# Electrical Engineering degree

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,333
So, I have decided to go to college. I want to get an Electrical Engineering degree. I have heard that a degree doesn't mean much these days unless its from one of the top colleges. Is that the case for Electrical Engineering? I'm considering University of Houston. Is that considered one of the "top" colleges for engineering? I can't find a list sorted by "goodness" of engineering programs.

EDIT: found the list. looks like Rice is the best, at 33K$/year tuition #### DerStrom8 Joined Feb 20, 2011 2,390 Hey Strantor. Congratulations on your decision! College is a great thing to have under your belt It is always helpful to get a degree from a relatively prestigious school, but it is not necessarily required. I majored in Electronic Engineering Technology at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts. It's one of those schools that's somewhat well-known, but I don't think it's really considered a "top college". However, everything still seemed to turn out fine. That seems to be a fairly reasonable tuition. I paid a little over$38K/year, and I know some people who paid over $42K, but that was a so-called "top school". The only thing I can say is that if you start somewhere and don't feel it's doing anything for you, see about transferring to another. In my experience, there is no such thing as a "bad" school, or one that gives "useless" degrees. Just my take Regards #### Georacer Joined Nov 25, 2009 5,182 Strantor, are you sure you have the time for it? You were saying that you didn't have time for yourself these days. Has something changed? A degree isn't the best way to get away from your routine. Thread Starter #### strantor Joined Oct 3, 2010 5,333 Strantor, are you sure you have the time for it? You were saying that you didn't have time for yourself these days. Has something changed? A degree isn't the best way to get away from your routine. well, I was honorably discharged from the military, so I can go to college for free. The problem is/has been time. Gotta put in the time to make the money to pay the bills while finding the additional time for college. What's changed, is that my parents have offered to let me convert their garage into an apartment and live there with my wife & kids for free (+bills free) while I attend college if I need to quit my job. Free lodging + free college is a deal I won't pass up, no matter how cramped the living. so the only problem after that is insurance; my wife & daughter immigrated here legally, so they aren't allowed on medicaid. My company also has a program for college assistance, but I would still have to put in at least 40hrs per week while going to college full time. I'm deciding right now whether I'm going to try to work through college for the insurance, or chance it and devote myself to my studies. any input on this matter is welcome as well. so what are you referring to "A degree isn't the best way to get away from your routine"? #### Georacer Joined Nov 25, 2009 5,182 Looks like you got your break after all! Good for you. About what you asked me: I remember you saying that your wife complained about you not spending time with your familly. I just feel that as an excuse to pursue your dream, the college would cause even more tension inside your familly. But of course, you know best, I 'm just an outsider and guessing. #### K7GUH Joined Jan 28, 2011 190 I applaud your decision to pursue a degree. It may not make getting a job any easier, but it definitely won't hurt. Separate observation: if you get into it and find it's not what you want / need, don't be afraid to change your mind about the major field of study. You wouldn't be the first guy to switch from engineering to nursing (and that's NOT a joke). #### loosewire Joined Apr 25, 2008 1,686 The level of on the job experience is much higher,by the time you finish school you will way down the list of people they need for good jobs.These guys have 6 or 8 computers going at once and producing.If they needed average help there would be a lot of jobs. The guys that have the jobs, have computers working for them. You will have to develope your own source of income to survive.You speak on alot of subject,find your ninch something. Its like my zip code thing,I am still working hard doing research to suppy information. So if you can find information that the companies need you got your thing. As I sit here I am thinking about what I will research next. I follow university talks,they are telling there staffs to sign up as many as they can into go nowhere degrees to keep people in school.They don't want the students to learn the truth,the banks back the student loans.When they come due and people get behind the 30% interest will kick in.The payday loans are 139% and legal and these people can only borrow$500.00 max and never pay
it back. I was thinging about a org. that only did business with the bottom.
Forget about the top only let the bottom in,trade barter with the bottom
you get my point. Loosewire

#### Zazoo

Joined Jul 27, 2011
114
This is awesome strantor! Congratualtions.
I was in your shoes a few years ago, so hopefully some of this information will be useful to you.

