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chesirecat
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02 Jan 2007, 3:38 pm

I'm thinking of going into engineering for university next year. Specifically mechanical, mechatronics or physics engineering. I'm a programmer as a hobby, but don't want to be a comp/software engineer. Is anyone here in any of these fields? Can you tell me about your experiences? Does it require a lot of socializing compared to other disciplines of engineering(ie.is it a good job for people with AS)? Thanks



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03 Jan 2007, 11:14 am

I don't know. Engineering does take some social skills such as those required to communicate with people outside of your profession and to work as a team, but really, there are few jobs that don't. I think that possibly engineering might take less social skills than other jobs but I cannot be certain. I think it might be a good path though, as compared to other degrees, engineers get paid more and really, I cannot think of a major that leads to a job without much worry about social interaction. I think that engineers are known for having less social skills on average anyway so you might still be somewhat fine, and I would go for it as engineering is known to be a hard major that provides or signals the existence of strong thinking and technical skills.



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04 Jan 2007, 11:07 pm

chesirecat wrote:
I'm thinking of going into engineering for university next year. Specifically mechanical, mechatronics or physics engineering. I'm a programmer as a hobby, but don't want to be a comp/software engineer. Is anyone here in any of these fields? Can you tell me about your experiences? Does it require a lot of socializing compared to other disciplines of engineering(ie.is it a good job for people with AS)? Thanks


I considered computer engineering as a major before switching to computer science. (I did so because I didn't want to take the required amount of Chemistry, not because I didn't like the basic material covered by a computer engineering major.) A computer science major is a lot of work, but an engineering major, such as computer engineering, requires even more work. It's not uncommon for an engineering student to finish their Bachelor's degree in engineering in five years instead of the usual four. Also, one must be reasonably good at math, especially Calculus, to fulfill the mathematics requirements of an engineering major. Some of the engineering students I've met at my college, where the engineering department is the most prominent, are of the cocky, Air Force pilot type, while others are of the awkward or socially inept type; but most are average in terms of their personality (they don't seem like they would have Asperger's.) For an engineering major, unlike a business-related major, excellent social skills are probably not a "must have" asset. Some colleges require all students or, as in mine, students in specific departments to take a speech class or a technical writing class.

Temple Grandin, a well-known writer about autism who has high-functioning autism herself, lists engineering as a good field for individuals who are on the autism spectrum, such as those with Asperger's. She lists also computer science.



cheesecheese
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08 Jan 2007, 1:34 pm

I'm also looking at starting an engineering degree this year.
If you punch 'asperger' and 'engineering' into a search engine you get plenty of reasons why it's a great job for the aspies.



yesplease
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09 Jan 2007, 4:10 am

I found engineering incredibly boring, bounced between three schools at my uni, and ended up in math. Maybe get a BS in both? Grad schools absolutely love math/whatever majors!



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10 Jan 2007, 12:02 pm

yesplease wrote:
I found engineering incredibly boring, bounced between three schools at my uni, and ended up in math. Maybe get a BS in both? Grad schools absolutely love math/whatever majors!

A math and engineering double major might be tough due to the high requirements for engineering and the fact that doing both would be a LOT of math. As well, engineers typically aren't considered weak on math anyway as they almost get math minors at most schools and their classes are based on loads of math so the math/engineering major would not gain as much as a math/whatever else major, although it would still help them for further studies. I think at my school getting enough math for a math major would require 15 additional hours, which is more than most engineers get allowed as electives, so I know I won't double major.



yesplease
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10 Jan 2007, 3:06 pm

Well, from my experience, engineering had minimal math, and what was there was very superficial. This really turned me off of it since most of what we did felt like busy work, which is why I went to math, I had a gentleman with a Phd in ChemE, as well as a gentleman with a MS in EE in my analysis classes, so if someone were to graduate with good grades in both fields, they would surely find a graduate position if they wanted it.



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10 Jan 2007, 11:39 pm

yesplease wrote:
Well, from my experience, engineering had minimal math, and what was there was very superficial. This really turned me off of it since most of what we did felt like busy work, which is why I went to math, I had a gentleman with a Phd in ChemE, as well as a gentleman with a MS in EE in my analysis classes, so if someone were to graduate with good grades in both fields, they would surely find a graduate position if they wanted it.

