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Old 10-15-2015, 02:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
But here's where you want to have a P.E. (Similar to CPA exam.) It is an extra step, and can be quite arduous.

It isn't required for all jobs, but PE+Civil gives most opportunities.
And my son is a PE in multiple states. It helps a lot with job opportunity's and pay grade, except in the construction industry working for builders, not always necessary, but always helpful(never hurts).

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Old 10-15-2015, 02:49 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by jabbahop View Post
He is isn't super talented at math but gets good grades because he is a very hard worker and organized.
That's key IMO. Most of the dropouts in my engineering class were those that substituted party time for study time, it wasn't because they weren't smart enough. Once you start falling behind in math/engineering classes it can be very difficult to catch up.

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Old 10-15-2015, 03:29 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Software Engineers may be the only exception.
Even those have their outdoor niches, working on drilling platforms, ocean vessels. Self-driving cars probably too involves lots of outdoor experimentation.

And they are software engineers, so they can work from anywhere. Includes the beach.
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:51 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Totoro View Post
Even those have their outdoor niches, working on drilling platforms, ocean vessels. Self-driving cars probably too involves lots of outdoor experimentation.

And they are software engineers, so they can work from anywhere. Includes the beach.
I worked with software and electrical engineers my entire career. Very few of them had melanoma worries based on time @ the beach ;-)
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Old 10-15-2015, 05:18 PM   #25
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I was part owner of a civil engineering / land surveying firm until I retired. A note to OP- Most of our engineers spent only 10% of their time outside of the office. Their primary function was design.

We had one civil engineer with a second degree in land surveying who spent some time in the field. He was a jack of all trades type that could handle projects from survey through design to construction. We also had a construction manager that spent 100% of his time on construction sites. This is a great branch of civil engineering to get into for those who like working outside. Most civil projects have construction managers that run the projects from the site.

Civil engineering is extremely math intensive. Although most of the math in practice is performed via computer, college coursework from what I remember includes a ton of upper level math courses.

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Old 10-15-2015, 05:22 PM   #26
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I know that spatial visualization is really important for this.

I took my son and daughter to Johnson O'Connor to have their aptitudes tested and that was one of the key aptitudes for engineering. They make the point that if you don't have a key aptitude like that you may be able to get through school through force of effort but may end up being a mediocre engineer since it relies on aptitudes that you don't really have. (Note that aptitude testing is not testing your interests - it is testing what you are really good at).

In my son's case, he actually scored very high on all the engineering type abilities. But, he wasn't all that interested in engineering. He ended up majoring in computer science -- many of the aptitudes for engineering are also aptitudes that favor computer science as well.

Anyway, it was definitely one of the best things we spent money on and really helped him to see clearly where his aptitudes were. He didn't pick the top thing on the list of things they said he was most suited for. Interest in a field is also factor. But computer science was very high on the list as well and so it was something he felt he would be good at (he's now a senior and doing very well) and would also be interested in.
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Old 10-16-2015, 02:29 AM   #27
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A nephew is an environmental engineer. He travels quite a bit, and spends a good part of the working day outdoors.
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Old 10-16-2015, 07:09 AM   #28
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I went to an engineering school, and a reasonable proportion of my friends there got their bachelor degrees in Engineering Management. So in the 35 years since graduation, I got to see how all of my engineering friends did. Nearly all of the them ended up in some form of management regardless of what their engineering field was in, not doing the engineering hands on work they trained in. So the people that started in school with engineering management seemed like they knew what they were doing.

Regarding the math, even though I majored in geology, because I attended an engineering school, and I had to take most of the math the engineers did. I was terrible at math and had to take some of the three required calculus an additional time to get an acceptable grade. But all math is not the same. I discovered I was good at some aspects of math and not at others. And an organized hard worker will be fine in math, IMO. and I was an unorganized not hard worker in my college years. (luckily I wised up as an adult). I wouldn't let a fear of math stop anyone from at least trying engineering.
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Old 10-16-2015, 07:25 AM   #29
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I found the math wickedly difficult sometimes when I got my engineering degree. I don't think I ever really fully understood the most advanced calculus we had to take but toughed it out. Then, many of us took full advantage of being able to mix in finance and other looser-math work in 3rd and 4th year.

