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Incoming BioE Freshman, Thinking about Switching

cyborg939cyborg939 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
edited July 2011 in Engineering Majors
I will be starting college as a bioengineering major at the University of Maryland this fall. I am in a bit of a bind because I have such varied interests but I'm not exactly sure what I want to do. Right now, I am interested in entering the biomedical field, but I may also want to go to medical school after graduation. That is why I initially chose BioE (med school), but now I'm thinking that BioE might be too focused as an undergrad degree so I'm also considering chemical engineering and electrical engineering. Electrical seems interesting because it offers such a wide variety of options (I will probably discover that there are more interesting things than life sciences in college), and chemical engineering is appealing because it offers variety upon graduation while allowing the possibility of going to med school after graduation.

Also, I intend on earning at least a Master's degree in my chosen field after my undergraduate education. I have heard that BioE majors with graduate degrees have a better time finding a job.

It would be nice to decide soon because the EE requirements are not similar to BioE or ChemE as EE requires some programming courses freshman year.
Post edited by cyborg939 on
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Replies to: Incoming BioE Freshman, Thinking about Switching

  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    Aren't the freshman engineering classes the same for all disciplines? My son's school didn't make the students specialize until after the first year. They also offered seminars to introduce the various kinds of engineering to the students to help them make informed decisions. Good idea. Maybe your school does something like that, too.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 36,581 Super Moderator
    My son was required to take two or three specific BME classes as a freshman, so it's not unusual.
  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    Oh, I guess it varies by school. Sorry!
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,219 Senior Member
    lkf725 wrote:
    Aren't the freshman engineering classes the same for all disciplines?

    While math, physics, and humanities / social studies breadth are broadly the same, some courses may be major-specific. For example, chemical engineering majors take a full year of general chemistry versus zero to one semester for most other engineering majors. Electrical engineering majors often take more computer science courses since the major is closely related to, or combined with, computer science.

    If one is careful, it may not be that hard to "catch up" if one changes to a different engineering major after freshman year (chemical engineering may be an exception, since any delay in taking freshman general chemistry can delay a long chain of prerequisites).
  • cyborg939cyborg939 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    I'll be at the University of Maryland, so the difference between the BioE and EE curriculums are the two programming courses first and second semester each that go with the EE major and the special "Biology for Engineers" course for BioE majors. I figure it won't be too hard to catch up if I decide to switch into EE after the first year. Also, EE-specific courses start the second year, first semester while BioE courses start second year, second semester.

    My biggest concern is based on the fact that I may still want to go to medical school. This would be easiest to handle as a bioengineering major. The problem is that if I don't go to medical school, I'm "stuck" with a degree that covers a little bit of every kind of engineering, but doesn't go into depth with one kind of engineering. If I go to EE, then I sacrifice the medical school option for greater depth of study and the possibility for many other job opportunities in the future. Am I correct in my concern? What do you guys recommend I do?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,219 Senior Member
    If you switch to EE, would you have enough science elective and free elective space to shove in all of the pre-med requirements that are not required by the EE major?

    The other thing to note is that if your GPA is not high ( https://www.aamc.org/download/161690/data/table17-facts2010mcatgpa99-10-web.pdf.pdf ), then your chance of getting admitted to any medical school is low to nonexistent, so continuing to pursue pre-med further would likely be a waste of time.
  • khoieykhoiey Registered User Posts: 106 Junior Member
    Easy. To take the MCAT, go read their requisites or requirements. If I were you and preferred to major in EE, then I would do it and take BIO, CHEM classes at community college or even at your university in the summer just to meet the requirements if you decide to go to med school.
  • doctoratedoctorate Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    From what I've heard, switching from bioengineering is a good choice. You'll still have a good chance of getting into medical school from Electrical, so if that's where your interests lie, it seems like a sound decision.
    You can always do summer courses (although its not ideal) to catch up on major requirements if you switch majors later.
  • cyborg939cyborg939 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    My plan was, if I switch to EE, I would give up the pre-med option completely because it would be too much work and EE is far harder to maintain the high GPA required for med school admissions. That is why I am so divided right now (because I may want to go to med school, but not exactly sure).

    doctorate: Why do you say switching FROM bioengineering is a good choice?
  • cyborg939cyborg939 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    Also, can anyone speak about the opportunities available as an EE graduate (outside of electronic design, computer hardware)?
  • jwxiejwxie Registered User Posts: 1,479 Senior Member
    Aren't the freshman engineering classes the same for all disciplines?
    This statement is often confused by the sample curriculum grid. Students love using that grid because it plans out everything for them, and they face peer pressure that they should take core engineering courses as soon as possible.

    If you have a bunch of AP credits, such as Calculus BC, Physics C, English, Chem, you will be ahead of many of your peers, and so you can follow the sample plan.

    Beside that, some schools do this intentionally because those "core" introductory major courses have very low registration requirements. That's true. You don't need Caclulus to learn about digital / switching system. You can take Intro to computer science right away in the first semester.
  • doctoratedoctorate Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    I say switching from bioengineering is a good choice because from what I've heard, bioengineering doesn't give you the technical knowledge you need to succeed in engineering. Look at what you're interested within bioengineering - the UMD bioengineering site lists five subfields: Biomedical Devices; Cells, Tissues and Organs; Drug Discovery and Delivery; Energy and the Environment; and Premedical Education. If you're interested in biomedical devices, Electrical would prepare you better. If you're interested in cells, tissues and organs, some sort of biology might prepare you better. ChemE is better for drug discovery, and probably for energy and the environment as well (though I suppose that would depend on your exact interest). And you're not sure you want to go to Medical School.
  • cyborg939cyborg939 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    EE at the University of Maryland is far too difficult to maintain the good GPA required for medical school, so if I go in that direction, I sacrifice the med school choice. If I knew for sure that I didn't want to go to med school, I would switch to EE in a heartbeat.

    I'm planning on going to grad school anyway, so I'm sure BioE provide good job opportunities if I get a Master's or PhD. I'm still debating though.
  • doctoratedoctorate Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    Why BioE as oppose to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering? (I'm in the position of choosing between these two majors, so any insight you might have on this would be awesome).
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