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Which engineering degree that makes a difference

  1. Mar 24, 2012 #1
    Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    I don't mean to sound bias, but I have been contemplating which engineering major I should be. Ultimately, I want to be a doctor in the future. Please don't say doing engineering major as a premed major is bad, I'm not trying to graduate in 4 years and I plan to have a reasonable load each quarter. I have thought long and hard about this decision and after hours of hours of thinking and reading up on various forums I still decided on majoring in engineering while being a premed. And I find majoring in biology would be boring, I find engineering to be more enticing (physics and math is interesting to me) which in turn would give me better grades because I am studying what I am interested in. However, I have been thinking which major would be best for my career goals (become a doctor with an engineering b.s). Currently I narrowed my choices to: CE, EE, and ChE. I was wondering which of these engineering is most beneficial for people? Like, I know it sounds lame but I want a career that is for a good cause. Any advice as to the pros and cons for each majors? Or are there any other engineering majors I should consider?

    Btw, CE and EE is part of my list because I'm a tech geek. I don't know anything now, but the thought of being able to build systems and such is pretty cool to me. And as for ChE, I just thought it would be cool because a lot of classes cover premed classes and I'm also doing pretty good in general chemistry right now and surprisingly I find general chemistry interesting. However, I'm not sure if general chemistry would be a good indication of what lies ahead for ChE. So I need thoughts on that as well.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
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  3. Mar 24, 2012 #2
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    Oh and biomedical engineering is out of the list just because I've read a b.s degree in biomedical engineering is pretty useless (usually one needs further education in grad school). Not only that but the biomedical engineering program in my school is not accredited.
  4. Mar 24, 2012 #3
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    I'm not an engineer but I'm sure you could argue that all of these have great benefit for people and society. I'm wondering if ChE would make you a better doctor which would most directly help people. As I said though, I'm not an engineer. It just seems like these might relate well to each other.
  5. Mar 24, 2012 #4
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    Chemical Engineering will probably overlap the most with pre-med requirements such as chemistry. As to which engineering major makes the biggest difference in people's lives/society, I think they all do to some extent. For example, civil engineers help design infrastructure such as bridges and buildings that we all use every day. Thus, a good civil engineer is ethical in designing structures that don't threaten public safety. Chemical engineers are often involved in pharmaceuticals, which clearly impact people's lives as well. Electrical engineers can help develop things like robots used for surgery-- another thing that can improve people's lives.

    IMO it's not really about which degree makes the most "difference", it's what you do with it. For example, a scientist or engineer could use their skills to develop a lifesaving drug, or to create a biological weapon. That may be a simplistic example, but it makes my point. Take the example of pharmaceuticals. Clearly, some modern drugs are undoubtedly beneficial for society, but then again some drugs are over-marketed and are of questionable value and safety. So, if you work for a pharmaceutical company, are you helping or harming society?

    Every engineer should be ethical and make sure their designs are safe for the end user as well as the people manufacturing and maintaining the product. In my opinion the engineer that makes the most "difference" is the one who strives to be honest and ethical in their work and doesn't sacrifice safety for personal gain or advancement. This is independent of what the engineer's degree was in.
  6. Mar 24, 2012 #5


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    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    It actually depends a lot on you.

    You'll have the biggest positive impact in the world if you find the best fit for you.

    If I were to tell you that chemical engineering is the major that would lead to the most good in the world, and you pursued that but hated it and ultimately gave up the profession to work at Walmart, that wouldn't be doing anyone much good.

    Engineering is an extremely broad field. The best advice I can give you is play to your strengths.
  7. Mar 25, 2012 #6
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    Wherever you are sit and look at everything around you. From that computer, to the building you are in. Pretty much all types of engineers created that world so I can't say one is more beneficial to others. For example EEs have created all this technology that makes our world so comfortable but they also help create various medical tools that save millions of lives.

    Be aware that grades make a big difference for med school and engineers usually have lower grades (especially Chem. E.) So be prepared to work hard.

    On the other hand, I've seen that physics majors have the best MCAT scores and I'd reckon engineers would too for the same reasons.
  8. Mar 25, 2012 #7
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    I'm completing an engineering program right now too with the possibility of medical school in mind.

    Personally, I choose CE because I like the breadth of future career options - environmental, water resources, structures, construction, land surveying, geotechnical, planning, development, etc... So, I think that you should base your decision partially on what you would enjoy doing if you opt out of going to medical school (your goals may change).

    Also, I really enjoy CE because so many of the courses are relevant to both it and premed (e.g. physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, engineering statistics, fluid mechanics, environmental engineering, environmental health and toxicology, etc.), so you can kill the two proverbial birds with the one major. (Same goes for ChemE, though.)

    Lastly, remember that if you become a doctor you will be practicing medicine, not engineering....so the choice of engineering field shouldn't affect your future career opportunities in medicine (unless it kills your gpa and you don't get in, but I'm confident that you won't let that happen!) That said, you will have an expanded tool kit over the biology majors, so you will be equipped to venture into other areas where the disciplines overlap if you choose. In CE's case, I am thinking of Public Health. A licensed professional engineer & medical doctor with an MA in Public Health would have the training to make substantial contributions to the field. So, my vote goes for CE. And, as a side note, you'll know how to design your own house once you have the money (:

    Edit: As far as GPA concerns go, I am planning to retake any course that I receive a C+ or lower in.....then I can use grade-replacement and apply to the Osteopathic schools if necessary (though MD is my first choice). Hopefully I won't have to retake anything, though! I definitely agree that it's possible to do well in engineering if one has the motivation, math ability, and doesn't overload on coursework.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  9. Mar 26, 2012 #8
    Re: Which engineering degree that makes a "difference"

    I think it does not depend so much on the degree as on the industry you want to work in later.

    E.g. consider you would work on the optimization on semiconducting or superconducting devices as an EE.

    You could later build detectors based on thin films that might detect the infrared radiation of human targets in the battlefield or the magnetic field associated with different types of tissue in medcial squid detectors.
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