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Why Engineering?

When you graduate with a B.S. in engineering, you will face a number of choices. The first will be whether you want to continue your education or seek work as a practicing engineer. If you decide to continue your education, you next need to decide whether you want to pursue a M.S. degree in engineering or do graduate work in another field, such as business administration, law or medicine. If you decide to find a full-time engineering position, many other opportunities and choices will await you. You should devote considerable time to understanding your options and interests early in your education. ENGR 100, Introduction to Engineering, is a course that is designed to help you determine your options as an engineer. You should register for this class your first fall at Olympic College.

Employment of Engineers--1997

Source: "Characteristics of Scientists and Engineers in the United States: 1997," Table E-2, National Science Foundation, SESTAT Database

Employment Area Number Percentage

Business/Industry

Federal Government

State/Local Government

Educational Institutions

Self-Employed

Total

1,077,600

110,900

82,700

74,000

29,100

1,374,400

78.4%

8.1%

6.0%

5.4%

2.1%

100%

Ten Reasons to Become an Engineer

Taken from: Landis, "Studying Engineering," A Road Map to a Rewarding Career 2nd Ed, Discovery Press, 2000

Job Satisfaction
It is extremely important to find a life's work that is satisfying, work that you want to do. Engineering could very well be that life's work.

Varied Opportunities
Engineering is a field that touches almost every aspect of a person's life. The day you walk up the aisle to receive your B.S. degree in engineering, you have closed no doors. There is nothing you cannot become from that time forward!

Here are some examples of people educated as engineers and the professions they chose:

  • Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Leader
  • Neil Armstrong, Astronaut
  • Eleanor Baum, Dean of Engineering
  • Chester Carlson, Inventor of Xerox Process
  • A. Scott Crossfield, X-15 Test Pilot
  • W. Edwards Deming, Father of Modern Management Practice
  • Don Louis A. Ferre', Governor of Puerto Rico
  • Herbie Hancock, Jazz Musician
  • William Hewlett, Co-founder of Hewlett Packard
  • Alfred Hitchock, Movie Director
  • Herbert Hoover, President of the United States
  • Lee Iacocca, Automotive Industry Executive
  • Tom Landry, Former Dallas Cowboy's Head Coach
  • Peter Likins, President of the University of Arizona
  • Paul MacCready, Inventor (Designer GM EV1 Electric Car)
  • John A. McCone, Director of Central Intelligence Agency
  • Robert A. Moog, Father of Synthetic Music
  • Arthur C. Nielson ,Developer of Nielsen TV Ratings
  • Ming Tsai, Restaurateur and Star of TV Cooking Show
  • Shiela Widnall, Former Secretary of the Air Force
  • Montel Williams, Syndicated Talk Show Host
  • Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia

Challenging Work
Do you like intellectual stimulation? Do you enjoy tackling challenging problems? If so, you'll get plenty of both in engineering. As an engineer you will work on challenging "open-ended" problems (ones in which there is no one "correct" solution). Your job will be to select "the best" from among several solutions that meet the required specifications.

Intellectual Development
Engineering education "exercises" your brain much the way weight-lifting or aerobics exercises your body--and the results are remarkably similar. The only difference is that physical exercise improves your body, while mental exercise improves your mind. As your engineering studies progress, therefore, your abilities to solve problems and think critically will increasingly grow stronger.

Social Impact
Just about everything engineers do benefits society in some way. Engineers develop transportation systems that help people and products move about so easily. Engineers design the buildings we live and work in. Engineers devise the systems that deliver our water and electricity, design the machinery that produces our food, and develop the medical equipment that keeps us healthy. Almost everything we use was made possible by engineers.

Financial Security
If you do become an engineer, you will be rewarded financially. Engineering graduates received more than five times as many job offers as the average for graduates in all other disciplines.

Beginning Offers to 1998/99 Graduates
Discipline Ave. Starting Salary

Engineering

Computer Science

Engineering Technology

Business

Mathematics & Sciences

Agriculture & Natural Resources

Humanities & Social Sciences

Communications

Education

$43,135

$42,339

$38,182

$34,801

$33,343

$28,351

$27,436

$26,963

$26,407

Source: "Salary Survey: A Study of 1998-1999 Beginning Offers," Volume 38, Issue 4, National Association of Colleges and Employers, 62 Highland Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18-17, Sept, 1999

Prestige
Engineers play critical, ubiquitous roles in sustaining our nation's international competitiveness, in maintaining our standard of living, in ensuring a strong national security, in improving our health, and in protecting public safety. No other profession affects our lives in so many vital, significant ways.

Professional Environment
Most new engineering graduates are hired into entry-level positions in "hi-tech" companies. While your work and status within the company may quickly change, there are certain standard characteristics of all professional engineering work environments:

  • You will be treated with respect.
  • You will be provided with adequate work space.
  • You will be given many opportunities to enhance your knowledge, skills, self-confidence, and overall ethos.
  • Your company will see to it that your engineering education and professional development continues.
  • You will be given yearly formal assessments of your performance, judged on the merits of your contributions to the company.
  • You will receive liberal benefits, typically including a retirement plan, life insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, sick leave, paid vacation and holidays, and savings or profit-sharing plans.

Understanding How Things Work
Do you know why golf balls have dimples on them? Do you understand how the loads are transmitted to the supports on a suspension bridge? Do you know what a laser is? How a computer works? When you drive on a mountain road, do you look at the guard rails and understand why they were designed the way they are? Do you know why split-level houses experience more damage in earthquakes? Do you know why we use alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC)? You will gain an understanding of how the things around you work as a part of your engineering education.

Creative Thinking
Engineering is by its very nature a creative profession. The word "engineer" comes from the same Latin word ingenium as the words "genius" and "ingenious." This etymological connection is no accident; engineers have limitless opportunities to be ingenious, inventive, and creative. In fact the book Creative Problem Solving and Engineering Design, by Lumsdaine, et al, McGraw-Hill, 1999 defines creativity as: "Playing with imagination and possibilities while interacting with ideas, people, and the environment, thus leading to new and meaningful connections and outcomes." This is just what engineers do. In fact, this definition of "creativity" could almost be a definition of "engineering."

Beyond the engineering process itself, the need for engineers to think creatively is greater now than ever before, because we are in a time when the rate of social and technological changes has greatly accelerated. Only through creativity can we cope with and adapt to these changes. If you like to question, explore, invent, discover, and create, then engineering would be an ideal profession for you.

Rev: August 26, 2013 Karen Osborn