When I got out of the service 11 years ago I started working for a local insurance company. I kept saying that I would "go back to school" but with the demands of life I kept putting it off. Several years after getting out of the service I realized that I wasn't really moving forward and I didn't like my career prospects. It was my wife who really encouraged me to return to school ("just do it" - as the slogan goes.) If not for her support I probably would have stayed where I was and toughed it out. It's great that your wife and your family are so supportive of your decision, it REALLY helps - I don't think I would have made it through the last few years without the encouragement of my wife.

As for schools, I don't know your academic background, but mine was fairly unimpressive academically. I dropped out of high school and got my GED before joining the service. I did well in the Air Force and was honorably discharged with some experience in electronics and some awards that I could use to pad out my college applications. My work history was good which also helped show my work ethic and ability to follow through. I took my SATs just before applying to various colleges and scored high enough to be competitive for top schools.

I applied to several schools, local and out-of-state. The only two "top" engineering schools I applied to were Virginia Tech and Penn State.
Virginia Tech sent me a rejection letter. Penn State accepted me with no financial assistance beyond the G.I. Bill and Stafford loans. With most of the colleges I got accepted to I noticed that faculty would really lose interest when they discovered I was a "non-traditional" student. A lot of schools expressed concern over admitting non-traditional students to rigorous full-time programs like engineering (one admissions advisor said to me “Do you like to write? We have a great English program here.”
I understand the demands that school can place on an adult, but I’ve also seen some of the high school students admitted to college – I’m surprised they can put their shoes on the right feet.
My military service was a plus in all cases though, commented on favorably by several admissions advisors - it shows commitment, responsibility and perseverance.

I eventually decided to go with a smaller in-state college for a few reasons. First, it was a lot cheaper. I’m not sure what sort of college incentives the different service branches are offering now, but when I got out of the Air Force I had about 36K in G.I. Bill + kicker funds at my disposal. Not nearly enough to fund 4 years out-of-state at a top school (are they really giving full-rides now? I guess I should have stayed in a bit longer.)
Second, I didn’t want to live away from my wife, neither of us was looking forward to a long-distance relationship – we had endured that several times while I was in the service and we didn’t want to do it again if we had the choice.
Third, by going to a local college I was able to live at my home, which saved me a lot of money on room and board.

My college is not top-tier, and we have a small engineering department. There are drawbacks and advantages to this. Drawbacks are the lack of research opportunities within the school, smaller selection of technical electives and the lack of school name-recognition. Advantages are easy access to faculty, more opportunities to stand-out (big fish in little pond vs. little fish in big pond) and low-cost.

Overall, I’d say that I wouldn’t focus too heavily on only getting into a top-tier school. With the economy as it is employers can be choosier, but it hasn’t been an issue for me or anyone I know who has applied themselves. My college isn’t even on the radar as far as engineering colleges go, but it hasn’t stopped me from getting summer internships at National Semiconductor, TI and NASA. A fellow student in my college already accepted a job with GE in Houston at 62K/year and he still hasn’t graduated yet. They contacted him after he won a local (here in Maine) LEED challenge. Overall, I think strong academic performance and networking are more important in the long run. I’ve been involved with the IEEE student branch in my region, which is a great networking opportunity and a good resume builder. But that’s just my, admittedly limited, experience in this area. I'm not saying you shouldn't go to a top-tier school, only that there are real tangible benefits to not going to a top-tier school also. Weigh your options.

The time commitment has been probably the most significant factor for me. Other than summer internships I only work part time at my school as a tutor. I don’t think I could do full-time work plus full-time engineering course work – at least not if I wanted to maintain my level of academic performance (I’ve seen people skate through the program with C’s but I doubt this has helped their job prospects.) I have a lot of respect for people who can balance the two, it takes a lot out of you. Even working part-time I’ve had a few semesters where I could count my hours of free-time for the entire semester on a single hand (literally.) It really depends on your personal situation (I don't have kids, so that gave me some extra time), but if there is any chance that you can work only part-time I would say absolutely go for it. My wife and I had to make some sacrifices, as you have, but in the end I think it was worth it ("anything worth doing is worth doing right"). Obviously this is probably the one thing that is completely out of your control, but it's definitely the most significant in my opinion. Unless you are a genius, but for me when they say 3-4 hours outside of class for every hour in-class – they mean it. I don't say it to discourage you, I just know that my first year was hell because I completely underestimated the time commitment.

