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Will an EE minor help me land a job?

  1. Jun 26, 2011 #1
    Okay so I'm an Engineering Physics major and I plan on taking plenty of EE courses. I am considering doing a little extra work and declaring a minor. My current plan is to go to graduate school but I would like a fallback plan in case something comes up. I would like to work with something related to semiconductor devices if I do join the workforce after college.

    I currently plan on taking physics courses on Solid State Physics and the EE courses I currently plan on taking are on Microfabrication, Microelectronic circuits, and IC circuits. I've already taken a introduction to circuits course and a few computer science courses. I also am signed up for a course on material properties and plan on taking a course on numerical analysis.

    I would really only have to take one more course on signals and systems to declare the minor but that is a semester I could take something more interesting. Given what I have already taken and what I plan on taking, will that one class really make any difference? Will the minor make a difference with how desirable to an employer? Are there any other courses I can take or anything else I can do to make myself desirable?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2011 #2
    The minor is probably a good idea. It will make you have to do less explaining at an interview if you are going for an EE job.
  4. Jun 28, 2011 #3
    Thanks :)

    That's what I was thinking. People keep telling me it's not what you're degree is in, it's what you know though. So I was wondering if it really was worth the effort, signals and systems seems a little boring.
  5. Jun 28, 2011 #4
    The way I see it is this. To be a good engineer, of course it is what you know, not whether you possess a specific piece of paper. But, unless you personally know someone who will hire you, it will be challenging to get your foot in the door without some kind of credential. It can be frustrating, sure, but it turns out to probably be the best way to screen candidates, even though a lot of good people have a hard time getting a chance. It's like democracy, which has been called the worst form of government that is better that all the others...

    BTW Signals and Systems doesn't have to be boring. Try to relate it to something you're interested, like communications, music, image processing, seismology, etc... Then you can turn a boring subject fun because you will feel like you're working toward something.
  6. Jun 28, 2011 #5
    That makes a lot of sense.

    Wow, didn't realize it had applications to seismology... That's actually really cool
  7. Jun 28, 2011 #6


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    I agree with carlgrace. Not only does it make interviewing easier, signals and systems is extremely important and useful. Once you know signals and systems, it is pretty easy to teach yourself digital signal processing, basic communication system theory, etc. When I interview potential employees to work as engineers at my company, I like to see a course on signals and systems as it means that person will be more useful on day one. In my opinion, if you take a physics major and have them take signals and systems and probability, they will have all the tools required to start being productive (I am in a signal processing group).

    Best of luck. Even if you don't decide to do the minor, it sounds like you are getting a fine education.

  8. Jun 28, 2011 #7

    Out of curiosity, would you happen to know any applications to signal processing to semiconductor physics or devices?
  9. Jun 29, 2011 #8
    This thread is interesting because I have a similar dilemma - I want to do Engineering Physics with EE minor because, well, physics is just so damn awesome. But I am greatly fearful of having a difficult time getting a job based on my degree... I hear about physicists becoming accountants and I start getting nervous... I love business, but I'm not going to school for business.

    Could I go into pure EE and then later get into more physics at grad school? Has anyone done so or heard of a situation like this?
  10. Jun 29, 2011 #9


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    Can you take on a summer position as as intern/vacation replacement? This is a sure shoe-in if you are a good worker, at least in this region.
  11. Jun 29, 2011 #10
    It could work out depending on what you take. According to a lot of the forums here, grad schools care about your courses, not your major. If you take all the basic upper level physics (mechanics, E&M, thermal, and QM) you should be good. There are bound to be physics-like courses in the EE department that you would like, like device physics and optical engineering.

    But if the job you plan on getting is gonna be after graduate school, I'm not sure if your undergrad degree will matter too much.

    I'm not sure if this is for me or the other guy. I think I can once I have completed more advanced EE courses. Probably next summer.
  12. Jul 12, 2011 #11
    If you want to qualify for a job as an engineering you will need to have a degree in engineering that is ABET accredited. If your "engineering physics" degree is accredited, I'd say the EE minor would help you get a job in electrical engineering. If it is not accredited, I don't think you'll have much of a chance. Accreditation is required for registration as a professional engineer (PE), which is very important in consulting engineering.
  13. Jul 12, 2011 #12
    Would they over look my lack of an EE degree if I got a masters in EE?
  14. Jul 12, 2011 #13
    No one will give a flying leap that you don't have a BS in EE if you have a masters in EE. In fact, depending on the job, having a BS in something else would be a bonus. Where I work a BS in Physics would be an asset.

    Re: Accreditation, yes it is important for Civil Engineers but I have only met one registered electrical engineer in my entire career.
  15. Jul 12, 2011 #14
    I've worked with (as in been employed by the same company at the same time) 16 EE's between the 2 companies I've worked for. 9 of those 16 are registered, 2 are still too inexperienced, and the other 5 just never took the test. At least 2 of those 5 had the opinion that it wasn't necessary (at my previous company whose clientele was mostly corporate buildings). I've never spoken to the other 3 about it, I assume they don't think they can pass the test without considerable effort and are comfortable enough with their current position to feel it isn't worth the effort. I think it varies more by industry niche than discipline. The company I currently work for does MEP design for university, private school, and other architectural significant institutional buildings. In other words, it's all about pomp and credentials.
  16. Jul 12, 2011 #15
    How interesting. I suspect you are correct about industry niche rather than discipline. I do product design and have never encounter one outside of a university. Thanks for correcting my mistake.
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