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Another question for college bound kid
Old 05-07-2015, 09:43 PM   #1
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Another question for college bound kid

OK... DS is interested in two career paths... architecture and engineering...

I think he said mechanical or civil engineering (wanted to build things)...


SOOOO, what questions should I pose to him so he can think about the two different paths...
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:17 PM   #2
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Texas Proud: I spent two weekends ago over in Seaside (Florida) with the top residential architect in North Dallas. At the time, he was negotiating to buy a 75' x 220' lot for $1.6 million--for a spec. house. Right now, he's turning down any houses under 10,000 square feet. He's an exception to the profession.

I have a cousin and three other close friends that are architects approaching retirement age, and they've done okay--but never set the woods on fire (making money.)

Tell the kid that civil engineering is a far superior profession. Electrical engineering is even better. The less studious will be mechanical engineers.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:30 PM   #3
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As the wife of an architect I recommend engineering. Architecture pays well only for a few who can combine sales skills, political acumen, and design.

Actually construction management combines both fields and pays very well. Here is a course description from OSU: Construction Engineering Management | Civil and Construction Engineering | Oregon State University, another from WSU: Construction Management | School of Design + Construction | Washington State University . A nephew graduated from OSU during the construction implosion but was hired by a major construction contractor right out of college. Construction Managers make 2 to 3 times the income of an architect and twice that of the typical civil engineer.

EEs come in all kinds of stripes, much depends on the student's focus.
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Another question for college bound kid
Old 05-08-2015, 08:10 AM   #4
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Another question for college bound kid

+ 1 on the Construction Management recommendation. Youngest son is about to complete his degree at Texas A&M (they call it Construction Science). At a recent job fair, 100 companies showed up to recruit 60 graduating seniors. All 60 got at least one offer. Very good starting salaries.


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Old 05-08-2015, 09:52 AM   #5
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+ 1 on the Construction Management recommendation. Youngest son is about to complete his degree at Texas A&M (they call it Construction Science). At a recent job fair, 100 companies showed up to recruit 60 graduating seniors. All 60 got at least one offer. Very good starting salaries.


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Interesting.... this degree is in the Architecture program and not engineering.... the links above are in engineering...
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:04 AM   #6
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Have a friend who's son went to a relatively inexpensive state university, majored in mechanical engineering, much of it is highly mathematical, solid state modelling, etc. He was actually hired well before graduating, starting work with them after graduation. He is doing very well financially and seems to be quite satisfied with his work. Times have changed, this is not your father's mechanical engineering. Maybe he was so sought after because of his math and modelling skills, and I suspect that software and EE draws a lot more people, so a bright kid in ME seems to have it made.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:10 AM   #7
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As the wife of an architect I recommend engineering. Architecture pays well only for a few who can combine sales skills, political acumen, and design.
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+1
A very good friend of mine is an architect in Washington. He graduated from UVA, was offered a job with a top firm in Washington, was laid off after 5 years (which he said a lot of partners in top firms do when the salaries of the younger ones get up there: they can hire recent graduates cheaper) and hung his own shingle. He has had some good years and some lean. He is thankful his wife works for NIH.

So, I think anyone majoring in architecture needs to plan to "go it alone" at some point. That requires all sorts of skills, networking, the ability to do a lot of work and perhaps not get the job, getting in on government sponsored endeavors in earthquake ravaged areas (Haiti), being sponsored by philanthropic organizations, all skills needed to run your own business...etc.

I'd definitely try to get your son to think about the engineering path.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:25 AM   #8
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I would definitely recommend engineering over architecture. Civil or mechanical job prospects should be good, but I would say a PE would be more of requirement for the civil route.
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:59 AM   #9
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I'll second CaliforniaMan's vote not to be biased against mechanical engineering. DS picked it as the most universal of the engineering disciplines, and indeed these days it includes a lot of software as well as materials sciences. After two years in manufacturing support engineering, he's looking for a change to go more into design work, but also considering graduate school in materials sciences.

I know that many universities make it difficult to get into architecture programs, so unless he is dead set on it he's probably better off going the engineering route. That construction management program also sounds interesting.
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Old 05-08-2015, 01:07 PM   #10
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So, I think anyone majoring in architecture needs to plan to "go it alone" at some point. That requires all sorts of skills, networking, the ability to do a lot of work and perhaps not get the job, getting in on government sponsored endeavors in earthquake ravaged areas (Haiti), being sponsored by philanthropic organizations, all skills needed to run your own business...etc.
And marry someone who can support the family through those inevitable lean periods.
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Old 05-08-2015, 01:18 PM   #11
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A major in civil or mechanical engineering with a masters in structural engineering is the best ticket I think for someone that actually wants to be involved in building things. In my experience, architects mostly have a really tough go because of the competition and lack of work in various business cycles. Structural engineers can go anywhere in the world for their next project while that is tougher for architects that are not in one of the mega-firms. Take for what it is worth from someone with a chemical engineering background.
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Old 05-08-2015, 02:11 PM   #12
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If he is NOT artistically inclined then engineering, if he has very good design skills architecture might be a good fit. But unless he has a healthy ego about his design abilities he shouldn't go into the field. It is not a profession for those who can't take criticism well. Architects have a reputation for large egos and there is a reason for that, and I am no exception But I keep it in check these days!

I have heard many people (here and in my day to day life) complain about architectural salaries, etc. I have never had any issues with what I made and have always been employed, the last several years as a consultant (much better money in that!) I just retired at age 55, so there is enough money there for that at least. I do have a small practice now, but it is more of a hobby practice.

