Author Topic: 2nd Year MEng student - Failed Maths - Do I just cut my losses and find a job?  (Read 19188 times)

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Offline gregariz

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To quote my favourite modern era financial analyst, "You makes your picks and you takes your chances."

The reality is really however that student's with an interest but no experience in electronics do rely on universities to steer them right. If I look back and ask myself if I had experience in the industry would I have made different study choices? Yeah most likely.

I know it was just an example you probably pulled out of space but the case of a wind turbine I find is actually pretty telling. Engineers do alot of wind turbine type studies at universities. But they are not useful. If I recall mine was a control system for a radio telescope. But very few engineers work on these types of problems in their day to day jobs. They'd be much better served to have kept the teaching to that of a well published PID controller and had the students actually implement it, including the soldering bit. I'd of used that, and employers would appreciate that practical skill.

The reality is that engineering is a very practical profession. The choices that universities make are to teach less theory and increase practical capabilty or teach more theory (inc breadth) and decrease practical capability. The student is unaware of that choice unless they know what the profession already looks like.
 

Offline JayDee

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HI,
You need to think about this realy seriously.
You dont have to have a degree for many jobs and especially once you have several years experiance in the relavent field BUT the degree DOES help, some companies specify you must have a degree for two reasons.
1st you know how to apply your self and solve tricky stuff.
2nd, Your qualified and it legally helps protect them (a bit, might not be much but everything helps when the Sh*t reall hits the fan) ), they emplyed an person PROVEN to work to a given standard. Anything you do, design or make is backup up by the fact that you once (i.e. your degree) proved you could work to a high engineering standard.

later in you carear a degree can help when joining engineering institutions, working for certain companies, bolstering customer confidenceand sometimes it can even help you get a job!v :-)
A degree is by no means the answer to everything, common sence and perseverance win almost all the time but do not discount the advantages of holding a decent degree. 'Decent degree' means it was hard to get. Bristol have a good rep, saying you have a good engineering degree from somewhere like bristol does actually mean something.

I have employed and will continue to employ people with every concievable level of education and experiance, qualifications are only one aspect of an employee and I probe a new graduate more on what they have done in thier hobbies (tells me quite a bit) than the content of the course. The level of the degree already tells me about there 'academic' ability. 

Doing an interesting engineering job is fantastic but at some point, the real world will work you 10x harder than anything you will ever do at UNi. Uni made me work, but it was Work that nearly drove over the egde, you cant give up in the real world, people depend on you finding the solution.... it can be real hard but when its good, engineering is the best job in the world.

I found Uni tough, my maths was also very poor and I struggeled badly but squeaked though on the staight mathmatics, better on the applied stuff like Thermodynics and had a natural affinity with some of the deisgn stuff. We all have our strengths and the best ones are, perseverance and a love for your field of work.   Perseverance is not EASY...you just have to find a way to push yourself on. Easy to say, I know. :-)

What ever you want to do in engineering, just keep heading towards it a little bit at a time (with or without a degree)...just dont give up or expect to get the perfect job first time. I've done some real rubbish jobs and was told loads of times that too many people were chasing the 'interesting jobs, BUT I found my way in and spent 10 years doing electroincs in motorsport (so far!), which took me around the world for free and recently finished working on research equipment in Antartica for 18 months.
 
Now working for myself and having to work as hard as ever learning new stuff every day. I was not an A* student and struggeled quite a bit at uni, I was just a person who knew they were an engineer, period!

My maths is still awful and I regret not spending the time at School and colledge sorting the basics, I now get by and rely on lots of techincalm books and a calculator. 

2nd Yeasr? Yeah it will be hard and the second year can be quite a shock as they often push hard and expect to loose quite a few people.  Talk to your tutor, the maths lecturer or another maths lecturer, there are often additional lectures put on for people struggeling in maths, its just so common...try them... try anything, just dont give up. I really think you will kick your self if you drop out now.

Lets face it you have invested a lot of time and cash so far.. make the most, maybe a change to an alternate course will work better for you..thats fine but make sure you chage for the right reason and not just becasue the course is pushing you.
Oh yeah, loads of your course WILL seem irrelevant to real industry or overly academic b ut you just dont know what bits you'll use in the future... a your career is long and you'll use more that you think over the next 40 years in industry.
J. Best of luck dude, lots of us here have been there..but its one you gotta do on your own. :P

Also remember to have the odd beer :-)  A 2:1 is the drinking mans 1st !
 

