Engineers earn top dollar

October 21, 2011 Feature Print Print

Courtesy Mary Mcatee
Greg Holland poses with a Clear Banshee Robot. Holland plans on hosting robot-building contests for high school students to help recruit engineering students.

Even though people with engineering degrees earn high salaries right out of college, the number of students graduating from OCCC as pre-engineering majors makes up only 3 to 4 percent of the total graduating class.

Last year, 41 people graduated with pre-engineering associate degrees, said Greg Holland, head of the Engineering Department.

OCCC’s total graduating class was more than 1200, according to the OCCC Board of Regents website.

A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers revealed seven of the 10 top-paying jobs for bachelor’s degree graduates are in engineering.

Chemical engineering was at the top of the list, followed by computer science, then mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. The average starting salary for a chemical engineer with a bachelor’s degree is almost $67,000, according to the survey.


A couple of OCCC engineering students said the salary never really affected their decision to choose engineering.

Bobby Ray Williams, who plans to go into industrial engineering, said he chose his field for its versatility.

“With industrial engineering, you can go into different areas,” he said.

Both of Williams’ parents are engineers.

James Macdonald said he chose engineering because he was good at math, so it was either engineering or accounting. Macdonald pointed out how different students can see the same problem differently.

“I’m a mechanical engineer, so I see the cogs and gears,” he said. “Electrical engineers see the electrons.”

Holland said the most likely reason students don’t pursue engineering is because they are scared of taking the math classes.

“The math proves more challenging than most people are willing to undertake,” he said.

Holland said he hopes to recruit more majors to OCCC’s pre-engineering program by hosting robot-building contests for high school students.

“It’s a team building exercise,” he said.

Holland said the contest he has in mind would be cheaper than many of the more well known types of robot contests, such as BattleBots.

The department makes sure its students know what classes to take to prepare themselves for a smooth transfer to a four-year university.

The degree sheets for the most common destination university are listed on the engineering website and available in the engineering lab to ensure students can prepare themselves for the next stage of their education.

Out of last year’s class, about 70 percent of the pre-engineering graduates transferred to the University of Oklahoma, Holland said.

For more information about the college’s pre-engineering program, contact Holland at or by phone at 405-682-1611 ext. 7163.

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