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Planning my career at 40
3

Planning my career at 40

Planning my career at 40

(OP)
I hope it's okay that I've joined this forum. I'm not yet an engineer. Until now I've been content to lurk, but I am having trouble planning my career path, and would love some input from those already working as engineers. If my post here is inappropriate, feel free to delete it, and I will go back to lurking.

I left college 15 years ago to home educate my children. Now that the eldest has graduated, and the youngest is in high school, I'm starting to think of my own dreams once again. I have all but decided I'll pursue civil engineering. I'm a roofers daughter and worked with my dad during the summers as a child. I worked alongside him as his assistant and even got paid some. I've always had a fascination with woodworking and building things, houses in particular. Building forts was a favorite game. About 10 years ago, my husband and I designed and built our own cabin. I taught myself how to do plumbing and wiring, and investigated the idea of harnessing solar energy. Ultimately, we chose to connect to the grid, but we did use an alternate grey water system, which I also designed. I learned a lot. Mostly, I learned that I crave opportunities to find practical solutions to problems and to see them become tangible.

Based on things I've been reading, I've got some concerns that I will either not be able to land an entry level position in Civil, or else I will have to settle for doing something which doesn't involve much design at all. Because of these concerns, I'm also considering Electronic/Computer Engineering, which I understand has a better job outlook. While I don't have the same passion and familiarity with that area, the coursework looks fun and I would choose it if it was the only way I could actually do engineering. In other words, I don't want to get an engineering degree just to "open doors" and wind up doing something totally unrelated. I'm not sure I have a specific question with regards to civil vs electronic. I mention it solely to explain where I'm at in my planning process. Even so, I welcome any input.

My actual question is this: what sorts of things should I be doing during the 2-3 years I have before I can begin engineering school? I'm not comfortable beginning until my son has graduated, because I know the rigors of engineering classes will leave little time for him. Currently I'm brushing up on my math and physics and I plan to learn either C or C++. Besides that, I've considered getting an AAS in drafting, which would only take about 3 semesters and shouldn't be too much of a sacrifice. Would it make me more competitive? If not is there some other class I could take which would help?

RE: Planning my career at 40

Make sure you are fluent in computereze... know your way around MS programs like Word, Excel if you have plans to do engineering of any kind (sounds like it), Project and Visio might be useful in some cases but I wouldn't concentrate on them. If you're leaning towards architectural stuff, make sure you're comfortable with CAD... learning some of the 3D functionality of those programs can also be quite useful.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Planning my career at 40

Unless you're really fascinated by the computer stuff, don't just go that way because you think it may have better job prospects. If you go into civil/structural though, the path to full licensure in the 'States is a long one. Doesn't mean you couldn't have a very fulfilling career while getting there. The issue related to finding an entry level position is very real though. Unless you can figure out a way to make that transition easy, or to create a job, you're taking a leap of faith. While no education is a waste, I'm assuming that putting three or four years of your life into pursuing an education in a profession at your stage of your life is not something you want to undertake just as an opportunity for personal growth- there's a financial outcome expected at the end of it, to pay back the serious investment required to make this happen.

My advice on this is the same as for every person pursuing engineering later in life: pursue what you love, but only after you really educate yourself about what those people really do once they're working, rather than what you imagine they might do. If you go for it, go to a co-op university so you have a book of contacts and a list of experience prior to graduation that will help you make the school-work transition- it will also make you a better engineer at the end of all of it, because work experience gained while learning actually meaningfully focuses your educational experience and puts it in some context. Be realistic about employment prospects from the get-go, and be READY to deal with the fact that recruiters are going to be, for very realistic reasons, concerned that you will expect to be on a steeper salary growth curve than any other fresh grad engineer merely because of your age. I'd say that may put you out of the running for many potential jobs- but definitely not all.

I wish you the very best of luck.

RE: Planning my career at 40

Kay,
Wow! I would hire you right now! Your attitude is SO MUCH better than the typical young college graduate. I would be confident that no matter what challenge you were given you would do whatever it took, including self-study on unfamiliar subjects, to get it done. Trust me, with an attitude like that you will have no problem staying employed. Assuming that is the case, then I would put the highest priority on doing the work you love. That way its never really "work".