Alex

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If I look back and ask myself if I had experience in the industry would I have made different study choices? Yeah most likely.

Are you happy where you are now, and where you can get from there? If so, I dont see why you would want to change the path that got you there, risking not ending up there. Besides, we have seen that time travelling is not a good idea. Right Scott?

I know it was just an example you probably pulled out of space but the case of a wind turbine I find is actually pretty telling. Engineers do alot of wind turbine type studies at universities. But they are not useful. If I recall mine was a control system for a radio telescope. But very few engineers work on these types of problems in their day to day jobs. They'd be much better served to have kept the teaching to that of a well published PID controller and had the students actually implement it, including the soldering bit. I'd of used that, and employers would appreciate that practical skill.

It was from a PhD project, this particular one is hopeless, the student needs to first debug the work of previous students. ::)

You are right, you could have worked on PIDs that are readily applicable so you find a job tomorrow. But because it is so common, you can just go out and learn about it. Now, a telescope control system! Tolerances there are much higher (speculation) and you have to do a great job just for your system to be integrated in the telescope. I mean, where do you mount it without it getting in the way of the telescope? You probably have to learn about telescopes first! Now, imagine if you applied the control theory from telescopes to a PID controller. WoW. That would be a fine PID controller. It will be expensive though, so it would not be to control your room heater but some higher reliability equipment like the thermoelectric cooler of a $200k custom tunable laser diode. Your tight-control overpriced PID will allow me to lock the wavelength of the laser on the absorption lines of water and detect its movement in the cylinder of a combustion engine. Then the engine manufacturer can optimise their design to reduce emissions.

Or you can do the PID controller for room heating. Equally useful, just very different.

Actually, that job will come to you, not the other way around. I would give you a ring and negotiate a collaboration to use your expertise with those PID controllers, whereas I would go to the local electronics shop for the standard type.

The scenario is optimised to make my point, but the examples are real. I hope you can clearly see the two career paths in this example.

The reality is that engineering is a very practical profession. The choices that universities make are to teach less theory and increase practical capabilty or teach more theory (inc breadth) and decrease practical capability. The student is unaware of that choice unless they know what the profession already looks like.

I agree and you have hit an issue there. Engineers tend to be kinesthetic, they learn from doing. I think the practical aspect is crucial and although good universities will have good undergrad facilities, you only get access to the 'good stuff' later on, which is a shame but it is a problem of resources, including supervisors.

This is were mentoring schemes come into play, professional institutions, industrial placements (big one), career fairs etc etc. You get a lot of industry insight early in the degree from those.

Another idea currently designed at least in Manchester is to do the equivalent of a 'hacker space', but under the wing of the university. This way keen students can get access to facilities and work together on physical projects after hours. This can be their final year project or a free energy device. Brilliant.
 

Online EEVblog

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I have to observe that you are attending one of the top universities in the UK, and an MEng course is set at a higher level than a BEng course. The academic requirements for getting that degree are supposed to be somewhat rigorous.

I missed that bit, I thought it was BEng.
How are you doing an MEng without having completed a BEng? That's how it works here, always BEng first before you are considered for an MEng course.

Dave.
 

Offline baljemmett

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How are you doing an MEng without having completed a BEng? That's how it works here, always BEng first before you are considered for an MEng course.

Here the MEng is an undergraduate degree that's a year longer than the BEng; not sure if Bristol even awards BEngs (when my brother did his four-year MEng Mechanical Engineering degree there wasn't a three-year BEng on offer).  Over in the CS department I had the choice of a three-year BSc course or four-year MSci (not to be confused with an MSc which is a post-graduate degree!)

I believe at some universities (Cambridge, for instance) it may work differently; I seem to recall it was a case of doing three years to get the Bachelors and then another year to get the upgrade on top.
 

Offline gregariz

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Its not a feature in the Australian system.. thought the Uni of South Australia used to run (maybe still do?) a 5 year undergrad MEng program (ie you transfered out after 3 years of the BEng into the MEng without ever completing the BEng). The Uni of melbourne have also now ditched their BEng for a 3 year BSc + 2 year Meng. I can imagine an undergraduate MEng would raise eyebrows overseas.
 

