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Year of Decisions

  1. Aug 23, 2007 #1
    In the next couple weeks, my senior year in high school will begin... and with that comes some decisions I'll be having to make.
    I'm hoping to find some answers to a couple questions I have, here.

    To begin, engineering is the general field I'm going to be pursuing, however which specific field I haven't yet decided.
    I'm seventeen and I work at Hommel-Etamic Corp. of America -- a job my AutoCAD teacher helped me get. The company designs gauges -- mechanical, pneumatics, and controls are all relevant to the company. I've been at the company for about six months now and I haven't found much interest in the mechanical or controls engineering area of the company. I've begun to understand how the gauges work and the many different types of gauges there are -- annular, flow, hand, snap, etc. (not that I know if any of you are familiar with those).
    Which brings me to my point... now that I can say I understand the extreme basics of how the gauges work and without any math involved besides a bit of air flow, in succession I can say it doesn't interest me.
    So, mechanical engineering is supposed to be the field of engineering that gives you the most diverse knowledge base to step off of... however, I'm looking more for a specialized engineering -- biomedical engineering interests me as does marine engineering. Probably my biggest interest is systems engineering.
    I learn quickly when things are hand on... so what would be recommended by you more experienced people for a field of engineering, or type of engineering (i.e. designing) that allows me to be involved but at the same time be designing and finding applications for solutions?

    My next question is college related:
    I'm currently looking at Wayne State University, Lawrence Tech. University, or Kettering University. The two latter universities both are renowned for their engineering/technological studies and reputations. The former, however, has an extremely big variety of the different types of engineering there are.
    For me, LTU and KU would both be extremely difficult colleges to get into with my academic past, however WSU would be fairly easy -- I'm looking for a challenge, though.
    My biggest question is, how good does it look and how much influence does it have for me to have had already a year's experience with working actively at an engineering company and three full years of AutoCAD (more than most schools offer in this area)?
    I lack the amount of math I should know because of the tracks the high schools set students in, and bad decisions on my part in middle school. However, I'm quick learning and quick to understand mostly anything thrown at me with a bit of explanation.
    Sciences come to me rather easily, biology most easily at that.

    Lastly, I'm looking to improve my math skills to a fair level before going into college, wherever my decision may be to go. I'm assuming my best option would be self-study of the regular curriculum and then some. How do you recommend I go about doing this; the most efficient way, without confusing myself?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this if you did, and I'm sorry if I neglected to post this in the correct area.
    - Chris
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2007 #2
    As for your school choices, apply to all three! Some other state schools you might consider (if you haven't already) with good engineering programs: Western, Michigan State, Oakland has good connections with the automakers, and of course, Michigan. Michigan Tech is nice too if you can stand living there in the winter.

    For your math, you'll likely have to take a math placement test no matter what school you end up going to. And if you end up placing into a pre-calc course instead of calculus 1, it might work to your benefit because you'll get time to learn the basics. I think you should focus on making sure you know what you have learned and doing your best this coming year to learn that.

    Biomedical at Wayne State might be pretty interesting considering their connections with the hospitals downtown.

    Good luck!
  4. Aug 23, 2007 #3
    I will try to address each concern in the same order as it was stated...but I appoligize in advance if I end up rambling.

    1) If you aren't entirely sure what you want your concentration in engineering to be, I wouldn't be too concerned just yet. Many my engineer majoring friends didn't decide what field they wanted to study until midway/end of the first year of college. With that in mind, I would take care when you are looking at programs to find ones that touch a large portion of your interests that way there is room to decide what is best for you.

    2) On the topic of applying to colleges, try to determine if the engineering college has its own prerequists for admissions. Make sure to find out ahead of time if you need to apply for admissions to both the college of liberal arts and the college of engineering.

    One last thing about college admissions: Many applications give you the oppurtunitiy to dispell any misconceptions admissions officals might get from looking at your transcript. It is very important that if you feel their is a leigitimate reason behind academic stuggles in the past, or if there is a point where your transcript becomes somewhat vague (trust me this can happen), you explain the circumstances.

