Looking for a college major

I’m a senior in HS and looking for a major, but can’t find exactly what I like, what ‘floats my boat’.

My interests and what I’m looking for:
In FIRST, I’m the programming and electrical guy on my team, and thats what I’d like to do as a career. I like making something physical that I can program with a PC. I’m more interested in the programming then making the physical thing, so I’d settle for something like “Hey, program this robotic system we made”. Ive been looking for majors and can’t find anything like that.

I am going to do two years at my local community college then transfer to a state college probably for 2 or 3 years. Heres what Ive found so far:

One of them I would take engineering sciences at the community college, then transfer to NJIT (My top choice, pretty much) and major in mechanical engineering. After a year or two or something like that, I’d specialize (is that the word for it?) in robotics. The problem I have with that is I am more interested in the electrical/programming end then the mechanical end. I don’t mind a mechanical class or two here and there but majoring in it would drive me crazy.

I can’t remember any other options off the top of my head, but I did look at electrical engineering at Rowen and it still wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Any suggestions?

This is why we have Mechatronics Engineering.

If you want more info, just cruise around that website, its probable that a local University has something similar though.

Going to look at that now. I also stumbled on this:
http://mechanical.njit.edu/research/roboticstraininglab.php
the “Programmable Logic Controllers” caught my interest.

Though it’s not in your area, check out http://ecee.colorado.edu/ for ideas. I take my engineering students on a tour, hosted by the ECEE faculty and students each spring and the kids love it. Your post is exactly what we hear from the students in this program. Good luck!

If I’m not mistaken, this is practically the definition of EECS (Electrical Engineering/Computer Science). I’m hoping to major in EECS as well when I get to college. After learning (very) basic electrical principles in school and high-level languages of my own accord, I want to learn about the levels of abstraction between the two and hopefully get a career in something in between.

Well, my mom has a mind set on “It has to be in NJ” while my dad says it can be anywhere, don’t listen to her. So preferably something in NJ. I think the Mechatronics is exactly what I’m looking for.

Oh, and my GPA is meh, this why I’m going to the community school first.

Computer engineering is halfway between being an electrical engineer and being a computer science major. Looks like it fits your interests, and I believe it is fairly common.

Also here’s some shameless promotion for my university if you’re interested.

I am kinda in your position. I found a school that I really like (Lake Superior State University) which offers Computer Engineering major and a Robotics Technology Minor, which is what I think I am going to do. I really like the programing and electrical side of things but also like to do a little of the mechanical side so I think it fits me perfectly.

I’m not big on PC hardware, I’m more of a software guy.

I guess I don’t even know what I really want…

More like…the programming of something physical, rather then the creation of it? My head hurts trying to figure this out lol.

I looked and Electrical and Computer Engineering also, I was pretty set on that for awhile. But again, it was a but hardware intensive. Maybe I should just go for CS?

Im going to look that up now, thanks

Try for Software Engineering. Or just Computer Systems Engineering and no electrical dual if you want to avoid a tiny bit of the hardware, I guess.

If you can’t decide, you might try to go for a Computer Engineering/Computer Science dual degree, but it would take an extra year and you would wind up with a masters degree. The same goes for Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

Here’s an example of what would be needed to fulfill the requirements to get the first dual degree.

Honestly, I’d contact NJIT and try to speak with an adviser. Even though you’re not yet a student, you may well be surprised at how helpful advisers can be.

Especially at NJIT and the like though, there are a lot (no really, a lot) of choices. Moreover, names can sometimes be deceiving, especially if you’re not completely sure what you’re looking for. I’d recommend clicking through the majors/concentrations & minors lists and looking through the curriculum/student outcomes.

Do remember to keep an open mind though, and remember that we sometimes focus on what we know we like rather than what might be even more interesting. Especially with a few years of community college to go, there’s nothing that says you need to choose right now. (Case-point: The first class my mother took in college was biology for non-STEM majors. She’s now an Ivy League veterinarian with a masters in statistics.)

Remember, you don’t have to have this entirely figured out coming into college. A large percentage (not sure of the actual number) of college students change their majors during their time there, and, as far as I know, it’s usually not too difficult to switch between engineering disciplines. Many colleges don’t even require you to declare a major until sophomore or junior year. The fact that you already have it down to two or three engineering disciplines is a good start. Come in knowing your general area, then try to pin it down during your first year. Your classes early on should give you a taste of what those disciplines are really about, and you may end up really liking one or deciding that you don’t like one at all.

I can’t reiterate this enough, and I wish someone had given me this advice sooner. I entered WPI as a EE, and was eaten alive. Long story short, it wasn’t a proper fit, and I switched to CS which I am now absolutely fascinated with various applications of CS (actually have sort of a division of interest between robotics and entrepreneurship).

My main point is if you start in one major, do not feel compelled to stay in that major. If it doesn’t feel right after you’ve taken 2 or 3 courses in it chances are its only gonna get worse. So if you find yourself in this situation, change majors and try to do it sooner than later(I changed majors halfway through my sophomore year, I initially tried out some CS courses and never really intended on changing majors until my dad pointed this out to me[He started chem eng, finished ME, and is now a software engineer]). I wound up wasting so much of my early undergrad career out of some mis found sense of dedication to EE.

Unfortunately, it’s VERY confusing. Even in the field, you’ll find a slew of titles to go along with someone whose responsibility is mainly programming and logic for robots.

There are a large number of companies who specialize in robots. ABB, Fanuc, and a number of others. I’m 100% certain that we have folks in this forum that work for those companies. Tell them what it is you want to do, and ask them what type of degree they look for when interviewing.

Heck… there’s some guy… ex-mentor for the Thunderchickens, now he belongs to the robo-somebodies… I think he wears flourescent green shoes alot…:wink:

You might want to ask him.

Brandon,
If I were you, I would truck down to the college placement or career office in your school and tell them you are unsure about your future. There are tests that can help you decide what you are really, deep down, interested in. When speaking with an entrance counselor at Bradley a few years ago he told my son “Our average entering engineering student has a 25-27 on the ACT with a 27-29 in math and 23-25 in English.” If you need to go to community college for financial reasons that is fine. If you are worried about grades, then you need to ask to be sure. The perfect school is the one where you will be happy and learn.

It sounds like you want to do Electrical Engineering in a Programming track (rather than a hardware track). Any major is going to have some classes that won’t be terribly exciting for you, but you’ll probably find use for most of them. For two robotics classes in college I made sure to get a programming track EE on my team. They were able to take care of the electronics and programming in each robot with good proficiency. Check out other colleges too, different colleges will have different EE-related tracks that may be more what you’re looking for.

To be honest I never would have considered Cooper Union on my own, I just checked it out because my Mom was bugging me about it, I applied and considered it my 4th or 5th pick school. Turns out it was a perfect match. Go figure.

You may also want to check out Engineering Technology programs. These tend to be a bit less theoretical and a bit more hands on. Many students find these programs to be a better fit.

WPI has a Robotics Engineering undergraduate and graduate program with concentrations available for mechanical, electrical, or software.

My recommendation would be to try not to specialize too early. At this point, robotics may be what you’re most familiar with, but there’s a lot of things out there. Get a degree in Computer Science, and try out a variety of classes. If you find something else you’re interested in college, that’s great. If robotics is still something you’re interested, get a masters degree from a university that has specialties in robotics (eg Carnegie Mellon).

In the long run, your undergraduate university won’t be as important as your graduate university, so you can make your mom happy and stay close to home.

I went to a community college for money reasons, and then transferred to a private school. Overall, I saved around $30k. My student loans are almost payed off, compared to many of my coworkers who still have a long way to go.