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Unread 03-15-2004, 09:28 PM
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Problems with College Engineering Programs

I'm currently a freshman at a small liberal arts college in MA. I decided to get out of my personal hellhole (high school) and go to a weird little college that's designed for kids who want to get out of their high schools early. I like my school a lot, but its very small, largely unknown so I've been planning (like most people here) to transfer elsewhere. I found out about this neat little program that my school has where if you keep your GPA above 3.0 and get a favorable recommendation you are guaranteed admission to the schools of engineering at either Columbia, Dartmouth or Washington U (St. Louis). You spend three years at Simon's Rock, 2 at one of those schools and end up with a B.A. and a B.S. -- not bad!

... then I looked at the pre-requisites. In order to do this, you have to do a hefty pre-engineering courseload. So I took the list of prereqs and tried to figure out how many classes I needed to take. I soon realized that this pre-engineering would take roughly 2 years and the time I spent at one of the engineering school would be devoted entirely to one subject.

But wait a minute! I'm in college! I like math and science but I like many other subjects as well and I don't want to spend the rest of my time in college focused entirely on a single thing. Those classes might make me a well-trained engineer, but if I have to do them at the expense of learning how to be an excellent writer, or taking classes in areas such as history, political science, philosophy, the arts, etc won't that hurt me in the long run? What good is an engineer who doesn't have any of this liberal arts background? I want to be able to learn about and bring things together from a wide variety of fields and it doesn't seem like you can do that at most engineering schools. Someone was telling me a little while ago about Reagan's SDI program - all these brilliant young Ph.D's who looked at the project as just a neat physics problem without conceiving of any of the political or social issues involved. Does it worry anybody else that engineering schools are so focused that the students they churn out are great at thinking about math, science and engineering but don't have much training in anything else? Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but it seems worrisome to me.

Anyway, personally I think I'm probably going to major in Cognitive Science, which is an interesting combination of neuroscience, psychology, computer science, linguistics, education and other fields.
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Unread 03-16-2004, 07:36 AM
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Re: Problems with College Engineering Programs

Wow, this is very different from what I am currently experiencing. I am a Bioengineering student at Penn State University, and the politics in the Big University have taken me to my limits, and I have become so frustrated that I have considered just changing my major to premedicine. My goal when coming to college was to just complete my needed degree to attend Medical School. Here I am now, and taking all of the needed math, science and tough engineering work in addition to MANY HOURS of GENERAL STUDIES such as philosophy, music, and world religions that I find abolutely a waste towards this given degree. Where, at the same time I am competing for seats in Medical School against students who completed only an 1/8 of the math that an engineering student must complete, and many more differences.

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Unread 04-16-2004, 10:31 AM
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Re: Problems with College Engineering Programs

I'm currently studying biomedical engineering and management of technology at Vanderbilt University. Here, everyone has to fulfill CPLE classes (Core Program for a Liberal Education.) It's their way of making sure that once everyone gets out of here, they won't just be well-versed in one subject. I also am pre-med, but the only changes that apply to me are taking a writing course and organic chemistry. Those, however, will fulfill some of my CPLE requirements so I'm not going to have so called 'extra hours.' And from what i have been told, it's an advantage to have an engineering degree and apply to medical school because it does show you are well rounded. I know here at our medical school the acceptance rate for engineers vs. just pre meds is higher. . . . hope that helps a little
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Unread 04-18-2004, 05:35 PM
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Re: Problems with College Engineering Programs

Wow. This is certainly enticing. I'm a future biomedical engineering major and I also hope to go into medicine. Everyone that I've heard tell me anything about the particular route of study is focused on the idea that you should definitly have a number of liberal arts courses due to the fact that depending on what particular field you go to it may be necessary to understand particular logistics that you can't get by just studying math and science. For example, I want to be a pediatrician of some sort. Would it make more sense for me to take some sort of science class that I really won't ever actaully need as a credit or for me to take science psychology so it shows up on my transcript and I have some bearing for me future career? Something that matters obviously. Best of luck to all of you.
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