Your story describes all the stuff you have done, but none of it seems to focus directly on civil engineering or computer engineering. So, I'm curious why you seem to focus on those rather than the one that seems more obvious to me - mechanical. A good mechanical engineer can end up working in such a wide and diverse number of fields. He/She can design buildings or bridges, space ships or submarines, power plants or tunnels, hearing aids or prosthetic limbs, high speed automation or heavy fabrications, and it goes on and on.

I might be slightly biased, being mechanical. An old mechanical engineer's joke: What's the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons; civil engineers build targets. Yuck, yuck!

And just so you don't get too full of yourself: The difference between cowboy boots and engineer boots? Cowboy boots have the BS on the outside.

RE: Planning my career at 40

This is a gamble, and it is dependent upon your workplace and personal ability BUT:

It is possible that you might be better served aiming to become a Designer (someone between engineer and drafter).

I say this because the academic path is shorter, but there is a vast magnitude of self-teaching and personal development that has to be done. Given someone that is as mature and motivated as you are, I believe that would be less of an issue. You could achieve a great level of personal satisfaction, be in a field that interests you (If civil/structural is such an interest) and it would have a very high ceiling of growth that you may never hit.

Your employer must support this. In the civil/structural field, it is quite common, though.

My old boss started work at Brown&Root in Houston before he started his own business with a couple others where I became his first employee. Anyways, we often discussed the evolving roles of drafters and engineers due to the new CAD technologies. We started thinking the drafter was becoming obsolete in many fields. He disagreed because he said in many companies such as his former place at Brown & Root, drafters could often become great designers if they had the personal potential. He said they would often reach much better pay than engineers, sometimes even the licensed engineers if situations supported it. They would do all the design work, supply calculations, CAD models, and would only require an engineer to review it when necessary.

Anyways... I wouldn't discount the drafting angle, but I would caution that it's a lot of work if you want to be 'more than a drafter'.

Above all: Never stop learning. Never accept anything short of mastery of your skillset, and you'll get whatever you aim for.

_________________________________________
NX8.0, Solidworks 2014, AutoCAD, Enovia V5

RE: Planning my career at 40

I designed buildings for 39+ years and never knew a mechanical engineer that had the slightest clue of designing structural steel or reinforced concrete, much less prestressed concrete, etc. And yes we (Civil Eng's.) were denigrated as "Simple Civil's" back in college; but the structures option was a very small subset of the overall Civil enrollment. 3 out of 105 in my class.

There may be some overlap between Mech. and Civil in some areas like Fluid Mechanics (Hydraulics) but not buildings and bridges.

That said, look for a college that has a well rounded curriculum that covers the various structural materials. Not all cover wood (timber) and masonry. Don't know whether you have one in close proximity or are thinking about doing it on-line.

The toughest part of school is the first 2 years where the focus is on math, chemistry, and physics. I loved math and physics, but tolerated the year of chemistry as I knew it had very little to do with what I wanted to learn. 3 terms; 1 year and all I know is 7 is neutral on the ph scale. But maybe you are already past the first 2 years.

Once you graduate, there is continued learning on the job. This is where you are way ahead of the curve. Besides the personal experiences you have described, the Home-schooling of your children has to have required a great deal of learning on your part as well. You would enter the workforce with so many more tools than the typical BS graduate that you could be far more valuable to any engineering/construction firm.

Good luck in your future plans. Although with the little we know about you, I doubt luck will have little to do with your outcome.

gjc

RE: Planning my career at 40

I keep hearing that "Find something you like to do and you'll never work a day in your life." Obviously a cute aphorism, which isn't completely true, but true enough. If you are passionate AND good at what you do, that'll make up for a lot of other things. My wife attempted to get an A+ cert in C++ a while ago, but she hated it.

So, do what you'll get out of bed for; that's the real test.

