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Old Oct 7, 2012, 10:44 PM   #1
undies1993
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Chemical or Electrical Engineer?

I am currently trying to decide if I should major in chemical or electrical engineering. Or both?
Right now my major is ChE, but I am working in an EE research lab. Also, I haven't started any major classes that would be different in the two so changing wouldn't hurt me.
What are the job/pay potentials? Are either of the fields approaching their limit?

I bring this question to here, well because I think some of you probably think like me and could be of assistance.

Thanks
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 01:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by undies1993 View Post
I am currently trying to decide if I should major in chemical or electrical engineering. Or both?
Right now my major is ChE, but I am working in an EE research lab. Also, I haven't started any major classes that would be different in the two so changing wouldn't hurt me.
What are the job/pay potentials? Are either of the fields approaching their limit?

I bring this question to here, well because I think some of you probably think like me and could be of assistance.

Thanks
Since you mentioned job and salary outlook, this might help. It's a nice resource to use.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 02:10 AM   #3
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Most EE's I know ended up as programmers who don't seem to compete quite as well as those with CS degrees.

do you think your interest in EE will hold such that this won't happen to you? If not I'd go with chemical engineering.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 08:26 AM   #4
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Since you mentioned job and salary outlook, this might help. It's a nice resource to use.
Thank you for the source.

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Most EE's I know ended up as programmers who don't seem to compete quite as well as those with CS degrees.

do you think your interest in EE will hold such that this won't happen to you? If not I'd go with chemical engineering.
If I go for EE, my school does offer a minor in CS.

Ideally, I think I would enjoy doing research more than anything else. I think my interest in research will keep that form happening to me, but who knows?
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 08:57 AM   #5
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Ideally, I think I would enjoy doing research more than anything else. I think my interest in research will keep that form happening to me, but who knows?

If you're wanting to do research and you're solely concerned about pay, you're already barking up the wrong tree.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 09:37 AM   #6
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Don't worry about pay. Worry about what you're going to enjoy doing.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 10:56 AM   #7
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Don't worry about pay. Worry about what you're going to enjoy doing.
I wasn't worried about pay, but it is always something to consider.

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If you're wanting to do research and you're solely concerned about pay, you're already barking up the wrong tree.
I never said I was solely concerned about pay.

----------

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Originally Posted by flopticalcube View Post
This can not be stressed enough.

Either can be a lucrative and rewarding career or one you grow to loathe. (I took the EE route, post-graduate).
Are you happy with your choice? What have you done? What are you doing now?
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 07:30 PM   #8
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Since you mentioned job and salary outlook, this might help. It's a nice resource to use.
Maybe with a gigantic grain of salt. There are a lot of gross inaccuracies here.

Just for starters, I checked Broadcast Engineers and found that Broadcast Operators were lumped in with them. Broadcast Maintenance Engineers were also lumped in with those two at the same salary (and if that is the median, I guess I'm pretty lucky, but in reality that is very inaccurate). These are very different jobs requiring very different skill levels; A Broadcast Maintenance Engineer designs and installs systems and maintains and repairs them, while a Broadcast Operator pushes buttons. A Broadcast Engineer is also quite a different thing from an AV guy at the local Hyatt, but all are lumped together here.

TV Directors, who make much less than Engineers at the local TV level, were lumped in with those who direct TV programs for Hollywood studios, and so their median salary was listed as higher, not lower, and at nearly twice what it really might be, and seriously less than those who direct top shows. Market ranking is also not taken into account; a top-ten local TV market pays quite differently than what they might in market 200.

So, bottom line, do not take the advice from this link literally. You will either end up being seriously misled, surprised, or disappointed. Maybe a bit of all three. There was little due diligence done here; the government drones who slapped this together did not do their homework first.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by undies1993 View Post
I am currently trying to decide if I should major in chemical or electrical engineering. Or both?
Right now my major is ChE, but I am working in an EE research lab. Also, I haven't started any major classes that would be different in the two so changing wouldn't hurt me.
What are the job/pay potentials? Are either of the fields approaching their limit?

I bring this question to here, well because I think some of you probably think like me and could be of assistance.

