Posts about college students

Highest Paying Fields at Mid Career in USA: Engineering, Science and Math

Payscale has again provided details on average salaries by major for various fields. Once again engineering, math and science dominate. For this data they define mid-career as those with 10+ years of experience.

The top 15 bachelor degrees by mid-career salary were all from those 3 fields. And the median salary was $168,000 for petroleum engineering degrees (at the top) to $107,000 for Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science and Mathematics (tied for 14th).

The starting salaries for those with these degrees ranged from $58,000 for Actuarial Mathematics (though by mid-career salary they were in 3rd place at $119,000) to $101,000 for petroleum engineering. My guess is petroleum engineering salaries will decline from their current highs (as they have done in previous oil price busts). The second highest paying bachelor degree starting salary was for mining engineering at $71,500 – with most of the other fairly close to that amount.

Nuclear engineering pay started at a median of $68,200 before rising to the 2nd highest mid-career level of $121,000.

Payscale also provided data based on master’s degree field. Again petroleum engineering was in first place by mid-career ($173,000). Nurse anesthesia was in second at $159,000 and held the first spot for starting median salary ($139,000).

Taxation is the only filed that is obviously not STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related which had the lowest initial median salary of $60,700 but was tied for 5th for mid career salary at $126,000. Technology management and operations research are also not STEM fields though are a bit related to the STEM area.

PhD degree’s with the highest mid-career median earning are again all STEM fields. Economics is one many people probably don’t think of as STEM but it is (as a social science) and really it is largely mathematics at this point.

Many of the PhD starting salaries are at $100,000 (or close). The disciplines with the highest mid-career median salaries are: Electrical and Computer Engineering $142,000; Computer Engineering $139,000; Chemical Engineering $138,000; Biomedical Engineering, $137,000; and Economics $134,000.

Related: No Surprise, Engineering Graduates Pay Continue to Reign Supreme (2012)The Time to Payback the Investment in a College Education in the USA Today is Nearly as Low as Ever, Surprisingly (2014)Engineering Again Dominates The Highest Paying College Degree Programs (2011)Earnings by College Major” Engineers and Scientists at the Top (2013)Looking at the Value of Different College Degrees

Engineering Graduates Earned a Return on Their Investment In Education of 21%

A recent report from the New York Fed looks at the economic benefits of college. While there has been a great deal of talk about the “bubble” in higher education the Fed finds college is very wise economically for most people. They do find a larger portion of people that are not getting a great return on their investment in higher education.

That could well indicate students studying certain majors and perhaps some people with less stellar academic skills would be better off economically skipping college.

Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs?

an analysis of the economic returns to college since the 1970s demonstrates that the benefits of both a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree still tend to outweigh the costs, with both degrees earning a return of about 15 percent over the past decade. The return has remained high in spite of rising tuition and falling earnings because the wages of those without a college degree have also been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high while reducing the opportunity cost of going to school.

It is hard to beat a 15% return. Of course averages hide variation within the data.

The return to engineer graduates was the greatest of all disciplines examined. Engineering graduates earned a return on their investment of 21%. The next highest were math and computers (18%); health (18%); and business (17%). Even the lowest returns are quite good: education (9%), leisure and hospitality (11%), agriculture (11%) and liberal arts (12%).

These returns look at graduates without post-graduate degrees (in order to find the value of just the undergraduate degree). As those with higher degrees benefit even more but the return on graduate degrees is not part of this study and they didn’t want to confuses the benefits of the post graduate degree with the bachelors degree.

As the article points out those fields with the top returns are more challenging and likely those students are more capable on average so a portion of the return may be due to the higher capabilities of the students (not just to the major they selected). They don’t mention it but engineering also has a higher drop out rate – not all students that would chose to major in engineering are able to do so.

This is one more study showing what we have blog about many times before: science and engineering careers are very economically rewarding. The engineering job market remains strong across many fields; many companies are turning to engineering job placement firms to find specialized staff. While the engineers do voice frustration at various aspects of their jobs the strong market provides significant advantages to an engineering career. As I have said before the reason to chose a career is because that is the work you love, but in choosing between several possible careers it may be sensible to consider the likely economic results.