Offline IanB

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The MEng was introduced as a "super degree" with the idea that the three academic years for a normal bachelor's degree was not long enough to provide the kind of formation and grounding that some employers are increasingly looking for. There has even been talk in the UK of a 5 year engineering degree, but with the current level of tuition fees I don't think that is going anywhere.

Typically, an MEng degree satisfies the entire academic requirement for chartered engineer status with professional bodies like the IEE or IMechE, whereas a BSc degree has an additional training requirement.

One way of looking at MEng courses is to provide higher market value for graduates. Increasingly a BSc or BEng degree is seen as a second tier degree in the engineering professions, especially as fields broaden and there is more and more stuff to learn.

(I should add that an MEng is still an undergraduate degree, it is not a postgraduate degree like an MSc or MPhil.)
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 12:25:20 am by IanB »
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Online EEVblog

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Here the MEng is an undergraduate degree that's a year longer than the BEng; not sure if Bristol even awards BEngs (when my brother did his four-year MEng Mechanical Engineering degree there wasn't a three-year BEng on offer).  Over in the CS department I had the choice of a three-year BSc course or four-year MSci (not to be confused with an MSc which is a post-graduate degree!)

My head is spinning... ???

Dave.
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Yuk!
Mathematics, really hard sums for super hero's! Seriously my brother was nicknamed 'the prof' at grammar school ....by the teachers. He was streets ahead of his mentors in mathematics and it was all very easy for him until he went to uni and fell foul of STATISTICS. It floored him and he failed it miserably. To this day (over forty years later) any mention of the subject prompts his now well worn phase 'bloody statistics' and an involuntary straightening of the back and a slight toss of head. The moral? Screw mathematics and do what you are good at! Beating yourself up over it is non productive, not being good at something should not stop you doing what you are good at.
Machines were mice and Men were lions once upon a time, but now that it's the opposite it's twice upon a time.
MOONDOG
 

Online amspire

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So if you do the 3 year BE course, you get a BE.

If you do 3 years of the ME course and leave, you have nothing.

So that means that obviously a 3 year ME student is much dumber then a 3 year BE student, otherwise the ME student would be worthy of a BE at least.

Perhaps the course marketing guy at Bristol has a Phd in BS.

Richard.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 01:08:51 am by amspire »
 

Offline IanB

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So if you do the 3 year BE course, you get a BE.

If you do 3 years of the ME course and leave, you have nothing.

So that means that obviously a 3 year ME student is much dumber then a 3 year BE student, otherwise the ME student would be worthy of a BE at least.
On most courses I believe you get a BSc at the end of year 3 and the MEng at the end of year 4. So if you dropped out at the end of year 3 you would still get the BSc (assuming you passed the exams).
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Online vk6zgo

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I'm not a "Ginger Beer"---too scared of failure to try!----too late now!

One thing I did find out in the sub-professional stuff I studied,is that it is no use going through sample questions at the back of a text book,or in old exam papers ,& saying
"OK,I know that one!",or alternatively,working through all the questions over a long period.

The way that worked for me,was to do a Sample paper (either a real one,or a random one made up out of the text book) under exam conditions!.
The time constraints,& lack of other things to distract you,will allow you to determine your real level of competence.
I remember doing a sample paper under these conditions & getting  40%.
The next day,I did the real one & got--you guessed it! --40%!(I was lucky,I got to do the course over)

Another thing I found,although this applies to Electronics theory more than Maths,is that if you understand something intuitively,it sometimes puts you at a disadvantage compared to those who have to work out the Maths for everything--as that is what they want in the exam.

A particular case comes to mind;
Luma distortion in analog TV systems is measured by passing a staircase video waveform through the DUT,then passing it through a differentiating CR network,producing spikes,the amplitude of which depends on that of each step.
If the waveform is distorted,the rate of change of the step front edge will change,hence the spike amplitude changes.

I could see this intuitively,but had to explain its Mathematical basis to some of our newer Trainee Technical Officers.
As soon as they realised that it was simple Differentiation,they had no problem with it.
In an exam,I would probably assume it to be an easy problem,then get bogged down in the Maths! (I certainly would now--this was many years ago).