Many engineering degrees require 5 or 6 math classes. The only thing higher than engineering in terms of a math load besides math of course, is physics. Based upon that, it is true that engineering has a higher required load of math courses than that of most fields and such is greater than "minimal". Not only that but a lot of engineering courses require a great use of mathematical equations. The only people who could criticize engineering for being light on math are the people who are extremely zealous about mathematics, and those people would not likely be satisfied by anything BUT a math degree(I do think you are one of those). I am not going to deny that engineering has annoying labs but that does not mean it is not largely mathematically rigorous, at least compared to almost every other field of study. I also will not deny that having a math and engineering double major is undesirable, but rather that it tends to be undesirable in regards to costs vs benefits. To get the math degree requires an extra semester of work at many schools and most people would find this arrangement to be negative because such would hold them back from their futures, the semester that they might spend getting the math degree they could also spend in the actual engineering grad school. As well, our initial poster has shown no desire to get into grad school, they have shown more interest in getting employment after school which does not require the math background and getting that math major may not pay off for them considering that they give up tuition, book costs, and that addition 10+k that they would have gotten from going into the workforce.



yesplease
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11 Jan 2007, 9:37 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Based upon that, it is true that engineering has a higher required load of math courses than that of most fields and such is greater than "minimal".


The amount of math in *E is minimal because it has no depth. There are few poofs, and the equations used to describe physical laws can be memorized with little though. Upper division mathematics is nice because it requires the formulation of proofs which lends itself to *E because the student can then see how these laws governing various process were formulated. Instead of just regurgitating rote information.

Awesomelyglorous wrote:
Not only that but a lot of engineering courses require a great use of mathematical equations. The only people who could criticize engineering for being light on math are the people who are extremely zealous about mathematics, and those people would not likely be satisfied by anything BUT a math degree(I do think you are one of those).


That, and those who are doing graduate level engineering. ;)
You can think what you want of me, but most engineering programs are nothing more than off the job training imo. If I wanted that I'd go to a technical college like Devry.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I also will not deny that having a math and engineering double major is undesirable, but rather that it tends to be undesirable in regards to costs vs benefits. To get the math degree requires an extra semester of work at many schools and most people would find this arrangement to be negative because such would hold them back from their futures, the semester that they might spend getting the math degree they could also spend in the actual engineering grad school.


Have you gone to college? Most base cost on attendance as opposed to units taken. If a student can fit an extra class in every semester, they'll probably be able to get both degrees with little trouble. As for grad school, most students need something that distinguishes them from others, and a degree in applied math will definitely do that. I'd say that even taking an extra semester to get the extra degree is worthwhile given how much it increases the chances of getting accepted or employed.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
As well, our initial poster has shown no desire to get into grad school, they have shown more interest in getting employment after school which does not require the math background and getting that math major may not pay off for them considering that they give up tuition, book costs, and that addition 10+k that they would have gotten from going into the workforce.


I was simply relating my experience with *E to the poster and suggesting a possible course of action with possible benefits. There are no hard and fast rules for higher education, but the more you know, the better off in grad school/the job market you generally are.



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11 Jan 2007, 10:52 pm

yesplease wrote:
The amount of math in *E is minimal because it has no depth. There are few poofs, and the equations used to describe physical laws can be memorized with little though. Upper division mathematics is nice because it requires the formulation of proofs which lends itself to *E because the student can then see how these laws governing various process were formulated. Instead of just regurgitating rote information.
Right, and upper division mathematics is above minimal and above what most people desire. The people who want upper division mathematics are those who love math, those who don't necessarily want it would consider engineering heavy on mathematics.