Thanks
Major in one or the other and pick the one that you enjoy most.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:06 AM   #10
undies1993
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with EE the focus potential will be in software / CS

with chemical the focus potential will be in pharmaceutical / material science (think aerospace)
Those are the major focuses, but there are other options. Right?

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Originally Posted by Plutonius View Post
Major in one or the other and pick the one that you enjoy most.
How do I know which one I enjoy the most?
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:12 AM   #11
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I am going to point out that in terms of Jobs there is a massive and I mean MASSIVE shortage coming for engineering in general. The tail end of the last big wave of engineers are in their 50's right now. It is a big fear in I know the oil companies as their experince is reaching retirement age and they do not have enough people in the pipe line to replace them much less handle ANY growth.

basically what I am saying is engineering is a very safe field in the long term no matter what type.

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Those are the major focuses, but there are other options. Right?
god yes. The biggest employers of chemical engineers for example are the oil companies. Chemical engineers are used in pretty much everything we use. EE have their hands in anything with electronics in it.

The oil companies employee a lot of EE as well.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:18 AM   #12
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I am going to point out that in terms of Jobs there is a massive and I mean MASSIVE shortage coming for engineering in general. The tail end of the last big wave of engineers are in their 50's right now. It is a big fear in I know the oil companies as their experince is reaching retirement age and they do not have enough people in the pipe line to replace them much less handle ANY growth.

basically what I am saying is engineering is a very safe field in the long term no matter what type.

----------



god yes. The biggest employers of chemical engineers for example are the oil companies. Chemical engineers are used in pretty much everything we use. EE have their hands in anything with electronics in it.

The oil companies employee a lot of EE as well.
As far as oil companies being the biggest employer of ChE, I do not want to work with the oil companies. I rather work against them and find energy alternatives which I think many people are working on.

As far as long term job security, I am nervous with either field. To but it briefly, there are limits to how many ways a chemical can be mixed and a limit to electronics as well.

I know pretty much manufacturer has a ChE for efficiency.

----------

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TBH, I actually used very little of my EE training. I got sucked into software (the theme seems to be common here) and then into the seedy underworld of high finance where my MASc was the lowest degree in the room! I thoroughly enjoyed my work, however, and managed to retire young(ish) so I can now pursue my EE as a hobby. From what I can tell most of my fellow classmates are all over the spectrum. Some doing EE, some doing software, some in management, some doing things unrelated. Some are happy, some are not.
I do not see myself in software and I think I would be unhappy their. Pursuing what I do as a hobby is good because it shows that I do enjoy it. I think EE has much more potential to be a hobby where you can't really by a hobby ChE.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:28 AM   #13
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As far as oil companies being the biggest employer of ChE, I do not want to work with the oil companies. I rather work against them and find energy alternatives which I think many people are working on.

As far as long term job security, I am nervous with either field. To but it briefly, there are limits to how many ways a chemical can be mixed and a limit to electronics as well.

I know pretty much manufacturer has a ChE for efficiency.
Does not change the fact that they are needed and new stuff is always being designed.

Also I am going to point out some of the biggest investors in alternative energy in the US is again the Oil companies. Hell BP for example was a game change in Wind Power by itself. It changed the rules to the game where instead of trying to find OK wind spots near transmission lines, it was changed to find the best spots for wind and we will build the lines to them.
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Old Oct 8, 2012, 11:28 AM   #14
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Those are the major focuses, but there are other options. Right?

How do I know which one I enjoy the most?
Sure, multitudes, your profs should be able to help point them out.

Also try to look beyond the obvious; perhaps you love photography, you check out the major players, Canon/Nikon/Sony and see that they need chemical engineers to develop lighter, stronger camera housings (for example).
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Old Oct 9, 2012, 03:33 AM   #15
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Sure, multitudes, your profs should be able to help point them out.

Also try to look beyond the obvious; perhaps you love photography, you check out the major players, Canon/Nikon/Sony and see that they need chemical engineers to develop lighter, stronger camera housings (for example).
I think you're confusing Chemical Engineering with Material Science. Sure Chemical Engineers can help with those fields but the Chem Eng skill set is much more heavily into fluids (i.e. liquids or gases and no dirty minds please ). To start with think heat exchange, fluid dynamics, phase change, separations, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), fluid flow and then you've got the chemical reactions to look at...

