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Why is it harder to get into Engineering?

  1. May 12, 2009 #1
    I noticed that it's almost harder to get into engineering than let's say Computer Science. Usually there's not more demand for engineering. At my college engineering has much less students than the Natural Science department that offers Computer Science. I guess it's different if COSC is in the engineering department, but I haven't seen that.

    Is it because usually the engineering department is the "flagship department" of an University ( along with business perhaps) ?
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  3. May 12, 2009 #2


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    Well I don't know how the trends across all departments are but I have a feeling these past few years haven't been too kind to computer science department considering it isn't the growing industry that it once was. If i had to guess, i'm guessing engineering just has better outreach in general and is a more enticing industry no matter which field you get into.
  4. May 12, 2009 #3


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    Sometimes it can be a matter of weeding out those who won't make the cut. Getting into engineering school in the 1960s at the University of Maine (my alma mater) was not that difficult, but the attrition rate was incredible, attributable in part to the boot-camp rigidity of first and second year courses. My roommate was in pre-med, and though he had the same chemistry texts that I did, his course-work was no tougher than HS work and he was given two semesters to cover the same work that I had to cover in one. I was in the honors program, too, and my advisor (a professor emeritus) told me that out of the 305 students in my class, fewer than 100 would graduate in engineering. He was right.
  5. May 12, 2009 #4


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    "Why is it harder to get into Engineering?"

    Is the teaching load in the program at its maximum and the department can accept no more students for the major field at that school?

    As others have already discussed, some students do not stay in Engineering because of the difficulty of this subject. Maybe this is why a student could benefit to use Engineering as a "Minor Concentration" along with a different major field.
  6. May 12, 2009 #5
    "it isn't the growing industry that it once was."

    Well, I wouldn't say that. The BLS OOH seems to indicate that CS / SE is going to be a very popular field until 2016, at least.

    I have heard that enrollment in CS has been down, though. It could be that there just aren't as many CS applicants as there are for engineering disciplines. This would make colleges more willing and able to accept more applicants, giving the appearance that the admissions standards are easier.

    idk... interesting question. Why do you ask?
  7. May 13, 2009 #6
    I asked because I tink it's kinda weird. Not many students at all want to major in it, yet it's probably among the hardest departments to get it at the most colleges..

    And it is not true. Computer Science is still in high demand. Software Engineering is among the fastest growing fields ( according to Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  8. May 15, 2009 #7
    Xodox, I actually don't think I've observed the same trend. Engineering is a pretty big department at many places, so that right there suggests it might be easier to get into.
  9. May 15, 2009 #8


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    Another thing to consider: If you are a software developer, your job can be outsourced to India or another low-wage country tomorrow. If you are an engineer working on project-specific programs, your job will be pretty secure against outsourcing, especially if your position requires that you hold state/city licenses and/or be certified by professional boards relating to your specialty.
  10. May 16, 2009 #9
    At my University, all concentrations under the "Arts and Sciences" category were open majors, where anyone could become an undergraduate of a subject if they chose to be. Engineering required an application after several freshman and sophomore courses were taken.

    This to me, this policy was ridiculous, as I felt and still feel that Physics should have a rigorous undergraduate application process just as intensive (if not more) as any engineering concentration. I saw too many students go into physics because they thought their grades were not good enough to get into an engineering school, but that simply just sets them up for more disappointment when they find out how incredibly difficult the physics curriculum is even at the undergraduate level.
  11. May 18, 2009 #10
    It boils down to supply and demand. Because demand for engineers is generally higher than for, say, computer scientists, demand for an education in engineering is naturally higher than demand for an education in computer science. A school has a limited number of students it can accommodate in a particular program. Therefore, if the number of students seeking admission to a program exceeds the number of students the school can accommodate in that program, the school is forced to be selective. The larger the excess, the more selective the program.
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  12. May 19, 2009 #11
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment growth for Software Engineers ( degree in comp science) will be 38%, one of the fastest growing fields. Comp/Electrical Engineering will grow by 6% and will be slower than the average.

    I know the supply/demand relation. But apparently the Engineering departments have less students than the most departments. So one would think there's much more space left.
  13. May 19, 2009 #12
    Not if supply is low.
  14. May 30, 2009 #13
    Computer Science enrollment is definitely down at my school compared to a few years ago. And as far as "getting into Engineering," are we talking about simply getting accepted to the university, or actually making it into said university's college of engineering? A first year engineering curriculum blows a first year CS curriculum out of the water.
  15. Jun 8, 2009 #14
    Here is a http://www.researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.aspx?fID=569&rID=11240" [Broken] to an interesting talk about the state of engineering education. I think the national attrition rate for engineering students is >50%.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. Jun 8, 2009 #15
    I applied to UofStrathclyde in Scotland to two courses: 'Electrical and Mechanical engineering' and 'Mathematics and Physics'. The engineering one requires me to have A in math and physics and B everywhere else, while math one requires 'only' B in math and physics and C everywhere else (those are exam grades). I'm not sure why the difference, but it certainly made easier the decision of which to take as a firm acceptance and which as an insurance.
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