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Is electrical engineering right for me?

Hello! I'm a high school senior applying for college, and I know I want to do engineering but I'm still a bit unsure about what type to apply for. I was considering Electrical Engineering because the classes sound interesting and I've read up on a couple topics independently because of that, but I'm afraid I don't really know what they're like -- I've taken AP Physics 2 but not AP Physics C, and I really don't know much about hardware in electronics. I'm also not the time to take things apart and put them together, but I'm still interested in math/science as well as problem solving. I just want to know if choosing EE as a major could work out, or if there is a better option for someone like me. Thank you! #ee #electrical-engineering #high-school #college #engineering #tech #technology #major #electrical #college-majors

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Gary’s Answer

Some great advice given already. Engineering is a very good profession and something that should be pursued.
I would stay focused on Engineering schools like UT, Purdue and Colorado. Each of these universities offer classes that explain their various engineering programs. Each have web sites that give a nice overview of their specialties.
EE can lead you to many different fields, like AI, cloud computing, design, computer programing, etc. All of these have a good job availability outlook and pay very well.

Good luck in your decisions. Very exciting.

You are on the right track, keep asking and .

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Doc’s Answer

Jane when you decide to become an electrical engineer, you're committing yourself to a profession that involves developing, designing, testing and supervising the manufacturing of electrical devices and equipment, including navigation systems, electric motors and power generation equipment. Therefore, to be able to handle such complex concepts and theories, and understand how to apply them to real-life projects, you need to possess a very unique and tailored skillset. So see if you have what it takes to stay the course and develop a promising career in the field, below are the top 5 electrical engineering skills I think you'll need.

1. PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS – Regardless of their discipline, engineers are, at their core, problem solvers. This is particularly true in electrical engineering, where you are often required to think logically and apply a particular rule or concept to a problem in order to solve it. This is easier said than done, of course, but there are numerous techniques that can improve your approach to problem solving. It's pointless, after all, having all that expertise if you don't know how to troubleshoot issues or approach a new project in the right way.

2. CRITAL THINKING SKILLS – Critical thinking is a broad skill that can be applied to a wide array of situations, but it's just as important in electrical engineering. Possessing the ability to approach things differently or take a different view to the norm can make a big difference when you are trying to achieve a certain goal with your project. This includes analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the project or the problem in front of you, and offering alternative solutions, approaches and conclusions – all key aspects of critical thinking.

3. BASIC CIRCUIT KNOWLEDGE – Electrical design can become a very complex topic, especially where large installations are concerned (such as energy grids), or even within highly advanced pieces of small hardware, such as those used in smartphones. Therefore, if you're to have any hopes of getting to grips with it all, you need to first have a solid understanding of basic circuit design. If you struggled with the fundamentals during your physics lessons in school, then you need to ask yourself if electrical engineering really interests you. Meanwhile, working on small projects at after-school clubs or in your own time can develop your knowledge and dexterity.

4. CREATIVE THINKING SKILLS – Engineers are not just problem-solvers – they are pioneers. Whether it's on a grand scale or a simple one, the solutions they provide change the way we live; therefore, to be able to explore and implement such radical ideas, you need to be able to think outside the box. This is especially true in the commercial sector, where electronics giants are constantly competing to develop new and exciting technologies; it's also an essential quality that top engineering schools look for in potential candidates. Remember: you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don't know how to be creative and explore new possibilities with it, then you're going to be left behind.

5. PROGRAMMING SKILLS – Although the importance of coding is higher in some areas of electrical engineering than others, it's still a very useful skill to possess, particularly when working with low-level embedded systems or when analyzing data. Java, C, C++ and Basic are the most useful languages to learn in this field, although any programming knowledge that you can bring to the table is valuable. In the long run, it will certainly make your job easier as well as boost your CV, so if you haven't already, invest some time into picking up some coding skills.