TTFN
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Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Planning my career at 40

I would say go for a BS in Civil Engineering. I have worked with drafters from ITT Tech that could do design work as well. I also worked with a project manager who probably only had a high school degree. But this was not normal from what I have seen. Eventually you will want your PE if you work in this industry and enjoy it. The full degree will help towards that goal. I still think drafters get phased out for engineers who can draft. Not the other way around.

Your motivation for getting into this is similar to mine, that's why I say go for it. People that are enthusiastic about the work move forward faster, because really you don't mind working harder as its fun in some crazy way. Don't get into computers because the job outlook is better. If you want that route, get an engineering degree and go into investment banking. Having experience building things is a plus even if its not related to what you eventually get into. Civil Engineering has a pretty wide scope.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer
http://bwengr.com

RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)
Thanks for all the great responses everyone. You've given me some things to think about. I'm still wondering though whether I should bother getting an AAS in drafting. Will it help me land an entry level position, or would it be a waste of time? Perhaps just "a" class in CAD would be sufficient?

MacGyver, I know my way around MS Word and Excel pretty well. These days, who doesn't? I've done some fairly complicated things with Excel, but I haven't yet figured out how to do forms. Do you think it would be good to learn VBA? My MS suite doesn't have project or visio, but I love to mess around with productivity software. So I may upgrade to the MS business suite for a year so I can gain experience with those. Thanks for the tips.

MoltenMetal, we can't relocate at this time in our lives due to my husbands job. I'm not sure if the local university has a co-op program, but it does require 800hrs of work experience in order to graduate. So I'm assuming they will provide at least some assistance with finding internships. You are right, it does feel like a leap of faith. Yet, even a chance of doing something you love is better than the certainty of doing something you hate, don't you think? Can you recommend ways I can find out more about what civil engineers do, besides lurking around here? The only engineers I know are mechanical engineers. Neither are doing engineering work, as far as I'm aware.

Jboggs, thanks! The realist in me worries I won't get a job, especially when competing with so many younger candidates. So it's good to hear that my get-er-done attitude and willingness to learn are marketable traits. I suppose I should keep that in mind when interviewing for jobs. At the same time, I am surprised to hear that this type of attitude is that unusual. I'd expect most engineers to be type of people who find ways to make it happen, constantly learning knew things as needed.


JNieman, are you referring to an associate degree in engineering design? There is nothing like that offered in my area. However, somewhere online I saw mention of a design certificate (or license) I could tack onto a BS in Engineering. Now I can't find it. Are you aware of anything like that?

mtu1972, thanks for the tip. My university offers a degree in Civil and Construction Engineering. There are specific courses in steel, concrete, reinforced concrete, and structural steel. No specific courses in wood, though it seems to be covered in the Materials and Methods classes. Of course, this isn't a complete list, but the rest of the courses don't deal specificially with materials, but rather their application, such as highways, foundations, etc. Does this sound well rounded enough? I'm happy to be continually learning. In fact, I thrive on it. Like I told Jboggs, I'm surprised this puts me "ahead of the curve". I would think it would be a core engineer trait. You are right, homeschooling has required a great deal of continual learning. Unlike a teacher, I didn't benefit from being able to use the same curriculum year after year. Every year was new and had to be developed from scratch. Of course, there are "boxed" curricula out there for homeschoolers, but I was never content with anything out of the box. ha!

IRstuff, well said and thank you!

brandonbw, I'm glad to hear that my experiences and motivations sound familiar to a civil engineer. That's reaffirming. Thanks. Just to clarify though, I'm not considering an Associate degree in drafting instead of Engineering. I'm here asking if an AAS in drafting will better help me land an entry level job as an engineer. It's something I feel I would enjoy and can easily do while I finish homeschooling my son before I start engineering school.






RE: Planning my career at 40

Quote (Kay202)

MacGyver, I know my way around MS Word and Excel pretty well. These days, who doesn't? I've done some fairly complicated things with Excel, but I haven't yet figured out how to do forms. Do you think it would be good to learn VBA? My MS suite doesn't have project or visio, but I love to mess around with productivity software. So I may upgrade to the MS business suite for a year so I can gain experience with those.

