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Discussion in 'Electrical Engineering' started by Romy Singh, Jun 13, 2004.

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  1. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    Hello All,

    Having a bit of a dilemma with my career/education, I just wanted some input
    from people who have been in the industry longer than me, (which is probably
    everybody here). I've been reading this newsgroup for many years, and have
    already read many many posts in the archives, so please be patient if I just
    don't "get it".

    I'm 24, graduated as a EE technologist 2 years ago (I'm in Canada). I worked
    as an electrician before I started college, and continued throughout school,
    up until this February (about 5 yrs in total). At that time I got a job as
    an Applications Specialist for a German valve manufacturer, I also do the IT
    administration duties there. The company is great, nice people, laid back,
    decent benefits, but not the greatest pay. I've only been there for 4 months
    so I don't expect to be "the man" there just as yet.

    My longer term goal is to work in the automation/robotics industry, or
    something along the lines of control systems manager/plant operations
    manager. I know people don't go into engineering for the money, I didn't,
    but it does play a factor in day to day life, so a comfortable life is

    As mentioned earlier, I am an engineering technologist, not a degreed
    engineer. Recently I have thought about going back to school to get an
    engineering degree in either electrical or mechatronics, (which is what I
    really have an interest in. My question is whether taking (min.) four years
    out of my life at this point will really be worth it in the end. What is
    more important, a 29 yr old with a degree but no experience, or a 29 yr old
    technologist with 4-5 years of experience?

    This post is already getting a bit on the long side, so I'll continue to
    provide more info as the posts go on.
    Any input is appreciated, opinions, advice, etc. good or bad.

  2. Bob Peterson

    Bob Peterson Guest

    Most companies prefer someone with good experience to someone with a degree.
    Having said that, I suspect that the PE mafia is going to eventually make it
    very tough on non-PEs to get any kind of work in anything remotely involving
    something that might be considered engineering so at your age you really
    should give serious consideration to doing whatever it takes to get your PE,
    even if it means putting your life on hold.
  3. *

    * Guest

    Get a BSEE, well worth it, your pay will be more than doubled, and over your
    you should make over $1 million (honest - but most goes to house, cars,
    babies taxes etc)
    lots of doors open.
    Super tech has a glass ceiling, most never get past.
    Good luck!
    -from a MSEE, manager of many groups of EEs, at first a hands on tech for 6
  4. K Williams

    K Williams Guest

    I'd try to get into a MSEE program, if you can handle it. A MS
    wipes out any previous degree and should only take a couple of
    years, giving you the best of both worlds. IMO, most companies
    that do what you want to do are going to look seriously at the
    degree (the HR types have their standards). I know where I work
    even a BSEET degree gets you a glorified technician position (fixes
    broken machines on the manufacturing floor). It's possible to move
    from there, but *very* difficult.
    Again, try to get into a MSEE program. You might have to take a few
    additional courses, but it should be far easier (and less time)
    than starting over, if anyone will even let you. BS programs don't
    seem to like to admit people with other BS degrees.
    Go for the MSEE degree, if that's what you want to do. There is a
    chance your employer will pay the freight too (though it will take
    longer, obviously).
  5. Guest


    As a person who advanced their education when they saw they were not
    going where they wanted fast enough (a long time ago), I would say you
    have several things going for you:

    First you have identified what you would most like to do, and that is
    something a lot of people never achieve. Having found what you like to
    do will truly enable you to "Never work another day in your life." That
    is the saying about finding an occupation that you enjoy doing, versus
    simply doing it for a living. Follow what you enjoy doing, and my guess
    is you will excel at it and the money will follow you because of the
    skill level you achieve.

    It is sometimes unfair that a person with real skill does not get a
    chance without some degree to open the door. That is simply life. Once
    you enter that door and make a name for yourself, people are willing to
    overlook your lack of formal education. But you must get the door to
    open first. Get your degree.

