Engineering in the US and Brazil

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DutLinx
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Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby DutLinx » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:36 am UTC

Hi all, I'm from Brazil. From reading some topics here, I got the impression that Engineering Majors are kinda uncommon in the US and that people tend to think of Engineers as "really really smart". Is that true?

I just find it weird because, in Brazil, basically everyone interested in exact sciences (math, physics and chem) take Mechanical, Chemical, Eletrical or "Production" (basically an Engineering + Business major) Engineering. It also takes 5 years to graduate here. How many does it take there?

Thank you!

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existentialpanda
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby existentialpanda » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:45 am UTC

I can't say how common or uncommon engineering majors are normally. There's quite a lot at my college, but considering what kind of school it is - very science-and-math focused - it's not exactly a representative sample.

As for the "engineers are smart" stereotype - in my experience, very much yes. Whether it's true....*shrug* I think anyone would agree that engineers should be smart, at least somewhat, and they certainly do need to be familiar with multiple fields. (If the requirements lists for the engineering majors at my school are any indication!) Whether they're "smarter" than, say, doctors or mathematicians or what have you....that could be debated for hours.

But it's certainly true that your average Joe the Plumber tends to think of engineers as smart.

As for years to graduate, the "normal" number is four. But that can vary a lot - some people manage to graduate early, some take longer for any number of reasons. Some schools have special programs that have their own duration. And then you have graduate school, which is a whole new can of worms that I don't think I'm qualified to discuss.

basically everyone interested in exact sciences (math, physics and chem) take Mechanical, Chemical, Eletrical or "Production" (basically an Engineering + Business major) Engineering.


Just out of curiosity, why is this? I can't say for other schools, but at mine we have a bunch of engineering majors (Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, and Bio) but we also have just straight up math, physics, chem, bio, etc., and even more people take those. (I think. I don't have exact numbers.)

DutLinx
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby DutLinx » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Thanks for all the info. I'm thinking of going to the US for college and then coming back. Would be cool to have an american degree. Sometimes I forget that the whole system of colleges and majors is different in the US.

Just out of curiosity, why is this? I can't say for other schools, but at mine we have a bunch of engineering majors (Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, and Bio) but we also have just straight up math, physics, chem, bio, etc., and even more people take those. (I think. I don't have exact numbers.)


This is mainly because Engineering Majors here give you a bug number of career options (from research to marketing to administration). Majors like physics and math, on the other hand, have you choosing between teaching (which doesn't pay well at all and is very underrated) and doing research with very low-end equipment and very low funding if compared to developed countries.

B.Good
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby B.Good » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:23 pm UTC

There are much more engineers where I am than all of the, what you call, exact sciences combined. Regarding engineers being smart, engineering is a tough major anyone who makes it has to have something going for them either intellectually, being able to work really hard, or (most likely) both.

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Cathode Ray Sunshine
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby Cathode Ray Sunshine » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:07 am UTC

DutLinx wrote:This is mainly because Engineering Majors here give you a bug number of career options (from research to marketing to administration). Majors like physics and math, on the other hand, have you choosing between teaching (which doesn't pay well at all and is very underrated) and doing research with very low-end equipment and very low funding if compared to developed countries.


It's the same here in the Dominican Republic. I don't have any numbers on hand, but I'd wager that out of all the students that go into Engineering, more than half go to Civil Engineering because there's good money to earn there, especially with the boom we've experienced in construction. I assume that most people that are good at math go into Engineering because there are more opportunities at a professional level. And even in academia, you're more likely to find (at least here, that I've noticed) teachers with degrees in Engineering rather than exact sciences.

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Yakk
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby Yakk » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-1725.html

The number of undergraduate students admitted in Brazil in 1990 was 407,148, of which 14.1 percent were in federal universities, 10.9 percent in state universities, 5.9 percent in municipal universities, and 69.0 percent in private institutions. The total number of students enrolled was about 1.5 million, and the number of graduates was 230,000.

The choice of majors or specialties is not well-aligned with the job market. According to a 1993 IPEA study, two out of three students were in the social sciences or humanities, as opposed to scientific or technical fields. The study also concluded that four out of ten students dropped out before graduation and that those who graduated took an average of eight years to finish. Many of these had difficulty paying for tuition, or living expenses, and many who gave up before graduation realized that they were not being well prepared for the job market (see Research and Development, ch. 6).

Manpower reaching military age annually:
male: 1,712,427
female: 1,652,491 (2010 est.)
(Cia world factbook)

So 3.4 million people reach military age. Of which, 1 in 8 actually attend university, and 1 in 15 eventually graduate with a degree. 2/3 of these students are in the humanities.

So 1 in 45 people end up with a non-humanities undergraduate degree.

The USA graduates 70,000 engineers a year.

Reaching military age:
male: 2,174,260
female: 2,065,595 (2010 est.)
Or 4.24 million/year.

1 in 60 US people end up with an Engineering degree.

Unless 75% of all non-humanities undergraduate degrees, there are more American engineers per capita being graduated than Brazilian engineers per capita.

So ... Engineering majors are more common in the USA than they are in Brazil. However, your "peers" in the USA tend to be a larger percentage of the population -- while the USA does have a large social economic spread compared to other first-world nations, I'd expect Brazil's spread to be even larger than the USAs. So if you just look at your "peers" and ignore the lower classes, it is quite possible that Brazilian engineers will seem more common (as other degrees are less common).

The percentage of US citizens who attempt to get an undergraduate degree is rather high.

On top of that, the US also graduates a bevy of computer scientists, physicists, biologists, chemists, and other non-Engineering non-humanities graduates. On the US's part, this doesn't include non-university level education. It also ignores any quality difference between the two degrees (a Brazilian and an American degree). Also note that the information about Brazilian undergraduates is a decade old.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

engr
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Re: Engineering in the US and Brazil

Postby engr » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:39 am UTC

DutLinx wrote:Engineering Majors are kinda uncommon in the US

Not really.
and that people tend to think of Engineers as "really really smart".

More like "really booksmart and nerdy". Also, this.
I had a patient once whose husband was an engineer. While in the ambulance, she said (not knowing I was studying to be an engineer)
something along the lines of "my husband is an engineer, and you know how engineers are - they're really booksmart but have no common sense whatsoever".

It also takes 5 years to graduate here. How many does it take there?

About 4 years (+/- 1 year) for a Bachelor's degree.
I recently talked to a few engineering exchange students from Brazil who go to my engineering school. My impression was that in Brazilian universities workload is much higher (here a typical student takes about 15-18 credit hours a semester, i.e. 15-18 hours of lectures a week, in Brazil it's about twice as much).
Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions. Gilbert K. Chesterton


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