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'[OT] Choice of Major'
1998\10\15@133919 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
Hi fellow piclisters,

       I'm sorry this is so OT but it pertains to a very important decision
I must make and I think that you people can help. As you can see from my
signature, I am currently a sophomore engineering student with a
(tentative) major of EE. Well, in a couple of weeks I need to actually
decide on what my major will be.
       I have advisors here that I can ask about this, but I think that it is
very important to have a "reality check" on what they say by asking the
largest body of practicing engineers that I know, this list.
       For me, really the choice is between EE and Engineering Physics.
Engineering Physics is a combination of all the fields of engineering into
one, but with an emphasis on a specific area(such as electronics/materials
science). I definately want to work in electronics, but I am also
interested in various other things which are connected to electronics
(vehicle control, propulsion systems, design of scientific instrumentation,
the physics and chemistry of electronic sensors and components,etc.). So,
I'm afraid, on one hand, that if I major in EE, I will get TOO specific an
education, without enough of the background in the physics and chemistry
and materials science connected with it and with my other interests. EP
claims to provide this more broad basis.
       On the other hand, I am concerned about who would want to employ me with
an EP degree and what they would want me to do! (I would enjoy some
research and component design, but circuit and system design is fun too!).
I see many recruiters comming to campus looking for EEs, but not too many
looking for EPs. The EP department does show an impressive list of job
placements that they have had, though.
       My advisor (who is currently an EP prof.) says that I should get a BS in
EP and then a 1 year MENG degree in EE or 2 year MS in EE. But, of course,
he IS in the EP field so he would be likely to say this :)
       Either way I go, I can take a rather broad set of courses, but the EE
degree would restrict me more in this area.

       SO, sorry for making this so long, but this is a VERY important decision
comming up soon, and I feel that with the combined 1000 years or so of
engineering experience among the people in this list, I should get some
VERY useful feedback.

Thanks again,

Sean

+-------------------------------+
| Sean Breheny                  |
| Amateur Radio Callsign: KA3YXM|
| Electrical Engineering Student|
+-------------------------------+
Save lives, please look at http://www.all.org
Personal page: http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/shb7
spam_OUTshb7TakeThisOuTspamcornell.edu  Phone(USA): (607) 253-0315 ICQ #: 3329174

1998\10\15@152030 by Rob

flavicon
face
Hi Sean,

It sounds like you are going to go with Engineering Physics by your
posting.  I'm and EE and I would say that EE has many diverse fields in it
that it is not too restrictive to your career.  On the other hand, if you
believe physics is more to your liking you should persue it.


>         On the other hand, I am concerned about who would want to employ me wi
th
> an EP degree and what they would want me to do! (I would enjoy some
> research and component design, but circuit and system design is fun too!).
> I see many recruiters comming to campus looking for EEs, but not too many
> looking for EPs. The EP department does show an impressive list of job
> placements that they have had, though.

You need to speak to more EP's to find out what the job situation is
really like.

>         My advisor (who is currently an EP prof.) says that I should get a BS
in
> EP and then a 1 year MENG degree in EE or 2 year MS in EE. But, of course,
> he IS in the EP field so he would be likely to say this :)

An MS would certainly make you more employable, as an EE :)

1998\10\15@153903 by Andy Kunz

flavicon
face
>I'm afraid, on one hand, that if I major in EE, I will get TOO specific an
>education, without enough of the background in the physics and chemistry
>and materials science connected with it and with my other interests. EP
>claims to provide this more broad basis.

Don't worry about employ-ability at this point.  Take the more broad
education, and if you find you need to more narrowly focus in the future,
do that THEN.

Go with the EP.  You won't regret having a broader background.

Andy

==================================================================
Andy Kunz - Statistical Research, Inc. - Westfield, New Jersey USA
==================================================================

1998\10\15@205131 by mtt

flavicon
face
Sean Breheny wrote:

> Hi fellow piclisters,
>
>         For me, really the choice is between EE and Engineering Physics.

Hi Sean:

I received my B.S. in Engineering Physics, then MS and Ph.D. in Solid State
Physics(all from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign).  I have been
involved in the semiconductor industry since my graduation('81), starting from
IC-fabrication to IC-design(at the moment).

I believe EP is a very strong course, providing you with very good background.
I
would also recommend that you  take some business courses(to broaden your horizo
n).

Regards,

Bancherd(Mike) DeLong

1998\10\16@082135 by g.daniel.invent.design

flavicon
face
Sean,

your choice is easy:

Do the electrical engineering for the job security and software
protection features found in microcontrolers.

Learn the other stuff (stuff that gives you the holistic aproach to
inventing) in your spare time at library, brousing bookstores, net etc

If you design something that needs a patent, then you are designing the
wrong thing, patents are exorbitantly expensive, the maintainence fees
increase on a geometric progression, the lawyers will feast on any
disputes and countries such as China will second source your product at
a quarter of your prices.

This is why I belive (from personal experience) that it is *much* easier
to set up in electrical engineering than in other non software
professions of inovation.

The academic institutes teach what is already known, it is your personal
responsibility to learn the unknown.

regards,
Graham Daniel,
Electronic Product Enhancements.

Sean Breheny wrote:
{Quote hidden}

th
> an EP degree and what they would want me to do! (I would enjoy some
> research and component design, but circuit and system design is fun too!).
> I see many recruiters comming to campus looking for EEs, but not too many
> looking for EPs. The EP department does show an impressive list of job
> placements that they have had, though.
>         My advisor (who is currently an EP prof.) says that I should get a BS
in
> EP and then a 1 year MENG degree in EE or 2 year MS in EE. But, of course,
> he IS in the EP field so he would be likely to say this :)
>         Either way I go, I can take a rather broad set of courses, but the EE
> degree would restrict me more in this area.
>
>         SO, sorry for making this so long, but this is a VERY important decisi
on
{Quote hidden}

Graham Daniel.

