Can You Get a Respectable Engineering Degree Online?

Nov 15, 2018 by

Some say that eLearning is going too far. On one hand, bringing education to the internet is allowing more people than ever to gain knowledge, skills and credentials to qualify them for higher-paying jobs; on the other hand, some online learning outlets are beginning to advertise digital programs in fields that might not translate well on the web.

 Take engineering, for example. Arguably one of the most important professions in modern society, engineering requires rigorous education and training in complex fields of mathematics, science and technology. Is it truly possible for engineering students to gain what they need to excel in industry through an online program?

The Type of Engineering Matters

Engineering is a broad field;two professionals might both identify as engineers but have vastly different knowledge and skill sets. Some of the most established types of engineering,such as mechanical engineering, electrical and chemical engineering, work with elements of the physical world to find solutions to physical problems. Meanwhile, newer forms of engineering, such a software engineering, network engineering and control systems engineering, are concerned with the digital world: manipulating digital elements to create digital solutions.

Prospective engineers should strongly consider the type of engineering they are interested in before planning their path through education. As one might expect, fields concerned with the digital aspects of technology are much easier to study through online programs, whereas those rooted in the physical world require more hands-on training.

The Level of Education Matters

Most engineers work their entire careers with only a bachelor’s degree. That’s because the five-year engineering bachelor’s equips engineers with all they need to find employment and thrive in their field of choice. However, because of this, it is especially important that engineering students in certain fields, such as mechanical, electrical or chemical engineering, receive sufficient training in a physical classroom with the real-life tools they will use in industry.

The master’s level is a different story. Engineers pursue master’s degrees to specialize in niche fields or to gain management training to climb the career ladder. An engineering master’s requires two years of full-time study, and it typically is more rigorous but deals with less applied instruction. That means existing engineers should feel comfortable enrolling in an online master’s program to enhance their career prospects.

The School Itself Matters

 All prospective engineers and existing engineers should know that it matters where an engineering degree comes from. An engineering graduate from MIT will be looked upon more favorably by employers than an engineering graduate from a community college or a little-known liberal arts school. Online education or no, it is imperative that engineers find respected programs, like those from universities like CaseWestern Reserve, which will ensure they have successful careers in industry.

To understand the reputation of a school or program, there are several things a prospective student can do. For one, many organizations create rankings of engineering schools, which prospective engineers (and employers,for that matter) can find online. Additionally, engineers should try to get in contact with professors and current students as well as recent graduates, to understand what programs are like and how grads fare in the real world.

It should go without saying that engineers shouldn’t apply only to top-tier schools. They should evaluate their education needs, such as type of engineering, location of school, time commitment, budget, education history and more, and make a list of possible candidates before they apply.

The Student’s Attitude Matters

Speaking of student needs, prospective engineers should consider their own personalities, tendencies and preferences before determining whether an online engineering program is worthwhile. Obviously, prospective engineers need to determine their field of engineering, which will determine whether online studies are an option, but they should also examine certain personal attributes before making a final decision. For example, students should consider their learning style: Do they need a teacher present to hold them accountable for attending courses and completing assignments, or do they thrive under self-managed education? They should also evaluate their own attitude toward online education; if it isn’t favorable, it’s likely that they won’t respect their own efforts to earn an online degree.

eLearning and online education are exploding with popularity, but that doesn’t mean all students in all fields should abandon college campuses in favor of digital degree programs. Engineers especially must weigh the pros and cons of going online for their training – but if their interests and needs fit what online education has to offer, they should absolutely go for it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.