    If you have identified a company and job that you would love to
    perform, go there and ask them what you must do to qualify for that job.
    Not only will you learn what you must do, but you will impress the
    company with your willingness to do what you must to qualify. Who
    knows, a job may be waiting for you when you graduate?

    I will not go into detail about my experiences, except to say I
    realized very early that I needed to acquire more education. That
    education allowed me to do what I loved and work for a large company
    where I hired hundreds of electronic technicians and retire at age 49.
    Not bad, not bad at all! Good luck.
  6. Jaja

    Jaja Guest

    I'm at a similar crossroads in my career. I already have a degree in
    electronics engineering and control systems, but never really worked in
    soimething related to it. Where i'm from (Chile) there are not many
    interesting jobs in this field, and when i was offered one two years ago
    as a control systems engineer for the Gemini telescope, i was already
    working as an engineering manager and thought that i would be better off
    continuing on that path.

    The truth is that i never felt comfortable in the business world and
    although i was making good money i wasn't achieving my best. After these
    years i 've realized that what i really like is to work in control
    systems and now i'm thinking about going back to school to get a masters
    or phd in to improve my chances of getting an interesting job (and also
    having fun learning, of course). Any suggestions?

    "" touched a nerve with his/her posting. Working on
    what you really enjoy is the way to go.
  7. Guest

    By Control systems engineer, I would assume this would include working
    on automation systems? If this is the case, just about any large
    manufacturing plant has items like those to design and control.
    Automobile, petroleum, food processing, you name it. This is why the
    level of productivity has consistently risen in recent years.

    If this is the type of work you would prefer, perhaps you are limiting
    your potential employers because you fear there is no such applications
    of your field??
  8. mee

    mee Guest

    I'm an EE, and I work alongside a many technologists in my engineering dept
    (located in ont). They hold the same job titles as other EEs and they get
    paid the same. As long as the person is bright and, most importantly, has
    the right experience, he can be promoted here. I think it's probably the
    same in most places.

    You might be shooting yourself in the foot if you go for the degree, but
    taking extra college courses to fill in the your cracks might put you up
  9. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    Thanks for the reply. Regardless of what I do, I WILL be taking some sort of
    classes, even if it's only part-time, which at the very least will be either
    some computer or mechatronics courses. I see you're in Ontario, When I was
    looking for a job, I found it a little difficult finding a good interesting
    job which didn't require a degree. I'm in the GTA and it just seems flooded
    with engineers, even people who don't like it are doing it. Out of
    curiousity, whereabouts (city?) do you work, (you don't need to mention the
    company if you don't wish to).

    Thanks for the uplifting reply. I'm not one to judge myself, but in the two
    "real" jobs I've had I've seemed to make a name for myself and earn the
    respect of others. However trying to prove that in an interview is almost

  10. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    Thanks Bob,

    I have been putting some very serious thought into going back to school.
    I've been talking to many people, and even decided to ask here as I would
    get a fair and unbiased opinion. As you can expect, after just being in my
    very first engineering position, it isn't an easy decision to just walk out
    and go back to school for another 4 years, only to face the "no job, no
    experience" thing again. Your comments, as well as everybody else's will
    play a factor in my decision, so thanks to everybody who has taken the time
    to give me some feedback, I look forward to receiving more soon.

  11. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    Good advice, I'll be sure to keep that in mind.
  12. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    Well, I wanted out from the electrician job not because I didn't like it,
    (the guys I worked with made it fun), but because I just wasn't challanged
    enough, and I also wanted to put my eduaction to work a little bit more.

    As for the cost, going back to school full-time will put me out of pocket
    about $250,000 once it's all said and done. I'm not so much worried about
    the money (lost income, tuition, etc.) but more worried about any real
    benefit in the end. No form of education is a waste, but who knows if I'll
    even be interested in doing engineering when I'm done, or for very long. t
    seems like very few people actually do what they want, and everybody seems
    to be changing jobs every 5 years.

