“Engineering is about creativity, it’s provides the ability to create something new” stated Mr. David Beatson, Archmere parent and general manager of Thorlabs Quantum Electronics. “It’s about solving problems, tackling challenges, where you take that is up to you,” Dr. Jenni Buckely from University of Delaware’s Engineering Department chimed in. Lauren Ryan ’11, a mechanical engineering major at Drexel, provided a similar twist to her motivation to want to become an engineer, “I like learning different sciences and applying the to solving problems.”
Other common themes shared at Archmere’s Why Engineering night was the wide breadth of engineering fields that are available, that engineering opens doors in numerous, while challenging and requiring strong science and math skills there are several avenues available to enter engineering programs, and those that enjoy problem solving may desire to explore the engineering field. Our panel was also very agreeable that experiences in industry while in college will provide a leg up on the competition for employment and that the same is true of high school students who hope to gain admission to a strong engineering program. “You need to start building your network now,” said Matt Hyde from the Lafayette admission office. Mr. Beatson agreed and shared that while seniors are always welcome to visit him for senior career experience day, it is important to gain an understanding of the field as early as possible, perhaps prior to the senior career opportunity.
Kathleen Voss from the Georgia Tech (GT) admission office boasted that GT is the #1 producer of women and minority engineers in the country and 99% of their graduates will land jobs with an average starting salary of $61,000. She shared that while the number of women in engineering professions is improving the field is still a male dominated vocation with Computer and Mechanical engineering fields having an underwhelming 11% female numbers nationally. Georgia Tech boasts eight engineering programs, including Aerospace engineering, “which is just cool,” said Kathleen. Kathleen also shared the GT wants to see the most challenging curriculum possible when reviewing applicants for admission, that they are looking for the entire package and while they do not read applications differently by major, that could change.
Matt Hyde shared that a-third of their 2,400 students study engineering and do so completing the same liberal arts core as all non-engineering majors. “It provides connections between engineering and the arts and sciences to more knowledge to solve problems. Your generation of engineers will be solving the problems that challenge us in the year 2060!”
Other useful information provided:
- Most engineering programs will give you your first year, or more, to decide what field of engineering you’d like to enter. While engineers all have similar characteristics of being strong problem solvers and creative people, their interests in a particular field or using a certain disciplines to solve problems will lead them to a particular major.
- Mechanical Engineering is the most broad.
- Chemical Engineering is the highest paying.
- Google and Facebook will hire engineers because of their creativity.
- To enter a management field in engineering you will need a Masters or PhD.
Mr. Beatson shared that many newly employed engineers are surprised to find out that they will need to be able to work with costumers. And that part of creating a product is working with a vendor to make a concept a reality. He stated that this is why industry experience, like co-ops or internships, is important in college. He also shared that he asks all job applicants “Why is a manhole cover round?” when interviewing them for a position. “I want to hear or watch the candidate walk thru his/her reasoning of their answer.” He’s rarely received the correct answer over his 25 years of interviewing new college graduates! The answer: A round object is the only object which cannot fall thru itself. All other shapes can be oriented in a way which can fall thru their own shape thus potentially ending up at the bottom of the hole.
Final important takeaways from the program for Archmere students:
- It is important to challenge yourself with the most rigorous math and science course load in order to prepare for a college engineering program.
- You do not need to know what type of engineering you need to study while in high school, but experiences that will help you come to this conclusion like shadowing opportunities, summer enrichment opportunities, and conversations with working engineers is a good idea.
- Engineering is a very strong job market.
- Engineering is not a narrowly focused field.
Some additional information about different types of engineering programs and the types of classes required (courtesy of Lehigh University):