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Can we discuss Pre-Engineering programs?


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Ds has not decided what he wants to pursue, but I can see engineering going into the mix. At this point, it would be aerospace, electrical, or computer, with aerospace being the top. However, if he continues on at that same pace for the final two years of high school, I don't think he'd be equipped enough to walk into a full engineering program without burning out. 

 

Two of the schools he is considering have pre-engineering programs with transfer ability to best state engineering schools. So, how can I determine the quality of pre-engineering programs. Does it make a difference if a school has more emphasis on other areas of engineering besides the 3 he is more interested in pursuing? Or are the pre-engineering about getting math and science skills up to speed? 

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If it's one of those transfer programs, we have that at our school.  No one really uses it, even though the faculty are very encouraging.  And even though kids enter intending to use it.

 

Kids get into a college and find they like the program they're in, even if it isn't really engineering.  Or they just want to stay with their friends or the activities that they've gotten involved in.  So they end up doing a degree in  physics or math or chemistry or computer science.

 

Many of them go on to get a master's in engineering.

 

Many graduate with their non-engineering science degree, but because they've done internships or summer research in engineering, it turns out they can get jobs in engineering anyway.  They don't have the certification, so there are some jobs that they can't get, but there seem to be plenty of jobs in industry that don't require that -- jobs that are still, technically speaking, "engineering".  And they're working alongside kids with engineering degrees.

 

I don't know what the long term employment prospects are for going this route.  I don't know if they run into problems later because they don't have that certification.  I'm only seeing what kids are getting as entry level jobs.  Although many of them do tend to stay in the fields they're in, even in the same company.  They just work their way into other jobs.

 

My daughter just started an engineering job (with a physics degree).  She's working right alongside kids with engineering degrees.  They don't seem to have any special knowledge or insight that she doesn't have.

 

If the goal is to go on to grad school, having an engineering degree over a physics degree is probably no special advantage.

 

However, if the student is really ONLY interested in engineering, one has to wonder if they'd be happy doing another major for 4 years.  The math will be about the same with a physics degree.  However, a student could get away with less math for a chem degree at many colleges (it's not encouraged, but it's possible).

 

The first 2 years of an engineering program tend to be a lot of math, physics, and chemistry.  There is also a kind of standard engineering course in statics and mechanics, and a good program would probably include a CAD type course early on.  So it likely won't matter too much if there's a particular emphasis in the pre-engineering program.  There's just a set of classes everyone has to take those 1st 2 years that aren't particularly divergent.  There might be some differences -- if he's wanting to do electrical engineering, he'd probably want to take electronics, for example.  (However, I'd guess that was something any well rounded engineer would want to have taken, even if it isn't strictly required for a particular area.)

 

However, those things could be picked up later, particularly if the student needs to get up to speed on math.  If he's not entering being able to walk into a calc course, he's going to be behind -- that will be true whether he starts at the school with the transfer program or goes right to the engineering school from the start.  That will add a year to his college.  He might be able to get out in 4 years if he can use summer school to take classes, but that would likely mean he won't have internship experience, which is probably the most important thing he can be doing with his summers.

 

Note that he doesn't need to have DONE calculus before college.  He just needs to be ready to start it.

 

 

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Bottom line: I don't think it matters that much which he chooses.  He should pick the one that fits him best in terms of what academic support he'll be getting.  And cost.  And what internships might be available.  And whether there are extracurriculars that really excite him.  And where he'll be living.

 

Early on, everyone's taking the same classes anyway -- the basic stuff like first year math and science.

 

What does he need to finish in high school before he goes to college?  How is it going to burn him out?

 

I say this as the mother of a child who kind of lazed around in high school chem, and didn't bother with high school physics.  She just jumped right into the college version. 

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Many of the pre-engineering programs are 2-3 in nature.  Engineering requirements often limit classes outside of the engineering track. There are disadvantages for students starting at a non-engineering college.  While students at a LAC or non-engineering school can take math, physics and chemistry, basic intro courses for engineers (material science, computer courses) may be lacking.

 

I think one of the main disadvantages to starting at a non-engineering school is missing out in developing early a study group of like minded engineers.  Many engineering students really benefit from this sort of peer to peer work.

 

Regarding electrical and computer engineering: Often programs are hardware based.  If your son is interested in software engineering, he needs to research programs carefully.  The Professional Engineering exam only introduced a software engineering exam last year.  (My husband just passed this licensure exam. His degrees are not in engineering but mathematics.  By being a PE, he is now an official "engineer".)

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If it's one of those transfer programs, we have that at our school.  No one really uses it, even though the faculty are very encouraging.  And even though kids enter intending to use it.

