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Selecting an Engineering Program

A Wide Array of Disciplines

Engineering education is drawing record numbers of students to the United States from around the globe with good reason. Those with an engineering education possess the ability to make a real difference in their world, whether it be a local environmental improvement project, designing and developing artificial organs, or designing vehicles of the future for a major manufacturer. The broad range of careers available to engineers, and the rising demand for those with technical knowledge, make those with an engineering degree highly desirable to employers.

Students interested in studying engineering should have begun their preparation while still in high school so that they can proceed with their degree program "on-track." Students should have sufficient background courses including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, physics and chemistry.

When trying to decide which engineering program best meets your needs or interests, you may want to take part in an exploratory program while in high school. Many universities and colleges in the United States offer workshops and summer programs geared specifically toward high school students. Students may stay in the residence halls, experience campus life and get exposure to various engineering fields. Some programs focus on specific engineering areas where by participants have a more in-depth experience working in laboratories and even visiting area companies for tours.

Another suggestion for preparation is to tour companies in your hometown or country that employ engineers. Ask questions about what types of engineers they employ. Knowing what employers want is one of the keys to a successful job search after you obtain your degree. Keeping abreast of the needs of business and industry is also something that universities and colleges strive for to ensure the education that they are providing will be useful to today's society and beyond.

One aspect of education at American universities on which international students often comment is the freedom to express their ideas in classroom or laboratory discussions as well as their access to faculty. One of the things to investigate when choosing a university is the student-to-faculty ratio, which can give you some indication of how much individual attention you can expect. Another aspect is whether the university utilizes teaching assistants, who are usually graduate students.

Because English is often not the first language of the international student, it is important to inquire as to the services available at a university that will help you succeed. Students may wish to improve their English language skills through grammar instruction, vocabulary building, pronunciation, and conversational skills.

In addition, information, advice, and support are offered to help students adapt to American culture and campus life.

If you, like many international students, are interested in gaining some relevant work experience while in college, you will need to ask questions about the strength of a university's internship program. Having some work experience in the engineering field not only increases your marketability after graduation but also helps you build important relationships with business and industry. These arrangements are made after you are enrolled and attending school.

Choosing An Engineering Program

Whatever engineering discipline you choose, an engineering education is recognized as an excellent preparation for a wide spectrum of career choices. Some engineers choose to work in a research setting and some work in the manufacturing sector. Others augment their education with a business background to join the ranks of management or start their own high-tech company. Moreover, engineering is an excellent base of knowledge from which students often springboard into studying business, law or medicine. This range is possible because of the breadth of subjects that an undergraduate engineering degree program provides in the areas of arts, social sciences, history, and humanities.

Whatever discipline or university you choose, an engineering education is something that you will draw upon throughout your life as you pursue personal and professional fulfillment. Because of the accelerated evolution of technology, it is also important for engineers to continually enhance their knowledge base through continuing education and professional courses.