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Is Pre-Engineering easier than actual Engineering?

Gizmo j

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Nov 9, 2013
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I want a degree in Computer Engineering but am worried that the math would be too much for me.

I'm ok in math, I was able to past the math part in my GED on my first try, but I have no idea how to do calculus or trigonometry.

I plan on going to Bakersfield University and they offer a Pre-Engineering major, should I do this before Computer Engineering?
 

Charmonium

Diamond Member
May 15, 2015
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I'm no engineer but I did take a couple semesters of calculus. I did bail before we got to differential equations though. I still regret that.

Anyway, I think the biggest problem people have with it is during the introductory part of the class where they explain how calculus uses the concept of infinity to get around some otherwise intractable problems. But if you have a problem with that, you can probably just hold your breath until you to get to differentials and integrals. At that point what you're mainly doing is learning a lot of useful tricks for solving a wide variety of problems. Of course they'll probably expect you to be able to use those tricks on a test. So in my personal opinion, a big part of calculus is memorization. You still need to be able to use what you memorize though.
 
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KillerCharlie

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Aug 21, 2005
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Pre-engineering is not a major - it's typically a set of common coursework you take for the 1st year or so that is common to all engineering majors. Edit: I confirmed this is the case at Bakersfield as well.

You'll take calculus your first year as part of that coursework, so you can see how that goes. If you don't know basic trig you should probably take that too.

There's probably not much downside to starting out with the pre-engineering coursework. The risk is that if you drop out of pre-engineering too late, it will take extra time to complete a non-engineering major because not all the credits will be useful.

Difficulty depends a lot on the actual major. Disciplines like industrial or civil engineering tend to be much less mathematically rigorous than, say, aerospace engineering. I'd say about 1/3 to 1/2 of students drop out of engineering.
 
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Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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I took computer science, though on my diploma it actually says "computer engineering technology". Everyone just referred to the course as computer science though. Not sure if there is a big difference or it just has to do with different colleges calling it something different.

There was math, but it was not crazy intense math. No calculus. The electrical students shared a lot of our courses in their program, but they actually had 3 extra math courses they had to take which was a continuation of our math. It was calculate and other heavy duty math.

Of course all this will vary between different colleges/universities so my point is kind of moot, you'd have to look at the actual course program to see how much math courses there are.

Math is not my strength either so I did struggle, but I made it. I would say it was about high school level math. Honestly if I was better at math I probably would have taken electrical instead of computers. More job security in being an electrician and once you have your papers it's not like you ever need the heavy duty math the course requires unless you're designing power plants from scratch or something.
 
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sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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I want a degree in Computer Engineering but am worried that the math would be too much for me.

I'm ok in math, I was able to past the math part in my GED on my first try, but I have no idea how to do calculus or trigonometry.

I plan on going to Bakersfield University and they offer a Pre-Engineering major, should I do this before Computer Engineering?
err you need to be good at math to do engineering...
 

snoopy7548

Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
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If math isn't your strong suit but you still want to pursue engineering, there are Engineering Technology degrees (CET/EET). Be aware that your job choices will be limited, as it isn't widely considered a "true" engineering degree - you go through most of the same classes as a hard-engineering degree, but all of the math is dumbed down and there is more of a focus on hands-on work than theory.

You will be learning the concepts at more of a high-level, so unless you pursue the topics on your own, you may not truly understand why things work as they do, which is very limiting if you're shooting for any sort of career in a design role.

If you can make it through a CE/EE degree, that's the way you should go, but as KillerCharlie said, the dropout rate is high. If your math skills aren't up to par, you will definitely struggle.

I chose to pursue an EET degree and I don't regret it, though you certainly need to differentiate yourself from others if you do not want it to become a path to being a technician. In regards to math, we were only required to go up to Calc III, as Calc IV (differential equations) was optional.

My school had a good curriculum as well as a co-op program starting in my junior year, so I was able to work for companies before graduation - my first co-op was a joke, but my second was extremely valuable as that is where I have remained and grown my career nearly 12 years later. Some classmates were able to score co-ops with EMC, MIT Lincoln Lab, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, though a lot ended up with National Grid (utility company). I think just about everyone got full-time jobs with their co-op companies after graduation, and most had an "Engineering" title/position.

I started out in my career in more of a technician position, though I had the title of an engineer, as the entry-level engineering positions were filled. As soon as a position became available, I moved into the engineering role. After a couple of years of that, I was promoted into the design group where I worked for almost eight years as a development engineer alongside brilliant engineers whom I learned a lot from, and about 1.5 years ago I was promoted again to a management position; where I work, we don't really have managers - you are responsible for a process (i.e. test engineering or product engineering) and a team of engineers to support it, but you are still producing a great deal of work.

In short, you've gotta try real hard.
 

KillerCharlie

Diamond Member
Aug 21, 2005
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A computer science degree is not an engineering degree as far as accreditation boards like ABET are concerned. It requires less math and physics coursework and is often in the liberal arts department instead of engineering.

