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becoming an engineering with no science-type degree

siglio21siglio21 Registered User Posts: 2,678 Senior Member
edited May 2010 in Engineering Majors
is it possible? just curious...
Post edited by siglio21 on

Replies to: becoming an engineering with no science-type degree

  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    You are going to have to rephrase that question. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

    If you mean can you get an engineering position at a company without even a science-type degree, then the answer is no, not a chance.
  • siglio21siglio21 Registered User Posts: 2,678 Senior Member
    ^but what if the guy had no degree, and worked as a technician for a few years and self-studied a bunch of math and physics
  • cyclone10cyclone10 Registered User Posts: 400 Member
    the last company I worked for was like this if your a technician/mechanic...

    work 10 yrs --> reward! you get to work during the daytime (no joke)
    work 30 yrs --> reward! you get to attend morning meetings and tell the engineers what your men did and didn't fix, but the intern has to swipe his ID card in the morning to let you into the office space (complete bs I know)

    on the serious side...back in the day,in a mfg facility mechanics and technicians actually helped run the place because automation and control systems weren't in place, after 30 yrs they learned a lot about the process and became surpervisors

    now a day's the problem is that controls and automation results in a process engineer making a phone call and telling them to press a button or two..suffice to say they don't learn much over time...

    basically if tech's and mechanics thought they had it bad last couple generations the new generation is completely screwed...go to school people, even a 2 yr technical degree will make a difference.

    note: I honestly have the most respect for mechanics that have worked 30 yrs at a plant, really. Just saying this stuff because the harsh truth is you don't want to be that guy...and it's getting worse to be that guy
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    siglio21 wrote:
    ^but what if the guy had no degree, and worked as a technician for a few years and self-studied a bunch of math and physics

    That used to be commonplace, but anymore, it is rare. People who have been in a company for like a zillion years as a technician and have proved themselves can do it, but it takes a long time and it is mainly something that happens to people already at the company. From everything I have heard, that sort of thing is less and less common these days.

    However, it is highly unlikely that you would get a technician job without a 2 year degree with some sort of science background. It is often useful for your techs to have some idea of what is going on.
  • BostonEngBostonEng Registered User Posts: 342 Member
    tends to happen in software every once in a while. if you can code, you can code. especially true for college grads with non-cs degrees (math, physics, heck even philosophy).
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    Well I guess that raises the question of whether software engineering is truly engineering. It really isn't in a traditional sense.
  • ME 76ME 76 Registered User Posts: 321 Member
    I would think it would be very difficult to get a technician job without any sort of degree. And regarding getting into engineering by self study of math and physics, It just is not going to happen. Universities have engineering programs for a reason. I don't think we want people designing things that have no engineering degree that have self-studied math and physics. Sorry to be blunt but this is the truth.
  • rocketDArocketDA Registered User Posts: 1,565 Senior Member
    "but what if the guy had no degree, and worked as a technician for a few years and self-studied a bunch of math and physics"

    there is a definite difference between a technician and an engineer. unless the guy gave himself a full 4 year education in physics, chemistry, math (mulitV, diffEq, linAl), continuum mechanics, electrical, systems analysis, signals, etc... he is not an engineer. he is a well-informed technician.

    technician skillsets tend to be hardware-centric. engineers may not know the procedure to do this or that, but they understand what procedures need to be done and understand the whole picture. i've heard stories about technicians overstepping their bounds ultimately leading to 400 million dollar mistakes. in one case (that i heard of) at lockheed, technicians thought it'd be okay to remove some bolts from a satellite assembly fixture because they were not currently in use. the next day the satellite was rotated and literally fell out and hit the ground, severely damaging the satellite. oops.


    jpl has fantastic technicians that know a lot about engineering. however, while they can provide some input to the design to help it go together easier, they are purposely not included on the high-level design. that is an engineer's job.
  • lucky2010lucky2010 Registered User Posts: 1,465 Senior Member
    My dad was a technician for a long time. He just self learned and he's really smart, knows how to build nearly anything but he wants one of those cnc saws and he's asking if after a bit of college I'll be able to help him program it (I might since they have those in the mechE workshops and I get to learn how to use 'em within my first few weeks). I know my way around engines and how to fix most cars and how to fix ACs and set electricity mostly thanks to him and my brothers (my brother taught me how to hot wire the electric boxes to get free electricity, really shouldn't know that, also cars and a lot of wiring work). All that means nothing because they'll never be engineers. My dad would be able to correct this one engineer at his old job but that guy would just take the credit and even when my dad spoke up it meant nothing because he didn't have a degree.

    It's why they push me to go to school so much.

    Nothing worth it is easy, that's obvious about life. If you want to be an engineer you're going to have to go to school and work for it.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Registered User Posts: 1,770 Senior Member
    Well sure you can. Now if the question is about how hard it is, or the quality of the job you'd get... heh, that's a good question. Why not get a degree?

    Yeah, software engineering isn't as mature as other fields of engineering yet. You could argue that AeroE and CompE are almost as new but that's really not true, since these are really just branches of MechE and ElecE, respectively.

    A lot of people see the software field maturing so much that graduate training becomes the norm for practictioners, sort of like it is for science majors now. I guess we'll see.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    AMT, that isn't exactly what I mean. What I mean is that software engineering isn't like traditional engineering in that it does not involve physics as its basis. It is a lot easier to self teach yourself to program and then prove it to an employer than it is to self teach yourself physics and applied engineering sciences and prove it to an employer.

    Now, pure computer science is different, and that would be tougher to teach yourself on your own and prove that you actually know it. Software engineering, though, only requires a knowledge of the programming language and logic a lot of times.

    I hope that came off the right way. I am kind of having trouble putting my thoughts to words right now.
  • NukewarmNukewarm Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    After you successfully become an engineering, you should also look into becoming an internets.

    I hear prospects for both are bright.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    ^ haha best post I have read all week!
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Registered User Posts: 2,886 Senior Member
    Software engineering gets barely a "big toe" in engineering only because it uses an engineering approach to producing software....basically the "systems engineering" approach. Yes, software engineering pays my bills and is the name of the group I work in at my employer but I don't have a problem with folks discussing the justification of SoftE being actual "engineering".

    To be honest, I am more comfortable with the discipline being called "software development" than software engineering.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Registered User Posts: 1,770 Senior Member
    I guess the real question concerns what the definition of engineering is and/or ought to be.

    "The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems."
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
    - By this definition, I would consider Software Engineering to either (a) be engineering today or (b) be an emerging engineering subdiscipline.

    Software Engineering the major is accredited by ABET. Some countries license them.

    At the end of the day, I don't really think it matters what you call the thing. It's the association that the name implies that is at issue... I would concede, and have conceded, that SoftE is not very mature yet, and it will take time - decades, perhaps - before it approaches the level of other engineering subdisciplines. I mean, the fact of the matter is that there is no difference* between what a SoftE should do and what any other engineer should do... just different media are involved. Certainly software is not less important or less lucrative compared to what other engineers do, and although one could debate whether it is as intellectually challenging or not, I don't think that such a debate would be a very productive one.

    * I suppose one could try to incorporate the idea of physical products or physics/chemistry into the definition of engineering, but doing that seems artificial to me, at least.

    By the way, lest anybody think that I am just plugging SoftE because I'm into that, I'm really not. Being in CS has given me time to think some of these philosophical things over and I'm just putting in my two cents.
This discussion has been closed.