But I agree it is a profession where you need to be a jack of all trades and at some point you do need to go out on your own. Being an Architect is not for everyone and the profession has changed a lot since I first started and is continually changing. Who knows what the field will be like 15 years from now.
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Old 05-08-2015, 03:28 PM   #13
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There are many informational sources, free, online for selecting a college major.
They present questions, questinoaires and surveys to help narrow down the choices. While these may be very helpful in situations where the student is certain about a future career, for some, this decision is not so simple.

I have two grandsons, who are aged 22 and 17, and quite bright and capable. The older one began with a plan to become a doctor... probably a surgeon, when he was entering college. Fortunately, his college path was in the medical field, but until his graduation from college not specificlly defined. As it turned out, during his last year, he developed and interst in biomedics, and research, and is now entering Pitt with a path to biochemistry.

The other grandson had alway held as a goal, being a doctor, but in his last year of highschool, became very intrested in foreign countries, and after visiting Asia, and South America... With some side study oflanguages, he is qualified by grades and course of study to go into almost any field of endeavor. The curriculum that he had planned out at the beginning of HS senior year has now changed, as well as the schools to which he has applied. It's a matter of keeping options open. For him, this was relatively easy, as he excels in all subjects. It's not always easy to do this, without requiring an extra (expensive) year of college or graduate school education to adjust to a change in career path.

Pre-college visits with college counselors can be very worthwhile. A good counselor can give a no-holds-barred picture of the career fields being considered. At the same time course selection can be planned to keep alternative doors open.

This probably sounds like a no brainer, but tracking high schools senior expectations and planning with actual after college careers, is not a close correlation.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:26 PM   #14
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all the guys I knew in college that studied arch had to frequently pull all nighters building (real) models
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:28 PM   #15
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Electrical is not a crowded field right now. LOTS of Comp Sci folks. Mechanical is, IMO, easier. That said, both Electrical and Mechanical are very broad definitions. Electrical might mean getting a PE and doing planning for a local power company or coop. Never get much beyond E=IR for electricity and spending more time doing reports and engineering economic studies. Could also mean designing microprocessors or microwave radios. Mechanical has a similar spread. I do know the AVERAGE age of an EE is now over 50 years old. Even (especially?) the power companies are scrambling to replace their aging engineers.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:32 PM   #16
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^ agreed - if I was going to school right now I'd think hard about EE
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:21 PM   #17
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Also, if it is an option, maybe consider Harvey Mudd and go for the "BS Eng'g," with option for tailored emphasis on both EE and ME?

Eldest (26) did that, with some additional fluids, and so far he has had little difficulty in staying gainfully employed in work involving the overlapping areas....

(Yeah, sticker shock on the stated tuition rate, but the experience of he and his friends is in accord with the recent "studies" on value-added being attractive. He hasn't regretted choosing it over the engineering school in Boston.)
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:52 PM   #18
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If he is NOT artistically inclined then engineering, if he has very good design skills architecture might be a good fit. But unless he has a healthy ego about his design abilities he shouldn't go into the field. It is not a profession for those who can't take criticism well. Architects have a reputation for large egos and there is a reason for that, and I am no exception But I keep it in check these days!

I have heard many people (here and in my day to day life) complain about architectural salaries, etc. I have never had any issues with what I made and have always been employed, the last several years as a consultant (much better money in that!) I just retired at age 55, so there is enough money there for that at least. I do have a small practice now, but it is more of a hobby practice.

But I agree it is a profession where you need to be a jack of all trades and at some point you do need to go out on your own. Being an Architect is not for everyone and the profession has changed a lot since I first started and is continually changing. Who knows what the field will be like 15 years from now.


He is actually very good in art and design.... his mother is an artist and teaches art....

He recently won a design contest here in Houston... they had to design a train station and build a model... I was not able to go, but DW said that a couple of the guys came to her and said they were surprised when he came in with his project.... they knew right away that he was going to win.... received a $1,000 scholarship for it and he is only a junior in HS....

But, he is very laid back... not a large ego at all... I just do not think that this is really what he wants to do with his life... not that he would not be good at it, but that he would get bored with it....
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:19 AM   #19
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He is actually very good in art and design.... his mother is an artist and teaches art....

He recently won a design contest here in Houston... they had to design a train station and build a model... I was not able to go, but DW said that a couple of the guys came to her and said they were surprised when he came in with his project.... they knew right away that he was going to win.... received a $1,000 scholarship for it and he is only a junior in HS....

But, he is very laid back... not a large ego at all... I just do not think that this is really what he wants to do with his life... not that he would not be good at it, but that he would get bored with it....
If that is the case won't he be bored by engineering work? I mean the Architect thing will feed his artistic side. It is why "I" went into it as it is the best of both worlds.

If he chooses to be an engineer but he has to recognize that will NOT feed his design/art side and he should find a hobby that allows him to explore that-OR he will get bored with the engineering in my opinion. I enjoy the technical side of what I do but if that was all I was exposed to, I know I would quickly be bored by that aspect.

Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:41 AM   #20
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There are engineering fields that utilize design/art, or at least should. There is no reason why a bridge cannot include fine design. US industrial products have been stodgy until relatively recently.. think about Apple products. Take a look at Ziba Careers | Ziba If the OP's son finds Ziba, or product design, interesting he should study their business and try to arrange an informational interview.
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