Hard work and lack of freetime aside, this was by far the best decision of my life. It felt overwhelming at first, but it also feels great to have a long term goal, knowing that every semester moves me towards something better. One more to go for the degree!
Good luck!

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#### thatoneguy

Joined Feb 19, 2009
6,359
SDSM&T

Was ranked one of the top 10 for EE a decade ago, still on leading edge, and near Ellsworth AFB (Home of the Bone) if you are in the chairforce.

#### nerdegutta

Joined Dec 15, 2009
2,676
How is the pregnancy going? And the "Strantor diet"? All well?

How many years are this EE? When does it start? How long time do you have to decide?

Last spring I finished an economist study. It lasted for two years, one evening a week and sometimes in the weekend. Must tell you, it was the two longest years in my life. Working full time and beyond by the side.

How will your wife feel, living next door to your parents? I don't think you should compromise the insurance for you wife/kid. You will never forgive yourself if something happens...

"Everybody loves Raymond"

Best of luck, Strantor!

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,333
As for schools, I don't know your academic background, but mine was fairly unimpressive academically. I dropped out of high school and got my GED before joining the service.
Well in high school, I was trying to be "too cool for school" - I did graduate, but my grades and attendance were pretty weak.
With most of the colleges I got accepted to I noticed that faculty would really lose interest when they discovered I was a "non-traditional" student. A lot of schools expressed concern over admitting non-traditional students to rigorous full-time programs like engineering
Well, that sucks. Do you think it would make a difference if they knew I wasn't working? Then I really wouldn't be any different than their other students except for the fact that I have a wife and 2 kids back in the dorm room.
Im not sure what sort of college incentives the different service branches are offering now, but when I got out of the Air Force I had about 36K in G.I. Bill + kicker funds at my disposal. Not nearly enough to fund 4 years out-of-state at a top school (are they really giving full-rides now? I guess I should have stayed in a bit longer.)
http://www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/index.html
they got rid of the "Montgomery GI bill" which they had while I was active duty, the one I had to pay to be eligible for, and replaced with the "Post 9-11 GI bill", which all you had to do was be active duty for 90 days since 9/11/2001. It pays 17K/year and also comes with 1500/mo (in my area) allowance.

I dont think I could do full-time work plus full-time engineering course work  at least not if I wanted to maintain my level of academic performance (Ive seen people skate through the program with Cs but I doubt this has helped their job prospects.) I have a lot of respect for people who can balance the two, it takes a lot out of you. Even working part-time Ive had a few semesters where I could count my hours of free-time for the entire semester on a single hand (literally.) It really depends on your personal situation (I don't have kids, so that gave me some extra time), but if there is any chance that you can work only part-time I would say absolutely go for it. .. Unless you are a genius, but for me when they say 3-4 hours outside of class for every hour in-class  they mean it. I don't say it to discourage you, I just know that my first year was hell because I completely underestimated the time commitment.
That's a good bit of info. Thanks. I already can't manage my time, and the baby is not born yet. I can't work part time; already asked about that. they said they would do it for me for a few months maybe, but not for 4 years. its all or nothing I guess. I could do side jobs though, time permitting.
How is the pregnancy going? And the "Strantor diet"? All well?

How many years are this EE? When does it start? How long time do you have to decide?

How will your wife feel, living next door to your parents? I don't think you should compromise the insurance for you wife/kid. You will never forgive yourself if something happens...

Best of luck, Strantor!
preggo is getting ready. she's due jan 22 but everybody "has a feeling" its coming early. The strantor diet a brilliant firework in history. It came, stayed for about 4 weeks, I lost a little over 20 lbs and felt so proud of myself that I kept justifying little snacks here and there until I was completely off the diet. Haven't gained any back yet. The EE is 4 years and starts next year in the spring or fall, not sure yet. My wife will feel wierd and shy living right next to my parents. No way around that. I have to choose the lesser of 2 evils; either I put her in a totally uncomfy position for the next 4 years, and reasonably comfy position for the rest of her life, OR I keep her (and me, I won't lie, this is also for me) in this money-tight stressful situation for the rest of our lives.