A lot of people starting tech careers later in life don't have experience with computers, hence the suggestion. You have it, so you're good. I wouldn't worry about VBA unless you decide to get into programming as a career (or plan to write a LOT of macros in Excel).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)
Jboggs, you asked why not Mechanical? I'm just not as interested in machines as I am with structures. Whenever I enter a building, I find myself trying to figure out how it is built. I don't do that with machines.

RE: Planning my career at 40

There was no suggestion on really getting to know the fields, as in civil engineering. I have seen many women in that field, but most of their jobs were confined to office work. Now and then a woman gets out on the job, For one thing, construction is rough. Workmen can be difficult to work with, especially with an attractive person around. The physical conditions sometimes are not something some women want to put up with, such as hot sun, snow, mud, climbing ladders, etc.

However, there are several women, after a few years work, run their own company, sometimes due to a "minority" advantage at government projects, sometimes.

I'd call up a consulting engineering company and ask for a short tour of the office, telling them what your ideas are. Most firms that I know would be pleased to do that and may give you a few ideas also. Try different firms, civil, mechanical, electronic and electrical. for mechanical there may be an industry of interest. You won't get to see everything, but will help in making a decision. It may be that a state or city engineering department might interest you, but that is somewhat limiting your options. Most that I know of do not do any real engineering, but it gets hired out. Administration of jobs is common, as inspectors.

RE: Planning my career at 40

Just about everyone I know works in an office and rarely if ever visits the field. That was one of the main reasons I started my business. I was being pigeonholed because of how much money I was making for places to always be doomed in front of the computer screen. They wouldn't even let me tag along for free! That's how willing I was to gain experience.

Oldestguy makes a good point. Being able to talk to the guys while in the field is very different than talking in the office or over the phone. The nonfiltering talk makes me smile every single time. Even the dress code is different. The real dangers on a site are a nice change of pace to the safe PC.

I think its good to learn CAD in the office environment. The classes that I have taken seem too generic, and those were meant for Civils. The best way to learn is ask a lot of questions from whomever looks like they are running the show. Could be the nerdy old guy, the younger pure drafter, or even an owner. You never know. And surely any BS in Civil is teaching some form of basic CAD. I was using CAD back in 1997 when I started my degree.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer
http://bwengr.com

RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)
oldestGuy and brandon,

Coming from a construction oriented family and the only girl in a family 7, I feel right at home on a construction site around a bunch of men. One of the things that attracted me to Civil was the idea that I'd get to visit the site once a week or so. I've worked from a cubicle before, and I don't think I would like being stuck there 24/7 for years. On the other hand, it's not enough to make me consider a different career either. Are there any ways to ensure I get a job that allows me to get into the field more often?

Regarding computer modeling, my college requires a class in BIM. Is that all I need?

RE: Planning my career at 40

Great to hear your background. Yes, civils do get out a lot if the section they are in does that. However, sticking with some phases may be more office oriented, such as structural. One job not necessarily doing any engineering is property surveying, but that usually is the result of a trade school these days. I'm a geotech which has most of its work deals with job sites before and during construction. Take BigH, a regular here. He is full time out on hydroelectric projects world wide. For the geotech side, visit a consulting firm that specializes in site investigations, field control of site preparations, etc. Report writing is a must. Phase I and II studies of for-sale property evaluations for hazardous materials possibly present or suitability for solid waste landfills is interesting. They may also do construction materials testing (a lot of concrete and pavements) and field evaluations, such as testing structural connection bolts for proper torque or life remaining in a pavement. Special problems such as vibrations or blasting affecting structures may be dealt with. Along with it the firm probably has a testing laboratory, requiring engineering supervision and reports. You might even be out inspecting test boring jobs, specially as an early position (in all weather conditions). Come with a pair of big boots. Later on you might be known as an expert witness in situations like gas explosions, trench cave-ins, etc. Much of what I indicate above is not taught in college, but is learned other ways later, such as seminars. Basic construction materials testing and soil mechanics courses will get you started. Summer testing jobs will help.