  13. K Williams

    K Williams Guest

    Dunno. A $megabuck over 30-40 years isn't a lot these days (that's
    only $30K/year!). I look at the costs of college these days, and
    I'm not convinced it's a financially sound investment, even at a
    two-mill lifetime earnings. Certainly better is out there. I've
    made far more than a million in today's dollars. OTOH, I only
    spent a small fraction of today's education costs (and I paid out
    of my pocket, something that I see as virtually impossible today).

    In short, if you're an engineer, go for it. If not, do the
    "plumbing" thing.
    ....from a thirty-year BSEE engineer. Management? ptooie! I didn't
    become an engineer to babysit others.
  14. Guest

    As for the cost, going back to school full-time will put me out of pocket
    Romy .....Im 46 and face the same dilemma you are

    I never went to collge.....only finished high school.
    Believe me that was probably a mistake. Like others
    have said a college degree doesn't guarantee you
    success.... but it does open more "doors"

    Having said that Ive contemplated going back to school
    myself and slowly getting a degree of some sort over
    many years time. Id have to do it over 10 yrs or i must work full time and go to school both.

    Anyway.....Ive often wondered if it would "pay back '
    at my age. Ive also wondered what degree I would get.
    I mean Im just not sure if id get into the tech areas
    nowdays. I think id be more inclined into getting into
    the health field or maybe a general business degree
    with a minor in computers
  15. mee

    mee Guest

    Well, now that I think about it some more - I wouldn't rule out getting that
    degree at your age. By studying at a large school such as UofT, you could
    condense the study period into 2 or 3 years by taking classes all
  16. Romy Singh

    Romy Singh Guest

    I haven't ruled it out yet. I sent my transcripts to the University of
    Waterloo to see if I can get any credit towards the degree, (or if I can
    even get accepted at all). Lakehead University also has a program which
    allows technologists to continue studying there for an additional 2.5 years
    and earn a B. Eng out of it. But I haven't heard many good things about

    I've thought about going to school year-round to shorten the length of time.
    I'll have to take a look at the courses a bit more to see how the
    pre-requisites work. I'm still a little confused as to how much all this
    will really benefit me, especially because I'm not really into ASIC,
    communications, programming etc which is seems to be what most EE programs
    are all about these days. I like microcontrollers and all, but I like it as
    a hobby, not too sure I'd like to do it all day, everyday.

    Thanks again,
  17. Guest

    Most of

    Why not?
  18. K Williams

    K Williams Guest

    I fear that you may not like "electronics" any better. Greener
    grass, and all that.
    You may be independently wealthy, but you're a rare breed. Most of
    us look at an education as an investment. I'm starting to believe
    it's not a good one.
    Nonsense! There are only so many "history professorships"
    available. Higher education is an investment. If you're rich
    enough that you can throw a quarter-of-a-megabuck away, perhaps you
    should do what you're doing for a couple of more years and then
    retire to a yacht in the South-Pacific.
    I've changed jobs about ever five years, but have had the same
    employer for thirty. Would I make the same decisions in today's
    climate, good grief no!
  19. John Gilmer

    John Gilmer Guest

    For folks to pick and choose education is a pretty good investment.

    The issue is clouded by that fact that smart folks without formal education
    often do quite well.

    Bill Gate$ was a college dropout.

    Most of the "robber barons" on the 19th and early 20th century didn't even
    finish what would be called high school today.

    But education (in the right field, not just a degree in "liberal arts") will
    just about guarantee you a comfortable living working in an air conditioned
    office (if that's what you want.)

    Without the education, you are on your own.
  20. K Williams

    K Williams Guest

    Take four years earning potential and a hundred thousand dollars.
    plus all interest, against one of the trades. I'm not so sure
    college is a wise financial choice, these days. It was thirty
    years ago, but I'm not so convinced it is today.

    Of course if it's what you *want* to do, that's a different thing.
    Some people really want to be music history majors too. ;-)
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