1998\10\16@131631 by Sean Breheny

face picon face
I want to thank all who responded to this both privately and on the list.

I am meeting with my advisor on Tuesday to discuss this some more.

I do want to respond to one thing that Graham said, though. I don't know
about you, but even though I learn on my own very well, it helps me
emensely when I take a course such as, for example, Electricity and
Magnetism, to fill in the gaps and clarify myths that I may have believed.

I definately agree that it is not necessary to take a course, but it often
helps. For example, I learned 90% of what I know about programming on my
own through the >10 years of sitting in front of a computer and hacking
away. But, that other 10% has come from a course in an introduction to
computer programming theory here at Cornell. It opened my eyes to topics
that I never knew existed (like the theory of computability and how it
presents possible limits on artificial intelligence).

Also, even if I do major in EP, I still plan on working in electronics(my
main interest). I just would like to connect that work in electronics to
some of my broader interests, and be able to understand what is going on in
the whole system, without having to have others explain it to me. I'll give
you an example. Many times topics have come up in this list involving
interfacing electronics to mechanical systems (such as gyros). The physics
of gyros is interesting and non-trivial, and knowing about this helps me to
design interface electronics and write control software intelligently.

Besides, I like learning. Some of my favorite topics have had little
directly to do with electronics, but with the high rates at which
electronics technology is changing, who knows what it will be like in 20
years. However, it will still be based on physics.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the way I see it.

Sean


At 09:48 PM 10/16/98 +1300, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

decision
>> I must make and I think that you people can help. As you can see from my
>> signature, I am currently a sophomore engineering student with a
>> (tentative) major of EE. Well, in a couple of weeks I need to actually
>> decide on what my major will be.
>>         I have advisors here that I can ask about this, but I think that
it is
{Quote hidden}

me with
>> an EP degree and what they would want me to do! (I would enjoy some
>> research and component design, but circuit and system design is fun too!).
>> I see many recruiters comming to campus looking for EEs, but not too many
>> looking for EPs. The EP department does show an impressive list of job
>> placements that they have had, though.
>>         My advisor (who is currently an EP prof.) says that I should get
a BS in
>> EP and then a 1 year MENG degree in EE or 2 year MS in EE. But, of course,
>> he IS in the EP field so he would be likely to say this :)
>>         Either way I go, I can take a rather broad set of courses, but
the EE
>> degree would restrict me more in this area.
>>
>>         SO, sorry for making this so long, but this is a VERY important
decision
{Quote hidden}

+-------------------------------+
| Sean Breheny                  |
| Amateur Radio Callsign: KA3YXM|
| Electrical Engineering Student|
+-------------------------------+
Save lives, please look at http://www.all.org
Personal page: http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/shb7
.....shb7KILLspamspam.....cornell.edu  Phone(USA): (607) 253-0315 ICQ #: 3329174

1998\10\16@152530 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
   > I am currently a sophomore engineering student with a (tentative)
   > major of EE. Well, in a couple of weeks I need to actually decide on
   > what my major will be.

No you don't.  You CAN change your mind later, and probably still graduate
on time.  Given unlimitted funds and time, you can remain an undergraduate
for a very long time indeed...

   > For me, really the choice is between EE and Engineering Physics.
   > Engineering Physics is a combination of all the fields of
   > engineering into one, but with an emphasis on a specific area(such
   > as electronics/materials science).

Presumably it also has electives you could choose within a field of
interest, so that you could take normally EE-oriented classes as well?

   > I see many recruiters comming to campus looking for EEs, but not too
   > many looking for EPs. The EP department does show an impressive list
   > of job placements that they have had, though.

Given your description, and given some EE classes, I wouldn't be surprised
if you ended up qualified for many entry-level EE positions with either
degree (especially given that you already appear to have some background
and practical experience in microcontrollers.  You'd be surpised (maybe)
how many people get to be graduates (and expect a job) without ever having
built a "real" circuit or written a "real" pieces of software (beyond those
things that were class assignments.)

   > [afraid that] if I major in EE, I will get TOO specific an education,
   > without enough of the background in the physics and chemistry and
   > materials science connected with it and with my other interests. EP
   > claims to provide this more broad basis.Given your description

I was an EE in what was perhaps a similar program 20 years ago (wow) (UPenn
CSEE 81) - the EE classes included quite a bit of math and physics, and I
took extra classes in that area because I thought I was interested.  There
was a heady time where math, physics, and EE classes were all covering
material similar enough that I could have sworn the universe made sense.
(ie Physics E&M, EE E&M, math matrix stuff...)  I didn't have ANY materials
science (aside from a solid state EE class for semiconductor stuff.)

   > My advisor (who is currently an EP prof.) says that I should get a
   > BS in EP and then a 1 year MENG degree in EE or 2 year MS in
   > EE. But, of course, he IS in the EP field so he would say this.

It SOUNDS sorta like the EP degree is something you'd do if you were
planning on getting into a more specific post-graduate degree - something
that would be equally useful if you decided to go into IC processing
technology or bio-engineering.  It's interesting that the people most in
favor or the EP degree all seem to have advanced degrees as well.

In the end, your major doesn't really play THAT much into the direction
your career takes.  After Penn's EE program, I wound up a software
engineer, largely based on knowlege gained inn extra-ciricular activities.
Penn's Engineering department cencus questionaire asked me how I had used
my engineering degree - "engineering" wasn't one of the choices provided.
I guess I'm supposed to be in management by now (been there, done that,
didn't like it, wasn't good at it...)

BillW

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