STEM Connection

Why Aren't Engineering Students Happier? Because It's Hard

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Charles Murray
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Re: Some things never change
Charles Murray   10/10/2012 6:34:02 PM
You raise some good points, dbull. I've always suspected that some of the engineering schools do poorly because of their gritty urban locations. IIT's setting isn't exactly pastoral and it takes some students a longer time to appreciate it, especially given stories like the one you've told here. As you also point out, however, downtown Chicago is close by. I suspect many of the senior engineering students learn to appreciate the setting.

Charles Murray
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Re: I was really happy when I graduated
Charles Murray   10/4/2012 9:21:16 PM
I couldn't agree more, edgyone. The happiest day of my college career was the final day. I know people who cried when they finished college. I certainly didn't.  

Charles Murray
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Charles Murray   9/14/2012 6:18:56 PM
Good points, bonjengr, especially with regard to "most of the professors wanting it that way." A few years ago, I interviewed an engineering professor who had previously worked at a major university in the Southeast. That university always asked students to rate their teachers. When her students gave her good reviews, she was called on the carpet by the college's administration. They told her,"If your students are that happy with your class, then it must not be rigorous enough."

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I was really happy when I graduated
edgyone   9/13/2012 3:28:33 PM
Engineering curriculams save all the happiness for the last day of classes!

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bobjengr   9/4/2012 6:19:06 PM
I suppose I was one of the lucky ones.  I knew during my junior year in high school I wanted to be an engineer.  I suspected mechanical but that took some consideration after I entered the university.  I will tell you what I did not expect.  Classes were held MWF AND TuThursSat.  Yes, we did have classes one-half day on Saturday.  They were a bit more lay-back but we did have them.   My three boys were absolutely amazed that anyone would conduct a class on Saturday.  I found engineering to be remarkably time consuming and just down right hard. You all know that when others were partying, we were in studying.  That's just the way it was and that's what you had to do to survive.  One other thing, there were no 4 point guys in any of my classes.  I feel most of the professors wanted it that way.  With that being said, I would not trade my engineering degree for any other degree nor any other profession

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Top 10 not on either list
Ann R. Thryft   9/4/2012 12:31:33 PM
Chuck, thanks for the clarification. I was wondering whether students in those top 10 schools were working so hard they didn't have time to notice they were unhappy, or working so hard they didn't have time to take surveys :)

Scott Orlosky
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Re: Happiness vs. Satisfaction
Scott Orlosky   9/3/2012 3:55:57 PM
Greg,  I think you make an important distinction.  Engineering, as a discipline, is exacting and requires a significant investment of time to do it well.  But like all great endeavors hard work carries a high degree of satisfaction, especially if done well.  It would be interesting to ask, say five to ten years down the road, of this same group how they fare in terms of job satisfaction.  The answer to that question would be very revealing.

Greg M. Jung
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Happiness vs. Satisfaction
Greg M. Jung   9/1/2012 10:33:29 PM
I agree many students in engineering school may not be as happy as their non-engineering friends.  Engineering school is tough.  It's not for the faint at heart.  You don't have nearly as much free time as many of the other students do.  However, if you have the unique personality type that matches this role, it can lead to great job satisfaction for many years to come.  I know a several engineers in their 60's who still find great satisfaction in going to work and solving technically challenging problems every week.  Yes, like many endeavors in life, engineering school is hard (and sometimes you can feel unhappy), but if you are one of the few who have a true passion for this field, it can be very rewarding long after college is over.

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Re: Happiness at WORK!
atemp   9/1/2012 11:19:23 AM
This brings to mind what my daughters's 9th grade peers are facing, namely having been pressured into the STEM track by pony-tailed liberal science teachers. 2/3 of the applicants to the local high school's Biotech "Academy" -- honors-level science, math etc. with pared-back curriculum in non-STEM subjects -- are girls, fulfilling the progressive agenda of displacing males from those disciplines. My kid has known since 6 she was going to tell stories as writing or in movies, and has been allowed to pursue this, despite getting very good math & science grades, winning top honors in two science fairs, and having an encouraging engineer father. She has zero interest in STEM, and after the bruising tech job market since 2008, I'm alright with that. We aleady know the unintended consequences of this forced approach: huge dropout rate, shortened careers, lower productivity, bad to no home or family life, and (bringing it back home) Unhappiness At Work, not only for the larger percentage of women for whom it's tragically wrong, but also for the men bumped off the technical track as boys.

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Re: The world view.
notarboca   8/31/2012 10:54:14 PM
@dbull--I can only wholeheartedly agree with your statements.  Mediocrity is far easier to reach than technical excellence, even if all the specs are met.  I have been stifled from creativity from the corporate side, and agree that leadership is something we and future engineers should consider as a valuable tool in our box of knowledge

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