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Engineering, yes. But which engineering?

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Rabsh
#1
Mar22-11, 03:47 AM
P: 3
Hey guys. I'm new to this forum and here goes the first post.

So I just finished my A Levels and am applying for university. One of my dreams is to, one day, be able to fly. Being pilot, you may say, is a perfect job for me. Well it is, but I have asthma, so I decided that I would work in the field of aviation none the less.

I started applying and writing my statements about Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering, but lately my applications froze, because I am not sure it's what I want to do anymore. That's where I need help.

Ideally, what I'd study would teach me a little bit of every chapter in physics (aerospace does, in some ways). It would open a lot of doors for jobs (aerospace doesn't, I live in a small Island and would not mind starting my career here before moving out). And it would NOT be in the defense sector (lots of aerospace jobs link to warfare). Oh, and I'd like to have a job where I actually use my capacities and potential, not just waste everything I learned.

That's precisely why my father suggested Electronic and Electrical Engineering. He's right about how much opportunities there are in the field, except that I do not find it appealing at all. Sometimes it looks okay, when my mood's good. Other times, it looks plain boring and it gives me a headache to think of the maths.

Then comes Mechatronics, the less boring version of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. I have an idea of how it's different, but I'm not too sure. It's still not appealing (Electronic and Electrical is one of the chapters I dislike in physics). And apparently there's more maths. Also, I would only learn complex principles, with no concept of how they relate to everyday life. I also noticed that only few universities provided a Mechatronics/Electromechanic course (if that's the same).

Finally, comes Physics. Obviously, that option will teach me about all the chapters in Physics. Most appealing subject to me. May I even say, it is sexy. But then, neither do I want to work as a teacher/lecturer, nor do I want to be a researcher if my research won't bring results. Uses less maths, which I like very much. I like theoretical physics, not maths.

My degree/job SHOULD be in the science field, but I have absolutely no idea of what to choose. Deadlines are approaching and I can't apply without knowing what I want to do.

tldr:
So, taking into consideration careers, level of interest, variety of chapters, salary or anything that may be relevant. What would you advise to me, and why? What can I do with Physics? Also, what's the difference between Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and Mechatronics? (and what will they allow me to work, aside electrical engineer/circuit board designer/whatsoever?)

Help greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
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RandomGuy88
#2
Mar22-11, 10:01 AM
P: 363
If math is a problem for you that is not a good sign when it comes to engineering. Are you bad at math or do you just not like it. If you are bad at it then you have a problem. If you don't like it, you will probably be ok.

If you are interested in the topics of aerospace engineering but are unsure about the applications then you should look into mechanical engineering. They are very similar in terms of the underlying concepts but mechanical engineering is more broad.
xxChrisxx
#3
Mar22-11, 10:26 AM
P: 2,043
Rabish - Mechanical Engineering.

I don't like maths and I get by just fine. To be honest you can be fairly good is quite a few areas of engineering whilst being not great at maths. It's such a broad subject with so many niches that there are many many different skill sets. Obviously you can't be a total clot, but anyone who says that being bad a maths automatically makes you a poor engineer is wrong.

There is one thing that should put this matter to bed for you though.
...my father suggested Electronic and Electrical Engineering. ...except that I do not find it appealing at all.

Then comes Mechatronics, ...but I'm not too sure. It's still not appealing
If you don't like it, don't even entertain the idea. If it's because your dad/careers guidance person/whatever keeps bringing ti up, just kill it stone dead. Take it from me (who is currently working in the totally wrong industry) doing something you dont fully enjoy is a horrendous mistake.

MrEEE
#4
Mar22-11, 11:28 AM
P: 3
Engineering, yes. But which engineering?

I agree with xxChrisxx, and advise that you pick a subject that you know you will enjoy.

It's very tempting to pick something that is more fundamental, will get you a better paid job, or is considered to be sexy. In the end however, 3 to 4 years is a long time to be studying something that you might not enjoy, and you could be setting yourself up for a lot of misery and stress.

I did exactly that. I did an MSc in physics, though I only graduated with a BSc. A year or so in I had lost my enthusiasm for the subject, wishing that I had opted for electronic engineering instead. A great deal of my peers had the same experience. Luckily a BSc in physics is a pretty hefty qualification and I managed to do an MSc in (not quite electronic engineering) semiconductor photonics and electronics, and now I'm doing a PhD in that same field. I did much much better in exams and I was a lot less stressed out, because I was actually enjoying what I was doing!

