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'[OT]:Post-secondary education in the field of Elec'
2001\05\13@005015 by Randy Glenn

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This is a long post. I apologize to those of you who object to such things,
but I have some issues I need to discuss that are of great importance to me,
and quite possibly, others in the future.

Well, in less than 30 class days, I complete my high school career. Meaning
I have to decide on a university to attend - not that I haven't thought
about it, and yes, I have already applied to three reputable schools near
me: the University of Waterloo, Computer Engineering; McMaster University,
Engineering; and the University of Toronto, Computer Engineering.

Though I am seriously favouring Waterloo at this point, I thought it might
be a good idea to get the opinions of those with experience in getting jobs
out of University, hiring those out of University, or working with those
right out of University. I want to have the best possible shot at employment
when I eventually graduate, and I thought that people in the industry might
have a more realistic, balanced viewpoint than the admissions people (who,
no offence, are sometimes reminiscent of the consumer electronics superstore
salesman - our system is so much better than theirs, etc.)

So, without further adieu, my questions:

1. I find myself at a crossroads between two work-study programs: Co-op and
Internship. In the co-op system, I would work for four months at a job,
every four months, and would usually have a contract for two work terms. The
advantages I see here are a variety of experiences, and earning money
gradually through my education. The four-month break every four months
wouldn't be to bad either.

In the internship model, I would go for a job for a year to 16 months, after
my third year. Of course, I get basically no variety here, but would get
more meaningful assignments than with Co-op. Plus, I'd still have a summer
vacation at the same time as my friends - whom I still want to do things
with.

So, the question is this: which is better for this field? Each has it's own
virtues, but which has benefited people out there more?

2. A shorter question: What do people out there know / think about my chosen
programs and / or the calibre of the graduates? I'd really like to know what
kind of a reputation these institutions have, not just here in Southern
Ontario, Canada.

Thanks for bearing with me through that long message. To those of you who
consider this a waste of your download time, please, forgive me. To those
who don't want to tie up the PICLIST with any further discussion on this, I
welcome private messages sent to any of the below addresses.

Thanks again, and happy Mother's Day to all moms out there.

-Randy Glenn
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2001\05\13@034140 by Bill Westfield

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   Well, in less than 30 class days, I complete my high school career.

   Meaning I have to decide on a university to attend - not that I
   haven't thought about it, and yes, I have already applied to three
   reputable schools near me: the University of Waterloo, Computer
   Engineering; McMaster University, Engineering;

Just "Engineering" ?!  Hmm.  (I think this is one of those things that
means something different outside of the US, perhaps.)

   and the University of Toronto, Computer Engineering.


   I want to have the best possible shot at employment when I eventually
   graduate, and I thought that people in the industry might have a more
   realistic, balanced viewpoint than the admissions people...

Employment doing what?  (I shouldn't be so picky.  Your idea of the ideal
job is somwhat likely to change over the next several years.)

There are about three types of places that will hire brand-new graduates.
1) Places that are big enough to train any new graduate with appropriate
  intelligence in their way of doing business.  These are the ones that
  send a bunch of recruiters to your school.
2) Places where you have direct experience, via projects, classes, or
  employment, with exactly their line of business.
3) Places that have direct experience with YOU, such as your intern/coop/
  summerjob employer(s), the school itself, etc...

   So, without further adieu, my questions:

   1. I find myself at a crossroads between two work-study programs:
   Co-op [4M school, 4M work] and Internship [3Y school, 1Y work]

   So, the question is this: which is better for this field? Each has
   it's own virtues, but which has benefited people out there more?

I predate much of the current excitement with work/study programs, but I
worked on-campus in one of the computer departments, and had summer jobs
(3Y worth) in the "technical computing" department of an oil company (via
one of those special "summer internship for children of employees" deals.
A (somewhat) relevant summer job is a great idea, if you can find one, but
a non-relevant summer job isn't much use, IMO.)  I'd say that if you're
planning on working while at school and during the summers, you should go
with the internship, while if you're planning on being in "study only" mode
at school and taking real vacations, you should go with the coop setup.
(Don't underestimate the variety you can experience in a year at a single
company, though...)


   2. A shorter question: What do people out there know / think about my
   chosen programs and / or the calibre of the graduates? I'd really like
   to know what kind of a reputation these institutions have, not just
   here in Southern Ontario, Canada.

Waterloo is famous, although I don't know that I can think of anything off
the top of my head that's come out of there since a couple of fortran
compilers :-) U of Toronto I'm pretty sure I've heard has a good
reputation.  I don't think I've heard of McMaster (and I already mentioned
the weirdness of a degree in engineering.)  Without having looked at any
curricula (?) in detail...  You may find a computer science/computer
engineering degree overly software intensive unless you augment it with a
lot of EE classes.  Unfortunately, that's more difficult than adding
software classes to an EE program.  I have in general a slight distrust for
"expert programmers" who don't have a background in something "more
substantial" to write software FOR.  Since you seem to already have a
substantial PC background (?), you should take care to pick classes and
jobs that make you stretch rather than ones that you end up just "coasting"
through.  (take the pascal class instead of the basic class.  Or do both -
I audited the fortran class "required" for EEs (I was an EE) while also
taking the PL/1 class "required" for CS majors, cause I was afraid that
something would come up in EE where I'd NEED something they had taught in
the fortran class (turned out not, but then most of the "advanced" CS
classes used fortran rather than PL/1, too...))

