Charles, this heavy demand can often continue after graduation: larger salary yet much longer work hours, enticing technologies yet exhaustive road travel, tangible project successes yet no path to upper management (CxO are usually from Sales staff). And let's not overlook those companies/industries where the management makes all these heavy demands of their engineering staff but never invests in them... maybe threatening to offshore such functions to India or China. While sometimes there is no way around the hard spots and you simply have to put your nose to the grindstone, both students and employees in engineering will find that sometimes the good of the vocation is badly undermined by those entities whom control our daily functions.
I think that all serious engineering students intuitively understand that their chosen course of study represents a trade-off of happiness, near-term vs. long-term. I can't remember too many 'happy' times in my Purdue EE journey, except the simple gratification of receiving good marks. The rest of my memories are filled with 'unhappy' times spent in libraries, study rooms, lecture halls, labs and evening/weekend cash labor jobs.
Choosing a needed, practical and useful profession and the sacrifices that went along with learning the discipline have all paid off rather quickly for me; full employment, competitive employment options, global demand and the ability to add value to society.
Underwater basket-weavers, by contrast, are quite happy to be in school (brats escaping from parents rule??) but too many end up camped out on their parents couch or working at the local burger joint. Further evidence that nothing worthwile in life is free.
"The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price." Vince Lombardi
I have a slightly different take on this. The four-year undergrad grind for an engineering degree is hard! Mentally, Physically, and Socially. You definitely have to chose your priority.
What made me unhappiest about the undergrad exerience was that I never really got to apply what I was learning until the summer or winter breaks, and by then I was too tired, hungry, and starved for human interaction. Always, it was race through the chapters and problem sets and regurgitate it on an exam a few weeks later. If you struggled with something, there was no time to catch up.
I did fine - I had a rich experience as a kid, building things and taking them apart... turning all the resistor bands brown, making parts squirt smoke... a foundation too many of my peers lacked. My youthful experience provided me the gifts of intuition and insight that helped immeasurably when I slammed head-first into the theory and math. This is why I know STEM activities are important to future engineers and scientists.
I don't have any answers - I think undergrads need time to tinker and explore (use!) the tools they're developing. But there is no time for this in the four year program, and seemingly little time in our kids lives for the kind of "tech play" I enjoyed in my youth. I had the most fun in grad school, where alongside a solid grad course load, I was designing, building, testing, and fielding sensors - to me, this felt like what an education should be.
Lou, I went to IIT and so did my father. I was also the one that started the LinkedIn discussion. What came out of the LinkedIn discussion were two people that didn't like IIT and a whole lot of people, including myself, that started in the workplace much more prepared than any of their peers from just about any major. We do have one of the toughest curriculums in the country and the immediate location is not Malibu. And yet most people were able to find a good time in the few hours they had left from studying. We also made our way into downtown Chicago often. Here's a story that says a lot. When I was there in the 80's one of the students was carjacked. The thief had a gun and drove him into an alley a few miles from campus. When the thief ordered the kid out of the car he asked the robber if he could have his books as this was finals week. The robber pointed the gun at him and said, "what do you think this is?" but gave him the books anyway. I will leave this discussion at that. On a positive note that LinkedIn discussion opened the way for me to get more involved with IIT's Alumni Association and we are doing some good things!
I went to IIT and we've got to be close to having at least 50% engineering students. Last year when we made the list, however, we found Princeton Review had not used current surveys to rank us. I'm going to have to look that up again. However, we were just ranked as the 24th most rigorous curriculum in the U.S.
The Princeton crowd wouldn't know a tech school if it bit them in the butt. I'm an EE from U of Michigan which is a university, thanks, with a fine College of Engineering. We nerds partied as much as the lazy dopers in the next-door Liberal Arts college, and nobody fretted about "happiness" or sniveled "it's haaaard". Either you're fine with being a grind, or you downshift into Advanced Basket Weaving. "We got jobs!" was the motto of the class of '80.
Through my numerous major changes and several transfers I noticed that all the schools had something in common, they treated engineering curriculum as honor student courses and graded much, much tougher than any of the other classes. I think they failed to realize that there are honor student dorms with students taking honor classes. I had even been told we grade the way we do to protect the engineering professions from a flooding of people. I think it's the only curriculum that allows 25 steps of correct math operations to result in an F because the number at the end is incorrect. hmm.. I thought the professional certification at the end was to keep those not so good engineers from making big mistakes much like the BAR and CPA exams. Gotta love the way the fella in the article brushes off student unhappiness.
Actually, Ann, several of the schools that you mentioned -- Stanford, California-Berkeley, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Cornell -- wouldn't have been counted as engineering schools, anyway. For the purposes of this list, I counted it as an engineering school if 50% or more of enrolled students are in engineering. In a sense, that makes it all the more amazing that so many e-schools made the list. The group of schools that have 50% engineering enrollment is very small.
I agree, tekochip. I believe one of the reasons for the unhappiness is that other students seem to have more time to go out on the town, while the engineering students are hitting the books. It makes them wonder why they're doing it. The answer to that question doesn't get revealed to them until they start interviewing for jobs.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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