[presentation is courtesy of prof. K.Komnitsas, Technical University Crete, Greece]
Recently, I received an e-mail from a high-school senior. He asked me if he should go to university to study to become a mining engineer. Here is my reply to him—I trust he does not mind me sharing it with others who may be asking the same question.
Let me set out for you a few ideas that may help in coming to a decision. Presumably from reading the blog you have some idea of my background and perspective, so please consider what I say in the light of the fact that I blog, something few in the industry do.
My first response on reading your e-mail was this: we need more people like him in the industry; I hope he decides to become a mining engineer.
In mining as in any other industry there are ups and downs. The skilled survive; the incompetent suffer. I do not think that cyclicity of employment should be a criterion. Even those working for government these days are likely to be fired or downsized. And that use to be the one sure way to have secure employment. My son is an officer in the Navy—his job is secure—but only until he turns 45 when they could kick him out too. Point is there is no security of employment anywhere these days, so rather elect to do what you will enjoy doing it; for if you enjoy doing it, you will have work.
Keep in mind that mining studies are amongst the easiest. Try electrical if you seek hard stuff to study. But it really does not matter how hard or easy the course work. The point is that nothing anybody learns at University is really used in practice. We used to say that you have to earn your bread-ticket at university and then learn to apply your intelligence to real-world problems. All you will learn in any engineering degree is how to think and decide.