The study even examines the return for graduates that are continually underemployed (I am not really sure how they get this data, but anyway…) the return for engineers in this situation is still 17% (it is 12% across all majors).

Related: Earnings by College Major, Engineers and Scientists at the Top (2013)Engineering Graduates Continue to Reign Supreme (2013)Career Prospect for Engineers Continues to Look Positive (2011)

Earnings by College Major – Engineers and Scientists at the Top

graph of earnings by college-major

Median annual income by major based on data from the Georgetown Center On Education And The Workforce – via blog post: The Most And Least Lucrative College Majors.

As we have posted about for years engineers do very well financially. This chart shows the median income by college major (the data includes those who went on to get advanced degrees) based on data for the USA. See the data on those that only have bachelors degrees. Also see a detailed post from the Curious Cat Economics blog looking at the value of college degrees based on the Georgetown data.

Engineering holds 6 of the top spots in the graph shown above and 8 of the top spots for those that didn’t earn an advanced degree. Pharmacy-sciences-and-administration and Math-and-computer-sciences made the top 10 of both lists. Pharmacology and health-and-medical-prepatory-programs make the list when advanced degrees are included.

The highest earning major, petroleum engineering, with $120,000 doesn’t have an increase for those with advanced degrees. The 10th spot goes to electrical engineering with a $94,000 median income.

Related: No Surprise – Engineering Graduates Continue to Reign SupremeEngineering Again Dominates The Highest Paying College Degree ProgramsEngineering Majors Hold 8 of Top 10 Highest Paid MajorsThe Labor Market for Software Developers

Largest Google Summer of Code Ever

Google summer of code allows college students to work on open source software projects during the summer and get a $5,000 stipend from Google.

Google Summer of Code 2012 by the Numbers

This 8th year of Google Summer of Code is the largest yet. More mentoring organizations received more applications from more students than ever before. We received a record number of applications – 6685 – from 4258 students from 98 countries to work with the 180 selected mentoring organizations.

We also accepted more students this year: 1,212 from 69 countries. This year India supplied the largest number of students, 227.

USA has 172 students, Germany 72, Russia 56 and China 45. This year set the highest percentage of women (self identified) yet. Guess what percentage. If you guessed 8.3% you are right.

Projects from the following organizations/software projects are included this year: Apache Software Foundation, Debian Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation/The Tor Project, GIMP, haskell.org, The JRuby Project, OpenStreetMap, Python Software Foundation, R project for statistical computing, Twitter, Wikimedia Foundation.

Google provides a stipend of 5,000 USD to the student and $500 to the mentoring organization. That puts Google’s support at over $6,500,000 this year.

Related: Google Summer of Code is Accepting Applications (2011)Google Summer of Code 2009Google Summer of Code 2007

Top Online Graduate Engineering Programs in the USA

Online degree programs are growing quickly in popularity in the USA. Over 6 million students took online courses in 2011. The costs of traditional education continue to rise at extremely high rates – schools have done a horrible job of dealing with this. I personally, don’t understand how they have done so horribly on this measure. Administration costs have exploded. Building vanity projects that costs tens of millions of dollars add little to student achievement and waste limited resources driving up costs.

We really need to find administrators that will reduce administrative staffing levels and costs. Let some schools continue on the ego driven spiraling costs, but let us at least find some who will focus on reducing education costs and providing good education at reasonable costs. For engineering, more than maybe any other discipline, I can excuse some of the costs. But given the universal failure to manage costs I think the failure to manage costs is the primary issue (the extra demands for spending on engineering education, I understand).

The failure to stop the lavish spending has greatly increased the demand for online education. Given the unreasonable cost increases for traditional education many are priced out of considering that option. Given how unable schools have proven to be at providing good education for reasonable rates the last few decades it is reasonable to assume online education will continue to gain popularity. I don’t see the top tier schools facing much competition from online efforts (even if some students are drawn away there are plenty wanting to upgrade their school choice at whatever the cost – as the administrators know as they continue to drive up costs).

One danger is that online education is hardly a proved commodity yet. Both in terms of what you learn and the acceptance and desirability of degrees. So right now students are having to make guesses that are more challenging with online programs than the traditional choices. US News and World Report has selected 3 online engineering master’s programs for the honor roll.

