October 2009 Archives

Over the past couple of months I have learned a few things about changing majors second hand. My girlfriend, Nicole, is a junior in plastics engineering, and she has had a change of heart about her major. She decided early into this semester that she wanted to study psychology instead of engineering. Being in her junior year, we both assumed that a change of major would set her back a couple of semesters or so. However, it turns out that she can still graduate the same semester she had initially planned. Here is why:

 

Psychology has about half the core classes that plastics engineering, or any engineering, requires for a bachelor’s degree. You will still need at least 120 credits to graduate, so the rest of the space is filled in with free electives. If you are an engineering major like I am, you may be a little unsure what a free elective is, do not be alarmed. A free elective is exactly what it sounds like; it is any class you want to take. So in Nicole’s case, she can use the classes she had taken in engineering as free electives towards psychology. This fills in approximately ˝ the courses in the junior and senior year of psych.

 

Another helpful step is that her math and science courses can also transfer over. Since she has taken calculus, physics, and chemistry courses, she can use these credits toward a degree in psychology. Psychology, like many other majors, requires that students take math courses, and science with lab courses. Most students in these majors would take college algebra or quantitative reasoning since higher level math courses are not required. They would also probably take life science or exploring the universe for their science requirements. However, these courses leaves the options open to the students, if they wanted to take physics or calculus instead.

 

This is a one-way street however, if Nicole had wanted to switch from psychology to plastics, and it would probably take an extra 3-4 semesters to graduate. So the point is, if you are undecided about your major, or you are drawn between two choices, look at the program of study. The program of study lays out exactly what courses you need to take to graduate, and when you should take them. Start with the major that is more demanding, and more precise about what courses are needed. Then move to the major that is less demanding.

 

The bottom line is this; study something that you are interested in. If you do not like the major you are in, it may not be too late to switch. Good luck, and thanks for reading.

I just got back from Pittsburg this weekend, I was there presenting a project that I have been working on for the past few months. It was a great experience to go to a trade show and present some of my research to some industry professionals. I had a good time in Pittsburg, even though it was cold and rainy.

 

Now that I am back, I found that I have much more free time. All of the hours I have put into my project every week are now open. This gives me the potential of focusing on my future.

 

As you may know, I am quickly approaching my graduation in December. As of now my plans for the future are unclear, but my aim is to either be working full time as an engineer in a field related to plastics, or to be studying full time for my master’s degree. I have been trying to work out teaching assistant and research assistant funding, which would waive my tuition and also give me a bi-weekly income that I could live off of. I have also been actively searching for jobs. Two big dates are coming up this week for my job searching: The UMass Lowell Career Fair on Wednesday, the 21st, and the 2009 MassPlastics show on Thursday, the 22nd.

 

The career fair looks a little bit more promising this semester as compared to last semester. There are about 6 companies looking for plastics engineers, of which 2 are actually hiring full time positions. The rest are either hiring interns or just accepting resumes. Since I am graduating in December, and positions will be opening in January, this gives me a good advantage over the students graduating in May 2010.

 

The MassPlastics show is a trade show similar to the ACS Rubber Expo that I attended last week in Pittsburg. However, I am not very familiar with rubber processing and technology, so the show in Pittsburg felt a bit foreign to me. On the other hand, I have been studying plastics processing and technology for the past 4 ˝ years, so this show should help me to see where the plastics industry stands today, and also give me a better idea of the local companies that I could send my resume to.

 

Hopefully with a little bit of luck, I will get some positive leads that will land me a few interviews in the next few weeks. Good luck with your job searching if you are attending the career fair this week. Thanks for reading.

 

Gearing up for Pittsburg…

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So if you have been following my blogs at all, you probably know that I am working on an undergraduate research project. I am going to be presenting my work next week at the 2009 ACS Rubber Expo in Pitsburg, PA. Right now I am working really hard to get things done. Click on the link below to read the description of my project.

The First Part of My Research Project...

The show that I am going to be presenting my project at gives awards for the best research paper, and the best poster presentation. I am making a poster, but I do not think I have a very good chance of winning. Last year, they gave out four $1500 awards. They were given to the best : undergraduate poster, graduate poster, undergraduate paper and graduate paper. This year they are only giving out two $1000 awards, to the best poster and the best paper, grads and undergrads mixed. I think it is very unlikely for an undergraduate to be able to compete against a graduate. Graduate students have more time, funding, resources as well as experience.

I am still very excited about going to this show. I think it will be a great experience for me, and I will be able to meet some potential employers at the show’s career fair. I still have a decent amount of work to do, so I am going to make this a short entry.

 I’ll keep you posted on how the presentation goes, and I will try to post up some pictures from Pitsburg. Thanks for reading.

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