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Don’t Choose UT Electrical Engineering

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Unfortunately, I, like the majority of UT ECE students and grad, regret going into the program. I was even part of a focus group of 12 randomly selected students from the 2004 UT ECE program and we all said the same thing, UT ECE sucks.

The average student hates the ECE program because of its tough competition. The program rewards hardworking sleep deprived students with mediocre to barely passing grades. Students can put in an equivalent effort in other programs and obtain stellar grades.

The average student goes to UT ECE for the wrong reasons. Reasons like:

1. Engineers are prestigious, especially if they’re from U of T.
2. U of T ECE Grads are highly valued and they will get a job immediately after school.
3. I want to prove to everyone I can hang out with the smartest of the smart
4. U of T is just so cool and world reknowned that I’d be a sucker not to go for them

If you want to work in a technology job, be aware that most companies don’t care which University (or even which program) you graduated from. Companies only care about two things: 1) how you help them make money and 2) how you help them save money. These two things translates to, “How do you load balance these front end servers? What kind of systems architecture will support a million financial transactions per hour?” In other words, most companies want work experience! MOST UNDERGRADS DON’T REALIZE THIS!!! There are hundreds of thousands of smart people with a degree but there are only a handful of jobs. What makes you so special?

Most companies want work experience

Almost 90% of what you learn in UT ECE is impractical (it’s ironic that an applied science program does not teach application). I was allowed 2 electives in my four year program, the remaining 38 courses were technical engineering courses. In those 4 years I learned things I never used again…things like quantum dot theory, extreme low temperature semiconductor physics, optical engineering, surface integrals, stochastic processes, recombination mechanisms etc….When I graduated, I was surprised that employers did not care about my homework assignments, exam questions, weekly labs or study projects because the material was too fundamental to be of practical use.

It was as if I went to an expensive karate school to learn street fighting. The karate school would charge an arm and a leg for four years to teach me fancy jump kicks, pretty somersaults, contrived armlocks, all of which were “good in theory under ideal condtions” but none had real world application. I’d graduate from this lame karate school full of pride and ready to fight anyone, but the first punk I meet pulls out a gun and caps me in the ass. That’s the efficacy of four years of fancy karate school. UT ECE is the exact same rip-off. (By the way, your tuition fee pays lazy unionized workers who sit around and watch youtube all day…i know this for a fact).

UT ECE does nothing to expose students to the workforce. This is a tremendous problem. Yes, a student is responsible for his or her actions, but let’s be realistic – can you seriously expect most immature undergrads, ages 18 – 22 from middle income backgrounds, to do this? Most still live off of their mommy and daddy! They have no idea what the real world is about!

So with that being said, what should a student do? Here’s what I suggest:

1) if you want technology job, focus on getting work experience, and just get a passing grade from any university. Work experience is 5 times more valuable than your academic record.

2) Know exactly which technology field you want to get into and what your chances are. If you want software or IT, choose computer science NOT computer engineering. In Com Sci. you will have more electives, meaning you can study business and finance, things that will get you far in the industry. You also get the chance to meet pretty girls which is not possible in engineering.

If you seriously want to go into electrical/computer engineering because you’re fascinated by the more exotic subjects like photonics, artificial intelligence, power system etc…, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but only 10% of ECE grads find themselves doing things other than software or IT. You have more of a chance at becoming a successful actor than you do becoming an engineer for CSA or NASA.

Salaries for ECE grads generally range from 40k to 55k. You can expect to move up to maybe 60k or 70k after 3-4 years or work, provided you take on more responsibilies like project leader, or management.

Have no illusions of being rich. If you want to be rich, take commerce.
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Written by John Lai

April 29th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

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12 Responses to 'Don’t Choose UT Electrical Engineering'

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  1. Hey~
    So glad I found your website. Your opinion was really helpful, however, I am still having a really hard time choosing from UBC and UT. My majors are both engineering science and i would like to specialize in aerospace engineering. Are there any suggestions you’d like to give me? Thank you very much.
    PS: I live in Vancouver


    29 Aug 08 at 2:36 am

  2. Hey Richard, very awesome you stumbled upon my site! and glad you found some of my posts insightful.

    I strongly encourage you to know what a real engineering career entails before you make your decision. If, after reading several of my blog posts, you’re still convinced you want to enter engineering, here are a couple of points I’ll emphasize which may help you make a decision:

    1) Most companies don’t care what University you went to. Education is only ONE line in a TWO page resume, and TWO minutes of a TWO hour job interview. If you really are a rockstar (which you’ll have to be to be an aerospace engineer), your potential employer will immediately recognize your intelligence and your skills.