Related: Engineering Education in the 21st CenturyHow the Practice and Instruction of Engineering Must ChangeGlobal Engineering Education Study

sOccket: Power Through Play

In a fun example of appropriate technology and innovation 4 college students have created a football (soccer ball) that is charged as you play with it. The ball uses an inductive coil mechanism to generate energy, thanks in part to a novel Engineering Sciences course, Idea Translation. They are beta testing the ball in Africa: the current prototypes can provide light 3 hours of LED light after less than 10 minutes of play. Jessica Matthews ’10, Jessica Lin ’09, Hemali Thakkara ’11 and Julia Silverman ’10 (see photo) created the eco-friendly ball when they all were undergraduates at Harvard College.

photo of sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

They received funding from: Harvard Institute for Global Health and the Clinton Global Initiative University. The

sOccket won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, which recognizes the innovators and products poised to change the world. A future model could be used to charge a cell phone.

From Take part: approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide use kerosene to light their homes. “Not only is kerosene expensive, but its flames are dangerous and the smoke poses serious health risks,” says Lin. Respiratory infections account for the largest percentage of childhood deaths in developing nations—more than AIDS and malaria.

Related: High school team presenting a project they completed to create a solution to provide clean waterWater Pump Merry-go-RoundEngineering a Better World: Bike Corn-ShellerGreen Technology Innovation by College Engineering Students

Watch a June 2010 interview on the ball:
Continue reading

Students Will Spend Year Doing Career-Changing Research Thanks to HHMI

This year, 116 medical, dental, and veterinary students from 47 schools across the country will take a break from memorizing molecular metabolism and studying drug interactions to spend a year in a lab doing hands-on research. The break from regular coursework, funded through a $4 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) initiative, is intended to give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in science and consider whether they want to pursue a career as a physician-scientist.

Nearly 500 medical students applied for the research year through the HHMI-National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars and HHMI Medical Research Fellows programs. Both efforts seek to strengthen and expand the pool of medically-trained researchers. The funding HHMI provides is a great resource.

“We want medical, dental, and veterinary students to become immersed in the life of academic science for at least a year. And we hope they get so engaged in the process and life of scientific research that they will decide to continue it for the rest of their lives,” says Peter Bruns, HHMI’s vice president for grants and special programs. “We need more doctors who do basic research to improve human health.”

As part of its commitment to fostering the translation of basic research discoveries into improved diagnoses and treatments, HHMI has developed a range of programs to nurture the careers of researchers who bridge the gap between clinical medicine and basic science. In addition to the programs for medical students, the Institute supports medical training for Ph.D. students in the basic sciences and has made specific efforts to fund top physician-scientists as HHMI investigators.

The medical research scholars and fellows programs are open to medical, dental, and veterinary students enrolled in U.S. schools. Most have completed the second or third year of their professional program when they spend a year working in a lab either at the NIH or at an academic medical center or research university they select. During the last 25 years, more than 2,100 students have participated.

The HHMI Medical Research Fellowships program allows medical, dental, and veterinary students to pursue biomedical research at a laboratory anywhere in the United States except the NIH campus in Bethesda. Each student submits a research plan to work in a specific lab with a mentor they have identified. Since 1989, about 1,200 students have participated.

This year, 74 students from 26 medical schools and two veterinary schools were chosen as fellows from a pool of 274. While most students elect to stay at their home institution to do their research, this year 17 fellows will work in labs at a different school. Their research topics include schizophrenia, wound healing, organ development, and many other important biological questions.

The HHMI-NIH Research Scholars program was established in 1985 to encourage medical students to pursue research by allowing them to take a year off from their medical studies. The program has since been expanded to include dental and veterinary students. It has enabled about 1,000 students to work in NIH labs.

Students selected as research scholars often enter the program with only a general idea of what type of research they would like to do. As soon as they are accepted, they begin researching the more than 1,100 laboratories at NIH. They meet with a number potential mentors before finalizing which project to pursue under the guidance of their NIH advisor and HHMI’s staff. The students are sometimes called “cloister scholars” because they live in apartments or dorm-style rooms in a refurbished cloister on the NIH campus in Bethesda.

This year, 42 students from 28 medical schools and one veterinary school were chosen as research scholars. More than 200 students from 93 schools applied.