 

Kids get into a college and find they like the program they're in, even if it isn't really engineering.  Or they just want to stay with their friends or the activities that they've gotten involved in.  So they end up doing a degree in  physics or math or chemistry or computer science.

 

 

The first 2 years of an engineering program tend to be a lot of math, physics, and chemistry.  There is also a kind of standard engineering course in statics and mechanics, and a good program would probably include a CAD type course early on.  So it likely won't matter too much if there's a particular emphasis in the pre-engineering program.  There's just a set of classes everyone has to take those 1st 2 years that aren't particularly divergent.  There might be some differences -- if he's wanting to do electrical engineering, he'd probably want to take electronics, for example.  (However, I'd guess that was something any well rounded engineer would want to have taken, even if it isn't strictly required for a particular area.)

 

However, those things could be picked up later, particularly if the student needs to get up to speed on math.  If he's not entering being able to walk into a calc course, he's going to be behind -- that will be true whether he starts at the school with the transfer program or goes right to the engineering school from the start.  That will add a year to his college.  He might be able to get out in 4 years if he can use summer school to take classes, but that would likely mean he won't have internship experience, which is probably the most important thing he can be doing with his summers.

 

Note that he doesn't need to have DONE calculus before college.  He just needs to be ready to start it.

 

He'll have some exposure to Calculus if not a whole course before college. 

 

The pre-engineering programs for the schools he is considering don't have aerospace engineering, and I assuming (which means I could be wrong) wouldn't have internship opportunities of that nature. 

 

Plus the engineering school he is considering is pretty much just engineering. If he started at another school and decided engineering isn't for him, then he'd have the other majors available right there. 

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Bottom line: I don't think it matters that much which he chooses.  He should pick the one that fits him best in terms of what academic support he'll be getting.  And cost.  And what internships might be available.  And whether there are extracurriculars that really excite him.  And where he'll be living.

 

Early on, everyone's taking the same classes anyway -- the basic stuff like first year math and science.

 

What does he need to finish in high school before he goes to college?  How is it going to burn him out?

 

I say this as the mother of a child who kind of lazed around in high school chem, and didn't bother with high school physics.  She just jumped right into the college version. 

 

I addressed first part in my previous post. Right now we're on pace to have him prepared for college, but because of our life situation he won't have a lot of classroom experience or many outside classes. Jumping into 17 or 18 hours at an intense engineering school vs. 14 or 15 at the laid-back-state-u might make a difference to his success. He tends to ease into some situations better, sometimes he jumps in the deep end. 

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Many of the pre-engineering programs are 2-3 in nature.  Engineering requirements often limit classes outside of the engineering track. There are disadvantages for students starting at a non-engineering college.  While students at a LAC or non-engineering school can take math, physics and chemistry, basic intro courses for engineers (material science, computer courses) may be lacking.

 

I think one of the main disadvantages to starting at a non-engineering school is missing out in developing early a study group of like minded engineers.  Many engineering students really benefit from this sort of peer to peer work.

 

Regarding electrical and computer engineering: Often programs are hardware based.  If your son is interested in software engineering, he needs to research programs carefully.  The Professional Engineering exam only introduced a software engineering exam last year.  (My husband just passed this licensure exam. His degrees are not in engineering but mathematics.  By being a PE, he is now an official "engineer".)

 

These are some of the concerns I would have.

 

He like programming and software development, but he's also interested in hardware aspect. 

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These are some of the concerns I would have.

 

He like programming and software development, but he's also interested in hardware aspect. 

 

This is so tricky.  Some students glide right into university programs as though they were born to live and breathe the challenge.  Others need some hand holding.  You don't really know how a kid will respond.  What springs to mind is Nan's advice that your 8th grader is not your sixteen year old. Similarly, your sixteen year old is not your nineteen year old.

 

If I were you, I would have your son tour the various programs, look at the science labs, try to spend a day tagging along with a student.  Let him take ownership of the decision and then support him.

 

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You might want to look into the engineering school's Freshman Engineering Program (go to school website and put into search) and see what support is offered for incoming freshmen who are not yet decided upon a specific engineering major. During freshman year, all engineering students would have a certain set of coursework they have to complete, irrespective of specific major (chem, math, some humanities).

I could see a benefit in starting out with together with all the other students who are in the same boat, as Jane mentioned.

 

 

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This is so tricky.  Some students glide right into university programs as though they were born to live and breathe the challenge.  Others need some hand holding.  You don't really know how a kid will respond.  What springs to mind is Nan's advice that your 8th grader is not your sixteen year old. Similarly, your sixteen year old is not your nineteen year old.

 

If I were you, I would have your son tour the various programs, look at the science labs, try to spend a day tagging along with a student.  Let him take ownership of the decision and then support him.

 

 

That's a good idea. I need to figure out how to do that while I'm in school now too. 

