Engineering Advising Cheat Sheet

GCC Engineering Advisement Cheat Sheet
Provided by Dr. Tim Frank, Engineering Program Director at Glendale Community College

What is Engineering?  Engineering is the art of applying scientific and mathematical principles to invent and improve things that benefit people.  Nearly every device or product that you use was designed by engineers.  Engineers work in a variety of fields, and do many different tasks, including designing new products, doing research, managing companies, and teaching.  It is a highly respected profession and, as such, students graduating with engineering degrees typically earn starting salaries well above $60,000, which is the highest average among all college graduates.  Additional information on the different types of engineers can be found at:

Who should major in engineering?  Students who like knowing how things work and are good at problem solving should consider becoming engineers.  The problem is that most people do not know much about engineering.  The majority of people that become engineering majors either have an engineer in their family or a close friend of the family, who is an engineer.  More students need to be encouraged to think about becoming engineers.  Even if a student is not sure they want to be an engineer, they should be encouraged to take ECE102.  In this course students get to learn about what engineers do, and even if they decide not to go on and major in engineering, they will learn how to be proficient at using EXCEL software for creating spreadsheets.

In general, engineering students must take numerous courses in math, physics, and chemistry.  Students that have taken a lot of math and science courses in high school are at an advantage and able to start taking actual engineering courses much sooner; however, even those students with weak backgrounds in high school should not be discouraged as long as they are willing to work hard and enjoy learning.  We have had students start in MAT081: Basic Arithmetic and eventually transfer to ASU and successfully complete their engineering degree.  While engineering is often considered a difficult major in college, when students do not succeed, it is usually because of a lack of dedication, not a lack of intellect.

Who should interested students talk to?  Please encourage any students thinking about majoring in engineering to contact me:

Dr. Tim Frank,  Professor of Engineering

Engineering Program Director

Office:  T1-126,   Phone:  (623)-845-3207

Which courses should engineering students be encourage to take?  How should they be scheduled?  It is really necessary for engineering students to transfer to a university to complete their bachelor’s degree.  Most of the courses that engineering students take during their first two years of college can apply to any engineering discipline.  In particular, this is true for all the math courses as well as ECE102 and ECE103, which are the first two introductory engineering courses.  Consequently, engineering majors should be encouraged to take a math course each semester and to take ECE102 as soon as they meet the prerequisite of MAT120/121/122.  Once in ECE102, they will be in contact with an engineering faculty member who can give them specific advice on the necessary courses for their particular engineering discipline.

As a general guideline, the priority for scheduling classes for engineering majors should be:

  • Mathematics – it should be taken every semester. Most engineering and science courses have math prerequisites.  Until these are completed, the student can’t go on.
  • Engineering – placing a student in an engineering course keeps them interested in the field and places them in contact with an engineering professor who can advise them.
  • Physics – it is a prerequisite for all 200-level engineering courses.
  • English – ENG101 and ENG102 are required for all engineering degrees. Courses in technical writing are also helpful but not usually required for an engineering degree.
  • Chemistry – CHM151 and CHM152 are required science courses for all engineering majors, but some disciplines require additional chemistry courses.
  • Computer Science – not specifically required by all disciplines, but always useful. Engineering students are just expected to be very computer literate.
  • Humanities – these need to be taken to meet the degree requirements, but since they are not prerequisites for other engineering, math, or science courses, they can be taken as necessary to fill in a student’s schedule. ASU advisors prefer their students not complete all of their humanity courses before transferring.  This allows them to take a few non-engineering courses during their junior and senior years.

Course Guidelines for Math, Engineering, and Science courses

The descriptions below are meant to sever as a general guideline for students thinking about becoming engineers.  Many of the engineering and science courses have labs sections that students need to enroll in separately.  All engineering students will need to complete the lab portion for any of the required courses described below.

Engineering:  All engineering majors are going to need to take ECE102 and ECE103.  Students should be encouraged to take ECE102 as soon as possible.  MAT120/121: Intermediate Algebra is the only prerequisite for ECE102, and ECE102 is the prerequisite for ECE103.  Both courses assume that the students have some basic computer skills.  The other engineering courses offered at GCC, (ECE105, ECE211, ECE212, ECE215, ECE216, EEE120, EEE202, and EEE230), are required by most engineering majors but not all.  Students will need to check the requirements of their specific major.  However, by encouraging engineering majors to take ECE102 as soon as possible, they will be placed in touch with an engineering faculty member who can further advise them on other engineering courses.  All of the 200-level engineering courses have ECE103 as either a co-requisite or a prerequisite, in addition to physics and math.

Mathematics:  In general, all types of engineers require a great deal of math.  Engineering students need to take all of the calculus courses offered at GCC, (MAT220, MAT230, MAT 240, and MAT 276).  Some engineering majors also require MAT225: Linear Algebra.  Because of the large number of math courses required and because they are prerequisites for other courses, enrollment in a math course each semester should be the top priority of all students thinking about engineering.

