.

    However, I still want to learn control systems - so I've spent about 8 hours over the past few days stripping down the EE program at UMass into it's components. I've designed a path I plan to take on the side through self-study and possibly some course auditing to learn the skills I'm looking for in the EE realm. It consists of about 10 classes. I got the ISBN#'s for the texts, and a list of software/equipment.

    Really feeling good about this now.
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