Why did you choose engineering over the sciences?

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Did you have a specific interest in engineering or did you want to apply your scientific knowledge to the 'real world'?
Also I was wondering whether there are people that slightly regret their career path, and why?
Any info would be helpful!
 

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berkeman
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I went to undergrad thinking EE/ME double major, but quickly decided to focus on EE and CS. Then I found my true love, Physics, and did very well at it in addition to enjoying it a lot. So when it came time to declare my major (2 years into the 4 year program), I was torn. In the end, I chose EE over Physics, mostly for economic reasons.

I haven't regretted the decision, but I try to keep learning more Physics whenever possible, and have thought about going back at some point and earning a BS in Applied Physics. I'll have to semi-retire to do that, though. Still, it's on the list....
 
If you like something there is a library full of it (or internet) you don't always need a degree to prove to people that you can do something. I like engineering because ideally you will apply physical knowledge to improve or design a device. Physists have the tendency to stop short of actually applying there knowledge to do something useful.
 
stewartcs
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Did you have a specific interest in engineering or did you want to apply your scientific knowledge to the 'real world'?
Also I was wondering whether there are people that slightly regret their career path, and why?
Any info would be helpful!
Engineers are more employable than scientists with only undergraduate degrees.

CS
 
Danger
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While I have no education in either field, I consider that Engineering is Science. After all, it's the practical application of physics, math, chemistry, and a slough of other disciplines.
Why I frequent the Engineering forums here more than the others is that I love to tinker about with things, especially in the design area. A real engineer probably shudders in horror at the things that I come up with, but I can usually get the job done one way or another. Hanging out here is the best education that I've ever been exposed to.
 
brewnog
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Two reasons: a love for creating/making/fixing/breaking things, and the guarantee that the world will always require (and pay for) engineers.
 
rbj
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Two reasons: a love for creating/making/fixing/breaking things, and the guarantee that the world will always require (and pay for) engineers.
what planet do you live on?

i know plenty of smart engineers with protracted periods of unemployment. i myself have had periods of unemployment or underemployment (with an occasional consulting gig), the last of which stretched from 2003 to 2006. admittedly, i'm a little picky and did not want to work outside of the audio/music_instrument field.

but i hardly believe in the notion that engineers, even very smart and capable engineers have guaranteed job security. or have very small periods of time between jobs. perhaps some might, but it depends on how much of a slut one is willing to be. if you have a family, kids, a house in a good school district, etc. and don't easily decide to up and move to another state, possibly on the other side of the country, you may not always have a suitable job that exists in your area.
 
PhanthomJay
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Come on, out of high school at age 17, who the h--- really knows what they want to do? I chose engineering because I was good at math and the sciences not so good in the humanities. Frankly, I'd rather be climbing a mountain, if I had my choice. Do I regret my career path? Well, the money's decent, but the stress is a killer sometimes. The streams of the mountains please me more.
 
brewnog
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what planet do you live on?
A planet where, since qualifying 3 years ago, walked straight into an excellent job in the field I wanted to work in, and have since had four job offers in other areas of industry. A planet where there are 15 companies within a 30 mile radius all desparate for engineers with the skills and qualifications which I have now got. No, careers for engineers are not guaranteed, but there's never going to be a shortage of demand for the skills we have.
 
berkeman
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A planet where, since qualifying 3 years ago, walked straight into an excellent job in the field I wanted to work in, and have since had four job offers in other areas of industry. A planet where there are 15 companies within a 30 mile radius all desparate for engineers with the skills and qualifications which I have now got. No, careers for engineers are not guaranteed, but there's never going to be a shortage of demand for the skills we have.
I agree with brewnog, but I also think PhantomJay has pointed out something important. I've been in Silicon Valley for the last 25 years or so, because of all the opportunities and basically (almost) continuing demand for EEs. But I really do miss living out in the country, and spending more time there. I spent my high school years out in the country (Calistoga in the Napa Valley), and have very fond memories of those years.