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,333
I am mechanically inclined, and at times have thought about going for mechanical engineering. I was intrigued by a degree I've heard of "Mechatronics Engineering". I can't find a college near me that offers this degree. I was looking around for it and in the process, I ran across a discussion about it. People were saying that the degree is not well enough known; employers would likely not recognize it, and might throw out your resume. Also, they were saying the Mechatronics engineering is not electrical engineering + mechanical engineering as advertized, it is neither. It lacks fundamental aspects of both degrees. So I was considering instead getting major in electrical engineering (control systems) and a minor in mechanical. I don't know how the college system works; is this possible? feasible? would it give me any advantage at all? would it be better than a Mechatronics Engineer degree?

#### DerStrom8

Joined Feb 20, 2011
2,390
I am mechanically inclined, and at times have thought about going for mechanical engineering. I was intrigued by a degree I've heard of "Mechatronics Engineering". I can't find a college near me that offers this degree. I was looking around for it and in the process, I ran across a discussion about it. People were saying that the degree is not well enough known; employers would likely not recognize it, and might throw out your resume. Also, they were saying the Mechatronics engineering is not electrical engineering + mechanical engineering as advertized, it is neither. It lacks fundamental aspects of both degrees. So I was considering instead getting major in electrical engineering (control systems) and a minor in mechanical. I don't know how the college system works; is this possible? feasible? would it give me any advantage at all? would it be better than a Mechatronics Engineer degree?
Majoring in electrical and minoring in mechanical would be a heck of a lot of work and most likely wouldn't give you much (if any) time with your family. Electrical engineering alone takes a lot of time, between class work, homework, studying, etc. Something else to consider would simply be electromechanical engineering. That pretty much is electrical engineering + mechanical engineering, and is a fairly well-known major. Seeing that on a resume would definitely catch the eye, because it is obviously electrical and mechanical rolled into one, and shows that you probably know a lot about both subjects. And, since it's only one major, there won't be as much work as if you had a major and a minor.

Good luck!

#### thatoneguy

Joined Feb 19, 2009
6,359
I am mechanically inclined, and at times have thought about going for mechanical engineering. I was intrigued by a degree I've heard of "Mechatronics Engineering". I can't find a college near me that offers this degree. I was looking around for it and in the process, I ran across a discussion about it. People were saying that the degree is not well enough known; employers would likely not recognize it, and might throw out your resume. Also, they were saying the Mechatronics engineering is not electrical engineering + mechanical engineering as advertized, it is neither. It lacks fundamental aspects of both degrees. So I was considering instead getting major in electrical engineering (control systems) and a minor in mechanical. I don't know how the college system works; is this possible? feasible? would it give me any advantage at all? would it be better than a Mechatronics Engineer degree?
The best analogy I can come up with for being mechanically inclined and going for a degree in ME, is enjoying tinkering with electronics and going for EE. In both cases, you spend most of your time away from actual mechanical or electrical items, other than a computer, and build a project plan for a prototype for somebody else to build. Sometimes you get to do it yourself as a proof of concept, but rarely.

#### amilton542

Joined Nov 13, 2010
497
In general, an electrical/electronic degree will cover enough fundamental elements through semesters to give you a broad understanding of what is out there anyway.

I've searched for many jobs on the internet to give me an idea what will be available when the day comes, and I have seen many mechanical engineering jobs available willing to accept an electrical/electronic degree.

As a matter of a fact, the mechanical "bunch" at college DO sit electrical/electronic semesters.

Your idea of choosing mechatronics engineering is very specific. That will be, more often than not, another semester you take on a course. The further you push your chess pieces out through progression is when your in a position to start choosing your specific interests.

What I will say is this, be prepared for an unsuccessful application because formal education derived from school, english and math, could be on their specific entry requirements list alongside experience.

University turned me away because I did not have english, so the college asked me to apply for their higher-education program and do the english at home through ICS, and I assure you, it is very stressful. In effect, I now save £9000 because I now get to miss a year out at uni.

