Engineering majors are in demand

Greg Kane

Engineers build things.

OK, maybe that?s not news to anybody. They build engines for automobiles, manufacturing equipment, houses, bridges?the list goes on and on. But what most people don?t realize is that engineers are also the people flying planes for commercial airlines. Or that they?re behind much of the technology that runs the world today, from the world?s massive telecommunications web to the ATM machine at the grocery store. Or that they?re the people currently working on ways to solve California?s energy crisis.Opportunities are endless for students graduating with degrees in engineering, a fact that many Sacramento State students are quickly discovering.

“We?re graduating about 23 [engineering and computer science] students, and they all have jobs,” said Cici Mattiuzzi, director of career services for Sac State?s college of engineering and computer science. “Everybody wants them.”

Lynne Phinney knows first-hand what it?s like to enter the job market with an engineering degree in hand. The Sac State graduate, who now works as a recruiting specialist for ADC Telecommunications in Grass Valley, says that by the time she was ready to get a job, she had already been doing an internship that got her foot in the door.

“I had it nice,” Phinney said. “I worked at Hewlett-Packard for a year before graduating. I had that offer, so I didn?t have to search.”

Although she says engineering is a safe field for students to enter, Phinney says that economic constraints, particularly in the high tech field, have made it a little more difficult to land a job right off the bat.

“The way the economy is right now, they don?t just have jobs handed to them like they used to,” Phinney said. “There?s more competition for the jobs.”

Mattiuzzi said that while the high tech jobs are down, the Bush administration?s increased defense spending is opening up opportunities for engineers in other fields dealing with the military.

“It?s really gone from everything being high tech to everything being military,” Mattiuzzi said.

Students graduating with a bachelor?s degree in engineering can go into a number of fields, Mattiuzzi said. Civil engineers often go into the public works, effectively laying the framework for entire cities by constructing buildings, fixing old ones, mapping out sewers and other underground structures and even working on air quality concerns.

There are also electrical engineers who work with fiber optics, satellites and other aspects of the military and computer industry, as well as with power suppliers like SMUD and Pacific Gas and Electric, Mattiuzzi said. Without these guys, students wouldn?t have all those cellular phones and pagers to play with on campus.

“All the toys that are now so hot, that?s what an electrical engineer does,” Mattiuzzi said.

Mechanical engineers work with machinery, everything from the auto industry to, yes, operating the complexities of piloting an airliner, Mattiuzzi said. Computer engineers are also in high demand. That is, at least until the machines take over.

“They?ll continue to have a good run until software starts to write itself,” Mattiuzzi said. “I don?t think we?re anywhere near that.”

Students who want to enter the many different fields of engineering will find that Sac State is the right place to be, Mattiuzzi says. Hewlett-Packard recently proclaimed the University as its top supplier of new talent, and many other companies seem to agree.

“This past year, we had more engineers hired from Sac State than any other university in the country,” Mattiuzzi said. “That is a total feather in our cap.”