Engineering an important career for talented problem solvers
Engineers bring together the worlds of science and commercial application with their work.
Jackson Community College offers an engineering certificate program designed to give students a head start toward their career, with skills they can use right away in the workforce.
JCC’s Fundamentals of Engineering Certificate offers a sequence of courses that provides students the fundamentals of math, problem solving, science skills and more necessary for those working toward becoming an engineer.
Assistant Professor Greg Severance, a professional engineer himself, explained that the certificate would also help students who do not transfer on to four-year universities find jobs such as engineering technicians. Local industries interested in engineering technicians sometimes contact the College looking for students they may hire. JCC’s new certificate program is a credential students may use to go to work as an engineering technician. Engineering technicians use their knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences to solve technical problems and assist in practical applications. Technician work is more limited in scope and application-oriented than that of engineers, and they may assist engineers on projects.
Typically, a bachelor’s degree is necessary for engineers, and students may complete their first three or four semesters at JCC. The College’s program is designed in conjunction with the engineering curriculum at the University of Michigan, and students may transfer to U-M or any number of top engineering schools in the state, such as Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University or Michigan Technological University.
Engineering is a career that provides many options. Prospective engineers may choose from the following areas:
- Chemical engineering involves research and development of chemical processes to develop new products and increase productivity of existing chemicals.
- Electrical engineering employs the largest number of engineers and covers everything relating to electrical devices, systems and the use of electricity.
- Mechanical engineering uses principles of mechanics and energy to design machines such as engines and motors.
- Civil engineering, one of the largest branches of engineering, involves construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams and other structures.
- Many more specialties. (Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, www.bls.gov/oco, or the American Society for Engineering Education, www.engineeringk12.org, for more information.)
Anthony Bacon attended JCC then transferred to the University of Michigan to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, graduating in 2008.
“I am very glad I attended JCC before transferring to the University of Michigan,” Bacon said. “JCC had me very well prepared academically to succeed and saved my family and myself thousands in the process. The faculty are fantastic individuals, and very knowledgeable in their fields.”
Students interested in the engineering certificate will typically complete the program requirements in about one and a half years, three or four semesters, though an aggressive student may complete it in a shorter period. Students looking at a career in engineering should be mechanically inclined, should be computer literate and enjoy working on a computer, have good math skills and high aptitude for technical courses, and have a strong interest in the sciences.
“Be sure to study. Engineering may be hard with all the science and math involved, but there are a lot of people who can do it,” Bacon said. “Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged.”
Employment of engineers should grow between 7 and 13 percent over the next several years, about as fast as average for all occupations. Demand varies by specialty. Average starting salaries for beginning engineers are:
- Chemical, $56,520
- Civil, $50,560
- Electrical, $57,860
- Mechanical, $50,550
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