Related: Directory of Science and Engineering Scholarships and Fellowships$600 Million for Basic Biomedical ResearchHHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral ScientistsGenomics Course For College Freshman Supported by HHMI at 12 Universities

Science Courses for the Next Generation

During the last three years, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has recruited 44 colleges and universities across the country to join its Science Education Alliance (SEA), which is changing how freshmen learn about science by providing them with an authentic, classroom-based research experience. Now professors from three schools offering the SEA course will help create the next generation of research-based courses that will extend the program’s reach to upperclassmen.

These “SEA sabbaticals” are another step toward HHMI’s long-term goal of making the SEA a resource for science educators nationwide. When HHMI unveiled the SEA program in 2007, it committed $4 million over four years to the development and rollout of the Alliance’s first course: the National Genomics Research Initiative. That year-long course has enabled freshmen to make real discoveries by doing research on phage, which are viruses that infect bacteria. The research-based laboratory course provides beginning college students with a true research experience that is teaching them how to approach scientific problems creatively and will hopefully solidify their interest in a career in science.

The freshmen students in the SEA course work closely with faculty to design experiments and make scientific discoveries. Many say the experience has changed their view of science. But it soon became apparent that one set of courses would not be enough to continue challenging students as they progressed through college. So HHMI decided to look for creative solutions to that problem.

HHMI invited the 27 schools currently participating in the SEA to apply, and three were accepted to develop new courses. These new projects are focused on designing a curriculum that will pick up where the virus genomics class ends.

Faculty from Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania, will develop a cellular and molecular biology course in which students will examine phage genes and determine which are essential for the virus’s survival. In a biochemistry course, students will purify and characterize the proteins produced by the genes to determine their function.

University of Louisiana at Monroe’s team will create three modules that could be used in several courses for juniors and seniors. In one, they will create lessons in which students develop methods to determine how their phages reproduce after they enter bacteria. Students would look at genetic markers to determine how phages should be classified into related “clusters” in a second module. Students taking the third course would explore the best way to determine whether genes are essential to the survival of the virus.

University of Puerto Rico, Cayey faculty will create a course to help students examine and characterize various phage proteins. Proteins of interest include those that make up the virus’s protective coating, and those that are activated once infection has begun.

HHMI continue to fund huge amounts of great work in science.

Full press release: Science Education Alliance Builds Research Courses for the Next Generation

Related: $60 Million for Science Teaching at Liberal Arts CollegesHHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral Scientists$600 Million for Basic Biomedical ResearchHoward Hughes Medical Institute Takes Big Open Access Step

Green Technology Innovation by College Engineering Students

With prizes totaling more than $100,000 in value, this year’s Climate Leadership Challenge is believed to be the most lucrative college or university competition of its kind in the country. The contest was open to all UW-Madison students.

A device that would help provide electricity efficiently and at low cost in rural areas of developing countries took the top prize – $50,000 – this week in a student competition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for innovative ideas to counteract climate change.

The “microformer” is the brainchild of Jonathan Lee, Dan Ludois, and Patricio Mendoza, all graduate students in electrical engineering. Besides the cash prize, they will receive a promotional trip worth $5,000 and an option for a free one-year lease in the University Research Park’s new Metro Innovation Center on Madison’s east side.

“We really want to see implementation of the best ideas offered,” said Tracey Holloway, director of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at UW-Madison, which staged the contest for the second year in a row. “The purpose of this competition is to make an impact on climate change.”

The runner-up for the “most action-ready idea” was a proposal to promote the use of oil from Jatropha curcas plants to fuel special cooking stoves in places like Haiti. UW-Madison seniors Eyleen Chou (mechanical engineering), Jason Lohr (electrical engineering), Tyler Lark (biomedical engineering/mathematics) won $10,000 for their scheme to reduce deforestation by lowering demand for wood charcoal as a cooking fuel.

CORE Concept, a technology that would cut emissions from internal combustion engines by using a greater variety of fuels, won mechanical engineering doctoral students Sage Kokjohn, Derek Splitter, and Reed Hanson $15,000 as the “most innovative technical solution.”