So yes, IMO if you are strong technically and willing to work hard in school and afterwards, EE affords a pretty good career. You may have to sacrafice a bit on where you live, though, which can be a pain at times. (Like sitting in Friday get-away traffic trying to head out to go camping in the Sierras, for example....)
 
Danger
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This has always been in the back of my head, but I never really thought about it outside of the long-forgotten 'Stranded on an Island' thread in GD, which was prompted by the TV show 'Lost'.
An engineer is probably the best survivalist candidate.
 
Pyrrhus
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Come on, out of high school at age 17, who the h--- really knows what they want to do? I chose engineering because I was good at math and the sciences not so good in the humanities. Frankly, I'd rather be climbing a mountain, if I had my choice. Do I regret my career path? Well, the money's decent, but the stress is a killer sometimes. The streams of the mountains please me more.
Yea, that's me too in a nutshell without the mountain climbing part, haha. When i was 17, i just followed my i love math and physics and went into civil engineering. I was very good at the physics classes and for some time thought about changing majors, but in the end i like what i do, and don't have regrets about it.
 
PhanthomJay
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Yeah, after 40 years of engineering, I still ask myself what i'd rather do (besides mountain climbing), and I still end up with engineering. Most of the time, it's a real life Dilbert cartoon.
 
russ_watters
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Two reasons: a love for creating/making/fixing/breaking things, and the guarantee that the world will always require (and pay for) engineers.
I tried to think of something profound to say, but that about covers it exactly. Well, that and this:
Most of the time, it's a real life Dilbert cartoon.
The stuff is like wallpaper.
 
russ_watters
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i know plenty of smart engineers with protracted periods of unemployment. i myself have had periods of unemployment or underemployment (with an occasional consulting gig), the last of which stretched from 2003 to 2006. admittedly, i'm a little picky and did not want to work outside of the audio/music_instrument field.

but i hardly believe in the notion that engineers, even very smart and capable engineers have guaranteed job security. or have very small periods of time between jobs. perhaps some might, but it depends on how much of a slut one is willing to be. if you have a family, kids, a house in a good school district, etc. and don't easily decide to up and move to another state, possibly on the other side of the country, you may not always have a suitable job that exists in your area. [emphasis added]
There are no guarantees in life. But it is a reality that the demand for engineers, in general, outstrips the supply. In your case, it sounds like you picked a highly specialized field. I started off in aerospace engineering, where the problem is similar. Fortunately, I couldn't handle it and switched to mechanical where there are lots more jobs.
 
russ_watters
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While I have no education in either field, I consider that Engineering is Science.
Well yes, that's what my degree says. But I think the question was more about engineering vs pure science. Engineering is applied science (as you clearly understand).
 
russ_watters
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Come on, out of high school at age 17, who the h--- really knows what they want to do?
I've known since roughly age 6.
 
russ_watters
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This has always been in the back of my head, but I never really thought about it outside of the long-forgotten 'Stranded on an Island' thread in GD, which was prompted by the TV show 'Lost'.
An engineer is probably the best survivalist candidate.
One of my favorite books, though I only read it once as an elective in high school (not even sure how I found it - it isn't one of the more read ones) is Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island":
The book tells the adventures of five Americans on an uncharted island in the South Pacific. The story begins in the American Civil War, during the siege of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America. As famine and death ravage the city, five northern prisoners of war decide to escape in a rather unusual way – by hijacking a balloon.

The five are Cyrus Smith, a railroad engineer in the Union army, his African-American manservant Neb (short for Nebuchadnezzar), who Verne repeatedly states is not a slave but instead a loyal butler, the sailor Bonadventure Pencroff (who is referred to only by his surname, but his "christian name" is given to their boat) and his protégé Herbert (or Harbert, depending on the translation) Brown (a young boy whom Pencroff raises as his own after the death of his father, Pencroff's former captain), and the journalist Gideon Spilett. The company is completed by Cyrus' dog 'Top'[1].

