engineering graduate school question

Steve Underwood wrote:


It does rather depend on how they spend that time. Staying at home and working behind a counter all year, in order to buy a car/expensive holiday/etc may not alter their perspective on life very much at all.
I've known quite a few change their minds totally about what they wanted to study at Uni and what they wanted as a future career - after a few weeks experience of what the career (or a different one) involves.
IMHO - the gap year is an invaluable part of the education process and well worth a bit of effort getting it right. There is an unrepeatable opportunity.
--
Sue

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Steve,
I think that it depends on the person. I started college (well, DeVry's 3-year program) two weeks out of high school and was finished and working at a Silicon Valley company (GTE Government Systems) at 21. I was the youngest engineer they had ever had. I thank my father for putting the boot up my ass (actually at a much earlier age than 18) and not allowing me to sit on my butt.
I count myself lucky, however. Most kids that age don't know what they want to do. Even so, if a child of mine took some time off right after high school before going to college, I would want it to be productive, e.g., going into the military for a couple of years would be a great option, IMO.
Tick-tock - time is passing, even at 18.
No matter what we think or hope, they are going to do what they wish at that age. The best thing a parent can do is train them properly from 0 to 18.
--
% Randy Yates % "Though you ride on the wheels of tomorrow,
%% Fuquay-Varina, NC % you still wander the fields of your
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Randy Yates wrote:

Its not a matter of deciding what you want to do. Anyone who hasn't some kind of idea about that by 18 needs vigorous prodding until they wake up. That year break should be more about refining your goals, and working out how to achieve them.
I never met anyone who wait straight from school to college who worked nearly as hard as they could have (this was the route I took). I've never seen anyone who went to college after a break and sat around idling their time away. That break seems to focus the mind. A good part of it is no doubt seeing what life is like without a good degree, but I wouldn't presume I understood the whole picture. I just observe the outcome.
Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I didn't start college until I was 21, and that was after a career re-assessment prompted by slicing the tip of a finger off in the jointer in the millwork shop I was running.
Even then, I concentrated my EE electives in materials science and microelectronics for silicon fab, as I kind of thought that that was what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate in that my first job was heavy in DSP, I got to do a lot of very interesting and educational stuff and my specialty focus changed completely. After three years of that I returned to grad school with a lot better idea of what I was really good at and wanted to do.
By then I was 28.
So some people are a little slower than others at sorting things out and take different routes at getting there. I've also known people who just took a year to travel and see the world or whatever either right after high school or right after college. I have no criticism about that as it can give a person a very valuable perspective on life and what really matters to them.
A person's value/morals/work ethics are already pretty well in place by the time they get out of high school, so I don't think taking a trip and not working for a year or so (if they have that privilege available to them) is going to turn them into a bum. If they turn into a bum because of it I wouldn't blame it on the trip necessarily.
One has an entire lifetime to work and develop a career, but opportunities to travel and expand one's perspective are often limited. If one gets that opportunity as a young person, more power to them, and I'd say go for it. Even doing some other job or something can be enriching. I have no regrets about working as a skilled laborer for several years, even though I actually didn't like most of it at the time. It's a lifestyle that I can understand and relate to because I lived it.
I wish life was longer as I think it would be fun to try a career as a lawyer, cartoonist, musician, racing, etc. Dang, there just ain't enough hours in a day... ;)
Eric Jacobsen Minister of Algorithms Abineau Communications http://www.ericjacobsen.org
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Eric Jacobsen wrote:

That sounds like a somewhat technical activity. At least you'd focussed yourself getween arts and sciences. Some teenagers seems unable to even do that.

At college I was most interested in making computation go fast. The first job I got was to make the computations in signal processors go fast. Colleges didn't generally have courses on DSP at that time. I got Rabiner and Gold, and taught myself what I needed to diversify my work from pure logic architecture. I don't consider that a major shift in direction. Pretty minor fine tuning, really.

By 28 I had been working 7 years, and I'd done a fairly diverse range of things, but all in the same general area.

If you are just going take a year's holiday between school and college I doubt it serves any purpose at all.

I should hope their values and morals are in place. I'm not sure about work ethic, though. I've seen a lot of people get their act together after a short time in the working world, because for the first time they've actually figured out *why* they needed an education. The *why* is sadly something the educators have generally not figured out, and so are unable to pass on to youngsters.

This is a luxury few can afford. I really doubt be a tourist serves any purpose beyond being a holiday. When I travel for work I make a point of never being a tourist, unless I'm dragged into seeing things by people trying to be kind.

I'd be interested in how you ended up there, considering you appear to have the intellectual capacity to succeed in something more mentally demanding.

Given an opportunity to relive my life, I would steer clear of engineering, or anything that interests me. Life has taught me that working for a living in any activity will suck all the joy out of it. Better to do something that seems dull from the outset, and offers better career prospects.
Regards, Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Underwood wrote:

I know a guy like this. College degree. Worked as Union laborer in road construction to pay his way through school. It was a pretty sweet deal. VERY high pay, only work in the warm months. Work requires basically no skill, just union suction. When he graduated. (biology zoology etc.) kept the job. Boss moved him to supervisor. Now VERY VERY high pay. Same working benefits. Spends off work time traveling to rain forests in central America and doing bird-chasing all over the country. Not a total success as you still spend half your life doing stupid things for money, but still better than having a job and hating it and not being able to do anything else.

