Gordon, Guthrie W: September 2008 Archives

So you have decided to take engineering at Umass LowellÖ

This article is for anyone who is in the same shoes I was freshmen year: undeclared engineering. Engineering is a good option, starting salaries at 50-60k, high demand for engineers in the industry, and the opportunity to work anywhere on earth. The possible engineering majors for undergraduates are; plastics, mechanical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, and chemical. Each one has their own challenges.

Typically, an engineering degree means fighting your way through difficult calculus, physics, and chemistry classes. I thought that listing the general education math and science classes for each focus would help make your choice.

Plastics: I am a plastics major. Plastics engineering is chemistry based, but you will also learn physical properties. So for plastics you will need to take: physics 1 and 2, calculus 1, 2, 3 and differential equations, and chemistry 1, 2 and intro to organic chemistry. Compared to some of the other majors, this looks a little heavy. However I can not provide insight for how difficult any of the core classes are, except for plastics.

Mechanical: Mechanical focuses highly on static and dynamic physics. You will need to take physics 1, calc 1-3 and diff eqs. For chemistry however, you will only need to take select topics of chemistry, which is all the chemistry that applies to mechanical engineering. A rule of thumb is that an applied class is easier than a general class.

Electrical and Computer Engineering: Focused highly on physics, count yourself out of all chemistry classes. You will take physics 1 + 2, calculus 1, 2, 3 and diff eqs. These two majors will also require a number of courses on circuits. I assume they are difficult, but you would need to ask someone else for better advice.

Civil and Environmental Engineering: You are going to need a well balanced knowledge of physics, calculus and chemistry. You will take physics 1, calc 1, 2, 3 and diff eqs, and chem 1 and 2.

Chemical Engineering: Keep a periodic table with you at all times. You are going to take chemistry 1 and 2, as well as organic chemistry 1 and 2. You will also need to take physics 1, and calc 1, 2, 3 and diff eqs. As a plastics engineer, I had to take intro to organic chemistry. This was easily one of the most difficult classes I have taken, if chemistry isnít your strong point, you might find trouble with this major.

Any engineering major is going to involve a lot of work. Even if you are gifted and can ace any exam you take, you still canít escape the work load. You can expect lots of lab reports, group projects, and homework assignments. If you want to do well in engineering, you really need to commit yourself to it. Listed below are the links to the classes for each major.

         Plastics Engineering: Programs of Study

         Mechanical Engineering: Programs of Study

         Computer Engineering: Programs of Study

         Electrical Engineering: Programs of Study

         Chemical Engineering: Programs of Study

         Civil and Environmental Engineering: Programs of Study

I got the job as a TA!


I was hired on Monday and started on Tuesday. It was pretty scary seeing as how I had no idea what I was doing, but it worked out pretty well. I will be better prepared for teaching the lab this week. I still need to find some weekend work to pay the bills. I am going to apply at a couple of motorcycle dealerships. I have worked with cars for a long time, and I would love to learn more about bikes.

My first test is tomorrow morning in differential equations. I struggle so much with math that Iím surprised Iíve made it this far. I am feeling pretty confident about the material however. So I think I will be alright.  I have another test on Friday, once the tests start rolling they usually donít stop until finals. Time goes by really fast in college. It feels like it was only a couple of months ago I was moving into Leitch Hall.

Hopefully I ace both of these tests and find a job this week! Iíll keep you posted.


I need a jobÖ

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Living off campus is definitely less expensive than living on campus, but it is far from cheap. The cost of living on campus is $4,750 for a traditional room plus $160 telecommunications fee. Add in a mandatory meal plan for $2,500 and you are looking at $7410 per year. A lot of people complain about the mandatory meal plan, but I know a lot of people who would have starved without it.

I live in a three bedroom apartment, and the rent is $1250 per month.  That comes out to $417 per month per person. You can round that off to $500/ month when you include gas, electricity, cable and internet. Since we are in school for 8 months out of the year, the cost of the room is $4000. Estimate about $2000 for food and the total is $6000.

Long story short: Price of living on campus = $7410, Price of living in an off-campus apartment: $6000 (estimated)

The estimated price is a very rough number though; there are a lot of hidden costs. The biggest issue is furnishing the apartment. All that you need to bring to a dorm room is blankets, clothes, and maybe a TV. Moving into an empty apartment can be really expensive if you donít already have furniture for it.

This brings me to the title of my blog, I need a job... I have worked full time over the past 8 months and I have saved up a good amount of money. But my last internship ended two weeks ago, and I have been spending a little more than I would like. Too keep my savings from completely disappearing; I need to find a part time job quickly.

Earlier this week my professor asked me to be a TA for one of the plastics engineering labs! There is a slight time constraint with one of my classes, but hopefully we can work something out. I have wanted to be a TA for a long time. I also went back to an auto shop I used to work at to see if I could get my old job back. Everyone seemed excited to see me there, but the boss wasnít sure if there was anything for me. I should be finding out about those this upcoming week. So for now I am keeping my fingers crossed.  I donít want to go from blogging about my apartment, to blogging about being homeless!

-Guthrie Gordon

Back to school at last...


Back to school at lastÖ My name is Guthrie Gordon, and I am a senior in plastics engineering. I have about three semesters left in my undergraduate degree.  I have spent the past 8 months away from school, working two full time internships back to back.  I lived on campus freshmen and sophomore year, and I was an RA junior year. I just moved into an apartment right next to campus with a couple of good friends.

 I can definitely say that I am excited to come back to school at Umass Lowell.  It is great to see all of the familiar faces that I have missed over the past 8 months. It is a little bit depressing to see how much things have changed here, but itís also a good thing.  It gives me a chance to explore new opportunities and make some new friends.  

My major goal is to graduate and get accepted into a masterís degree program. Right now, however, I am more focused on getting good grades this semester. I think that the next couple years here at UML will determine whether or not I get into grad school. It has been difficult getting back into the swing of things. Working 40 hours a week has put me into a day to day mindset. In college, however, you need to plan ahead as much as possible. I am looking forward to learning new things and writing about it in these blogs.

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