RE: Planning my career at 40

Just one more thought. For any field you might look at, go to the rooms under this web site for Civil engineering, Geotechnical as well as structural, maybe mechanical. Lots of subjects discussed to give some idea of the jobs. There are sub-rooms for most.

RE: Planning my career at 40

Kay... You will have no problem landing a job when you graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering. It is a very broad discipline of engineering and offers countless opportunities. You have a terrific attitude and a lot of life experiences and practical experiences that are valuable to an employer. I've been a civil/structural engineer for over 35 years...it has, so far, been more fun than I deserve. I've been extremely fortunate to have done a lot of different pieces and parts of civil and structural engineering.

Go for it and good luck!

RE: Planning my career at 40

I mentioned wood and masonry because they were so prevalent in the small commercial development projects that were a big part of my early career. MTU taught Timber Design and I was often the only engineer within the companies I worked at that had that background. Others were learning on the go. Masonry was not taught back then, but Working Stress concrete design was still being taught as they were not sure the Ultimate Strength (LRFD) method that was being introduced was going to stick. I got into a small consulting office and they expected me to know how to design masonry. Fortunately, it was very similar to Working Stress concrete design, only with a weaker material.

I grew up in an engineering family. Dad and Grandpa were project engineers with the MI Highway Dept. Two uncles taught at MTU. Sunday morning family discussions were always about engineering projects and Civil Engineering topics. We were driven across the UP to see the Mackinaw Bridge while it was under construction. Dad's connections got us (Dad, my brother, and I) out on the bridge on an off day (probably a Sunday). We were relatively young, but it made a lasting impression on me.

My fascination was always with buildings. Started with Lincoln Logs and progressed onto a skyscraper building set I had in my early teens. As I stated earlier, the 1st year and a half of college was the hardest for me. I got good grades, but it had nothing to do with what I was interested in. That all changed when I got into Statics and Strength of Materials at the end of my 2nd year. Junior year, I got into the basic Civil Eng. classes, which included the elementary structural analysis and design classes. Senior year, all of my CE electives were structural engineering classes.

I also look up to see how the buildings are supported. My wife still gets annoyed (I was looking up to see the roof of her church during our wedding ages ago) and still will stumble over something at my feet because I am not watching where we are going. I don't expect to ever change.

The courses as you described will be fine. I'm sure that they do cover all of the basic/common building materials. The foundations course will be very valuable as all buildings/structures need to be supported on them.

And as it has been stated, the BS degree is just the start of the engineering learning process. You'll be introduced to company standards, meet co-workers with specific knowledge you don't have yet, study for the PE, and then need the required Cont. Educ. credits to maintain your license, etc. That you are organizing and planning well ahead of your journey will pay off for you.

And I think you are engaging many mentors that would be willing to help you along the way.

gjc

RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)

Quote (oldestguy)

I'd call up a consulting engineering company and ask for a short tour of the office, telling them what your ideas are. Most firms that I know would be pleased to do that and may give you a few ideas also. Try different firms, civil, mechanical, electronic and electrical. for mechanical there may be an industry of interest. You won't get to see everything, but will help in making a decision. It may be that a state or city engineering department might interest you, but that is somewhat limiting your options. Most that I know of do not do any real engineering, but it gets hired out. Administration of jobs is common, as inspectors.