Um.  I am beginning to believe that there is a substantial advantage to
attending a school that is NOT too close to home.  Living "on your own" at
a university will cause you to develop (hopefully) skills useful for
(surprise) living on your own.  Little things like being able to eat
something other than fast food or someone else's cooking :-)

If you wind up at Waterloo, see what they're doing now that is similar to
the fortran compiler projects - getting involved in that kind of "exported
technology" project can be exciting, rewarding, and put you in contact with
a lot of people it might be nice to know when it's time to get a job.  I
can trace most of my career to ARPANet software hacking I did on the side
of my part time "operator/Jr Systems Programmer" job...  (if you don't
wind up at Waterloo, see if they're doing anything like that anyway!)

BillW

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2001\05\13@093403 by Rich Clemens

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face
From the other side of the desk, let me suggest:

1. Your long term success has less to do with the college/university than it
does with you.

a. Study and get good grades
b. Develop your expertise in:
  Mathematics
  Written and Oral Communications
  Your chosen field of study
  People skills
c. Plan on graduate study at a large college or university (your
  undergraduate work can be very successful at any size college)
d. Get practical experience via internships/co-op or other programs
e. Develop your leadership skills-become involved in an organization
f. Document your activities and start now to prepare a portfolio of
  your work both academic and extracurricular
g. Read publications from your industry and join an international
  organization of your interest (ACM's student membership is as
  low as $18 US)
h. Get to know your professors, as your expertise grows become a
  tutor or lab assistant.  By the time you are a junior you
  should be ready to help freshmen in your field achieve success.

2. Enjoy college and make sure you are enjoying what you are doing.
  Most students today change majors often and are trying to seek
  a job or field for which they are interested as it "pays well".
  The job that pays well is the one you enjoy going to work each
  day.  You will be working till 2045, so you had better enjoy
  the event.  Of course, you most likely will do something else
  in your work years than you studied in your college years.

3. I am not too worried about you as most of your classmates have
  no clue nor insight as your post suggests you already have
  developed.

--
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> Well, in less than 30 class days, I complete my high school career. Meaning
> I have to decide on a university to attend - not that I haven't thought
> about it, and yes, I have already applied to three reputable schools...

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2001\05\13@100008 by Roman Black

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Rich Clemens wrote:
>
> >From the other side of the desk, let me suggest:
>
> 1. Your long term success has less to do with the college/university than it
> does with you.
>
> a. Study and get good grades
> b. Develop your expertise in:
>    Mathematics
>    Written and Oral Communications
>    Your chosen field of study
>    People skills
       <snip>
>
> 2. Enjoy college and make sure you are enjoying what you are doing.
       <snip>


I would like to add a point, one disadvantage you have
jobsearching as a young uni graduate is you have spent
4+ years learning, not doing.

Most employers will have to train you almost from the
start, and one thing that will REALLY help is Rich's
suggestion 2 above, if you enjoy what you are doing you
will tend to do it for leisure and you WILL HAVE REAL
THINGS to show for it.

If I was interviewing you and you said, "here, I designed
this, I built that, I made those PCBs, I repaired that,
I hacked that, I collected those, I programmed that,
and by the way I have a degree in EE", then that would
impress the heck out of me.

Maybe public servants in goverment offices might get
paid to "be qualified", but as an engineer you will
most likely be employed to "do stuff". Sure work hard
on your qualifications, but my advice would be to make
sure that at the end of it you have a suitcase full of
examples of things you have actually DONE. :o)
-Roman

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2001\05\14@085021 by Mark Newland

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Roman Black wrote:

> If I was interviewing you and you said, "here, I designed
> this, I built that, I made those PCBs, I repaired that,
> I hacked that, I collected those, I programmed that,
> and by the way I have a degree in EE", then that would
> impress the heck out of me.

If I showed you all these things that I had designed, built, programmed, etc.
Told you that I have 8 years paid experience.  Told you that I have my own
shop/lab at home that is better equipt than some companies that I know of.  Would
you still hire me if I told you I only had a 2 year degree?  Would you even have
given me the interview (for an engineering job) so I could tell you all the things
I knew and could do if you knew I only had a 2 year degree?

Most (All?) of the other engineers that I know of would be more impressed by what
you can do but you still need that EE to get past the stupid (opps, better not say
stupid and insult someone), err, un-aware human resource people.  Not saying that
you shouldn't do your own projects while going to school but I am saying that
experience does not replace the degree for getting a job interview (in most cases)
if you don't have the EE to get past the HR dept.

Co-ops?  Humm, maybe I should look into something like that??

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2001\05\14@112957 by Roman Black

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Mark Newland wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Hi Mark,
1. I don't give a darn if you have the degree or
not, as a (small) employer I should be smart enough
to determine if you have the skills to do the job.
Big companies mainly think degrees first, competence
last, which is one reason they have idiots working
there. I also imagine some of those idiots are the
people interviewing you. ;o)

2. I didn't say not to get the degree. Just that if
a heap of young uni-leavers go job hunting the one
with a lot of practical things to show looks better
than the ones with JUST a bit of paper.
:o)
-Roman

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2001\05\14@174319 by Lawrence Lile

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face
I'm a degreed engineer.  The Engineer sitting across the hall from me has
training to be a high school shop teacher.  He got tired of training
incompetent drooling adolescents, went to work as a draftsman, his talent
for mechanical design was recognized, and the rest is history.

Breaking through the glass ceiling without a degree is hard, takes time, and
you have to start at a low rung and work up.  It's definitely tough work.
Not fair, either.  Most new EE graduates could not program their way out of
a paper bag, nor find thier derrierre in the dark with both hands.

I used to work for a guy who was a licensed Professional Engineer, and ran
an engineering consulting firm with 12 employees.  He had a two year degree,
and it was a constant source of irritation to him.  Part of the reason he
started his own firm was the glass cieling.

It helps if you get any other kind of certification - MSCE, IPC training,
Microchip Master's program, and so on.

-- Lawrence Lile, P.E., B.S.E.E., Certified Nut, Licensed to Drive people
Crazy, etc. etc.

{Original Message removed}

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