My experience with McGill engineering

As I have said a zillion times to students I have advised, the point of a foundation education (i.e. all bachelor degrees) is the transferable skills and environment under which you are guided to think. In engineering’s case, it’s problem solving, math and logical thinking, which will allow you to work in finance, banking, or even to become an entrepreneur if you don’t want to be an engineer. In Arts, it’s writing, analytical thinking, and the ability to relate to real people issues. Whatever “practical” things you want to learn, you will learn them all within the first two years of your real professional life. The ultimate question is whether you have the right thinking cap to help you advance your career in the long run, and that’s what an “academic” university is all about, and what McGill really gives you at the end of the day. There are good reasons why McGillians become accomplished people in all sectors. No program is as useless as people think. The question is whether you truly know what you’ve picked up from McGill.

How one student got a degree from McGill University in mechanical engineering…|By Maclean’s
Alvin Chung
Alvin Chung One more point to add. If you are a student and if you have any doubt, ask an alum. Our commitment to help each other – this is what makes us a family and a network in every sense of the word.
 Like · Reply · 2 · 8 hrs
Thomas C. Kaplan
Thomas C. Kaplan Mech eng was the best! It taught me the rigour needed to tackle a problem even if I did not apply course work directly in my later jobs. The mech eng program is also an amazing base for a career in academia for those who choose that.
 Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Joshua Lai
Joshua Lai The article reminds me of my first year when I tried to go for a double major in chemistry (DT campus) and environmental biology (mac campus). The boundary between academia and industry (sometimes involving the arts) is likely not well defined. I think, as students, we need to value theoretical knowledge. However, I cannot neglect that each of us are wired differently. Some may learn better with practical knowledge. I’m lucky because, in chemistry, we spend long hours working on different experiments each week.

Background story: I actually wanted to do fieldwork as a freshman but I wasn’t sure back then. Therefore, I spent a summer working in the field instead. That decision actually saved me time, because I found out I didn’t like fieldwork as much as I thought I would.

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Alvin Chung
Alvin Chung There’s one significant point younger people often don’t know: Circumstances or situations do change, but theories normally don’t (hence they are theories not hypothesis). Since you can’t always know what to do in every situation, you need theories to help you through those ever-changing circumstances. If people think theories are “impractical”, that only means they have no clue how to leverage theories in or for practical situations. It doesn’t necessarily mean theories are in fact impractical in its very nature.
 Like · Reply · 1 · 4 hrs
Joshua Lai
Joshua Lai That’s true. I’ve been trying to show people that theory isn’t impractical, but it’s certainly not perfect. I did say the boundary b/t academia and industry is likely not well defined, but that’s only when most of us were still figuring out what to do as an undergrad. In research, that’s where opportunities were given to students to bridge the gap b/t academia and industry (filling in the black box) for the first time. Lets leave aside whether a research topic will eventually develop into a marketable product.
 Like · Reply · 3 hrs · Edited
Alvin Chung
Alvin Chung Joshua Lai  I don’t even think it’s necessary to even attempt to draw any boundary between the industry and the academia, for the simple reason that it is quite pointless. Whether people know it or not, many of our daily technologies have come from NASA space program technologies, which originated from academic research. So where and why do you draw the line between theoretical exploration, industrial production, and daily practicalities?
Joshua Lai
Joshua Lai That’s because, as a researcher, doing/creating science becomes difficult when people only think about the applications. That’s the reason why I draw a line between industry and academia. Because it’s so important to learn by curiosity, one cannot dive too deep into the innovation hype nowadays. As the properties and interactions of molecules can be so complex, I think it’s reasonable to say “I don’t know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough” by Richard Feynman. In the broader sense of industry though, yes, that’s where fundamental research is applied. However, that’s usually decades after the discovery. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t any exceptions. The large hadron collider was built with ambitious goals in fundamental research. Maybe that’s the boundary between industry and academia. You’re right, It’s pointless to even think that far. For references, here’s an article:…/2010/August/LetsGetPhysical.asp
Physical chemistry is entering something of a golden era. Its tools have advanced…
Tung Thai
Tung Thai My friend Vu Đức Thu was the best student I have ever seen. He was accepted in astronomy with a grant. Then he switched to electrical engineering with minor in computer science, then he finished master of electrical engineering at Concordia and passed his CA exam at McGill and completed his PhD in electrical engineering at McGill. He has been working at the manager position in CAE, Ericson and now he is happily married with a dentist and they moved to Boston where the MIT is located.
 Like · Reply · 4 hrs
Tung Thai
Tung Thai I studied mechanical engineering because the theory of mechanical engineering is not as crazy as the electrical engineering, in mechanical I can touch, see and hear the machine turning while in electrical engineering you touch at nothing without proper knowledge, because even if you don’t see the positive and negative electrons they are fatal for your heart. I have been working more in the field of electronic and electrical engineering because their symbols are easy to draw on Autocad than a 3D mechanical parts and I am an expert in Autolisp, visual Basic and C integrated in Autocad.
 Like · Reply · 2 · 4 hrs

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