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Graduating with a liberal arts education, now interested in design/engineering. WTD?

P. Bateman

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I'll be graduating in 2 months with a wonderful liberal arts education in economics and politics. I'm also very interested in engineering and design. How should one pursue that academically? Is the only option to be an undergrad all over again? Are there joint MBAs and engineering programs?

Thanks.
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by P. Bateman
I'll be graduating in 2 months with a wonderful liberal arts education in economics and politics. I'm also very interested in engineering and design. How should one pursue that academically? Is the only option to be an undergrad all over again? Are there joint MBAs and engineering programs? Thanks.
There are joint MBA/Engineering programs, but all that I'm aware of require an Engineering undergrad degree and two years work experience (not necessarily in Engineering). When you say 'engineering and design' I do not know what you mean. There are lots of designers without engineering degrees, but there are many engineers who do design. And I presume you are talking about objects that we interact with, and not, like buildings and such? ~ H
 

P. Bateman

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Thanks. I'm interested in engineering of machines/things that do something (automotive, assembly lines, green energy, military [if I have to...]). Could a BS in engineering be achieved in 2 years?
 

feynmix

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How about a MS in one of the engineering programs? You will have to take the GRE exam, but besides that, if you did well in your undergrad, I don't see why you wouldn't get into a good program.
 

adversity04

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Depends on how many math and physics/chemistry courses you've taken thus far and the scheduling of courses/prereqs, but my gut feeling is no. At least with you're background you wouldn't need the gen. ed. credits.
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by P. Bateman
Thanks. I'm interested in engineering of machines/things that do something (automotive, assembly lines, green energy, military [if I have to...]). Could a BS in engineering be achieved in 2 years?
Ok. Well, there are two aspects here. Hardcore engineering (lets make something work) will require a four year engineering degree. Typically most colleges wonn't let you 'double dip' to use credits you've already gotten a degree upon for another degree -- so 2 yrs for a B.S. Eng degree won't work. There are 2-year 'engineering light' courses (usually called something like XXXXX engineering technology that might get you where you want to be). Design Engineering and some Industrial Engineering (lets make something functionally realistic that looks good, interacts well with people) does not always require a 4-year hardcore engineering degree, but commonly comes down to designing the pretty plastic covers on things that others have made work. This is not to be derided, and might be what you're looking for.I do not know much about these disciplines, but you should probably investigate. If you are of an artistic turn, (and I do mean good, there are a lot of artists), there is room in engineering for serious 3D modelers who can do that type of ergonomic design work for consumer products. That is a big field but I do not know the specific qualifications required other than that you typically require in depth training with the specialized computer programs used. Some people I know who do this went to technical institutes for certificates rather than degrees. Some have engineering technology degrees which helps them be 'mechanical designers' rather than, say, draftsmen.
Originally Posted by feynmix
How about a MS in one of the engineering programs? You will have to take the GRE exam, but besides that, if you did well in your undergrad, I don't see why you wouldn't get into a good program.
Most MS Eng programs require a B.S. in Engineering or a "closely related field," like, say, physics or applied mathematics.
 

ms244

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Thats an opposite of the direction most people go in.

Could you get a BS in engineering in two years? Its not impossible, if you have all the general classes and requirements done and you go full time, including the summer. But you'll pretty much do nothing but class work for that time.

I would first recommend you figure out whats the reason you want to do engineering, its not easy, the pay isn't spectacular and you could easily wind up doing something really dull and boring (HVAC! or packaging).

Even something that would seem as interesting as constructing an airplane envolves a LOT of dull jobs, ex stress analysis.
 

Philosoph

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I went from Electrical Engineering to Philosophy, but that was after one semester. Plenty of time to make up the credits...

Going the other way, though, at this pointwould be really freaking hard and/or a large waste of time, in my opinion. You didn't have any indication before your senior year that your major was not your main field of interest?

I would think economics and politics would be a great combination about right now. Move out to DC and work for 25 years, then go back to school in your retirement and start your design your own products or something.
 

Milhouse

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If I were in that position, I'd go to my adviser and see if I could postpone graduation and triple major (I think that is what it sounds like you want to do, econ, poly, eng). I think if you graduate, it will be much harder to do a second undergrad degree, as they won't always be willing to take your previous coursework.

Hopefully you go to a school with engineering.
 

GQgeek

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You sound like you're just trying to avoid work. Engineers don't make a lot and you would most likely be taking on another 4 years of debt, because i highly doubt you have the math/physics prereqs for the engineering courses. Bad choice imo.
 

Huntsman

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In the OP's defense, I feel a straight lib arts degree is an incredible way to begin an education. I love to learn and feel that lack. I lived in the Lab during undergrad and that is no way to do the college experience. Sadly, the U.S. seems to consider the four-year the de rigeur terminus.

If the geek is right, though, OP. Engineering is a lot of work. Engineering education is even worse.

~ H
 

feynmix

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
Most MS Eng programs require a B.S. in Engineering or a "closely related field," like, say, physics or applied mathematics.

I don't think its the case anymore. Obviously, you need the basic math (calc, linear algebra) and some physics, but I dont think a BS in engineering is required. Take the GREs, apply to a bunch of programs, write a killer essay on why you are making the switch and how you can cut in the program, and I think you have a fairly good chance of getting in.
 

Scrumhalf

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If you had a degree in physics, I would say that you had a decent chance of getting a quick engineering degree because a lot of the foundations that you learned in your first couple of years in physics would apply, and what you didn't learn, you should be able to pick up with self study. But with a degree in economics and politics, I am afraid there's no way you will be able to leverage anything you learned in your 4 years to assist with shortening your engineering degree duration. I think anyone who says you can manage to do so is ignorant of what it takes to get an engineering degree.

FWIW, I got a BS, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering specializing in Semiconductors and Solid State Physics, so I know what kind of undergraduate grounding it took for me to hack it in my junior/senior years as an undergraduate and in grad school.
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by feynmix
I don't think its the case anymore. Obviously, you need the basic math (calc, linear algebra) and some physics, but I dont think a BS in engineering is required. Take the GREs, apply to a bunch of programs, write a killer essay on why you are making the switch and how you can cut in the program, and I think you have a fairly good chance of getting in.

How could you do master's level work in something as knowledge-intensive as engineering without having the basics taught in undergrad? The math is just a small part of it, and a lot of engineers take calculus well beyond basic cal 1&2.
 

Scrumhalf

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Let me tell you what mathematical and physics foundations I learned in my freshman and sophomore years in my EE program: advanced calculus including vector calculus, a very thorough understanding of electrostatics and electromagnetics, classical mechanics and optics, Fourier, Laplace transforms in both continuous and discrete forms and their use in analyzing both electromagnetic and circuit problems, solid state physics and the theory of p-n junctions, boolean algebra and its use in designing digital circuits, analog circuit design and the ability to design feedback control circuitry. This list is from memory and is probably not comprehensive. In addition, all engineering students regardless of specialty had to take courses on engineering mechanics and fluid flow.

Except for the optics and obviously electrical emphasis, the requirements for other engineering fields like mechanical or aerospace engineering is just as detailed with more emphasis on materials, mechanics and air/fluid flow analysis.

My advice to you is to have no illusions about how difficult it is going to be. Consult a good academic advisor in an engineering department you are thinking about and be prepared for some pain. You will be starting at a significant disadvantage and will get swallowed up before you know it if you are not willing to put in a significant amount of pre-work before jumping into anything.
 

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