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Still can't figure out which field of Engineering

  1. Nov 9, 2008 #1
    I'm still trying to pick the proper field within engineering. I'm an older student (26) with close to 10 years experience supervising/operating a shift at a wastewater treatment plant. I've also held the lab technician position for a number of years as well.

    My interests are in designing new, and much more efficient treatment systems using staged bio-reactors that have optimized environments through the use of control systems/vessel design, and applications of new discoveries from biochemistry.

    Water/Wastewater treatment has traditionally fell within the realm of Civil, but lately it seems to have grown roots within the fairly-new field of Environmental Engineering. While the Civil program has a few environmental classes, most of what they cover I already know from my field experience. The Environmental program is actually a masters degree program at my school, with most people entering with either a BS in Civil or Chemical Engineering.

    I really want to learn EE, specifically control systems, so that I can apply that knowledge as a tool for reactor control system design. Since a good part of the early ChE program is made up from classes within the chemistry department (and these classes/labs are offered in the summer), I can complete a degree in EE along with 50%+ of the ChE classes required for graduation (as well as two BioChem classes). The EE program here is very flexible, whereas the ChE program seems to discourage cross-discipline exposure outside of Biology/Biochemistry. I would then enter the Environmental Engineering masters program which is really focused on the biochemistry of what I want to do, but seems to be very much applied and not as open ended for further research as say, a masters in ChE.

    The alternative is a degree in ChE and a minor in Biochemistry which will roll right into a masters in ChE that focuses specifically on Reactor design and the advanced Biochemistry environment I seek - but leave me clueless with systems control (very important part).

    I'm registered now for a path in EE with the above plusses and minuses, but I'm still not convinced to a level of reasonable certainty that my mind requires to not constantly think about it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2008 #2
    From here, I think you have your answer... Design is important if you plan to work for companies who manufacture the reactors, but if you wish to continue to work in the waste treatment plant business, whether directly with the plant or through a consulting company, I think your time would be better spent in the EE program, especially if it's as flexible as you mentioned.
  4. Nov 10, 2008 #3
    Thanks for the comment noumed.
    I'm going to continue with the BS in EE, and focus heavily on Chemistry, Biochemistry, and ChE through electives and summer courses. Here is my plan for the Spring and the next three years. I made sure all the times work right - and they tend to stay the same for the most part.

    Spring Semester '09
    Differential Equations
    Three Dimensional Animation (Personal Interest)
    Java Programming
    Thermodynamics I

    Organic Chemistry I

    Sophomore Year (Super Sophomore)
    Introduction to Digital Design
    Circuit Analysis I
    Data Structures & Algorithms
    Biology I

    Circuit Analysis II
    Hardware Organization & Design
    Fluid Mechanics
    Biology II

    Organic Chemistry II

    Junior Year
    Signals & Systems
    Electronics I
    Semiconductor Devices and Materials
    Computer Systems Lab I

    Introduction to Probability & Random Processes
    Electronics II
    Fields and Waves
    Writing in Engineering (Required)

    Senior Year
    Senior Design Project I
    Feedback Control Systems
    Thermodynamics II
    Kinetics & Reactor Design

    Senior Design Project II
    Digital Control of Dynamic Systems
    Computer Systems Lab II
    Heat & Mass Transfer
    Cellular & Molecular Biology
  5. Nov 10, 2008 #4
    That almost looked like my 4-year schedule in college! Minus the Thermo, Bio, and Chem stuff of course... Ah the memories...

    Looks like you're all set! Keep us updated from time to time on how it's going! EE is such a broad major, I wouldn't be surprised if you found something else that piques your interest in the field. I know I was suprised when I found out I like analog circuits more than digital. Good luck!
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