I'm sorry to hear that you have such a rotten deal with your name. I hear what you're saying about not wanting to bring your current name along at all, but I think Blade has given good advice. What she's saying is that your current name WILL follow you, to some degree, no matter how much you may wish it was otherwise. When you apply for a job, one of the first spaces is dedicated to previous names you have gone by. Your employer will know that you've changed your name. Given that you'll be entering a no-nonsense field, potential employers will prefer a no-nonsense reason for changing your name. Blade's reasons make sense, whereas Badass Vandal would be hard to explain.
In some places it's actually illegal or highly discouraged for an employer to ask you outright if you've changed your name (the reason being is it would be an easy way to brew a discrimination lawsuit, for example an immigrant who changed his/her name to assimilate or a transgender person). What they CAN ask you legally is if any records they need to verify (e.g. work, school, criminal, etc.) are under another name (what they mean of "being known by another name" is if one or more of those records may appear under another name, not a full list of names you may have used since birth), and can penalize you if withholding the name prevents them from properly performing the background check. If the last sentence weren't true, that would imply that someone adopted or otherwise had their name changed as a child would have to reveal their birth name even if it would be of no use to an employer (on an adoption forum someone once asked this, and in such a case the consensus was that no you don't need to bring up that fact). (On the other hand, if an employer needs to know a nickname, middle name that appeared as your first name, alias you committed a crime under, etc. to check those records you'd have to bring that up, even though it didn't involve a legal name change.) Of course, if you've already earned your degree under your original name that fact probably won't be of a practical difference to you.
ETA: After reading more of the posts, I'm talking about the actual employment application (as it would apply to jobs in general), not the licenses, etc. (where they will want documentation if not everything matches).
ETA2: Source for the first paragraph (link broken so as to not flag the post as spam): admin (dot) mtu (dot) edu/hro/forms/whatyoucanandcantasklongversionmay05.pdf
ETA3: In terms of what's legal/illegal to ask, any questions as to WHY a person changed their name would be verboten (they are allowed to know prior or other names only for record-checking purposes, and asking the prospective employee any details of the name change would also be a red flag in a discrimination lawsuit).
Last edited by namefan; February 27th, 2013 at 11:05 AM.