Engineering Curriculum Rigor & Endgame

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by proudmom13, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. proudmom13

    proudmom13 Member

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    My DS received a nomination to USNA and was also accepted to Univ of Michigan Engineering, awaiting NROTC scholarship. We are still awaiting news from other schools. He is very strong academically and loves to create and tinker, working on a myriad of different projects in his spare time. He is interested in Mechanical Engineering but that may change as we just visited Ann Arbor and their engineering program is vast. Which program provides him w the most academic rigor and opportunities to learn and explore his passion? Also will he have the opportunity to create projects in a Maker Lab or work on a Baja car at USNA? Are there research opportunities at USNA similar to private universities?

    Another question is how many kids who graduate from USNA or NROTC program actually go into engineering as a career? Also how many kid continue with the Navy or Marines after five years of service and, for those who do choose to leave the service, where do they end up?
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    I'm surprised that no where in there did I see anything about wanting to serve as an officer in the Armed Forces. Without that desire and dedication I doubt an academy is the right place for him. JMPO
     
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  3. proudmom13

    proudmom13 Member

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    Thank you for your input. Of course he wants to be an Officer, otherwise he would not of applied to USNA or NROTC. I am just trying to understand the difference in the curriculum if he attends USNA or Michigan NROTC. Thank you
     
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  4. usnahopeful09

    usnahopeful09 Member

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    There has been a thread about this relatively recently.

    As you are probably aware, UMich Engineering is one of the best in the country. According to the other thread, some people say that there are similar opportunities at USNA. My thought (based on logic) would be that UMich Engineering would probably provide more opportunities for someone passionate/interested in engineering (maybe that's your son). If your son really is passionate about engineering (and still wants to be an officer), and doesn't get an NROTC scholarship, he can still participate in UMich's NROTC College Program - he will still have to "make it" before your junior year in order to stay in NROTC, but it should be easier there, and also gives him an opportunity to see if NROTC/a naval career is something that he wants to continue pursuing, which might not be something that he could get if he committed to USNA (you can leave before your third year as well, but then you have to transfer colleges - if you're in UMich college program NROTC, and you decide to quit, you're still at UMich Engineering! (slightly jealous... lol)

    Bottom line is, USNA is also a great engineering school; at the end of the day, however, its goal is to create officers and leaders in the Navy/Marine Corps. If you do ROTC at a college, ROTC will be responsible for making you into a leader, and the school will be responsible for, well... educating you! :)
     
  5. Zeus

    Zeus Member

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  6. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    > I have a relative who attended Michigan engineering, and is doing some amazing stuff.....If you are looking for a pure engineering experience, you can't go wrong with Michigan. That being said, the USNA engineering program is plenty rigorous, and there are several programs for hands on projects. Further, and most important, USNA goes far beyond a engineering degree and prepares Midshipman for a lot more than a life of sitting behind the desk with a slide rule and pocket protector.

    > This is really hard to answer, because even those that stay in the military utilize their engineering knowledge to some degree. (Even us Bull majors still use what we learned in the STEM courses regularly). Some officers go into Engineering Duty specialities or Seabees, where the use of engineering is more direct. Those that leave the Navy can go anywhere and do anything .....nowadays the Undergrad degree is really just the ticket into post-graduate education, and anyone who graduates from USNA is going to be competitive for any grad school, in any program.

    It really comes down to one thing ... does DS want to be a Naval Officer and have the doors open for wherever he goes in life, or does he want to make the decision now to be a hard core, narrowly focused engineer. I know which way I would go.
     
  7. navalaviator00

    navalaviator00 Member

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    I have a friend who was in pretty much the exact same boat as your son. Extremely smart and STEM-minded, got into Cornell engineering, and USNA. Didn’t get NROTC scholarship. Wanted to be a naval officer, but also wanted the cool opportunities that Cornell’s program had.

    Went to Cornell, did college program NROTC, and is now on scholarship. He said that he wouldn’t have it any other way- at Cornell, he can separate his college life/engineering interests from his military obligations- the best of both worlds!
     
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  8. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    Lots and lots of grads end up in Engineering when they leave Active Duty. I was a Group 3 (International Security Affairs) major at USNA and when I left Active Duty, GE hired me as a Project Engineer and I ran a number of Engineering Design to Production projects as I moved up in the company and soon was a Program Manager at Lockheed. My path is not uncommon - a somewhat technical job that moves up into managing others because that's what USNA and being a military officer prepares most of us to do. Lots and lots of Service Academy grads in the Aerospace Industry - Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Northrop, etc and while there are some who continue to pursue careers as a "hands on" engineer, most that I've ever known of end up using their people skills in managing people and projects/programs.
     