SnowShoe, a smart phone application that would enable shoppers to check the carbon footprint of any item in a grocery store by scanning its bar code, won $15,000 as the “most innovative non-technical solution.” Graduate students Claus Moberg (atmospheric and oceanic science), Jami Morton (environment and resources), and Matt Leudtke (civil and environmental engineering) submitted the idea.

Other finalists were REDCASH, a plan to recycle desalination wastewater for carbon sequestration and hydrogen fuel production, by doctoral student Eric Downes (biophysics) and senior Ian Olson (physics/engineering physics); and Switch, an energy management system that integrates feedback and incentives into social gaming to reduce personal energy use, by doctoral students David Zaks (environment and resources) and Elizabeth Bagley (environment and resources/educational psychology).

Related: University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Challenge AgainCollegiate Inventors Competition$10 Million X Prize for 100 MPG Car

Engineering Majors Hold 8 of Top 10 Highest Paid Majors

In August, employers responding to a NACE survey reported plans to trim their college hiring, hiring 7% for 2010 graduates from 2009. In addition, just 29% of those employers said they would increase their starting salary offers for the Class of 2010.

Most, but not all majors, experienced salary decreases. In fact, as a group, graduates with computer-related degrees (computer programming, computer science, computer systems analysis, and information sciences/systems) posted a 6.1% increase – the highest increase reported, which pushed their average up from $56,128 to $59,570. Among those earning a computer science degree, the average rose 4.8% to $61,205.

As a whole, engineering graduates also fared well. Their average salary offer as a group is up by 1.2% to $59,245. Although that increase is modest, engineering majors account for eight of 10 top-paid bachelor’s degrees in the Winter 2010 Salary Survey.

Major Average Salary Offer
Petroleum Engineering

$86,220

Chemical Engineering

$65,142

Mining & Minteral Engineering (incl. geological)

$64,552

Computer Science

$61,205

Computer Engineering

$60,879

Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering

$59,074

Mechanical Engineering

$58,392

Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering

$57,734

Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering

$57,231

Information Sciences & Systems

$54,038

Related: Another Survey Shows Engineering Degree Results in the Highest PayS&P 500 CEO’s: Engineers Stay at the TopThe Software Developer Labor MarketMathematicians Top List of Best Occupations
Continue reading

Movie Aims to Inspire College Students With Tales of Successful Minority Scientists

African American women are still rare in many science professions, despite their increasing representation in undergraduate science classes. The documentary – Roots to STEM: Spelman Women in Science—seeks to explore how these women were able to succeed and to hold them up as role models.

Tarsha Ward remembers begging her mother for a stethoscope so she could be the star of career day at her kindergarten class in Charleston, S.C. Her mother presented her with something that proved more prophetic: a white lab coat.

“For me that was the beginning of a career,” said Ward, who is working toward her doctorate in biomedical sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., focused on cancer research. “Ever since then everything was about science.”

“If you get into a bind you have to think it out yourself,” she said. “A Ph.D. has really taught me to think on my own. You’re here thinking in the midnight hours and there’s no book to tell you what’s right. You just have to see if it works.”

Such struggles have already paid off. “In seven months, I published my first paper. I worked on it day and night,” said Ward, a 2004 Spelman graduate. “I (loved) the fact that I could find something no one else could find and actually publish it.”

Read the full press release

Related: Documentary on 5 Women Majoring in Science and Math at Ohio StateNational Girls Collaborative Project for STEMWomen Working in ScienceWomen Choosing Other Fields Over Engineering and MathHHMI Expands Support of Postdoctoral Scientists

  • Recent Comments:

    • Richard Hopp: Awesome blog post, love the biodiversity. Really excited after watching this video, since I...
    • Robbie Miller: How fantastic, not only a great subject to study, but to be able to travel the world too....
    • Jaspal Singh: Japan has an edge when it comes to humanoid robots. No doubt in few more year, you will find...
    • Marcus Williams: This is actually a marvelous piece of engineering. Kudos for sharing!
    • M Zeeshan Haider: You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve truly read through anything like...
    • Jaspal Singh: I fully agree to the post idea. The farming is a natural process and should be free from any...
    • Touseef Ahmed: What a best creative idea I think you blong to india.
    • courier: I like the trailer 🙂
  • Recent Trackbacks:

  • Links