    3) If you have the ablity to take math courses at a community college during your senior year---do it. It is an excellent way to brush up on old skills and work on some new ones. However, rigor at a community college is likely not going to be present, so bare that in mind when you are comparing your math class at the community college to your standard univeristy. If you are exceptionally driven, or have a teacher willing to work with you at your high school, see if you can set up an independent study for a second math class. Your pace is set by yourself, you have one on one contact, and you are given (at least when I was in high school) a load of freedom to explore connected topics. An example of an independent study at high school: When I was a senior in high school, my school lacked a few AP classes that I had intended to take; unfortunantly, I also had completed the upper levels of both physics and mathematics that my school offered me (Chemistry could not be scheduled due to time conflicts), so I talked to both my physics and math teachers-developed a syallibus and proceeded to take two additional courses as independent study. With the amount of freedom granted to me, I could read material in orders that made more sense to me, and gave me more freedom to use different texts of different difficulty levels, which ultimatly helped me when I got to college.

    One last comment: Mororvia stated that you are likely to take a math placement exam upon entering your college/university. It has been my experance, and the experance of my family and friends, that this is not generally true. You may be exposed to a math placement exam; however, of all the schools I was accepted to and all of the schools my friends went to, the placement exam was to give suggestions as to your level in mathematics, not to dictate where you should start. (Indeed I have never taken a math placement exam, and was able to skip the entire calculus series and instead take upper division math courses instead).
  5. Aug 23, 2007 #4
    Wow, I wish I had that sort of experience when I was in high school. You're right on track, although if you dont want to spend the semester in pre-cal, learn your pre-cal pretty well beforehand so that you are placed into calc I. I'd recommend staying as an undecided engineer. Your viewpoints might change a lot in college.
  6. Aug 24, 2007 #5
    Hi Chris,

    I go to Lawrence Tech and am a double major in electrical engineering and physics. I like it a lot here. LTU really isn't all that hard to get admitted to. I would say that if you can get admitted to WSU you can get admitted to LTU. However, just because LTU is easy to get admitted to doesn't mean you won't get a solid education. Also, those weaker students that can't cut it usually get weeded out eventually. Now, Kettering is a different story. I am pretty sure KU is much harder to get admitted to. Both KU and LTU have solid reputations within the automotive industry and you shouldn't have much trouble finding an engineering job in Michigan when you graduate, even in Michigan's current recession.

    Also, WSU is much more of a research school than LTU so you will have many more research opportunities at WSU as an undergrad (I just finished a summer REU at WSU actually). However, as an LTU student you can do research at other universities in the summers. I'm not sure how WSU's ugrad professors compare to LTU's professors though. I can say that I have been happy with the professors at LTU overall.

    Also, don't be too concerned about your math skills if you are planning to go to LTU. LTU has a really good remedial math department and if they find you are a bit weak in math (from the placement test you take which has math, physics, chemisty, english, and computer literacy sections) they will simply place you in the necessary pre-calc course such as college algebra, trig or pre-calc before you take calc 1. You might end up being a couple semester behind in math, but you can easily catch up by taking summer courses. Once you finish any pre-calc requirements you will typically have to take calc 1, 2, and 3, differential equations, advanced engineering math (which is complex analysis and more Laplace and Fourier transform stuff), and a probability and statistics class. You might have to take a numerical methods course also, depending on your engineering field. LTU recognizes that there are lots of people that could become really good engineers but simply didn't take much math in HS and got behind, such as yourself. I wouldn't worry about your lacking math skills at all. LTU will take care of you. KU might be less forgiving if you lack the necessary math background though and they might not even admit you if your math is weak.

    Regarding which field of engineering you should pursue, that is something you have time to decide on. You usually don't have to commit to a particular engineering disciple until around your second year. All of the engineering majors are somewhat similar for the first year curriculum. LTU doesn't offer marine engineering or system engineering, but system engineering is usually considered to fall within the electrical engineering field. However LTU does offer biomedical engineering.

    Good luck. LTU is a great place overall. It's quite expensive though (~700 dollars/credit now, and the engineering programs are 133 credits). Make sure you visit all of the schools you apply to and research each thoroughly.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2007
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