Saturday, November 5, 2011

Engineering Students drop out or change career paths

I found this article on why engineering and science majors seem to drop out, or change directions when in college. It is interesting and I believe it is reflective of the failures of government education. Engineering should be one of the most interesting fields of study, and yet the government somehow manages to kill the desire of young people to pursue this career. I am in this field and have found something peculiar, I work in an engineering role without an engineering degree, some of my co-workers have engineering degrees and some do not. All of my co-workers who have engineering degrees fall into one of two categories, either they were older when they got the degree or they got their degree (or the majority of classes) from a non public university setting, like Devry, or they started out in a community college and then moved on to a more formal university. I don't think I work with anyone who went into an engineering degree straight out of high school and graduated with an engineering degree. I have two cousins who started university after high school in science and engineering studies who both switched out within three semesters. There is something wrong here, both of these boys are extremely smart and should have thrived as engineers.

If you know a young person who is considering becoming an engineer, I would advise them to not go straight to university studying engineering. It seems to be the death nail and seems to be a motivation killer, with all of these dry math lecture courses killing the desire to keep going when in the real world most of these equations are not pressing things to know. The field is really pretty fun as you see the things you do giving you the desired effects and solving puzzles when things do not work the same way you expected them to. If you want to be an engineer, the better path seems to be to start out with a smaller educational goal then move on to an engineering degree. I have managed to work in an engineering field with only an associates in telecommunications, but I work with many who started out getting associates in computer networking or electronics or similar fields and who then went on to get bachelors degrees. Really there is a decent demand for skilled employees in computer/electronics and engineering fields and it is high enough that employers are often willing to take a chance on a non-degreed person if they have shown proficiency and really the pay is not that much different between a fully degreed engineer and a person working in an engineering field with a degree in information technology or similar. After you manage to get that first job, experience becomes more important to future employers than education.

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