OT: Some advice for a future Wolverine engineer (or CS guy)?

Submitted by Apureidiot on April 28th, 2018 at 12:52 PM
I thought I would post this as my first forum post because I’m so excited! Are there any mgoengineers that might give me some advice for college at UM engineering? Note: I am in no way affiliated to somewittyname.



April 28th, 2018 at 1:01 PM ^

Take ENG 101 as early as you can and stretch to take EECS 280 as early as possible. From there, barrel the fuck through EECS 281 and the world is your oyster. The real value in the degree IS 281, but you can explore your specific interests in the CS world after 281.

It sucks, but start early on every project, find some friends to bounce stuff off of, you'll be fine.

North Campus

April 28th, 2018 at 1:35 PM ^

The only logical choices are ME, EE, and CS. As an engineer you can starrt making $50K and the progress over your career to $120K. That is about the end the road. You are on the plantation, not picking cotton, but not rewarded when the harvest is good.

The real play is to get your MBA as soon as possible. Then you start to take on the the role as plantation manager and the money gets interesting. If you can show the owners that you will whip the slaves, hire, and fire then they will give you a small incentive. I started making $200K by age 31 and $500 by age 34 following a similar strategy.

If you ever want real money, then you have to start your own plantation and CS may give you the best leverage for that.

Note: No racist comments are contained in this message. We are all slaves to something; even you.

Couzen Rick's

April 28th, 2018 at 1:48 PM ^

Yep. Not to mention your average "normal" engineers are frequently pushed out once they hit 40ish that's usually the peak unless you get into the stuff North Campus mentioned above. I would caution to make sure to have a game plan if you do get an MBA. Don't just get one for the sake of getting one - unless it's from a tier 1 school like Ross, Booth, Wharton etc.


April 28th, 2018 at 2:56 PM ^

Computer Engineering which has been very, very good to me. With computing being embedded in everything and the IoT emerging, it’s a great choice.

Statement about getting an MBA is very true. Tech companies seem to want engineers with MBAs running things. Technical sales/sales also pays very nicely.


April 28th, 2018 at 3:07 PM ^

I would caution against assuming an MBA opens those doors nearly as wide and as well-paying at stated here. I don't know your particular industry so it may vary, but in computer engineering moving into management doesn't really require an MBA. Most MBA holders I see are people who go into VC or FinTech, where that skillset has a better match. Maybe consulting, but at that point don't waste your time with an engineering degree at all and just go to business school.

The best bet is to find a field you enjoy and jump into it. Remember that most of the actual specific languages and tools you learn at school might not be relevant at your job; when I graduated C/C++ were huge and now that's become more of a (powerful) niche language in certain industries. But the skills you learn thinking about problems will help you way more, as well as an understanding that you have to always keep learning.

Good luck.


April 28th, 2018 at 8:14 PM ^

If you're looking to do consulting, think about IOE. I remember there was a trope going around North Campus when I was there (2002-2007) that IOE stood for In and Out Easy. Engineering Light. But I have a friend who graduated with a bachelor's in IOE and an MBA and she is doing extremely well for herself. It's a wildly lucrative path for people who can bridge the gap between engineering and business. 


April 28th, 2018 at 4:12 PM ^

I think ChemEs starting salaries are the highest. Median starting salary for a new EE grad was $67K four years ago. If you are in an area of high demand, you can make $100K out of school. I know plenty of engineers who went to B school and it did nothing for them.


April 28th, 2018 at 5:59 PM ^

Also, to help in landing your first real job make sure you stand out among your peers. Don’t just take the same classes and do the same projects as everyone else. Take grad level courses as an undergrad, do directed study with a professor, do projects on your own time, etc.

One of the most memorable candidates I ever spoke with (10+ years ago) had built an alarm clock that forced you to solve a SIMON-like puzzle to shut it off. He had the idea because he kept shutting off his alarm clock while not fully awake and oversleeping, but while the idea was solid the fact that he’d actually executed it was what made him stand out.

Couzen Rick's

April 28th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

Eecs 183 is more valuable imo than eng 101. Cs thru CoE is harder than LSA, but equal degree essentially. Internships are key make sure you're competitive for those from the moment you step foot on campus. Make sure you're not solely motivated by money/future earnings potential. Not to say you can't make it if it is, but it will be a lot less enjoyable.

Again take all this with a grain of salt. As always YMMV.


April 28th, 2018 at 8:26 PM ^

If you have the option and it's not too great of a burden financially, I would recommend (assuming you pass Calc BC) repeating at least Calc 2 at U of M, regardless of your AP status. I aced AP Calc AB my senior year, got a 4, and came into Michigan and started at Calc 2 and I was wholely unprepared for the starting point of Calc 2. It's different in college, things move quicker, you're expected to learn a lot independently, and it didn't seem to me like Calc 2 picked up right where my AP Calc class left off.


If it ends up being easy for you, great, you get a free A in a core curriculum class that buoys your GPA. That's the worst case scenario.


Again, this is assuming it wouldn't be a burden on you financially.


April 28th, 2018 at 1:47 PM ^

EECS 482 (Operating Systems) was far and away the most useful real-world course I took during my CS degree. If you think you're interested in any kind of systems or high performance programming, it's a pretty important course. I wish I had taken the compilers course; that material is useful just for teaching you how to think about code. I skipped EECS 381 and I'm happy I did. The best way to learn a language or its features is to try them in a "real" project on your own. EECS 481 seems practical, but I'm not sure if it really helps, because software engineering practices vary so widely and are all crap.