...Yes, civils do get out a lot if the section they are in does that. However, sticking with some phases may be more office oriented, such as structural. One job not necessarily doing any engineering is property surveying, but that usually is the result of a trade school these days. I'm a geotech which has most of its work deals with job sites before and during construction. Take BigH, a regular here. He is full time out on hydroelectric projects world wide. For the geotech side, visit a consulting firm that specializes in site investigations, field control of site preparations, etc. Report writing is a must. Phase I and II studies of for-sale property evaluations for hazardous materials possibly present or suitability for solid waste landfills is interesting. They may also do construction materials testing (a lot of concrete and pavements) and field evaluations, such as testing structural connection bolts for proper torque or life remaining in a pavement. Special problems such as vibrations or blasting affecting structures may be dealt with. Along with it the firm probably has a testing laboratory, requiring engineering supervision and reports. You might even be out inspecting test boring jobs, specially as an early position (in all weather conditions). Come with a pair of big boots. Later on you might be known as an expert witness in situations like gas explosions, trench cave-ins, etc. Much of what I indicate above is not taught in college, but is learned other ways later, such as seminars. Basic construction materials testing and soil mechanics courses will get you started. Summer testing jobs will help.

oldestguy, I like your idea of contacting construction firms to ask for a quick tour. Do you have any tips for what to say or who to ask for when calling? Or would it be better to email? Thanks for giving me a good visual of what types of work is involved in your field. Did your university offer a degree in Geotech, or did you get a BS in Civil, specializing in geotech?


RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)

Quote (Ron)

Kay... You will have no problem landing a job when you graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering. It is a very broad discipline of engineering and offers countless opportunities. You have a terrific attitude and a lot of life experiences and practical experiences that are valuable to an employer. I've been a civil/structural engineer for over 35 years...it has, so far, been more fun than I deserve. I've been extremely fortunate to have done a lot of different pieces and parts of civil and structural engineering.

Go for it and good luck!

Ron, thanks for the encouragement! Good to hear you still love your job. I have read how others hate their current job, not so much because they hate the field, but because they feel stuck in a position that doesn't allow them to use or develop their skills in the way they desire. Since you don't fall in that camp, perhaps you have a perspective on why this happens to some and and not others.

RE: Planning my career at 40

(OP)

Quote (mtu1972)

I mentioned wood and masonry because they were so prevalent in the small commercial development projects that were a big part of my early career. MTU taught Timber Design and I was often the only engineer within the companies I worked at that had that background. Others were learning on the go. ...

I grew up in an engineering family. Dad and Grandpa were project engineers with the MI Highway Dept. Two uncles taught at MTU. Sunday morning family discussions were always about engineering projects and Civil Engineering topics. We were driven across the UP to see the Mackinaw Bridge while it was under construction. Dad's connections got us (Dad, my brother, and I) out on the bridge on an off day (probably a Sunday). We were relatively young, but it made a lasting impression on me.

My fascination was always with buildings. Started with Lincoln Logs and progressed onto a skyscraper building set I had in my early teens. As I stated earlier, the 1st year and a half of college was the hardest for me. I got good grades, but it had nothing to do with what I was interested in. That all changed when I got into Statics and Strength of Materials at the end of my 2nd year. Junior year, I got into the basic Civil Eng. classes, which included the elementary structural analysis and design classes. Senior year, all of my CE electives were structural engineering classes.

I also look up to see how the buildings are supported. My wife still gets annoyed (I was looking up to see the roof of her church during our wedding ages ago) and still will stumble over something at my feet because I am not watching where we are going. I don't expect to ever change.

mtu1972, I was actually quite disappointed that this university didn't offer a course in wood, not even realizing that some do. I know it isn't really that important for the larger industrial buildings, but I do love wood, and I would have enjoyed that class. Since you brought it up, I searched other schools in my state. Both timber and masonry are offered at a university 3hrs from me. As I mentioned before, we can't relocate. But I wonder if those classes are valuable enough that I should look into trying to go there for one semester. It must have been fascinating around your house, especially on Sundays. I would have loved it. I can imagine that your appreciation for how things are supported has only grown over the years. You mentioned statics. I emailed the professors of some of the harder courses so that I could get their textbook recommendations. I found some old editions on ebay and have been looking through them. I haven't started working though it yet because I've got some prerequisite material to review and learn, but so far the statics book looks most interesting to me. One of my plans is to systematically work through Cal, Physics, Differential Equations, Statics, and Dynamics before I start school. I believe those are some of the more troublesome courses, right?