On the really tough math courses (and other technical things), I found that after first year, bell curving generally took care of the class as long as you put in the effort and were in the top half. I got 100% on several courses (not exams) I had no right to.

ps: as it turned out, I didn't practice 1 minute of actual engineering upon graduation. Was recruited for and went into "business" immediately. Engineering was and is and incredibly valuable education and life experience platform for almost anything in business. The "math" per se wasn't needed but the problem solving and finance and other math related things like engineering project economics and the like were of great use. I actually understood NPV and IRR like a business person and didn't feel completely stupid on day 1.
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Old 10-16-2015, 09:52 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Totoro View Post

And they are software engineers, so they can work from anywhere. Includes the beach.
Times are changing, and for those ER'd, if you've been away for a few years, you might be surprised at the changes.

We have the tools to work anywhere, anytime. But management wants people close by. It is called "Agile Scrum".

A good example of this was Yahoo. They recently called all their SW engineers back to the office.

So, don't think you can code at the beach. Melanoma worries continue to decrease.
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Old 10-16-2015, 10:24 AM   #31
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I really enjoyed my water/sewer civil engineering career in utilities until the last few years; was more of an admin than an engineer but enjoyed working with dedicated people in a field that meant something to me. Two kids are 4th generation engineers. DS is chemical but migrated to more civil working large projects in Africa. He spends little time in office, and what he does is all over the place. (What? who told you you could hire your cousin to be a driver while I was on vacation?!!! Many funny and painful stories)

Yeah, you can get cubicled as a civil especially if in a consulting firm (where some are now almost requiring a masters) but even they need field folks; unless you're on really big projects field work doesn't usually offer the bigger bucks. I always envied the field folks as it was a constant stream of challenges, although depending on your role it could mean a lot of conflict resolution (as in designer vs contractor vs owner). Have fond memories in early career working on wastewater plants at mega breweries when money was no

I always remember doing an internship around 73 when an old salt said "civil may not eat steak often but always can afford hamburger" in comparing to other engineering disciplines. I think there is some merit in that but certainly exceptions. I've always thought civil, especially water and sewer, were great careers going forward as it's pretty hard to imagine overseas outsourcing (yes, some can be but not a lot) and as the systems deteriorate and regs escalate there'll only be more work. Watched my DF suffer some unemployment several times as a chemical.
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Old 10-16-2015, 10:35 AM   #32
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I'm not out of the workforce. You have to look in the right places.

I've met quite a few ICT engineering folk recently who live anywhere and work anywhere. Not saying it's common by a long stretch, just that it can be done if you want.

One guy renting a place near the beach on Sri Lanka. Works half the time, the other time he's out. He lived in the philippines and indonesia as well. Another guy living in the woods with a really expensive satellite connection.

Scrum / Agile / DevOps doesn't always require physical presence. You have e.g. virtual scrum teams with offshore nearshore components. I worked with a company who did that with very good results.

In addition some software jobs require testing in the field to fine tune. These are typically R&D type jobs. Modular mining systems, unmanned submarines, agriculture monitoring (incl. new startups using robot swarms).
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Old 10-16-2015, 11:24 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Totoro View Post

Scrum / Agile / DevOps doesn't always require physical presence. You have e.g. virtual scrum teams with offshore nearshore components. I worked with a company who did that with very good results.
Oh, I'm not saying all scrum has to co-located. I'm just saying that many companies are demanding it and moving to this model. Not all.

And beware. Scrum is even filtering beyond software.

If you think "working from the beach" is automatic. It isn't. It may be possible, but not every employer will comply.
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Old 10-16-2015, 01:01 PM   #34
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Well, I can't really talk about how hard the math is - it was never a major interest for me, but it was also really easy, and I finished my engineering math courses freshman year. I majored in Mechanical Engineering and Economics (good at math and conceptual understanding systems), but went sailing after school and ended up in a civil engineering firm. In the past 14 years I've spent about half the time in the office doing design work and half the time in the field doing construction supervision. I'm much happier in the field, and I'm hoping to stay outside until I can retire (hopefully before 40).

If he can hack the math, I'd recommend civil engineering and working at CADD design for fun and side work while in school. If he can't, but can do construction management, do that, but recognize that he may end up doing documentation in the office 80% of the time. Really, if you're not designing or directing construction, your job as an engineer will be watching other people work and making sure that they are doing the work according to plan, and documenting the heck out of that work.

