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Mechanical Engineering Careers - A Route to the Top

Mechanical engineering as a career choice...

Look, I've changed my mind. Instead of becoming 'Lord of the Jungle,' I want to be a mechanical engineer.

An undergraduate engineering degree is the best possible route to the top in corporate America. Spencer Stuart & Associates, Inc. compiles an annual summary of the backgrounds of the chief executive officers at the world's largest corporations. Their 2007 report shows that among companies appearing on the Standard and Poors 500 Index (the 500 largest U.S. companies in terms of market capitalization):

  • Engineering is the most common undergraduate background of S&P 500 CEOs by a significant margin. Fully 21% of the CEOs hold undergraduate engineering degrees. This figure is far more than for economics (15%), business administration (13%), accounting (8%), or liberal arts (6%).
  • 67% of all S&P 500 CEOs hold an advanced degree such as an MBA,  M.Sc., M.Eng., Ph.D., or J.D. (law degree). 40% of the CEOs hold an MBA while another 27% hold a non-MBA advanced degree.

Typical of these high achieving engineers is Arthur C. Martinez (1960 B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York), who served as Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sears, Roebuck and Co. from 1995 until 2000. Mr. Martinez says of his education, "I've always thought my engineering background was a great facilitator. One thing engineering did for me early was help me organize a thinking process: analytical, problem-identification, problem-resolution kind of thinking."

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