VK6ZGO 
 

Offline DrGeoff

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If you only got 9% the second time around then it's clear that there are some fundamental concepts that you have failed to understand. You are paying lecturers and tutors to teach you this, so put some pressure back on them and get them to work with you to clear up the holes in your understanding.
Was it really supposed to do that?
 

Offline Chet T16

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Here (Ireland) I can do 3 years and get a degree in Engineering Science or 4 years and get an honours degree in Electronic Engineering. Or we can take the science degree and do a further 2 years and get a masters
Chet
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Alex

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My head is spinning... ???

I dont blame you.

The uni of Bristol (e.g.) offers a 3-year BEng degree (H600) and a 4-year MEng degree (H606).

The idea of the 4-year MEng degree is to avoid having to pay the large fees associated with an isolated Masters. You just pay a fourth year of the BEng fees.

By going on the MEng course, you are still doing all the BEng courses and years, the pass criteria are a bit higher. When you graduate, you get only one paper saying Masters in blablabla. So think of it as a different way to serve a product that the uni offers.

There are various combinations for students that change their mind in the process.

I am not very fond of this scheme as you have to do the Masters at the same uni.
 

Offline HammerFET

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As Alex mentioned, I'm currently on the H606 course. It's fairly easy to jump course over summer, I have a friend who moved down from MEng (H606) to BEng (H600) because he's after a Medical Electronics MSc course elsewhere.

Imagine BEng here at Bristol the same as an MEng but a year shorted with various advanced topics pulled out. It works like that for all the courses.

The way things are looking now are that I either have to Withdraw, switch course or appeal.

Depending on how things go I will try appeal to retake the year else perhaps move to the Computer science with electronics course.

Leaving isn't an option as I feel I've invested too much in this course already.

It all rests on meeting with my tutor on Monday who could persuade the head of department to allow me past these rules  :-\
 

Offline XynxNet

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Retake the math course, if possible and review your exercise methodes.
Math is all about logic and "structured" thinking, which you have as an engineer, and about exercise, exercise and exercise.. ;)

My strategie at university was to do all the homeworks and exercises i could get, even old ones. Get some other students to compare your solutions and redo those you got wrong the first time. Just reading the solution doesn't work! Math will gulp up your time like a black hole for most students. That's normal.

Looking at your "engineering math 2" topics, I can assure you that it get's easier after that course.
 

Alex

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Just be honest about it to your tutor and have an answer for why do you think you will succeed next time. Also have a complete plan for what you would ideally like to do from this point on. Prepare to give away some points but know which points you must insist on.

Maybe approaching someone higher like the head of school will be of no benefit. Try instead those lecturers that you feel will have something to good to say with examples.

Good luck and let us know how it went.
 

Offline HammerFET

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Sounds like a plan, I'll take the weekend to go over where I can start again for maths and use that to help me on Monday.

Thanks all for your advice, I'll post further as things unfold.
 

Online EEVblog

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The way things are looking now are that I either have to Withdraw, switch course or appeal.

Depending on how things go I will try appeal to retake the year else perhaps move to the Computer science with electronics course.

Sounds like you have a decent backup plan then.
Good luck.

Do you have to retake the whole year?, or just the math class?

Dave.
 

Offline HammerFET

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If anything, it'll just be the maths class.

Might be worthwhile because I could try get a bit of work experience on the side.

I'll see how it goes though.
 

Offline Lawsen

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I do not know the job market at Bristol U.K.  I have looked it up, the Bristol unemployment rate is around 7.2% to 8%.  This is from:

http://www.Bristol.gov.UK/page/

The rent rate is around 150 pounds per week.

http://www.hoopla.co.UK/torrent/flats/Bristol/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol#Economy_and_industry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Bristol

http://www.caringatchristmas.org.uk/SurvivalGuide.html

Very sad:

http://english.aljazeera.net/video/europe/2011/08/2011827162514362413.html

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2009/01/200912114444924271.html

