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When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?
5

When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

(OP)
When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Do you think there are some definite restrictions one must place on their interest in engineering, such as age, skill, math/science aptitude?

I suppose it would make perfect sense to urge an interested person not to enter the field if their grasp of mathematics is severely limited, but what of the real world practicing amateur engineer. I am referring to a tradesman, craftsman, or technician who puts his/her mind to the test everyday coming to solutions on field problems which may have had a similar origin at an engineers desk. Should these people be urged to enter the field, or put themselves through a college engineering program?

If one should have a natural inclination toward the discipline and techniques of professional engineers should they take aggressive means to propel that desire and manifest a reality out of it, and if so what restrictions would you think should apply? Age? Sex? Marital status?   

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Persons should be restricted based on skill/knowledge and intelligence, as they are already.
Of course a hands on app. is good, but it is sad to see how many trades people that think they can engineer. Just because you can think of another way to weld 2 pipes together doesn't mean you "engineered" anything. What science was behind that decision???...ect.
....

All in all, anyone who is interested should think about it.

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

the younger you start the better since experience is the best teacher

i also observed that respect from colleagues varies directly with age...Seniors engineers had a lot of talking while juniors had a lot of listening

Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. engineers creates wonderful buildings, but only God can creates wonderful minds

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I used to teach the Engineering activity pin to Weblos (the last year of Cub Scouts, Grade 5 kids), and I differentiated Engineering from other activities by saying that Engineering was "the application of mathematics to describe the physical world and to predict the effect of proposed changes".  In short if you struggle with arithmetic then no matter how innovative you are, your chance of success in Engineering school and in Engineering practice is going to be curtailed.

Someone with poor math ability should avoid the profession.  Other than that, age, gender, race, religion, cultural heritage, or sexual orientation should not be a barrier to entering or succeeding in the field.

David

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

There are no limitations on when you can start to learn ANYTHING.  It gets tougher, but it's no doubt good for you too.

There are definite limitations on when pursuing a course of study is worth it economically relative to the investment of non-earning time and tuition involved.

FeX32 can tell you why I think anybody who is considering engineering as a career option should give their heads a shake first- he apparently has my tirade memorized by now.  But as I've said before, the people who are truly committed will not be deterred by the facts.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Never too late.

______________________________________________________________________________
This is normally the space where people post something insightful.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Tirade? I agree with that.
Truthfully, I have seen more incompetent engineers than I would like to see. But who am I to judge.
Also, our country has a history of technological superiority then most. Take the avro arrow for example. Destroyed because of the stupidity of politics.
Why don't we make a "DON'T GO INTO ENGINEERING IN CANADA WEB SITE". nosmiley
Preferably positive thought is more constructive then negative.  

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

4
I would definately not pursue an engineering career after death.  Any time before that is alright by me.  I don't even think that math and science aptitude is critical.  It may be critical for many fields within engineering, but there are engineering fields that don't need exceptional math skills.  If a student can struggle through the required classes with a passing grade, they have the required aptitude.  Most engineering debacles are not because of a computation error, but because of a failure to understand the failure mode or how a product will actually be used which is more conceptual then mathematical.

-Kirby

Kirby Wilkerson

Remember, first define the problem, then solve it.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

If you're getting into it for personal satisfaction, there's no such thing as too late. However if you're getting into it for financial reasons, a future worth calculation can provide a much more qualitative answer than any number of opinions we can provide.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Generally, our only obstacle is ourselves.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

KirbyWan:  I agree with you on the "after death" part- according to a good joke I heard, apparently practicing engineering in hell can cause more than the usual disagreement between God and the devil- and where's God going to find a lawyer?

FeX32:  the website you suggest doesn't exist- perhaps it should.

One that comes close, though, is www.notcanada.com .  I'd estimate that about half the participants in their forum are foreign-trained engineers who have been unable to find work as engineers in Canada, and hence have an axe to grind.  They blame Canada and Canadians for their plight, rather than the job situation for engineers- understandable, since they keep hearing this rubbish in the media about Canada having a generalized "shortage of skilled workers".  If you have a hard time hearing from me on this topic, you're going to LOVE what these folks have to say about us as a nation!  

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I could not care less for those people that think they can come to our country and steal our careers, these are rightfully ours to begin with. Period.
Stay in your own country if you are "well off"......
Why would we want more Engineers that can't even multiply. Who knows how they got their qualifications, "back where they came from".
Despicable.