If you like programming and are worried about math, it would be a good choice.
 

Stopsignhank

Golden Member
Mar 1, 2014
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The course seems more about designing computers that programming.

Computer and Electrical Engineering involves the design and prototyping of computing devices and systems and encompasses analog and digital circuit design, signals and systems, and other topics in computing where hardware plays an important role. CSUB offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Computer Engineering and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering. For CE or EE students who graduated on or after October 1, 2016, the Computer Engineering program and the Electrical Engineering program are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET, www.abet.org.

These are the pre-reqs.

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Lots of math there, and high level math. If you are OK at math then I might suggest that you look for something different. That is of course depending on what you want to do. My wife works for a chip design company. When we stop by her work I would see the whiteboards in the cubicles and see stuff that I learned and forgot in college. Every time I see that I think "Wow, so people really use that stuff." BTW, I have an engineering degree.
 

Stopsignhank

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Mar 1, 2014
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I am not sure what a Pre-engineering major is. But I just know that I did not have to take the nore general ed classes like other majors. So if you go the engineering route and then change you will have to take the GE classes the other majors need. Not trying to be a downer, just telling you like it is. Or was, this was a loooooonnnnggggg time ago.
 

PowerEngineer

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 2001
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Even following that link, it's not really obvious what they mean by a pre-engineering program.
FWIW, the first two years of most four-year BS engineering programs are taken up with courses that are largely common to most all fields of engineering. These generally include courses in math (e.g. calculus, matrix manipulation, differential equations), chemistry, and physics. One doesn't usually start taking classes leading toward a specific discipline until junior and senior years.

So maybe their pre-engineering program is referring to those first two years?
 

ultimatebob

Lifer
Jul 1, 2001
22,286
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The course seems more about designing computers that programming.

Computer and Electrical Engineering involves the design and prototyping of computing devices and systems and encompasses analog and digital circuit design, signals and systems, and other topics in computing where hardware plays an important role. CSUB offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Computer Engineering and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering. For CE or EE students who graduated on or after October 1, 2016, the Computer Engineering program and the Electrical Engineering program are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET, www.abet.org.

These are the pre-reqs.

View attachment 24832

Lots of math there, and high level math. If you are OK at math then I might suggest that you look for something different. That is of course depending on what you want to do. My wife works for a chip design company. When we stop by her work I would see the whiteboards in the cubicles and see stuff that I learned and forgot in college. Every time I see that I think "Wow, so people really use that stuff." BTW, I have an engineering degree.
If I remember right, Gizmo wants to become a graphics card engineer. He's going to need to take a LOT of tough math courses to pull that off. I doubt that AMD or Nvidia would hire him without a master’s degree in Computer Engineering.
 

BarkingGhostar

Diamond Member
Nov 20, 2009
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I want a degree in Computer Engineering but am worried that the math would be too much for me.

I'm ok in math, I was able to past the math part in my GED on my first try, but I have no idea how to do calculus or trigonometry.

I plan on going to Bakersfield University and they offer a Pre-Engineering major, should I do this before Computer Engineering?
I was a middle school dropout and got my GED. I then took an Elementary Algebra the adjacent summer, and that first fall semester took Intermediate Algebra and Trigonometry. All three of these classes were at a community college and self-paced with exams at the math lab. Got A's in all three. I then took full on College Algebra and then started my Calculus sequence.

By the time years had passed and I had taken something like 44 semester hours of advance mathematics are a requirement for an undergraduate degree in Physics. The funny thing there was I only needed 34 semester hours in Physics for the undergrad degree. During all of this time during the latter years I tutored a lot of other students in math, chemistry, physics, photography, and engineering. I can say that I am not sure if you will have to take Static and Mechanics as part of a CS engineering degree but that was the weed-out class for engineering students at UF.

I made enough money during my college years to travel abroad. I've seen students get roadblocked on their own, and by institutional policy to see many not get a degree. It is amazing that obstacles some never encounter. BTW, Calculus 1 is a lead-in class to the cookbook classes that are Calc 2 and 3. Diff Eq 1/2 were also standard cookbook math classes, meaning little theory and a lot of applied problems.

So, if you find Calc 1 to be a challenge, or even pre-calc (not sure what that is) then you may need to work on some things before formally taking the classes.
 

Scarpozzi

Lifer
Jun 13, 2000
24,108
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Pre-Majors don't really exist as a degree-program. Universities have those as placeholders for competitive programs and to allow students to take preliminary required courses for a major program. Example: Student wants to be in Engineering, but there are only 60 seats in a cohort because they don't have enough full time credentialed staff to keep accreditation... They allow students to "queue up" so they're essentially tagged in the system with an "engineering-type" major, but it has no official outcome....so you can't actually get a degree in "Pre-Engineering". Being in pre-engineering though allows someone's course plan to go through the math and science classes taught in gen ed.

The problem with many of those majors is that in the last few years, the federal government isn't allowing students to get federal financial aid in majors that don't have an outcome. Every school is a little different.
 

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