After flying in stormy weather for several days, the group crash-lands on a cliff-bound, volcanic, unknown (and fictitious) island, located at 34°57′S, 150°30′W about 2,500 km east of New Zealand. They name it "Lincoln Island" in honour of American President Abraham Lincoln. With the knowledge of the brilliant engineer Smith, the five are able to sustain themselves on the island, producing fire, pottery, bricks, nitroglycerin, iron, a simple electric telegraph, a home in stone called the "Granite House", and even a sea-worthy ship. They also manage to find their geographical location.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mysterious_Island
I need to get myself a copy of it, actually - thanks for reminding me. :biggrin:
 
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russ_watters
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Labor department statistics/info about engineers/engineering: http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm
There are acutally more aerospace engineers than I realized:
In 2006, engineers held about 1.5 million jobs. The distribution of employment by engineering specialty follows:

Civil engineers 256,000
Mechanical engineers 227,000
Industrial engineers 201,000
Electrical engineers 153,000
Electronics engineers, except computer 138,000
Aerospace engineers 90,000
Computer hardware engineers 79,000
Environmental engineers 54,000
Chemical engineers 30,000
Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors 25,000
Materials engineers 22,000
Petroleum engineers 17,000
Nuclear engineers 15,000
Biomedical engineers 14,000
Marine engineers and naval architects 9,200
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers 7,100
Agricultural engineers 3,100
All other engineers 170,000
Overall employment change. Overall engineering employment is expected to grow by 11 percent over the 2006-16 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Engineers have traditionally been concentrated in slower growing or declining manufacturing industries, in which they will continue to be needed to design, build, test, and improve manufactured products. However, increasing employment of engineers in faster growing service industries should generate most of the employment growth. Job outlook varies by engineering specialty, as discussed later.

Competitive pressures and advancing technology will force companies to improve and update product designs and to optimize their manufacturing processes. Employers will rely on engineers to increase productivity and expand output of goods and services. New technologies continue to improve the design process, enabling engineers to produce and analyze various product designs much more rapidly than in the past. Unlike in some other occupations, however, technological advances are not expected to substantially limit employment opportunities in engineering because engineers will continue to develop new products and processes that increase productivity.

Offshoring of engineering work will likely dampen domestic employment growth to some degree. There are many well-trained, often English-speaking engineers available around the world willing to work at much lower salaries than U.S. engineers. The rise of the Internet has made it relatively easy for part of the engineering work previously done by engineers in this country to be done by engineers in other countries, a factor that will tend to hold down employment growth. Even so, there will always be a need for onsite engineers to interact with other employees and clients.

Overall job outlook. Overall job opportunities in engineering are expected to be good because the number of engineering graduates should be in rough balance with the number of job openings between 2006 and 2016. In addition to openings from job growth, many openings will be created by the need to replace current engineers who retire; transfer to management, sales, or other occupations; or leave engineering for other reasons.
It also has good info about job growth in specific fields.
 
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Astronuc
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I would echo what Danger, Brewnog, PhantomJay and Russ mentioned - engineering is applied science. I started off in physics but switched to nuclear engineering, but I still did a lot of physics and still do in my work. In my profession, people "Physics" or "Nuclear Engineering" are just labels, since one does both to some extent.
 
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Thanks for everyones comments they've been really helpful!
 
Danger
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i'm a little picky and did not want to work outside of the audio/music_instrument field.
I think I found your problem!
 
Integral
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And thanks for pointing it out to me. I saw the 1961 version of the movie, but haven't read the book. I should try to find a copy myself.
It is a great book, I read it many, many years ago. IIRC it essentially a sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [\u] as it includes an encounter with Capt. Nemo and the Nautilus.

BTW, I did not choose engineering over the pure science. But with only a BS in Physics most jobs are essentially engineering. You are just a bit better educated then your counterparts.


(Covering my head, waiting for the rotten tomatoes thrown by our esteemed engineers) :rofl:
 
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Did you have a specific interest in engineering or did you want to apply your scientific knowledge to the 'real world'?
Also I was wondering whether there are people that slightly regret their career path, and why?
Any info would be helpful!
Personally I suspect it was a form of madness.

Though I have difficulty in thinking of anything else I might have done...

And 30 years ago things were very different from now.

As in 90% of the world's electronics wasn't made in China.
 

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