  9. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    I would just add a slightly different perspective on the subject of "how important is choosing a school for undergraduate engineering". For MANY engineering specialties, where you go as an undergrad doesn't matter much, particularly if grad school is an eventual plan (and I am a strong advocate that nowadays, most engineers should plan on an MS if they are going to practice engineering in a technical sense). For some highly specialized engineering fields, where you go as an undergrad can have a huge determination on your overall career. IMHO, mechanical, electrical, civil and to a certain extent chemical undergrad degrees can be had at any number of different places and be pretty darn good. The reason for this is that ABET accreditation provides for a general standardization of skills and coursework that needs to be taught. However, for certain specialty engineering fields, there is so much discipline-specific work you need to do as an undergrad that in order to pursue this as a profession, you will have to take at least one full year (and probably two) of undergrad elective and core courses in addition to an MS if you didn't originally get this as an undergrad. These fields include mining engineering, petroleum engineering, geological engineering, hydrogeologic-specific engineering (civil or geological), environmental (some civil programs do a great job of emphasizing this in the undergrad coursework), materials, geotech (although many civils get a good background if the school specializes), and biotech. I don't know enough about the computer engineers to know whether or not EEs can make that cross over and I confess ignorance on whether mechanicals can cross over to aeronautical/aerospace easily. Every engineer, no matter the stripe, generally gets the core classes - statics, dynamics, strength of materials, thermo, maybe fluids, possibly PChem. These are hugely important courses and they don't change from year to year. But there are many field-specific courses that are critical to the profession and do evolve over time. Just putting this out to folks with burning ambitions to be one kind of engineer or another - it CAN make a difference where you go to school and it's not a lay-up that one school will prepare you for most fields. But the one thing any engineering program will teach is problem solving skills - that is the single most valuable skill any engineer acquires and I suspect it is why SAs put so much value on an engineering education. I will also say this (based on personal observation) - if you have the foundations of engineering, no matter what the field, you can become any other type of engineer in the future if you really want it - but it will take additional course work and determination to get there.
     
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  10. Amazed

    Amazed Member

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    I don't know about the OP, but my DD is trying to make a similar choice and it is absolutely not an easy one to make. The debate that has ensued here sure has brought to light a lot of valuable information. I wanted to thank you all for weighing in....
     
  11. MidwestDad

    MidwestDad Member

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    DS also was accepted at UofM Eng but chose USMA. IMHO if his passion is engineering go civilian, if he wants military officer path then by all means go the academy route.

    The demands on time at SA will limit opportunities to spend endless lab hours working on SAE / Baja / similar 'hobby' type projects outside the core curriculum. But these and similar type of practical projects are available to some extent at SAs.

    SAs do offer unmatched opportunities for summer internships / studies [AIAD] at national labs, NASA, and leading firms plus top grads are well positioned for graduate scholarship programs prior to 'normal' branch and post assignments.

    As a related [strictly personal] opinion: despite the excellent academics I don't envision Ann Arbor as the most ROTC friendly campus environment.
    Plus there's Harbaugh . . . :shake:

    What is Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD)?

    Engineering majors participate in the USMA AIAD program every summer within military units, governmental agencies, and private industry in the U.S. and elsewhere. Cadets work alongside of world-class professional engineers and researchers, gaining invaluable knowledge of and insight into the facilities, methods and procedures used to design, test and improve Army systems. Cadets apply what is learned in the classroom to real research and engineering problems. The typical AIAD lasts 3-4 weeks.
     
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  12. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    One other thought - a lot of engineers coming out of great schools have horrible people skills! I mean "awful". There's an old joke: "How can you tell an extrovert engineer from most engineers? The extrovert engineer looks at YOUR shoes when he talks." I wish this wasn't as true as it is. Really successful engineers can walk and chew gum at the same time - they can speak "engineer" but they can work with and lead teams and they can communicate effectively in writing and verbally. Engineers who can manage teams, communicate effectively with teams, clients and "regulators", and who keep projects on scope, schedule, and budget ALWAYS move up in organizations. About 15 years ago, I hired an engineer (NROTC grad from Notre Dame) who spent is 5 years in subs and then got a grad degree in civil engineer at Notre Dame. When that guy walked into a room, he had instant respect from young, old - everyone. He was organized, he communicated very well, he naturally took charge of teams, he spoke with authority, and he didn't BS if he didn't know something - but he made sure he followed up and got the answer. Unfortunately, he left to start his own company and is now quite successful. For me, THAT is the value of SAs, ROTC, and military experience. THAT is what I want my DS to acquire.
     
  13. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

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    They are first taught to lead at any SA or ROTC program. Communication is also a big plus along with time management.
     
  14. momofmod

    momofmod Member

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    YUP!!!!!