Awesomelyglorous wrote:
That, and those who are doing graduate level engineering. ;)
You can think what you want of me, but most engineering programs are nothing more than off the job training imo. If I wanted that I'd go to a technical college like Devry.
Are you in engineering grad school? I am not denying that more math would be useful in the future, but would it be useful enough for an extra semester? As well, I am not going to deny that engineering programs are a lot like job training, most engineers are going into the fields for jobs. If I viewed Devry as a good deal I would go into it.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Have you gone to college? Most base cost on attendance as opposed to units taken. If a student can fit an extra class in every semester, they'll probably be able to get both degrees with little trouble. As for grad school, most students need something that distinguishes them from others, and a degree in applied math will definitely do that. I'd say that even taking an extra semester to get the extra degree is worthwhile given how much it increases the chances of getting accepted or employed.
I am in college right now and I have looked at my degree sheet. I could definitely not get a math major in during the time that I am at college. Some people might, and I suppose it really depends on what is available to be taken. It really depends on what grad school they aim for and what grades they have. I would probably argue that it really wouldn't be enough for getting employed and for getting accepted and that anyone in engineering should look into those BS+1 MS degrees which usually look at GPA as the end all because such a program would be cheaper, more time efficient and still get one's MS. Employability could probably be boosted by other things as well. A math minor would probably be sufficient as the extra semester is costly, an internship program instead might be better.
Quote:
I was simply relating my experience with *E to the poster and suggesting a possible course of action with possible benefits. There are no hard and fast rules for higher education, but the more you know, the better off in grad school/the job market you generally are.

Of course, but it really depends on where you want to apply your abilities, being that the original poster said they did programming they might like a comp sci minor more and that would help their employability as well. I just think that your love of math could be a part of this. I do not deny the importance of math though to any great extent. I think that high math capabilities are definitely an important thing, they just must be valued against other things. Also, I might possibly be a bit more argumentative than other people here so you'll definitely have to forgive me for that. :)



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11 Jan 2007, 11:07 pm

Speaking as an electronics engineer, well, you won't require many social skills, unless you'll be working on sales (which I suppose is a really bad choice for someone with Asperger) or your boss decides to advance your career and take you with him to management meetings. Usually you'll only have to deal with small groups of people (say, around 3 at a time), and they'll be listening to what you'll have to say. At most, you'll have to speak in front of an audience, but again, they'll be listening to you - you'll be 'broadcasting' rather than 'communicating'. You won't be isolated in a vault somewhere, but you won't have to deal with crowds either (unless you want to, of course).

As for the studies, well, it's 5 years with lots of advanced math and physics, and you'll actually use them applied to real-life problems. Since this isn't high school anymore. you shouldn't have any problems dealing with your classmates (unless there's a gun nut among them and you get into a discussion with him, or something like that - hey, it can happen), and if you have a high IQ and/or get high scores on the tests, they will even come to you looking for your help. The worst that can happen is that you get to study in a group for the exams on somebody's house, which isn't a good idea IMO (I know people who did that and instead of studying ended up playing guitar, singing and drinking beer - and of course, they all got really, really low grades on the exam the next day) - better meet at the library and study there, exchange your class notes, impressions, ways to solve a problem - in essence, you'll be doing almost the same thing you'll later do at work. You'll have plenty of time for beer, parties, sports and/or sex some other day when you don't have to study, but not those days. And always pay attention in class and grasp the meaning of what the teacher is telling you, that way, when the exams come, you won't have to study all that hard because you already know what it's all about - you'll only need to 'refresh' a bit.

As for the amount of work and payment - no, I don't think you'll actually get the payment you'd really deserve (at least, in this country), given all the problems you'll be required to solve and all the stuff you'll have to know. I also like computer programming as a hobby, and all that was very helpful (and still is) both during the studies and later at work, but I chose electronics engineering because I wanted something more demanding, and because I don't like having to sit in front of a computer screen (or just sit behind a desk) the whole day. And also because, if you look carefully, you'll realize that electronics are behind everything nowadays.

If you decide to become an engineer, keep in mind this: a good engineer won't give people what they ask him/her, but what they actually need to get the job done. Always remember that. Sometimes, you'll meet someone really stubborn who wants things done exactly the way he/she wants, in that case make sure to make him/her accept all the responsibility for the consequences, and if you can't get that, well, IMO it's possibly better to quit stating your reasons clearly than to be blamed for a disaster you tried to avert and get fired. Also, if you can get the money for it, you can start your own consulting, maintenance or design business, and be your own boss.

And never forget: "engineer" and "ingenious" come from the same root.