It looks like you have terrible time at it with a possible high unemployment rate and the rent does not seem high compared with California, U.S.A.  This not doing well in electronics math is really personal.  It is not an electronics subject.  We are not your academic ad visor.  I did not do so well in electronics math, either, a B at most.  I did not do well in biology statistics at all.  I did not make it through the summer program in calculus at first try and retake it with a B, but it was averaged with the lower, because I did not dropped out.  Schools could be really punishing.  I no longer participate much in chemicool.com website because those on line tutoring or helping strangers like a pharmacist student, medical student, or high school student with their homework are too time consuming.  I done it in all categories around 2007.  I have read enough non sense from you, thinking about selling your oscilloscopes, because you could not handle calculus?  Oscilloscopes are used by non mathematics people.  Have you read a Tektronix's manual requiring the user to master calculus up to differential equations, d/dt?  It would be great if everyone did to appreciate those graphs more, but the minimum level for that is trigonometry.   Maybe, you could find an advisor at your school to help you like I did in biology to geology?  I did my electronics at a community college, before the university era.  My gig now is the giant HP plotter care taker job.  That job is even harder than school.  If I misplace one screw, than I am screwed.  I have to memorized the screw patterns.  The job is on call, no benefits and no steady income. 

Just beg to retake the math class and only just take that class and nothing else.   Devote full effort on that class, nothing else, no experimenting with oscilloscopes and spending time with friends and traveling.  Send the oscilloscopes back to your mother's place.  The only sine wave is f(x)=sine(x), with the knowing how the graph could shift and those electronics formulae and Kirchhoff's voltage laws for a circuit in a closed loop.  Failure is a part of engineering and life.  Please, do what you could to minimize failure. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchhoff's_circuit_laws

What is my suggestion to you?  Do not drop out, even if it means you live semihomeless.  Homeless is on the rise in London as I saw on the news.  Write an essay to why you are not doing well in math and how will you do things differently will needed to be presented to the re-enrollment committee at your school.  Are you in probation or disqualification?  I told you this is a personal topic.  I am not so sure I ought to be writing so much about this situation.  Are you practicing your math more?  You need to practice your math about a year to six months before taking the class?  Have you considered seeking a tutor or guide?  I do not want to be a tutor, no, not me. 

A job, if you could find a good job to help with the rent, then do so, but how much time will that take from that math practice?  Could you move in with someone to live cheaply that does not have much woes or troubles?  Could you move your things back home to mother and live even more spartanly and just your graph paper, few calculators, and practice math?  The schooling is for the theory.  The job will be different, depending upon who hired to to do a particular task.  It might be as mundane as putting the right screws into the right place and figure out how to make a machine or circuit work. 

Do not drop out, because it might be more difficult to re-enroll in again.
You could always rent a place, losing an apartment is not a big thing, might be a blessing, because the end to high rents and down sizing to live within your means.
Another career might be good, too, but which career? 
As you read my history, I did not specialized in a particular career, but I did have my electronics certificate and earth science geology and few biology classes that I did not do well in and some did well above average.  I am a giant HP plotter care taker for an art studio doing advertisement arts.  I also repair microscope lamp houses for biology and geology.  I enjoy working with USB accelerometer seismographs and GPS modules.  I try to combine them; electronics, geology, and
exploring sciences. 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 08:24:07 pm by Lawsen »
 

Offline IanB

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I do not know the job market at Bristol U.K.  I have looked it up, the Bristol unemployment rate is around 7.2% to 8%.
Actually though, the UK is such a small country that you don't tend to look for professional work in a given city or area, you move to anywhere in the country you find a job offer. Obviously this changes a bit if you are settled down with a family and children at school, but when you are starting out location is not that important.

Also, headline numbers for unemployment can be misleading. Particular unemployment rates in professions like engineering can be quite different from the average.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline Lanman

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Failure is a part of engineering and life.  Please, do what you could to minimize failure.   

True that.  Oftentimes the difference between success & failure is at what point you choose to quit.  Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong until you get it right.  Something I've always considered key to succeeding in this business. 

Dave
 

Offline HammerFET

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Hey all, it's been a hell of a week. My appeal originally got rejected and I technically got kicked out of uni. I took a lot of time looking for a job or to continue a similar course at another uni but pretty much all courses are full now and I couldn't seem to find anywhere to get a place this year.

Thankfully, with the new term starting on Monday,  I have done a lot of phoning, emailing, meeting with various staff to squeeze every last hope out of getting back onto my course and with merely hours to go, I've managed to get back in!

It's three hours a week taking Maths for the year and that gives me plenty of time to nail it!

Thanks everyone for all your support, advice and kicks up the backside  :o This time I wont screw up!  :)
 


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