As far as which courses count toward an engineering degree, ASU does not consider anything below Calculus I, (MAT220).  Students starting at GCC, should strongly be encouraged to study for the math placement exams.  Students are often placed into a math course below their ability level because they did poorly on the math assessment exam.  If a student’s test placement seems inconsistent with their high school math background, encourage them to retake the assessment exam.  In general, students who took 2 years of algebra in high school and earned A’s or B’s, are probably ready to start in MAT151 or MAT187 if not a higher math course.  Practice assessment tests can be found at:

For students that test into MAT151 or finish MAT121, they can take either MAT151: College Algebra and then MAT182: Trigonometry or take MAT187: Precalculus, which is a combination of College Algebra and Trigonometry.  Because it is a combined course, MAT187 is harder and requires more work; however, it allows students to start taking calculus a semester earlier so good math students should be encouraged to take this route.

Below shows the math course flowchart:

Physics:  All engineering majors are going to need to take PHY115: University Physics I and PHY116: University Physics II.  These are calculus based courses and relatively difficult.  If a student has completed MAT220: Calculus I and has any previous exposure to physics, including some high school physics, they should be encouraged to take PHY115 as soon as possible.  PHY115 is a prerequisite for all 200-level engineering courses.  But if a student has no physics experience, they should be encouraged to take PHY111: General Physics I before taking PHY115.  Technically, PHY111 has MAT182: Trigonometry or MAT187: Precalculus listed as prerequisites, but usually students can take these as co-requisites.

Chemistry:  All engineering majors are going to need to take CHM151: General Chemistry I and CHM152: General Chemistry II.  These are relatively easy science courses, with MAT151: College Algebra as a prerequisite.  Many students have had some previous exposure to chemistry in high school and have an idea what an atom is.  For those students without any background in chemistry, they should be encouraged to first take CHM130: Fundamental Chemistry.  Because the chemistry courses are not prerequisite courses for other required courses, they should not be given a priority in scheduling.  Students can take these when their schedule permits.  Exception:  students planning on majoring in chemical or biomedical engineering will need to take additional 200-level chemistry courses, which have these as prerequisites.

Computer Programming:  Most engineering majors do not need to take any computer science courses.  (Exception:  students planning on majoring in computer systems engineering will need to take several programming courses.)  But while computer programming courses may not be required, they can be very helpful.  Students develop good problem solving skills while learning to write computer programs.  Many engineering courses at ASU require students to write simple programs using MATLAB software.  Students should be encouraged to ECE105: Introduction to MATLAB program, which is only a one credit hour course, when they take ECE102.  Some basic MATLAB programming is also taught in ECE103.  While it is not required for some of the engineering degrees at ASU, all engineering students should be encouraged to consider taking CSC100: Introduction to Computer Science (C++) after completing ECE105 and/or ECE103.  Students starting out without any computer skills should be encouraged to take CIS105.  In general, engineering students are expected to know how to use WORD, EXCEL, and PowerPoint for all their engineering courses.

What courses are required for the different types of engineering?  The majority of the engineering students at GCC transfer to ASU to complete their bachelor’s degree.  Links to the major maps for all of the engineering programs at ASU as well as information on their MAPP Pathway Program can be found at:

Information on how specific courses taken at GCC (or any of the other Maricopa Community Colleges) transfer into ASU can be found at the Course Equivalence Guide:

Course Difficulty Ratings for Engineering Majors

Obviously it is detrimental to students for them to have a schedule that is either too hard or too easy.  Below is a general guideline for evaluating the difficulty of a course.  The numbers themselves don’t mean anything, but it allows the students to have a rough comparison between the difficulty levels of different courses.  Obviously, the difficulty level of a course can vary significantly from one instructor to the next and from one student to the next, but these ratings are an attempt to evaluate a course, for a typical student, based on the content of the material covered and the average level at which the course is usually taught.  These ratings are not meant to offend any instructors or disciplines, but simply represent an attempt to maximize student success.  In general, students entering college for the first time should have a total difficulty rating of less than 12.  Depending on their work schedule, it may need to be significantly less.  As students demonstrate success in their courses, they can then increase the total difficulty rating for each semester.

Math Courses

MAT121 = 4

MAT151 = 4

MAT182 = 4

MAT187 = 5

MAT220 = 4

MAT230 = 5

MAT240 = 6

MAT276 = 6

MAT225 = 4

Engineering Courses

ECE102 = 3

ECE103 = 4

ECE105 = 2

ECE211 = 5

ECE212 = 6

ECE215 = 5

ECE216 = 4

EEE120 = 4

EEE202 = 7

EEE230 = 5

Physics Courses

PHY111 = 4

PHY112 = 4

PHY115 = 5

PHY116 = 6

PHY241 = 6

Computer Courses

CIS105 = 3

CSC100 = 4

CSC110 = 4

Chemistry Courses

CHM130 = 2

CHM151 = 4

CHM152 = 4

English Courses

ENG101 = 3

ENG102 = 4

ENG111 = 4

Most Humanity Courses = 2

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