recommendations for a liberal arts student unsure whether architecture or engineering?


I am currently a first-year student at Vassar, an LAC. I plan on majoring in physics and a minor in architectural studies and math. I did not know I was very into architecture/structural engineering until now as throughout high school I feel I wasted a lot of my time, partly because swimming was very time-consuming. I am in a bit of a dilemma here since a liberal arts college does not offer an engineering or a B.Arch degree. I have asked already on engineer forums as many have recommended transferring assuming I am set on civil engineering. I decided to post here to get some other inputs from architects. Vassar does have a dual degree engineering program with Dartmouth, but unfortunately Dartmouth does not have civil engineering (they do have mechanical which I guess is the closest). I am not fully set on civil engineering yet as I am still considering architecture strongly. I know if I were to consider architecture the masters would be 3 years since I would be a physics major (this might change but my plan is since I minor in architectural studies I have a choice in graduate school between M.Eng/M.S or M.Arch.) The two problems I have right now is 1) no masters of engineering are ABET-accredited, and for civil the PE is vital I have heard and 2) M.Arch tuition prices are very expensive. I live in NY so the only in-state one I know of is Buffalo which is relatively reasonable for me. I really do not want to transfer but If that is the only option I will consider it.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. 

P.S: I have heard of a branch called architectural engineering, but not many schools seem to offer it. Can anyone provide insight on what architectural engineering is like?

Dec 1, 20 6:35 pm

i guess what i'd ask is what difference do you see in the work engineers and architects do? your description of things shows a lot more thought about what's involved in an engineering degree, but nothing at all about the career paths of either profession. they both involve buildings (but often different types) yet are otherwise quite different in the skills and interests involved.

tldr: think about what you want to do and why before getting into specifics about which program suits your circumstances.

Dec 1, 20 8:28 pm  · 

To get better sense of where you might be happiest, you need to spend some time job shadowing architects and civil engineers at several different firms to see day-today life in the two fields.  The career services office at your school may be able to help arrange this.  

It is possible to be both and architect and a structural engineer.  A few people in my community are licensed in both professions.

Dec 2, 20 11:44 am  · 
Wood Guy

^^^Listen to these comments. I was in a similar position to you but didn't have (or seek) advisors (or the internet--I guess I'm old) and made some poor decisions that set me back many years in my career.  

Dec 2, 20 12:08 pm  · 

Physics, arch, math.... 

One of these things is not like the others. 

Just pursue a path to structural engineering, If you're into physics and math you'll like it more than architecture, and you'll still get to work on the same kinds of projects if you go to the right firms.

Arch engineering is an engineering degree. If you want to do engineering maybe stick to the one closer to your interests/experience, if you want to do architecture, do an architecture degree. But hey, if you look into it and it sounds like your thing.... whatever, your choice .

Dec 2, 20 12:11 pm  · 

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