Traditionally the oil and petrochemical industry was the no. 1 destination for a ChemE nowadays there's also alternative fuels (bio, fuel cell and other renewables), the nuclear industry, pharmaceutical, water treatment, food, other heavy engineering, fermentation (including brewing....) and thousands of other applications. I'm sure I've not pulled everything out but I hope it sets the scene.

I've as masters degree in ChemE and have been in the industry for 15 years. There's a lot of jobs out there for any engineer I hope you chose what's best for you.

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Old Oct 10, 2012, 03:14 PM   #16
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my roommate in college did chemical. He said the homework pretty much destroyed his social life.
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Old Oct 11, 2012, 04:05 PM   #17
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Do you even like chemistry? If so, talk to some people who have taken organic.
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Old Oct 11, 2012, 06:58 PM   #18
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Do you even like chemistry? If so, talk to some people who have taken organic.
Organic is easy as hell, it's just memorizing a bunch of reaction mechanisms, there's almost no thinking involved.

Bitching about organic is standard practice for all the weak sauce "premed" kiddies getting lab tech biology degrees since all they do is memorize crap in their programs. "Ohhhh organic is SO HARD! I have to memorize all these things and barely have to actually use my brain!"
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 08:51 PM   #19
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my roommate in college did chemical. He said the homework pretty much destroyed his social life.
If we're talking about difficulty, it is probably a wash. I know as a Chemical Engineering major in college that I often spent long hours trying to do homework and study for exams, but that's engineering education. There are often times where I felt like I didn't see the light of day for a long period of time, but in all honesty, I still managed to have a good time in school.

Engineering is just a different beast than a lot of fields. The goal isn't always to get A's which I found frustrating. However, I cannot name any of my classmates in college who aren't currently employed. Add to that the fact that the last generation of engineers is in its late fifties (some of the age difference numbers from ExxonMobil are staggering) and Engineering looks like a prosperous field.
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Old Nov 21, 2012, 12:15 PM   #20
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If we're talking about difficulty, it is probably a wash. I know as a Chemical Engineering major in college that I often spent long hours trying to do homework and study for exams, but that's engineering education. There are often times where I felt like I didn't see the light of day for a long period of time, but in all honesty, I still managed to have a good time in school.

Engineering is just a different beast than a lot of fields. The goal isn't always to get A's which I found frustrating. However, I cannot name any of my classmates in college who aren't currently employed. Add to that the fact that the last generation of engineers is in its late fifties (some of the age difference numbers from ExxonMobil are staggering) and Engineering looks like a prosperous field.
my friend was able to find a job working for a pharmaceutical company. So I think they are out there. Just difficult to get. Networking is probably required.
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Old Oct 11, 2012, 04:07 PM   #21
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Do you even like chemistry? If so, talk to some people who have taken organic.
I think P-Chem (Physical Chemistry) was far worse than Organic.
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Old Oct 11, 2012, 04:45 PM   #22
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I think P-Chem (Physical Chemistry) was far worse than Organic.
Combine them both together and you get Soil Environmental Chemistry - one of the craziest classes I have ever taken.

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"Sanitation engineer" I do wish we didn't throw around the term engineer, sound engineer, sanitation engineer, recording engineer, etc. etc...not really the same as a chemical, electrical, mechanical engineer, etc.
How about flight engineer, train engineer, and my favorite - access control engineer!
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 11:36 AM   #23
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I am currently trying to decide if I should major in chemical or electrical engineering. Or both?
Right now my major is ChE, but I am working in an EE research lab. Also, I haven't started any major classes that would be different in the two so changing wouldn't hurt me.
What are the job/pay potentials? Are either of the fields approaching their limit?

I bring this question to here, well because I think some of you probably think like me and could be of assistance.

Thanks
I decided on an electrical engineering degree based on the recommendation of my employer. I'm a non-traditional student which necessitated an on-line degree. Based on the income potential studies I've followed it looks like a made a good decision.
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