 

I keep Nan's advice near, and part of me knows ds just hasn't had the opportunities other kids have. We've been dealing with life crises for the last few years, which has lost us probably 6 months worth of academic work overall, and left no time or money for his pursuits. 

 

He's so stoic by nature, and I think he'll be a stronger person in the long run, but stress has taken an emotional toll on both of us. 

 

 

You might want to look into the engineering school's Freshman Engineering Program (go to school website and put into search) and see what support is offered for incoming freshmen who are not yet decided upon a specific engineering major. During freshman year, all engineering students would have a certain set of coursework they have to complete, irrespective of specific major (chem, math, some humanities).

I could see a benefit in starting out with together with all the other students who are in the same boat, as Jane mentioned.

 

I'll do that. Thank you. 

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The pre-engineering programs for the schools he is considering don't have aerospace engineering, and I assuming (which means I could be wrong) wouldn't have internship opportunities of that nature. 

This isn't necessarily true.  There are a lot of summer research opportunities that students can apply to:

 

http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/list_result.jsp?unitid=10006

 

A lot of these were specifically created because kids at small colleges didn't have research opportunities in a lot of fields.

 

So if the school is everything he's dreamed of otherwise, I wouldn't count it out.

 

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I keep Nan's advice near, and part of me knows ds just hasn't had the opportunities other kids have. We've been dealing with life crises for the last few years, which has lost us probably 6 months worth of academic work overall, and left no time or money for his pursuits. 

 

He's so stoic by nature, and I think he'll be a stronger person in the long run, but stress has taken an emotional toll on both of us. 

 

You know, by the time they all graduate from college, it kind of evens out.

 

Some kids come in looking so strong, because of all their prior experience.  And other kids look like they're just going to fall apart because they haven't had calc, and previous research before college, and this that and the other thing.

 

The ones who have the interest and the drive will get through, no matter what they did beforehand. Previous experience doesn't really matter all that much.  A strong math background before calc and decent reading and writing skills are what really matter.  And English -- but we've had some kids who came in barely speaking English who made it through and got into grad school.

 

In our physics dept, we've had kids who had only gotten through Alg 2 in high school -- and they're graduating and getting jobs.  We also have a lot of kids who have done all sorts of college before they ever got here - and AP Calc and Chem and all that.  They might graduate a year early, but they aren't necessarily doing better in the long run.

 

Look forward, not back.  He's got his whole life to make up for the 6 months he didn't get anything done.  And college is filled with kids who are on their second and third chances.

 

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I addressed first part in my previous post. Right now we're on pace to have him prepared for college, but because of our life situation he won't have a lot of classroom experience or many outside classes. Jumping into 17 or 18 hours at an intense engineering school vs. 14 or 15 at the laid-back-state-u might make a difference to his success. He tends to ease into some situations better, sometimes he jumps in the deep end. 

 

Yeah.  I hear you.

 

It's so hard to know.

 

I'd look at the transfer policies.  If you know he can transfer back down to the more laid back option with credits intact, it gives him more cushion for taking the plunge into the harder track, if he decides that what he wants to do.

 

Then the only risk is that he might bomb a course and be set back a semester.

 

On a personal note, my daughter decided not to go with the intense engineering program because she wanted to do things in music and theater and film.  There would have been no time if she'd gone the classic engineering route -- also the college she was considering just didnt' have theater or film.

 

I think she's at peace with this decision.  She just started a job which might morph into her dream job (but it is just an entry level position at the moment).  She's starting alongside a guy who just graduated out of the program she didn't do.  She can't see that he knows any more than she does for this position.  He might know other stuff, but it isn't relevant for what she wants to do.

 

If she decides to go to grad school, she's not going to have any trouble getting in.  She's got really good references from people who know her really well, because she went to a small laid back college with small classes and did some outside research as well.  Course, the small laid back college also has some internationally renowned faculty...  So their letters are going to count for a lot. 

 

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Also, do take high school Physics.  Every tech school we've gone to has told students that don't have Physics offered at their private high school to take it over the summer...they feel students do much better with that intro.

This is true of most students. And I'd really encourage it too.

 

However, if you can't, for some reason, get around to this, don't be discouraged. My daughter and I are both examples of people who skipped high school physics and went straight into the college version. She did great (she studied). I did fine-ish, although I'd have done a lot better if I hadn't been encumbered by the fear that everyone else in the class was so much smarter than me because they'd already had physics in high school.

 

In my daughter's class, a lot of the kids had not only had high school physics, but had taken the AP test. That college requires a 5 to place out of anything, so many of these kids had probably scored in the 3-4 range. Funny thing was, they apparently knew nothing about physics. At all. (And the school was correct in not giving them credit)

 

Makes one wonder a little about AP credit for the sciences.

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