Then you should just DO it! I used to work for Professor A.H. Benade (author of the famed music physics books). One day he says to me: "Do you know what "success" is?" No, say I. "Success", he said, "is thinking of what you'd rather be doing than anything else in the whole world and then finding someone who will PAY you do do it!" He lived that.
And I sort of have. My view has always been that when I take a job, I ALWAYS ask myself the key question: Would I take this job if it paid NOTHING? If the answer is "yes", I sign on! If you have wide interests like me, you'll find that finding jobs like that is not as hard as you might think. But you have to have the guts if you want to be a cartoonist, musician, lawyer etc. to actually go HANG with the group you want to join and start developing the relationships that will make it work. I've seen WAY too many engineers who are in it because it pays well. Feh! I can't think of a worse punishment than doing engineering if you hate it!

This was Einstein's theory. He said that if he had it to do over again, he'd rather be a plumber. A plumber makes decent cash. The work is not mentally taxing. So you get to eat well and still have time to think about the problems that interest YOU. The problem Einstein had was that once you get a job as a physicist, they keep coming around asking when you are going to put out your NEXT world-changing theory!
Of course one does have to understand that the reason some people pay other people money to do certain jobs is because the job is a pain in the ass. But on the other hand, IF you want an education, a pain in the ass job may be just the ticket. What better way to start to learn about sanitary engineering than shoveling gob at the bottom of a manhole?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm from a small midwestern town in a rural area, so most of the people I went to college with were from pretty hard-working backgrounds and worked at some job or other like that while we were in school (I continued in the construction trades until my last year of college). One of the most brilliant people that I was friends with, a girl who was my lab partner, was a manager at a Dairy Queen and was seriously considering staying there when we graduated. She didn't and now she's a senior executive VP at a major defense contractor.

I'm definitely doing something that I like, and it's something that takes a long time to really get good at. I think that's true of many/most professions, though; you're not going to be really good until you've been at it a long enough time to have made enough mistakes and had enough successes to really understand things. So that's pretty much what I meant...in one lifetime it's tough to have more than a couple of careers where you get to spend enough time to really figure things out. I'd like to have about eight or nine by current count of things in which I'm interested, so I already know life's not long enough to do all that.
Eric Jacobsen Minister of Algorithms Abineau Communications http://www.ericjacobsen.org
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I think you're really short-changing yourself there, and you're an unusual business traveller if that's really what you do. You learn a lot about the world and about other people and yourself when you're in a foreign environment (and by foreign I mean anything other than you're usual surroundings). I always look forward to being in different places for that reason. When you're in some place you've never been then everything around every corner is new and fresh.

I'm from a fairly small town in the rural midwest; it was a looong way to go to get to any real civilization where there were opportunities other than the sort that I took. It just seemed the natural thing to do at the time.
It's just good fortune that we also had a very, very good engineering college in the same town. A problem for that state is that they have good technical education, but the vast majority of graduates leave the state since there are few local jobs.
Eric Jacobsen Minister of Algorithms Abineau Communications http://www.ericjacobsen.org
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Eric Jacobsen wrote:

As a business traveler I get to meet ordinary people in their daily lives. I get to drink and eat what they eat (I'll eat almost anything, and I'm crazy enough to have drunk the tap water in rural India). Often to be invited to their homes. This is a far richer experience that I could ever have in tourist mode.

I was lucky enough to attend a world class engineering school in my home town too - London :-)
Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Ah, I misunderstood what you meant by "tourist mode". I took your statement to mean that you weren't getting out and seeing things, not that you weren't using the usual "tourist" means or venues.
Eric Jacobsen Minister of Algorithms Abineau Communications http://www.ericjacobsen.org
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I think that's rather sad. I mean, I'm all for working hard and insuring you get your job done for your employer when they've sent you on a business trip at considerable expense and all, but when you genuinely have free time, I can think of nothing sadder than sitting around in a motel room watching TV. What do you spend your time doing?

This isn't true for everyone; many people are able to true enjoy their careers their entire lives.
---Joel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joel Kolstad wrote:

If the only thing that comes to mind as an alternative to being a tourist is to sit in a hotel room watching TV, that is truly sad.

I wonder. It seems few who acquire the financial means to give up their jobs don't.
Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm basing that on an experience I had back in... mmm... 1995, where I was on a field install in East St. Louis -- that's all the other guy I was with did after we had spent 10 hours working. That, and occasionally strolling down to the motel bar to get a drink.

That would be an interesting statistic. I'd like to believe it's in the high single-digits (those who have the financial means to quit work but don't), but I really have no idea.
---Joel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Underwood wrote:

... snip ...

There are varying views on that. I did, because I finished high school at the age of 14, and took a year off. I then took another off after the first year of college. But I have unconfirmed doubts that it was a good thing. It encouraged me to diversify early. Of course in those days college didn't cost the world, so it was relatively easy ($250 annual tuition!).
--
<http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt
<http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/423
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Underwood wrote:

This really depends on a lot of things...
There are many scholarships and other financial offerings that are designed to be used by a student going directly from high school to college. You need to apply for them WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL! (and sometimes, in your junior year!) or you can't get them. To many, this financial support is just about required if they are going to go to college, so a year off is just going to mean they don't go at all... :-(
Charlie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Charlie Edmondson wrote:

These things are not mutually exclusive. I remember when applying for colleges, a couple of them offered me a place "to be taken in the next academic year, or the one following, at your choice". So, it is often possible to get college settled while at school, and still take a year out to work or hatch evil plots to take over the world.
Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.