General Engineering vs. Specific Degree?

From both a students and an employers point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a general engineering degree (specialising in 3rd and 4th years) compared with a specific (Electrical & Electronic Engineering) degree.


Strictly speaking, from a student's perspective, it depends upon your personal interests and from an employer's perspective, it depends upon the role they expect to hire.

For example, while I was in school my interests were electrical and computers; that is what I studied and received my degree in. My first job out of school dealt strictly with electronics and communications equipment. If your heart and interests are not in electrical engineering, do not go that route - find something you enjoy.

My current company expects their engineers to perform in a mixture of functions literally on-the-spot including electrical, chemical, mechanical, and to a smaller degree structural. There is no engineering degree that covers all these fields in detail and we have lost many people who have found this job stressful at the very least.

Currently, we have 2 people with electrical degrees, one mechanical, and one chemical. Each are superior to the others in their respective fields and a lot of information and questions are exchanged. Each are required to play "catch-up" on the other fields in a relatively short amount of time. Yet, only certain aspects of each field is required, not the entire spectrum.

We have also discovered that electricals can typically pick up mechanical fairly easily, but have extreme trouble when it comes to chemical. Chemical can pick up mechanical easily and likewise mechanical can pick up chemical, but neither can really grasp electrical with ease. It does not mean that any field is superior, electricals deal with a lot more math, programming and abstract concepts in school, but mechanicals and chemicals deal with a lot more physical concepts and "real-world" type problems.

In short, if a company is looking specifically for an electrical engineer, they will show preference towards someone with that degree. In a company such as mine, I give no preference to any of the engineering fields upon selection and interviews. I do look for an engineering degree with preference from a state university rather than a private institution. We are also a bit different as we pay very little attention to grades and more preference to prior work experience. It boils down to: can you handle the job?
There will be less of a demand for a generalized degree. Employers are looking for not only a specific degree but specific skills within the engineering discipline. For example even for entry level electrical engineers, people who can do RF or analog design are in high demand. Those who can design logic writing VHDL are a dime a dozen.

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