 

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

by the way, I have many friends from EUROPE that are superb engineers that came here passed the test with flying colours and now are professionals.
One of them came and took the exam the very same week he arrived.
In fact, in some cases you don't even need the test. Another friend of mine from eastern Europe got an equivalency degree recognition through one of our equivalency departments at a university. This only took about 1 month.
That site is crock. Period. smarty

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

not to mention my buddies from China. I don't hear them complaining. If they could they would have 3 P.Eng's by now. pipe      

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Since we cannot pursue engineering after death, I assume that also applies to the death of the economy?

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

(OP)
Thank you for all the replies. There has been some positive feedback save for the bit about avoiding Canada! I've posed this question for personal reasons, you see, I am 35 and have recently returned to school in an effort to achieve at least an AS Engineering from my community college. I left school the first time due to two reasons, first being a lack of career goal which made picking a major quite difficult, the second being my involvement with a touring music group.

Being an extremely pragmatic person I chose the electricians trade as a day job because of the specialization allowing me to pick up work whenever I needed it in whatever city. Once a marriage and child come into play the touring stopped and the electrical trade became more serious beginning with a union membership. Having completely pulled out my hair from the Marxist ideology of trade unions I left after 10 years in the trade to join yet another union in the communications business as a network technician for Verizon.

Three years into optical networking I came to a similar plateau I reached in my electrical situation, performing well over the intended mark, not out of vanity or brown nosing but natural talent. It seemed clear to me once Verizon issued mass layoffs that I should seek challenging work. The jobs available mandated an associates in engineering as a minimum, so the path seemed clear, go get an associates.

However, without even considering the grander concept I seemed to be poised to embark on a greater journey toward professional engineering. It stimulates me to use those parts of my mind that had only been minimally tapped in my previous work experience. I must explain that much of my attitude toward science and mathematics has been split open wide from a passion for philosophy. The "a-ha" moments I experienced from reading Kant or Sartre have been replaced with the same intellectual buzz I get from school chasing the engineering degree.

So, I do stay awake some nights reeling from the thought I'm being foolish and putting my family at risk in an effort to get the mental "a-ha" fix. In your opinion would someone of trade stature be able to cross over the engineers threshold at an age like 35?  

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I suggest, you do not avoid Canada.
Only come here if you are the "creme of the crop", otherwise there are others who will step on you.
And some who will do so with a large grin as well.
{no pun intended}

Moving on, 35 is not too bad. I suggest you do it part time while you work as an electrician.
And every evening, you can study "a-ha" fix and all. smile

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

filasofee:

I can appreciate your position.  I was a union tinner and felt the need for more challenge.  I got a bs in m.e. and went to work as an engineer.  For me an engineering job was not as satisfying as engineering school was.  I changed jobs and got a masters in m.e.  That still wasn't fulfilling.  I got a phd in m.e., and a new job and I still feel unsatisfied professionally.  

I have reached an age where my friends in the sheet metal trade are retiring (fairly young) and I don't have any pension from my engineering efforts, so don't forget to look at the big picture.  

I think that engineering is a big gathering place for all kinds of people.  Some of us are from engineering families, some of us are natural engineers, some were advised to become engineers, some are like you and me: people who want more professional fulfillment after trying something else.  My advice is to look around.  Engineering can be very fulfilling to the right person, but so can physics, mathematics, geology, meteorology, theology, etc.  

You should think about augmenting your trade with something that you find personally stimulating.  Maybe you shouldn't quit your day job.  If you have a secure source of income you can delve into more obscure areas of knowledge just for the sake of learning.  Don't get a degree to just do a cleaner kind of grunt work.  Do something that will stimulate you.  Don't sink yourself into debt and postpone your life for the promise of an engineering degree unless you know that engineering is definitely the right choice.  I don't think that age will deter you from proceeding with your dreams.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Don't let lack of aptitude stop you.  With enough of that, you will soon be an engineer's boss.

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

There are plenty of engineering jobs that don't come with "a-ha" moments.  Some engineers seem to like the "I did that" satisfaction.  Being an "a-ha" type, I got bored after my first 5 years - there's no "a-ha" in turning the same old handle for a different client.  Finding a position that hits the right spot is important.

