I am in the third week of taking two classes at Cal State Long Beach. I need to explain how I got here.
Several months ago I came to some conclusions. Very few companies have jobs where the ideal candidate has a bachelor's degree in physics. Most of the things I want to do are engineering related, but my education is not. While I can understand the basic things behind what is happening, I do not have the specific training they want.
This and my lack employment led me to decide I should get a master's degree in engineering. The next problem is deciding what type of engineering. There is mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and a lot of other specialties I do not know anything about. After some thinking, reading, and vacillating, I decided electrical engineering was the field for me.
The next step is to get into an electrical engineering graduate program. My undergraduate GPA is nothing great (imagine a number less than three). I looked at schools that were ABET accredited in electrical engineering and decided one of the Cal States would be a good choice. The GPA requirements are within my range and they are very cost competitive.
To have a better application, I decided I should take some engineering classes. I have completed some UCI Extension classes in engineering, but those are not at the level of actual classes for matriculated students. So I took a real UCI class over the summer in Control Systems. While I was taking this class, I decided CSU Long Beach would be the best choice for me. I looked at their website and found a list of classes they expect everyone to have completed before starting the graduate program. When compared to the classes I had taken, I came up with some deficiencies and some questions.
I emailed the graduate adviser and asked to met him. He replied back that I should make an appointment to see him at the end of September. This was very unhelpful, as I would have to enroll in classes for the fall well before then. So I picked the classes I knew I would have to take. I also had to make a schedule that did not conflict with my UCI class which was ending the same week the Long Beach classes were starting. Since I was taking classes through a special program for non-admitted students, I had to get a special form, get the signatures of my professors, and get the department chair to sign off on it.
At The Beach with the Dirtbags
Now a few comments about CSU Long Beach. I had never been on campus until an hour before my first class. It is often called "The Beach" from its city Long Beach and the school being close to the beach. The sports arena is a big pyramid. Their sports teams are the 49ers. However, their baseball team is called the Dirtbags. The entire story is told by the Unnamed Geniuses. I am disappointed all of the teams are not the Dirtbags, but I am adopting the name until they come to their senses.
I am taking two classes at Long Beach this semester. One is Communication Systems. It covers putting information in signals. The first day I went to class I felt like I was in a bad high school class. It was an odd feeling. The professor speaks with an accent, writes in small lettering on the board, and walks around the room pointing to people asking them to answer his question. Usually he has been talking for so long nearly everyone (including me) has forgotten the question. There is a lab component to the class which is doing things in MATLAB. On the positive side, I found two good people for my lab group. One is a transfer student from a community college and better at MATLAB than I am. The other person is in the electrical engineering masters program. This is the first semester both of them are at Long Beach.
The second class I am taking is Energy Conversion. It explains how electrical energy becomes mechanical energy through motors. The professor is lively and makes funny comments. I think the class will be fun. The labs also use MATLAB to solve problems and simulate things. There is one other good development. There is a girl in class I have a crush on. So far we have met up to work on a lab together and she took my advice about watching Breaking Bad. I will play this out the best I can.
I am also involving myself with the campus life. I went to the club fair and picked two groups to investigate. I feel like a transfer student; I know I only have a couple of years on campus and am going to make the most of every minute of it. I think I will enjoy being at The Beach. All I need to do now is get accepted.