Jane as you can see, the career of an electrical engineer – as with many STEM professions – is demanding. Apart from possessing the requisite technical knowledge, it is also mandatory for you to incorporate other key soft skills into your employability repertoire, such as decision-making, leadership, communication, time management and attention to detail.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Derek. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare Doc Frick
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Susan’s Answer

Jane,
I will try to answer this question both from my experience as an electrical engineering major, and as a mother of a female (civil) engineering student who started out as undecided.
I was much like you in high school, in that I liked problem solving and math/science. The college I went to had a combined EE/CS department, but the CS part had a harder reputation and I chose EE instead. In my mind I felt unworthy because I never tinkered with electronics or took things apart where as many of the guys had. But I did really well in the coursework and even got the hang of the labs. I focused on communications systems. EE as a major worked for me and I was still able to take some computer classes. So from my perspective, EE as a major could work out. But like others have said, you can also look at other engineering majors - there were ones I had never heard of such as systems engineering and operations research, that I learned more about in graduate school or after starting to work. But with an EE training you can move on to any of that later too.

My daughter wasn't sure she wanted to be an engineer, but she liked problem solving. She found a school that let her apply to a separate undecided program where she could take some survey classes before declaring a major, and she could talk to students and professors and taking some kind of engineering fundamentals class to make sure she liked that. So if you could find a program like that, you could get more experience before you had to make a decision. However, it's easier to transfer out of engineering than into engineering and there are more stricter course requirements.

Susan recommends the following next steps:

Look at the programs of the schools you are considering to see what the requirements are for declaring a major upon entry.
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Hassan’s Answer

You're doing the right thing by researching this early to ensure you pick the right one. My daughter switched from Mech to CS and lost some time. Also some schools have GPA requirements that make it challenging to change majors even within the same School.

You could start reviewing a few College Course Catalogs like https://uh.edu/undergraduate-admissions/discover/majors/index or
https://catalog.utdallas.edu/2020/undergraduate/programs to see what specific classes are required for each major. Then lookup each class to see if that's something that's interesting to you. U of H also has a https://uh.mymajors.com/quiz/ that might help you explore what's most interesting to you.

Alternatively, you could look for engineering jobs on Indeed or Monster.com to see what degrees they require. That way you can narrow it down based on your job preference.

In terms of jobs, last I checked EE was among the highest paid engineers and much in demand.
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Kiirsten’s Answer

Hi Jane!

Great question you've asked, and like Hassan's answer-- I too think it's wonderful that you're already looking and doing some research on the topic. I see that Hassan provided you with some online resources, in addition to those, I recommend that you speak with your guidance counselor on getting some face time with college students who are going for EE. These students are already immersed in the different courses and could provide some great personal insight.

Keep being awesome by thinking ahead!
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Venkatesh’s Answer

Hi Jane ,

Good that you want to explore the decision of using problem solving . But why restrict it to EE because problem solving using math and science is so common across so many fields . It is very important to have something coming within from. As a child if you have enjoyed doing something or you thought "why are things the way they are" or "you thought there could be better way of doing things" or you wished "you were big to solve problems" .Look at that field
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Jason’s Answer

I was just like you - knew I wanted to do Engineering but didn't have anything more specific than that! I just knew I was good at Math & Science, liked problem solving, and Engineering sounded like a good fit.

So I applied to schools that had strong engineering programs as undecided engineering but had other options. I ended up at Georgia Tech and changed from undecided engineering to Electrical Engineering (EE). I did that because EE was the 'hardest' to get into (other than Aerospace Engineering) and I figured I could always change to something else if it wasn't for me.

My advice is to choose a path that provides options if you do decide to change to something else. Most undergrad programs are mostly core classes (vs your specific major) to start and you don't get much into the degree-specific courses until Year 2. That gives you plenty of opportunities to learn more, take a class or two to 'get a taste', and decide if EE is for you.

I ended up sticking with EE. Hardware is a small piece as you'll get exposure to computers, power systems, networking, programming, theory, controllers, cloud, big data, etc.

Good luck!
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Vikram’s Answer

Hello - i would recommend that you continue with your passion. High school education helps us narrow down the fields that interests us. I am glad you have found an area to pursue. You do not necessarily need to have built stuff or took it apart to continue in this field. After you get into college of your choice, you will be exposed to the fundamentals (1st couple years) that you will build upon and find your focus areas. Electrical engineering will open up opportunities in several field that you may find interesting. These fields include, semiconductors, power, transmission, digital controls and even robotics/software.

