I'm one semester away from finishing my lower division courses at a junior college in Southern California and am planning to get my BSEE at Cal. State L.A. ...which is quite a ways away from where I live (long story)....I'm much closer to Cal. State Northridge.
Now I know CSLA has an space lab which is supported by NASA so I was thinking attending CSLA might help me in getting into the aerospace industry (JPL??!!) after I get the degree. But I'm wondering about CSUN....it would seem I'd learn pretty much the same stuff although I don't know much about their connections with the aerospace industry...or their reputation in the engineering world etc
I'd like to ask you engineers out there if any of this really matters or if the choice of school does make a difference out there in the real world.
I would have to agree with Bill; and I don't think that any of the Cal State schools are distinct enough to make a difference to JPL (with possible exception of Cal Poly). UCLA, USC, CalTech, Stanford....perhaps, but at the undergrad you just need to learn the basics and then come on down to Northrup, Raytheon, of Boeing and get your feet wet.
I attended a number of schools in SC. I started my college in RCA institutes. It was a two year course, 5 hours a day, 49 weeks a year with only 5 holidays a year. Extremely stringent, very hard, lots of home work, 800 hours of lab beside
1700 hours of course work. Just engineering courses with course on High frequency and transmission lines and wave guides available in no other school in the world at the time. (They wrote their own text books) In later life I found out that they were light years ahead of any other engineering school.
When my companies were paying for my school, and they wanted me to get a legitimate degree I started in LACC where I took my undergraduate school. That included not engineering classes. I went on to USC because they gave me better than 2 years credit for my work at RCA. I took the finals for most courses and got credit for the course and the prepitory courses for the work. I found USC to be a very poor school and a 3 month course at RCA to be equal to a full year in that course at USC. I took most of my courses at UCLA which I found to be far more stringent than USC but the advanced courses toward a PHD were not nearly on a par with RCA either.
I have subsequently lectured at Cal Tech and found that they were about the best engineering school in Ca. but still not nearly on a par with RCA.
I have had Cal Tech students work for me, (And have canned them for attitude.) They went back for advanced degrees. ;-) after being canned.
My advice to you is to go to a Jr college, get your AA degree. It will get you into most other colleges a lot easier than getting in from high school. Most of the lesser students have already dropped out so there is more room in the advanced classes. Then get your companies you work for to pay your tuition, most will and get your degree at night.
When you get through, you will more likely advance much faster with both a degree and experiance. But how you do is up to you. How interested you are, do you have an aptitude for it, are you in the right place at the right time. Only about 1 out of 100 engineers do really creative work. But with interest and aptitude you can be that engineer. It is a very rewarding profession, provided you get out of it young enough to do some thing else more interesting before you get to be 45 and make too much money.
LOL! Thanks....that's kind of what I thought. I think I have a bit of a romanticized view of what being an EE is (reading IEEE's Spectrum magazine doesn't help...as much as I enjoy reading it....). I'm going back to school (at 40) and am enjoying the educational process but I do have that feeling that once I get the degree and the job, things could be as mundane as the jobs I had before the degree!
However, I do enjoy electronics as a hobby as well....which is probably why I'm enjoying school and I build music electronics units (tube amps, effects pedals, etc...Although, after working for a music electronics company, I don't think I'd want to be an engineer for a music electronics company...maybe, maybe not).
I guess the danger is that by becoming an EE, I could lose all interest in electronics as a hobby.
Anyway, I'm currently very enthusiastic about becoming an EE so I'd like to take advantage of that enthusiasm while I still have it....
I appreciate all of your comments. THank you.....
er...just curious, Sylvia, for which branch of ...um...idiots do you work?? :-) I'm already aware of where the idiots are in my former fields...I'd just like to avoid the future ones if possible!!
Interesting! Are the RCA institutes still around?? I haven't heard of them.
As I mentioned in a different post, I'm 40 years old and am going back to school after being a musician for most of my life....which also means I've worked a few dayjobs !!
I last worked for a music electronics company which is where I became aware of the need of more education in order for me to get into a "creative" position. (I also want to be someone who really knows what he's talking about rather than being one of the millions of misinformed people who BS their way through their career and their life).
As I've learned more about the EE industry, I've become fascinated with many disciplines within the scope of electrical engineering....and engineering in general.
So to me, yes, it seems that the school doesn't matter as much because I need to learn the basics first anyway...but I'm a newbie here so I'm doing the research!
it will make a difference. The guy you interview with at your aerospace target companies may well have graduated from the NASA backed school you mention..NASA backing means a lot..inside information etc. Of course its a totally corrupt environment as we saw with the Challenger and Columbia disasters... they would of course be training you in 'how shit happens' and its not thier fault...its a corrupt culture.. corruption (and politics) is a mind set.