Since I was looking for work post 9/11, I ended up in civil work instead of the mechE I studied, but the chance to be outside often is a much better fit for me. The ability to be flexible and widely employable in work that is hard to outsource makes it s good path to follow in an uncertain economy and future; if it's at all appealing to him, recommend at least giving it a shot. Find something that you love to do nights and weekends and do that for a living when you've figured out how to make good money off of it, but until then civil engineering will keep you fed, employed, and possibly outside.
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Old 10-16-2015, 03:47 PM   #35
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To add to the discussion more as brought up earlier. The PE (Professional Engineer) license is more of a requirement for Civil Engrs than other majors. I have my PE, but in Metallurgical Eng, which is also my major. Never needed it for work, but always been brownie points on the resume. CE's need the PE because they have to sign off on drawings that affect public safety or similar type projects. It is a job requirement for many positions, especially those on state or govt jobs.

Or as the old saying goes: ME's build weapons, CE's build targets.
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Old 10-16-2015, 05:47 PM   #36
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I'm a civil engineer with 31 years experience. The degree requires courses in calculus and differential equations. They are basically there to weed people out of the career. I was able to pass those classes, but I never truly understood them. I learned how to pass them. Once you graduate, a civil engineer will likely never use calculus. When I graduated, civil engineers still had to be able to run through hand calculations, but nothing as complex as calculus. These days, most calculations are done with software, and the civil engineer just operates the software. For me, this is one of the changes that I have not liked about the career. But for someone who wants to work in construction, and out of the office, civil engineering has some great opportunities for that.
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Old 10-16-2015, 08:51 PM   #37
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BSCE here. I struggled through every required college math course twice (not by choice) because I vaguely knew I wanted to create big things that people use every day. Most of the civil courses were fun and easy by comparison.

Grab a blank DVD-ROM. Go to a city, county or state agency's engineering or permitting office. Introduce yourself to someone that looks like an engineer. Ask them to burn a copy of construction plans for a road or subdivision near your house. (The bigger the project the better. Ask for extras like the bid documents, right-of-way maps, drainage reports, environmental clearance documents, etc.) Deliver to son.

It's a good sign if he's interested enough to spend a few hours looking through the plans and checking out what was built vs. what's on paper.

Even better, suggest this plan to your son and see if might make the trip himself. Most government civil engineers locked in a cubicle preparing those plans and reports would be happy to take a few minutes to tell a curious kid what they do for a living.
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Old 10-23-2015, 03:12 PM   #38
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And don't forget the software people! In my experience the prevailing attitude among engineers of pretty much all stripes is anyone can do SW, it's easy!

Until the bugs show up and they'd call me and I'd fix it by "Making it unnecessarily complicated." But many of their shortcuts bugs would go completely away. And I'd be resented and show up on an already late project.

I'm mostly talking to you EEs... ("I just need a little more spaghetti time...")

Your happily retired microprocessor programmer,
Mike D.
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:59 PM   #39
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A BSCE was good enough for John P Greaney, who was my inspiration with his Retire Early Home Page Web site. He gives his story and career advice as well on that site. Recommended reading.

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Old 10-26-2015, 06:16 AM   #40
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When I started college, my advisor loaded me up with core courses, including ROTC and physical education, that had me going to school from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 5 days per week. It didn't take me long to realize advisors' jobs are to fill up every class offered with 25 students, and he didn't give a rat's tail about "advising" any student. Graduating in 4 years required averaging 16.5 semester hours at our state university. And freshmen engineering students were dropping like flies.

My best friend went to a small liberal arts college across town, and they cruised throughout the year taking only 4 courses--12 to 13 semester hours. They went to class 15 minutes longer and finished their Spring semester a month early. Then they took a couple of easy courses in April while partying hard. And their grades were substantially higher than those in the big university with 97% of graduates going to graduate school.

If I my motivated student didn't have high math aptitude, I would suggest he take very short course loads when taking the 5 day a week Calculus course and the really difficult Science courses. And he'd be going to Summer School. English, American History, Psychology and other such core courses can come later.

If a student has the determination to stick with the harder curriculums, he may have to take 6 years to get out. There's nothing wrong with that.

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