    2) Work experience is almost 5 times more important than what you learn in school.

    3) If you realize a university or academic program is not right for you, it’s not too late to change 1 year into the program. One year does not decide the fate of your life or career.

    So let other factors other than “quality of education” dictate which university you go to. Other factors may include: where your high school study buddies are going, which place offers better scholarships, where you might be able to network with professional engineers more easily etc….


    29 Aug 08 at 1:53 pm

  3. Hey Donald, glad to know someone who shares in the experience. Everything you’ve gone through helps build strength and character, both of which you need in life. Be prepared because things just get more challenging AND rewarding going forwards!

    John Lai

    2 Mar 09 at 11:15 am

  4. Man I wish I had read this before I went to U of T…I am now in second year, and every passing moment is dreadful. I really just want to get this over with. I hate the courses, they changed the curriculum again, and our year (1T1) is the guinea pig.

    I selected alot of Biomed/Bioengineering courses and took mostly analog, digital and control systems courses. I really hate the program now.

    I feel as if I am learning nothing. I have no life, and am in horrible shape physically.

    U of T sucks!!!! For undegrads that is….

    I am hoping with courses that I selected it will make a diff in 3rd and 3th year and my marks will pick up. Currently I am scraping by with a 2.0 GPA…..

    This school sucks….


    22 Mar 09 at 11:10 pm

  5. hahaha 1T1 fellow classmate i can feeeeel ur pain. i hate it as well. indeed uoft sucks fukin dog balls right now. all u ppl looking at this pick a easy university u can actually graduate from lol. i agree with everything what this guy has said.


    5 Apr 09 at 12:02 am

  6. hey! thanks for the post. I think this really makes me consider electrical engineering. right now, I’m mostly interested in artificial intelligence, so you would recommend, CS right? Well, what if I like learning how to make computer chips or cell phones, what major would that be then? Or do you learn those things through work experience?
    and also, is CS significantly easier than ECE? I mean, is it easier to get high grades?


    14 Apr 09 at 7:42 pm

  7. If you really want to do artificial intelligence, then I suggest you take computer science. if you want to make microchips and hard ware engineering, take computer engineering or electrical engineering. Be aware that there is very little demand for hardware engineering. You have to be top notch in your class and you need about 10 years of experience before you can make any significant contributions to the research and development of such technologies. The same applies for artificial intelligence. When you actually come out to work, you specialize in one or the other. You’d have to be insanely smart (like Einsten or Hawkins) or have no life at all to become an expert in both.

    CS can be easier than engineering if you choose easier courses. But you can also make CS hard by selecting some extremely difficult courses. You can even select some of the engineering courses as part of your CS program. The choice is yours. Where as in engineering, you have no choice…the courses are selected for you.

    In all honesty, most people have a better chance at becoming a successful film/theatre actor than becoming a successful low level circuit engineer or artificial intelligence researcher. There just isn’t enough demand for AI or microcircuits engineering.

    I suggest you meet with other practicing engineers before you select your program.

    John Lai

    15 Apr 09 at 9:25 pm

  8. hi. I am a Grade 12 student. I am deciding whether to choose commerce or engineer as my undergraduate program. More specifically, I will choose finance or ECE. Which program is easier to find a job? Which program is easeier to find a high salary job? Furthermore, which career has more opportunities? I applied for commerce in UofT. If you know some of the students from Uoft commerce undergraduate program,can you tell me how many of them find good jobs and their salary? What kind of jobs do they do?(ie investment banking or something else)
    Thank you very much.


    19 Apr 09 at 2:14 am

  9. This site is genius! We should start a non-profit association where we speak at high schools around the country on the risks of doing ECE at U of T.

    Ivan Medunic
    ECE 0T7

    Ivan Meduic

    8 Jun 09 at 12:57 pm

  10. well…i strongly disagree with that “You also get the chance to meet pretty girls which is not possible in engineering.”…..


    10 Jun 09 at 1:47 pm

  11. The author of has written an excellent article. You have made your point and there is not much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not argue with: there is a direct correlation between how hearty a person’s appetite is, and how pleasant and interesting their character. Thanks for the info.

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    26 Jan 10 at 10:26 pm

  12. The things you said are true. UofT engineering sucks. My friend (who had a 10% below average than mine in high school) at Waterloo is getting better grades, has an internship lined up this summer, and is prolly gonna graduate with 10 job offers.


    14 Feb 10 at 5:58 pm

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