- Steve

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

i think you can not blame others to go to canada since canadian govt keeps on inviting a lot of people (specially the professionals) there.

but i can't agree on "if you are not good in math try to avoid engineering". Logic is much more important in this career and (cough) perseverance. If you really want to have this profession you will do anything just to get it. Im not good in math when i was in the primary school but i developed the "love" in math in my college since i learned to love calculus and how to derive formulas and many things

I know somebody here who is not really good in math, besides he flunk many times in math but he really wants to be an engineer so he pursue the course, he graduated with honor in Civil engineering and land on the third spot in our board exam

Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. engineers creates wonderful buildings, but only God can creates wonderful minds

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I can say that my older brother who is a surgeon told me he doesn't think he could get through an engr degree.  He was being pretty serious.

I never think its too late to study for this degree or profession.  I am turning 31 today and I learned my hillside grading from someone who learned Civil as a trade later in life from his buddy who was a surveyor.  His buddy is a well known person here in SoCal who I don't really know what makes him ok to do his line of work except he sees the topo, city/county requirements and the development in his head better than anyone else around.  This is the single reason I take talking with a person for what I know they can and cannot do.

So knowing that an engineering degree is hard, the license requirements are pretty difficult, and the pay generally sucks.  Will you still be interested to get your degree in this field?  If yes, well then welcome to something that only people in this industry could ever understand.

 

Civil Development Group, LLC
Los Angeles Civil Engineering specializing in Hillside Grading
http://civildevelopmentgroup.com
http://civildevelopmentgroup.com/blog

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Happy B-day

peace
Fe

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

NEVER - Unless you are on life-support......

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

(OP)
"the pay generally sucks."  -brandoncdg

Could you define suck?
 

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Never barring death or perhaps permanent severe impediment such as vegetative state or something.

However, if you want to know whether it will pay off economically make some assumptions and do the math.

By the way, very similar question posed not that long ago – you may want to take a look.
 

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

filasofee, I recently heard an interview on the radio about a physics "prof" in her early 50s who was now apprenticing as an electrician- on a condo project no less.  Pullin' wire.  She was VERY enthusiastic about the change- literally giggling with it, though it was still early days by the sound of it.  

She didn't mention it (and the interviewer didn't ask), but I would not at all be surprised if she was a lecturer rather than a full professor. If so, she'd have had no job security and rotten pay (at one of our local universities, only 25% of the teaching faculty are full professors- the rest are contract lecturers who have to re-apply for their courses every year).  Having a PhD here, even in the sciences, is no guarantee of anything other than student debt.  

They say a change is as good as a rest, but I wonder how she got it in her head that a job which gets physically HARDER to do as you get older is the kind of thing you really want to take on as you near retirement age!  Good luck to her all the same- she seems delighted with her choice at present anyway.

Again, there's no statute of limitations on learning- it should be a lifelong thing for everyone.  But at a certain point, formal training for a new career is unlikely to bear fruit of a monetary nature.  So unless your goal is to be an amateur, i.e. one pursuing something purely out of love with no regard to money, a little math of the accounting/arithmetic variety is highly recommended prior to making the decision.    

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

> When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

About 28 years old, and don't even think about it if you don't have any basic craft skills and related hobbies. Good maths is a must too. It all feeds in later on to produce that mythical 'well rounded engineer'.

However, if you have a choice I think engineering is far more enjoyable as a hobby than as a job. I know some high powered medical professionals who design, build and fly model aeroplanes and they seem to get a huge amount of enjoyment from the hobby which is almost completely absent in most engineering careers.

gwolf

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

filasofee:  

I'm glad you popped back in with your story.  I say go for it!  In my 21 years as an engineer (eeek, time files!) the best engineers I've known are the ones who really enjoy those 'ah-ha' moments in their work.  

Having that AS after your name, along with your years of experience, will help landing a job.  You can always go back to a technician position, but it sounds like your capabilities are beyond that.  

Just be careful on those slipper rocks - Edie B

John D

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

> Based on what???

Engineering judgement.
 

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I started work at 29 and have no craft skills whatsoever.  Guess I better go turn in my resignation.  Thanks for the pointer.

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

HgTX, since you started WORK at 29, you're good.  If you started engineering at 29, you wouldn't be, according to gwolf2's "engineering judgment".

If I understand filasofee's post to another thread, they were a little shocked by how (little) newbie engineers actually make relative to a tech at Verizon, and hence may be re-considering...

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Something for whippersnappers to keep in mind:

At 35, you still have at least 30 solid years of work ahead of you, if you want them.

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

"Engineering judgement" - that's an Engineers joke, shame you didn't understand it.

My comments were in answer to filasofee's original question and I hold by them, especially for electrical engineering which can get VERY mathematical.

filasofee asked a question, I gave an answer, that's it.