Personally I recommend you get your EE anywhere but be real sure to get an MBA to go with it...or you will be in the trenches for peanuts kissing the ass of administrators such as we saw at NASA. With an MBA you will make almost twice the money, and be out of the trenches to a much greater degree.
I also recommend going for some highly advance specialty area to cut down on the competition... avionics if thats your thing perhaps.
Superb advice. Pay attention to this man...and get your MBA also. I have also found that most MSME's barely have a clue... even from the best schools. Plenty of arrogance...no clue. It takes the will to be creative, and to push beyond what is currently being built and the understanding of basic physics and a broad base of insight across disciplines and industries to do really well. Then you get to be in that top
1%... if you do not have an MBA at that level, the other 99% will lay awake nights figuring out how to make you look like an idiot... stressful that.
with an MBA on top of a MSEE for instance you get to run the operation.. much less stressful. and with many more options should you decide to walk. With a PhD you get to go into research at the management level...now thats hot.
That is approximately 99% correct in my my experience and I have worked projects direct for industry, and on contract to most of the nations largest E and C firms... its an absolute disaster out there... killing levels of stress brough on by all the infighting, lying and posturing. Then they want to pay you 60k for a direct position..after taxes, not enough to live well at all in most big cities. 80k is a typical upper level position and you get that after your brain has rotted kissing ass in the lower positions for about 10 years..at best. 100k..(thats 50k after taxes) is for the management with MBA's.. if you have a relative in govt. $180 k but dont be mislead...those are insider positions. Nepotism. one job in a thousand. Then you have to lie constantly to keep the top management (often engaged in billion dollar class frauds) out of trouble.
One of my mistakes early on was to figure that 'this company is bad' and move on to a 'good company'... 20 years later... i found the few 'good' companies..are still a mess and pay is not impressive either. Now much of the top level work is going to india (India Tech grads, a world class school)... these guys work for 20 to 30k a year.
I'm a mechanical / electrical contractor now... $75/hr at a low. many jobs flat rate out at $150/hr.. I take no abuse from anyone. I work my own hours on my own terms. (Design build projects..may small ones, under 10k... I still do a little consulting but only on my terms in my office, on my own schedule.)
Job shop engineering (temp agency consulting work) used to steer me 5 jobs a year if I could do them all..at $35 to $45... in the last 4 years not ONE phone call..and the rates are even lower...as the dollar has become worth 30 to 40% less.
thus are the rewards for 99% of most engineers. A MBA can double the numbers. But even those management jobs are scarce. ..and you are still expected to lie pervasively... thats a soul destroying situation.
Be self employed... you can avoid most idiots or at least make them pay you that way. Employed you are toast if you are trying to escape that scene.
US high school grads scored 38th behind shri lankan hut dwellers in math and science scores world wide.. 38th!! More broadly you can ask most of these people what an algorithm is and fully 99.9% wont know. 5% of our population is considered literate enough to parse a legal argument. 50% are not literate enough to read a buss schedule and tell you when the bus is coming...it doesnt get a lot better in the professions.
its a mess. Get your EE for sure..then remain self employed, use the EE to promote design build contracts or your self, create your own product lines etc.
I agree with the general sentiments of Phil and John. If a field of engineering is going to be your life then it is worthwhile making sure you have the best possible grounding in it, so in that sense the choice of school probably does matter, despite my flippant comment.
However, do not make the mistake of trying to construct a career as an employee of somone else. Your early jobs should be seen as a source of capital and contacts.
On the lying front, I'm a touch surprised to see that comment. Surprised because I thought it was largely a problem only in my own engineering field, IT. Some people question whether IT is really engineering, and in truth, the way it gets done, using the term is an afront to real engineers.
I'm currently taking time out to pursue a theory - which is that a product that works properly, and actually does what is claimed of it, could be marketable. My IT engineering colleagues agreee that that is a novel approach that's never previously been tried as far as they know.
Yes that was my initial impressions in my field. I thought it was the particular firm... mostly they are all a total mess.. pretty much predictable too.. Idiocy beyond belief. If not from the engineering firm then from the client.
My pet peeves were that the management wanted me to produce finished calculations before I had time investigate the job and options and discuss those with the client. The management in most cases seemed entirely unaware that there were options.