April 28th, 2018 at 3:17 PM ^

OS was the hardest class I've ever taken, and I wasn't sure I had it down even when I completed the final project. But out of everything I learned in school, that's the foundation of where the common sense of programming met structure, and I still carry those lessons with me.

I wonder if it's mostly the same course today as it was 25 years ago. It was all UNIX back then.

Going back to the original question... you hit campus and everyone's having a lot of fun... it's very easy to get distracted and not make the most out of your opportunity. At 18, your brain is still developing and able to absorb new ideas at an incredible rate. Don't waste that on candy like LSA classes. A few after meals are fine, but if you start considering a liberal arts degree because it's fun and you really enjoy your spare time socializing, you will probably regret it later.

It's been mentioned that you should start programming assignments early. Yes. Absolutely. Not because they're always that hard, but because by doing so you will get a sense of how long they will take and you can then manage exactly when you need to pull those all-night, high-concentration sessions. Otherwise, they'll sneak up on you and the last thing you want to do is risk turning in a half-finished assignment.


April 28th, 2018 at 6:57 PM ^


At 18, your brain is still developing and able to absorb new ideas at an incredible rate. Don't waste that on candy like LSA classes. A few after meals are fine, but if you start considering a liberal arts degree because it's fun and you really enjoy your spare time socializing, you will probably regret it later.


Meeehhhhh.... this is one-sided advice. Liberal arts and an engineering focus don't have to be mutually exclusive. Like I mentioned above, I was CS-LSA. Also got my math major. Filled my LSA reqs with film classes that I LOVED and enjoyed going to every day. Turned out I ended up using those classes in my job, in addition to all the math and CS I do.


April 28th, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^

Coming from someone who dropped engineering for LSA, be prepared to work harder than you ever have. It was too much for me at the time, but I now regret not trying to see it through. I breezed through high school with a 4.0+ gpa, but pulled a 2.4 my first semester in engineering. Calc II + Orgo + engin100(biomed) + a job + bad work ethic = a bad time

O S Who

April 28th, 2018 at 3:51 PM ^

Don’t be afraid or ashamed if you major in IOE. You will get some flack in college because it is the easiest engineering, but in the end you will be the one smiling.


April 28th, 2018 at 4:00 PM ^

Won't all of this become moot once our AI overlords take over?  I'm assuming they'll be able to engineer and program anything far better than we meat-sacks.


April 28th, 2018 at 8:32 PM ^

Engineers will probably be the last workers automated. Engineers solve highly complex problems that require creative and non-linear thinking. It won't be impossible to replace engineering via automation, but it will be an engineer who finally writes that last code that allows a machine to design and build new machines.


April 28th, 2018 at 4:08 PM ^

Yo just finished my sophomore year and EECS 281. If you don’t know what kind of engineering you want to do take engineering 110, it’s one credit, one hour a week and they just have a representative from a diffeeent engineering department come speak every week. CS is pretty damn hard but you’ll learn a lot and be prepared for internships/jobs. Programming projects can be challenging but there’s no better feeling than seeing a full score on the autograder when you’re finished :) lmk if you have any more questions congrats!


April 28th, 2018 at 6:20 PM ^

I know a bunch of people who took Calc-III and Calc-IV at community colleges/summer classes at other Universities over the Summer and transferred the credits because they can be a buzzsaw at UoM. 


April 28th, 2018 at 6:39 PM ^

The main thing that would have helped me out of high school - you need to master time management skills early on and yes, you do need to study, and spend extra time on homework.

I breezed through high school and was in no way ready for the workload and the difficulty of college engineering courses. I didn't really get things figured out until my junior year, and my GPA suffered for it. And what the other guy said about not living with LSA people sounds elitist, but it's completely valid. You will be spending many more hours in the library than your LSA peers. And you will most likely have Friday 8am classes, while no one else you know will.


April 28th, 2018 at 7:10 PM ^

My advice is broadly applicable: enjoy the ride, my friend. I worked my ass off in college and graduated with over a 3.9 GPA, publications to my name, teaching experience, etc. But, after reflecting on my time at UM, I can honestly say that all of that came at the expense of enriching friendships/relationships that I wish still existed in my life. So, certainly work hard, but don’t forget to enjoy life, too. Pick up (or build on) hobbies and passions, form lasting connections with people, and take time to focus on happiness. There’s no better place in the world to do that than Ann Arbor.


April 28th, 2018 at 8:35 PM ^

And, for the counter argument: don't spend too much time developing your social skills. I graduated with around a 2.6 (for a variety of reasons that I won't get into here), and while it hasn't really hindered my career (only your first job out of college cares about your GPA), it's made applying to grad school in my 30s a challenge. 


Make sure you get at least a 3.0. But also find yourself.




April 28th, 2018 at 9:27 PM ^

As a UM alum, I can say that college still didn’t prepare me for the actual real world and provide enough practical, and useful skills. Make sure to forge your own path, seek out knowledge, education and experiences from all possible sources- formal and informal. In general, if you lump all higher education together it’s overpriced compared to the results.


April 28th, 2018 at 10:38 PM ^

Get internships and real world experience as soon as you can.

Find a study group.

Read about different fields. Consider IOE if you like to work with people as well as things. Consider materials science if you like chem and physics.


April 29th, 2018 at 11:44 PM ^

Get into the cyber security field to get a security clearance and job experiance. Complete A CS degree during your enlistment with the GI Bill. Get out in four to six years and go work as a contractor making 120k plus starting out with zero student loan debt.


April 29th, 2018 at 11:44 PM ^

Get into the cyber security field to get a security clearance and job experiance. Complete A CS degree during your enlistment with the GI Bill. Get out in four to six years and go work as a contractor making 120k plus starting out with zero student loan debt.