Most of the growth in jobs will require Electrical Engineering background. Most engineering courses now require software skills, so you will also get to develop that during your time in college.

Vikram recommends the following next steps:

If you continue to enjoy Electrical engineering and have a specific area of interest, you can take up a Master's program in EE. This will make you very marketable and also allow you to invent, innovate or to become an entrepreneur.
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Richard’s Answer

During your first and second years of college you can take classes in a variety of majors to see what you like most! That will let you see if electrical engineering or some other type of engineering fits best for you before you have to choose a major for good.
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Deh Tong’s Answer

Your interest in Math and Science is a good start for EE. You should look at it holistically. Electronics will be in almost anything we touch. So the job market is always there. With a professional degree, you can also branch out to other roles and R&D or Sales or marketing in the same industry. Picking up electronics may not be easy at first but many has done it. Your interest is the most important.
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Alex’s Answer

I think Electrical Engineering is a great field because it is so broad and allows you to get into so many different types of industries. Once you start you'll be able to narrow down your preference in terms of industries and other disciplines like programming or computer science.
As already advised on some of the responses, you could take classes on different majors during your first year in college which will also help narrowing down your interests and selecting the Engineering major that you consider most engaging and rewarding.
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Beck’s Answer

Great field. I also took it in HS but did not pursue it. However, now I think perhaps I should have. In property management we deal with electrical engineers all the time. I do know find it very interesting. Just explore with electrical engineer firms and you will see they are involved in many different type of major projects. Good luck!
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Tim’s Answer

Hi Jane!

It's AWESOME that you're interested in engineering, but I would suggest that you keep an open mind about exactly which specialty of engineering to actually major in, as the career prospects of the different engineering specialties (mechanical, chemical, biomedical, electrical, computer, computer science, etc) vary GREATLY. From my personal experience, if you like math, science, and solving problems, you'll likely be happy and excel with any specialty of engineering. However, right now, Computer Science has clearly the best career prospects (think Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) and that will matter a lot down the road. The big difference with Computer Science versus the other specialties is that it involves less math/science, more pure logic puzzles, and writing software.
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Micah’s Answer

Hi Jane:

I started out in an Electrical Engineering program and quickly shifted to Computer Science. That's not the path for everyone, but for me I was more interested in algorithms than circuits at the time.

The funny thing is that over the years I've taken on more hardware projects to compliment my software skills.

If you have interests other than EE, I would look for a school where you could change majors if you wanted to. I was fortunate to go to a school that had both EE and Computer Science.
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Bruce’s Answer

Great question, Jane. My cousin was fairly good at school, math, science, etc but had a passion for circuit boards and stuff like that which was always amazing to me. He still does that type of work and still enjoys it (went to two years of community college and then Univ. of New Mexico). He has worked for Fitbit and other tech companies.

If you pursue this degree and career one thing I'll say is that there will always be work for you - good paying work available in many different places with lots of options. You will also compete with others, but lots of opportunities. I went into computer science for this reason: I like it, I was good at it, and I knew there would always be good paying work available.

I like to minimize unknowns in my life and maximize my choices. My degree did this for me (from a small unimpressive college), and EE would do that for you if you want to pursue it.
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Alysia’s Answer

It's never too early to think about what you want to do. Your interests and courses open a path for you to do a number of things related to engineering and development. You may want to explore options for internships or externships in EE or other engineering career paths to see if you'd enjoy the work.
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Abhilash’s Answer

Engineering in general is a great field to be in. Figuring out which is right for you is the challenge. There are certainly other majors which don't seem related at all but use the same foundations of math, science, and problem solving. Hassan's guidance is a great start. Kiirsten's recommendation is a good follow-up as well. I would definitely recommend talking to EE students but also speak to all engineering students without restricting to just EE. This will help you determine which major suits your needs.

Good luck and keep being proactive in planning your career path.