One outfits manager said..'Look its been a day now, you have not given us your HVAC drawings, thats what we hired you for ... was to give us your drawings'... 'we hired a consultant so he could land on the ground running'
I told the moron that each project was different and that there was no 'standard set of HVAC drawings'..he looked at me in both shock an utter disbelief. Then began intimated that I was lying because If I was an HVAC specialist I should 'have my drawnings with me'. This sort of insanity was entirely common in one form or the other.
The other thing I found was 'experts in the background' that you never hear about giving that sort of crappy advice to the managers.. only you dont know what the issues are... so the manager will ask you " Hey...ahhh... err... look...I notice that you are...ah.. calling out PUMPS in the water system"
So you naturally say yes, sure..and you show him the pumps. then things begin to get real strange, others cease chatting with you..the boss becomes distant.. then about day before they fire your ass the boss approaches again for the kill and says...'' ya we looked into your pump thing or a while... I thought Id let you know we are NOT going to use PUMPS...because have decided to go with 'Goulds Centrificals'...
and one just stands there in disbelief. (Goulds is a lead in pump manufacturer, even listed in my specs.. but 'centrificals' is not normally used term on a spec sheet.. you would just say Goulds Model 567k, 480v 3 phase.. 2x4 pump or whatever"
But these morons figured that centrifugal meant is was not a pump but something else... thats a totally epidemic situation. Ive seen it 5 or 10 times on some of the jobs Ive done... just eye wateringly beyond the realm of human imagination.
with the old farts, some not that bright either... retiring.. and with the new batch of kiddies who think Kalifornia is a Swazennegger movie...its becoming a total mess...and imho one of the reasons why so much work is going to India.
claimed of it,
that that is a
:) Ive seen a lot of that in computer electronic gismo's business. Its also epidemic elsewhere. Maybe not quite as bad. But at least 95% as bad. You see the same things in law and medicine as you become aware personally in those fields... the most basics of basics in any of these areas is commonly not even heard of.
Talking specifically about IT, but only because it's the field I know about, I've felt that part of the problem is that the management of many companies have come up through the engineering route, and think that they're simply engineers who have progressed into management.
My own view is that a person who is an engineer at heart is never going to be happy in management, and consequently the people who are in management were never really engineers - it's just what they did before they became managers.
Sometimes I wonder how the world is able to function at all.
I've heard this before from some of my professors. An engineer works for a company for 15 years. He then gets an offer to move up to management and takes it because the money the company's offering him is incredible but he ends up leaving the company about a year or two later because he can't stand the company, his life, the industry etc....
I'm really not doing this for the money, primarily. Obviously, I want to get the degree so I can do better than as an unskilled laborer but I'd rather make less money and go to work feeling like I'm contributing something rather than making tons of money and hating life...although after reading several posts here, it seems possible that I could like my work but hate my job due to the morons for which I work!!
You have entrepreneurial skills though.. with the EE you can probably do real well fairly soon consulting high end road shows, and those equipment vendors, and adding value with a range of other services. Then for a day job some engineering outfit migh pay you 25 to 35 dollars an hour to show up in thier snake pit and crank out some work from time to time. but you wouldnt have to be dependent on that for a living... that mitigates the stresses a lot.
The world functions like a few dozen 12 gage shot guns at a crack party.. a bunch of people die off in the chaos, others feed on the carnage, and the fittest survive to produce the next batches of killers, saints and savants.
From that algorith comes cumulative material progress, and glacially slow spiritual progress on what works. to which approx. 1 person in 10,000 pays some degree of attention.
The rest remain mostly targets and food animals. GWB senior referred to these as 'fodder'. In any individual there are aspects of all three, killers, saints and savants.
One can maximize his or her experience in life and net contribution, by valuing all three features of the human mix..... as some aspects with close nnspection and discrimination at the very edge can be woven into an advanced step ahead.
From the engineering business I take the lesson that a snake pit breeds vipers ....and that the cultural disparity available in that sort of pit is not conducive to greater advance. I learned that ego centrism and lying ruin thier hosts utterly even as material progress is seen on all flanks... the hearts and minds and spirits are utterly decimated.
I do not know if they are still around. But there courses were super. It was the only school in the world teaching transmission lines (Letcher wires) at the time. My lab partner had his PHD already and came from Egypt to study transmission lines there. He has written his theises on what happens to the Zo when an over head line goes underground. Last I heard of him he was running the Egyptian phone system.
Most of the students came from one goverment or another. The coast gaurd sent 2 or 3 men each semester. They had to have served for 6 years in the gaurd and sign up for 6 more to go there. There were always 2 students on US goverment scholarship from Siam. It was real tough competing there as most of the students had already lots of years of experiance in electronics.
The school was in the Villiage on 14th Street. There are other similer schools now, but I do not think any of their courses are on a level with RCA's.