RE: Planning my career at 40

Chemistry was the most difficult for me. Followed by the 3rd term of Physics - why exactly I can't remember. Also struggled with Freshman English. Not a great writer.

My biggest problem after that was finding Humanities and Social Study electives that weren't too time consuming, so I could focus on the Engineering classes. The syllabus for The Short Story was so thick that I knew I could never read that many stories in 10 weeks. Bumped into a buddy's girlfriend and asked her for any suggestions. She and some friends were taking Music Appreciation - we listened to classical and instrumental music and answered multiple-choice questions about what we had listened to. Easy A.

Don't know about your Univ's., but many schools now offer some sort of distance education. Maybe you could work out some sort of deal where there would be some opportunity to take those courses that way and then transfer them to the local Univ. Or even explore other remote schools that do offer distance learning.

gjc

RE: Planning my career at 40

@Kay2020

No, I referred to a 2 year degree in Computer-Aided-Drafting/Design. There /are/ 4 year degrees as well, but then you're back at a situation where you have no time-gain over an engineering program.

There are some 2-year engineering programs that I've seen, but most are intended to be the first 2 years of a 4 year degree that you finish elsewhere. For example, a community college near me has some wise and talented engineering professionals teaching a "Transfer Engineering" AAS degree. It's a 2 year degree that is intended to be followed up by transfering to another school and finishing your BSc in Civil/Mech/Elec/whatever at another school. The work closest with UMRolla, now Missouri S&T, but other schools in the state (maybe elsewhere?) accept it 100%. It's a great way to save money by taking the "basket weaving" and Gen Ed courses at a cheaper institution, as well as some of the base maths and sciences, before getting into the advanced engineering core classes.

Keep in mind my idea/suggestion is a drastic difference from BEING an ENGINEER. It's just an alternate path that requires a lot of personal drive, and independent learning (likely a significant portion on your own time), that can get you into a position to doing significant design work without being an engineer. It depends on what /type/ of things you want to design, too.

_________________________________________
NX8.0, Solidworks 2014, AutoCAD, Enovia V5

RE: Planning my career at 40

The decision between drafting/design and engineering is a simple one: will you be satisfied with participating in a field that interests you, or do you want to be the person calling the shots- in a design sense at least? Lots of people have very satisfying careers as drafters/designers and are quite satisfied with the more limited scope and more limited responsibility and authority of the position- in fact some see that as a plus, being able to go home at night without tossing and turning about the consequences of errors or omissions on their part. Others who wanted to be engineers but settled for drafting or a technician/technologist certificate are filled with regret, feel disrespected, and carry around a chip on their shoulder the size of a CMU. So you have to decide: is this more about a way to make money for the family, or about your personal growth and self-actualization? Of course it's both, but thinking about that will steer you in the right direction. Just how much responsibility do you want, and how much money do you need?

RE: Planning my career at 40

Having been on both sides of things, moltenmetal pretty well summarized the personal risks.

_________________________________________
NX8.0, Solidworks 2014, AutoCAD, Enovia V5

RE: Planning my career at 40

Bleh thermodynamics. I am one of those who had a hard time with that. One of my favorite courses was timber design. Statics is like the foundation of everything. Half my professors had real jobs, the other half were researchers. The job ones were really into giving real life examples and it was easy to tell how much they enjoyed what they were doing.

I had my biggest issue in the first class of Physics, but as it got harder I had an easier time with it. Calculus, the same thing. The first professor was so terrible he was fired halfway through the course. The first course that was most fun was a class where we had a paper airplane competition and had to draw the plans and later fly them to see who could throw the farthest. A good intro to the basic ideas. School was tough for me as I suck at taking tests, but the overall experience was a good beginning to knowing how to figure out problems in the office.

I wouldn't get too hung up on anything specific. You will eventually learn CAD on the job, as well as whatever else you end up doing. School is more like a way to get to where you are going, and is only the beginning.

I wasn't the best student, but look now I started my company at 29. Six years later and I am still in business. I wouldn't let anything stop you if this is what you want to do.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer
http://bwengr.com

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