Corwin
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05 Feb 2007, 2:40 am

Hello cheesecheese.

I am a man with Asperger's syndrome in the U.S.A., who achieved an Electrical Engineering degree in 2002.

I admire your courage to study engineering, and I approve of your forethought to find a line of work that is a "good fit" for a person with Asperger's syndrome.

However, I have some words of advice:
The "good fit" in engineering may not be enough. You should remember that the engineering fields in the U.S.A., U.K., Canada, and the majority of English-language countries are SATURATED.

This means that many people are graduating with engineering degrees and are not finding jobs, even for several years after leaving college. Each year of unemployment or low employment makes the graduate increasingly unlikely to find an engineering job.

If this happens, you could be stuck in a rat race of neurotypicals and good actors who stand a better chance of working for an engineering company no matter how talented you are ! !

Since you will be perpetually studying math and physics in an engineering curriculum, you may graduate without having improved your "soft skills" (neurotypical skills) which could be exercised better with a different major.

Universities will swear forever that the demand for engineers will never end, that salaries for engineers are high, and that the talents of engineers are deeply respected in our culture.

My experience after college has debunked all of those ideas for me.

Truth is, companies in the U.S.A. are constantly telling the public and its legislators that there is a "shortage of engineers". This lie leads toward the argument that the companies should be allowed to bring more foreigners to the U.S.A. on temporary visas. This allows companies to abuse their foreign employees and pay them low wages because they will be deported if they lose their jobs. It is a profitable indenture arrangement that no American can compete with ! !

I began my degree in 1998 while the y2k compliance market was on fire. I finished in 2002 after businesses and governments stopped frantically upgrading. Meanwhile, major employers of engineers like Enron, World-Com, Adelphia, and Tyco came unraveled due to financial scandals, and then dumped their employees. Other companies packed up and fled the country.

I have sought work in my field for almost five years and it looks impossible. I am presently a tax preparer earning $8 per hour, looking at unemployment in April (or even earlier). I will never look at my engineering diploma for the rest of my life.

Now, I am studying accounting. While being an accountant entails that I never produce anything interesting (for a profit anyway), it ensures that I will contribute to the condition of order and procedure that our world's human environment so much craves.

If you want to fall fatally in love with engineering, you should examine the truth ! !



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05 Feb 2007, 12:39 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I don't know. Engineering does take some social skills such as those required to communicate with people outside of your profession and to work as a team, but really, there are few jobs that don't. I think that possibly engineering might take less social skills than other jobs but I cannot be certain. I think it might be a good path though, as compared to other degrees, engineers get paid more and really, I cannot think of a major that leads to a job without much worry about social interaction. I think that engineers are known for having less social skills on average anyway so you might still be somewhat fine, and I would go for it as engineering is known to be a hard major that provides or signals the existence of strong thinking and technical skills.

I agree... You don't always need good social skills to be an engineer, but the people who make big money need them. Same with computer science.



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21 Feb 2007, 11:38 pm

chesirecat wrote:
I'm thinking of going into engineering for university next year. Specifically mechanical, mechatronics or physics engineering. I'm a programmer as a hobby, but don't want to be a comp/software engineer. Is anyone here in any of these fields? Can you tell me about your experiences? Does it require a lot of socializing compared to other disciplines of engineering(ie.is it a good job for people with AS)? Thanks


i work in IT in an architectural engineering firm. i don't know for certain, but i would guess that a higher than normal percentage of the engineers are very close to having aspergers or hfa.

yes they do have to communictae outside their group, but not on a continual basis, only the person who is the head of each department does. the engineers communicate often with the architects who also may or may not be working on the same project. and the architects are cognizant of the differences between the two groups, so there isn't alot of arguing(that makes me very nervous so i would really notice if there was alot of that going on).

i was placed in the engineering area (because there was no work area for me) when i first started working there and the engineers all treated me as one of their own. maybe this is unusual and maybe the company i work for is exceptional, but it was and still is nice being considered as an equal. and because i fit in with them so well is another reason why i think a high percentage of them have aspergers or are hfa.

so i would say that engineering is a good job for a person with aspergers if you have a love of math and science, though it looks like the work is rather boring to me.


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