I tell you this in advance in order for you not to go through what I did. I highly recommend you look at their specific subject requirements well before you apply and not the last-minute. This will give you time to prepare in advance....if you have the time!

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,333
The best analogy I can come up with for being mechanically inclined and going for a degree in ME, is enjoying tinkering with electronics and going for EE. In both cases, you spend most of your time away from actual mechanical or electrical items, other than a computer, and build a project plan for a prototype for somebody else to build. Sometimes you get to do it yourself as a proof of concept, but rarely.
So if a an electrical engineer doesn't tinker with electronics and a mechanical engineer doesn't get to tinker with mechanics, then who gets to design and build things? that's what I want.

#### DerStrom8

Joined Feb 20, 2011
2,390
So if a an electrical engineer doesn't tinker with electronics and a mechanical engineer doesn't get to tinker with mechanics, then who gets to design and build things? that's what I want.
I have a few friends that majored in electromechanical engineering when they were in college. They did a lot with robotics and that sort of thing, which I guess is basically what you're looking for? If I could go back, I think I'd probably major in electromech rather than EET like I did. I think I could get some more hands-on work done, which is really what I prefer.

#### amilton542

Joined Nov 13, 2010
497
I have a few friends that majored in electromechanical engineering when they were in college. They did a lot with robotics and that sort of thing, which I guess is basically what you're looking for? If I could go back, I think I'd probably major in electromech rather than EET like I did. I think I could get some more hands-on work done, which is really what I prefer.
Electromechanical engineering could cover anything - from material research up to instrumentation and control.

You should always do an analysis on what they have to offer you, because every learning enviroment will have a reputation that preceeds them in some respect with regards to their specialty.

I do a lot with robotics and I'm working towards becoming an electrical engineer not electromechanical.

What I'm trying to say is the electrical/electronic degree is a universal recognised qualification for a variety of different jobs in the industry that you will benefit from.

No matter what your specific interests are, you will ALWAYS have to sit and read about areas that don't interest you what so ever, but in order to achieve and be successful in life you have no choice.

#### justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
429
you can also look through specific courses that each school offers for their program. The core will be the same/similar, but as you move to a higher level, they will differ slightly in the emphasis based on school's priorities, faculty expertise, funding, etc, so you can pick the one that will provide you with the choices that are most appealing to you specifically.

#### thatoneguy

Joined Feb 19, 2009
6,359
So if a an electrical engineer doesn't tinker with electronics and a mechanical engineer doesn't get to tinker with mechanics, then who gets to design and build things? that's what I want.
In a big company, the first 5 years of your career.

In a small company, more of your work will be directly related.

Though a ton of your time will be spent calculating costs and minimizing designs and paperwork. LOTS of paperwork, such as BOM, amended BOM, ensuring everybody under you is aware of any/all changes, which means meetings, lots of meetings.

I'd like the first 5 years to be the whole thing, but that may change in the future with all the downsizing going on. A lot of it is essentially farmed out to college intern types at minimum wage to be put together assembly line style, a group of 10 sitting in a circle/line in a clean room and each adding one piece to the board after the first stencil, then one engineer to give it a lookover, then it goes to the reflow and the college kids start over on a new board for enough to do destructive testing on before further production (usually 4 dozen-ish). Then they start a new board style, but don't get to see the stuff they built blowed in cool and interesting ways. If it works, it gets set up to the fab house where "blue collar" middle aged people look over what the robots did.

The bonus is the college kids get \$10/hr and get to work in one of the big biz, which gives them an idea of how the whole operation works. I know several who worked at Daktronics (they make most all of those huge displays you see in stadiums and smaller mobile ones at golf games). I even spent a month putting together Glow Cubes when they were new, that was the product that got them into electronic signage, and they've only grown since. They started out doing what they liked, making animations or putting together displays, and putting ideas in suggestion boxes (which is how Daktronics always has an edge of new ideas, they take suggestions from anybody). Some of them now wear ties to the building in the same area wondering why they went down that road and stayed there to come up with more signs to compete with Sony and other billboard type animated displays.