Electrical Engineering in the Army

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by USMA2016, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. USMA2016

    USMA2016 Appointee - Class of 2016

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    I want to study EE at West Point (assuming I get in/make it through) but I'm wondering if there's any place in the army where the degree would be applicable in the Army. I know there's the Corps of Engineers but that seems more civil engineering intensive. Then there's the Signal Corps but that kinda seems more like IT. Anyone know anywhere in the army where there is genuine electrical engineering?
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    In the Army you'll know as a LT and Captain? Essentially nowhere. That's not what Army officers do, especially in the first 10 years or so of their careers. You could, down the road, end up doing a liaison job or an acquisitions corps job where EE knowledge would be helpful and perhaps even a prerequisite, but even then you won't be engaging in engineering on a daily basis.
     
  3. USMA2016

    USMA2016 Appointee - Class of 2016

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    Interesting... why do they train engineers and then not use them? That doesn't make any sense to me.

    Anyway, as far as branches go, are there any that would be more electrical technology intensive?
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Well, give us a bit of credit. We've been at this for about 236 years or so.

    They don't "train engineers." They educate officers, and some choose to be engineers. The engineering process informs decision-making and analytical abilities.

    The Army doesn't utilize engineers that way because the Army's mission is to fight and win America's wars, not to design electronics. There are roles for such people farther along in the career path, but not initially. The army doesn't pay LTs and Captains to design missiles and tanks. It trains them in their ethical and proficient employment.
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I think that is the big misconception regarding how candidates perceive their majors tieing into their career. They forget that their number one job as an officer is to lead in war time.

    You will be trained by the military as an O1, but it unlikely it will be how to be an engineer.

    Scout is correct the engineers that design missiles and tanks work for companies like Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed, etc. Further in your career you may be presented to work as a liaison for the Army with these companies, but the companies still will be the ones designing the product. You will just be working with them as an Army officer to guarantee that they meet the specifications needed for the product set forth by the Army.
     
  6. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Excellent point, Pima. By the same token, there are many SA grads working at these and other civilian companies who separated after their service obligation and are deeply engaged as EEs. These former officers also end up utilizing the leadership skills they learned on active duty to be in management positions at historically "EE" companies. So being an EE pre-military is NOT a dead-end major by any means.

    When selecting an undergraduate major, you should do what interests you the most. Your grades will likely be higher than if you pursued a course of study in which you had little interest. And if you decide not to serve beyond your commitment, you will be poised to pursue a career in a field that you will enjoy.

    Electrical engineering majors can always serve as Infantry officers, but not all Infantry officers can serve as electrical engineers.

    By the way, many EE and science majors go on to law school to become intellectual property lawyers (a highly specialized field of practice). However, most colleges (virtually all) incorrectly advise students about law school and place them in a "pre-law" undergraduate curriculum laden with a heavy concentration of English, history and poly sci classes. This is done because the colleges erroneously think that is what is desired by law school admissions (truth is, an engineering/science major is probably one of the plum majors to have because law schools nowadays are very focused on post-law placement statistics and they know that IP lawyers tend to have higher placement stats than their non-engineering/non-science counterparts). In fact, if you decide later that you want to become, say, a patent lawyer, the United States Patent Office won't even allow you to TAKE the patent bar exam unless you took the requisite engineering/science credentials (you will likely have to go back to college again if you didn't take those classes).

    In any event, my view is that you should not let the military be your primary guide on what major to pursue as an undergraduate. Choose your major based on what you ultimately want to do in life. I recall thinking at one point when I was a lieutenant on active duty (yes, Infantry) that I had wasted my undergraduate degree on a engineering/science major that would likely never be utilized down the road. To my surprise and delight, it was that major that entirely defined my post-military career.

    Bottom line on academic major -- follow your passion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  7. USMA2016

    USMA2016 Appointee - Class of 2016

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    Awesome; this is great advice, I really appreciate it everyone!

    I ask this because Electronics and Electrical Engineering really interest me, but so does Army leadership and the military lifestyle so I was wondering if the two ever meshed. Based off of what I've heard; I guess in most cases not. But, hey, I'll follow those two passions and I'm sure they'll lead me to great places. Thanks again!
     
  8. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Great attitude to take. Keep it and you'll be just fine.
     
  9. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    This from a NON USMA type. First, Scout was dead on accurate I thought.

    Second...here's an example from "long ago." I'm a "firstie" at USAFA...and in a "dreaded" class: Physics 411, the final physics class and one known to destroy cadets.

    My instructor? A USMA graduate who is, as he puts it, an "expert in the fine art of killing America's enemies on the ground: US Army Infantry." During our semester, it was NOT uncommon for him to bring in "toys" for us to learn about: claymore mines, grenades of various types, LAW rockets, etc...etc...and while teaching us like a bunch of newbie Army types, he would explain the physics involved in a "shaped charge" and how the energy was transfered and why a smaller amount would actually achieve a better result, etc...etc...etc...

    IT WAS FASCINATING!!!

    OH, why was a USMA type at USAFA? Because as he put it "you can't just play in the mud as an army officer, you need to better yourself in your career. Even you USAF types will learn this eventually." (Yeah, we had to deal with that for a semester)

    But he was correct! So on his own (although knowing what I do now, it's probable the army at least paid for his education) he went a got a Masters of Physics, not something I'd initially think would be of great value to a "ground grunt." Now as an older officer/grad/experienced in life person, I know better.

    And then he came to USAFA.

    FYI...he was a superb instructor, really impressed all of us, and was a GREAT sport when we completely and totally utilized the ARMY technique of overwhelming ground superiority when we ambushed him just prior to the Army v Air Force Football game! :eek:

    Of course, it was a bit disconcerting when taking the final for the class to see a Soviet T-62 tank silhouette and the "targeting picture" of an M72 LAW and the question: "You are XXX meters from this...where do you place the shot to disable the vehicle?" Or words to that effect...and there were a BUNCH of those type questions!!! :eek:

    And I still passed the class! :wow:

    And by passing that class, I graduated with my class! UNTIL that final, I wasn't scheduled...but that's another story! :yikes:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  10. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    That comment is a "SHACK!" :thumb:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  11. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    Flieger your school stories are always the best!:thumb: They are always both informative and funny at the same time. You should really write a book of your time at the AFA!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  12. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Well...when you're not the "typical" cadet...and get yourself bloodied for 4 straight years...you DO end up with some, NOW, funny stories. At the time...not so funny!

    I always laughed and that helped a LOT. I'd walk around the Terrazzo...looking at all those cadets and constantly wonder...

    HOW DID I GET HERE WITH THESE PEOPLE?! :eek:

    And yet...I actually graduated!

    From the "Polaris: 1983) (USAFA Yearbook) My entry...

    "June 1st, 1983...a date which will live in...well, the Dean will probably hit the bottle, STEVE done gone and did it! Remember the old phrase: Steve to Excel?" Well with Steve it was always: "Strive to Survive!"...


    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     

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