 

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I really can't think of having this profession for 50years or being in this business until 60years old. There's a studies that i read but i forgot where it is,that some of structural engineers have a high mortality rate. Some of them die because of heart problems. It is due to stress that they are having in work.

So if you want to be an engineer better start early to have all the years that you need LOLZ

Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. engineers creates wonderful buildings, but only God can creates wonderful minds

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I know a lot of older engineers.  They don't want to leave.  It's almost a shock when someone actually retires from the field, rather than "retiring" from public to private sector, or from a private firm to consulting.

Social Security doesn't really kick in here until age 65; we're expected to occupy ourselves doing *something*.

gwolf, I ignored your "engineering judgement" joke since your previous post did not and still does not appear to be a joke, seein' as how you are still justifying it.

One has to be pretty old not to have enough time to be able to develop a career in one's chosen field.  Where age limits really do come in are the prejudices of people like gwolf, who might look at you and say (to themselves), "Omigawd, you waited till *29* to start school and now you're looking for a job at 33??!!??  Why, you're practically DEAD, you geezer!  Do me a favor and crawl off and die out of my sight."  They'd never be so gauche as to say this out loud, but it will color their entire perception.

And as you get older, the hiring twerps get relatively younger.  Most of the sane ones won't look at you cross-eyed for being 33, but there's some prejudice against people over 40, and a lot of prejudice against people over 50.

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

KENAT,

Vegetative state does not limit you from engineering, it only limits you to engineering management. Some medical conditions, like weak knees, no spine and chronic need of chapstick, can actually enhance your career (though the chances of being repeatedly stabbed with a shrimp fork increase).

Of course other fields may pay more, and I believe that you will be happiest and do best in a field you enjoy. I think at 28 years old (when my oldest son started engineering) some fields would be no longer available, and some fields would never be open. Jethro Bodeane wanted to be a brain surgeon or a soda jerk, but he still seemed happy just being rich.

 

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

(OP)
Hi,

I posted this thread question just before spring sessions started at my local community college. I had a handful of credits from 1994 to start with. Since first posting this thread I'd gone through a 6 credit algebra course which prepares one for pre-calc, a graphics class which was mostly drafting and some auto Cad, and Chemistry I. The algebra was work but I found it very intuitive and very manageable. Chemistry was very interesting and completely alien to me. Graphics was fun.

I was very inspired by my return to school that I went in for 9 credits for the first summer session; English II, Pre-Calc I, and sociology. Sociology was annoying and riddled with value judgments but the professor was excellent. English II was a breeze, and pre-calc was a challenge at first since I was having all sorts of mathematics thrown at me at once.

I earned A's in every class. So now I am very much inspired to go to NJIT as an electrical engineering major. I wonder though, (not that the material was simple but,) I did very well in school and I don't know if that was because community college is "easy" or being 35 makes one concentrate even harder. I am taking 7 credits right now during summer second session, pre-calc II and Chemistry, and really enjoy math and science in a way I never had before. I went to Catholic school k-12 and they never really pushed the math and science thing, they pushed miracles and sin a bit more.

How much of a difference can I expect in a college like NJIT in the curriculum? I might be close to 40 by the time I finish and that depresses me beyond belief. I could have my associates in engineering by next June from the community college. The AS was my goal, but what could one expect with an AS degree, 10 years electrician exp., and 3 yrs. telecom exp.? Could this qualify me enough to get a foot in an engineering firm?

Thanks very much for your input.


 

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

Before you start thinking the math is too easy, see how you do on full blown calculus, especially Integration.  The US system is so different from the UK system that I have trouble what is covered when but if you can handle integration then you can probably handle any math that'll get thrown at you in all but the most esoteric branches of engineering.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: When is it too late to pursue engineering professionally?

I went thru the same route as you did, but at a younger age :+).  Yes the four year college will be tougher than the two year college, however, for me the two year gave me a running start in confidence that I am sure I could not get at the four year.  The difference that I experience was not really the material, but the professors.  The two year were more appt to help you (since most students at two years were working students and the professors understood this) and the classes were smaller where the four year professors where tougher on exams and passive when they taught and when you come to them with questions.   I would like to point out too that you will start out with freshmen level engineering classes and thus will kind of start at the beginning again, so don't walk in to the four year thinking you will start as a junior but as a semi freshmen/sophomore.  

I do think that with your ten years of experience as an electrician coupled with a newly minted BS in EE will definitely give you an optimistic chance of finding employment once you graduate especially in the power industry.  In most cases, it is that piece of paper that will open doors for you.
 

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."  

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