Feature Stories

Bob English on the Benefits of Studying Engineering Technology

Robert English, chairman of the Engineering Technology department

With more than 550 undergraduate students, Engineering Technology is one of the largest departments at NJIT and one of the most vibrant. Perhaps that’s because, in addition to our freshmen students, many Engineering Technology [ET] majors transfer here from community colleges.  Many study part-time while they work; they bring their valuable industry experience into the classroom. Their professors also have a wealth of industrial experience, so the Engineering Technology curriculum is less about theory and more about real-world applications. And after they graduate, ET majors find some of the highest paying jobs in industry.


How does Engineering Technology differ from regular engineering?
Engineering Technology is similar to engineering, but the emphasis is different.  ET majors take fewer math and science courses than do typical engineering majors [electrical, mechanical, civil, etc.].  The professors assign ET students a lot of hands-on projects and students often work in teams, the way engineering technologists do in the real world.  The students are also taught to communicate their project results to their peers and professors. This is how we teach our students engineering principles. The program prepares students to get good jobs in industry right after they graduate. We don’t emphasize research but we do stress hard work, project management skills and communications. We encourage and help our students get part-time jobs, co-op assignments and internships. That said, though, some of our graduates do go into various master degree programs including engineering, business management and law.  So a degree in engineering technology offers flexibility and choice.

Which high school students should consider majoring in Engineering Technology?
Students who have an interest in hands-on projects and technology, and who like math and science, should consider majoring in Engineering Technology. Some of our students like to repair and modify cars, while others like computer/electronics projects or building and repairing houses.  In general, if you have an innate ability to get things working, you should consider majoring in ET. The typical engineering technology student is a ‘doer.’    Students can major in one of the ET options right after high school, but again many come here as transfers from community colleges and other universities.

Does Engineering Technology have different options?
We offer many options so that students can specialize in whichever field they like best.  The options for freshmen include:

We also have options in Computer, Manufacturing and Telecommunications Technology that are primarily designed for students transferring from community colleges; but those options do have some freshmen.

Are you offering any new options?
Yes, the Concrete Industry Management Technology offers students a multidisciplinary program that focuses on the management and technology skills they’ll need to work in high-paying and interesting careers in the concrete industry. This program is heavily supported by the concrete industry in the region and nationally.

What about high school students who love computers?
For them, we have two options: Computer Technology and Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology.  So if you like computers and want to get less theory and programming and more application work, these are the right tracks for you.

Do many of your students have full-time and part-time jobs while taking classes?
Absolutely, and to accommodate them we offer day and evening courses.  It’s not uncommon for our students to be full-time students one semester, and then become part-time the next semester.  We also have some faculty members who are employed in industry, and others who have recently retired and love to teach. They have a lot of real-world knowledge to share with our students. Full-time professors also serve as academic advisers, helping our students plan their course schedules and later, their careers.

What kind of jobs do Engineering Technology majors find after they graduate?
ET graduates are employed in a variety of companies in New Jersey and we have graduates all over the United States as well as abroad. ET is one of the largest academic programs at NJIT. We started the program in 1971, and since then we have had thousands of graduates. For example, we have Mechanical Engineering Technology graduates at Picatinny Arsenal, Howmet, NJ American Water, and Siemens – just to name a few employers.  Our Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology graduates are employed at companies such as Merck, Motorola, Panasonic, BAE Systems and RFL Electronics.  And graduates of the Construction and Surveying options are employed by most of the large contractors in New Jersey, such as Turner Construction, Epic Construction, and Natoli Construction, as well as by many small construction and engineering firms.  Some of our graduates have also formed their own successful businesses or come from family-owned businesses.

And what do they do at their jobs?
As far as job responsibilities, our graduates, early in their careers, tend to be employed as project managers, sales professionals, product testing and development specialists, construction superintendents, surveying crew chiefs, telecommunication supervisors as well as process and product designers. Others go into inspection, where they inspect bridges, highways, roads and buildings.  Later in their careers, our graduates typically move into technical supervision and management.  The starting salaries for ET graduates are some of the highest at NJIT, and this has been the case for many decades.

Can you talk about your transfer students?
As I’ve said, many of our students come to NJIT as transfer students from community colleges. We have transfer agreements with most of the state’s community colleges that make it easy to transfer to NJIT.  Most arrive here with an associate’s degree and begin pursuing their bachelor’s degrees. Many of these students have been employed either part-time or full-time while getting their associate’s degree.  It’s an easy transition for them, since we interact closely with all the community colleges.

How can students get more information about Engineering Technology?
I’d recommend you look over the descriptions of the various Engineering Technology options on NJIT’s website and then call or email Edna Randolph at (973) 596-3228 or engineeringtechnology@njit.edu.

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)