So I think, if you know that you love aircraft (be it flying them or building them) then go for aerospace engineering.

I would be weary of what other people think too. Physics, particularly, is very sexy at the moment, what with the likes of Brian Cox appearing on our screens. While the prospect of unravelling the secrets of the universe may seem incredibly engaging; if deep down you want to make and fly aeroplanes, then you're not going to get much of a kick out of doing the hard maths involved in quantum theory.

I hope some of that helps.
xxChrisxx
#5
Mar22-11, 12:00 PM
P: 2,043
Quote Quote by MrEEE View Post
I would be weary of what other people think too. Physics, particularly, is very sexy at the moment, what with the likes of Brian Cox appearing on our screens.
To be honest, I'm suckered in by him. A physics professor whos had a nubmer 1 record... oh yes.
Rabsh
#6
Mar22-11, 12:23 PM
P: 3
Guys I can will choose from Aerospace and Mechatronics.

Quote Quote by xxChrisxx View Post
Rabish - Mechanical Engineering.
Lol, it's "Rabsh" xD

Quote Quote by xxChrisxx View Post
If you don't like it, don't even entertain the idea. If it's because your dad/careers guidance person/whatever keeps bringing ti up, just kill it stone dead. Take it from me (who is currently working in the totally wrong industry) doing something you dont fully enjoy is a horrendous mistake.
I get your point, but I thought that not only does Mechatronics provide more career options (Aerospace industry will more reluctantly recruit a foreigner than a local), but I can also do a 2nd degree. The problem with that option is that it wastes time (2-5 years lost, and each year costs Rs.1,000,000 Mauritian Rupees, which is a lot - so it also wastes money). But it's still an option.

Quote Quote by RandomGuy88 View Post
If math is a problem for you that is not a good sign when it comes to engineering. Are you bad at math or do you just not like it. If you are bad at it then you have a problem. If you don't like it, you will probably be ok.
Oh, I'm okay with Maths, only I don't like it much. Especially statistics.

Quote Quote by MrEEE View Post
*your post*
hmm, as what concerns what you posted, I believe I should go for Aerospace then.
As what concerns the fact that you wanted to do Electronic/Electrical and have done Physics and shifted to semiconductors - can you tell me a bit more about what you did in Physics, and what you're doing in your current field? Semiconductors seem a lot of fun (even if electronics is still not quite what I'd study.


Thanks a lot for the help, by the way. You have pretty good arguments there, and I need the opinions of people in the field/with experience. Yeah, about that, is there anyone here who actually works with Mechatronics? I don't *hate* Mechatronics/Electronic and Electrical, but it's not what I want to do. I don't mind doing it if it gives me more jobs, but what I want to do is Physics. The jobs for that though are just not me. 2nd on the to-do list is Aerospace. But then, jobs are scarce in my country in that field. I don't intend on staying here for ever, but I don't think it'll be easy to find work in this field abroad.
kjr
#7
Mar22-11, 01:36 PM
P: 7
If you're not too sure, i'd pick mechanical. IT covers pretty much all the different areas of engineering and leaves you with widest career options.

If you haven't done so yet, i'd look at specific modules for the courses at the universities you intend to apply to and see which ones are more appealing to you. Different universities will have different course structure.

In the end of the day, if you like what you're doing it'll automatically be easier for you to understand and get a good degree in.

I was doing mechanical at Loughborough for a year, before fluid mechanics caught me unprepared and so i switched to manufacturing engineering (which is a great course in its own right, i found)
MrEEE
#8
Mar22-11, 04:15 PM
P: 3
Quote Quote by Rabsh View Post
can you tell me a bit more about what you did in Physics, and what you're doing in your current field?
I did a bit of searching through paperwork and here is the actual list of core modules that I did in my physics degree:

Year 1
Mathematics for physicists
Mechanics, heat and matter
Fields, waves and quanta
Introductory mathematics for physicists
Further subsidiary mathematics

Year 2
Quantum mechanics
Thermal physics
Solids
Electromagnetism
Atomic spectra and relativity
Topics in classical physics
Programming in C
Mathematical methods for physics and astronomy
Optics
Experimental physics

Year 3
Nuclear physics
Particle physics
Further quantum mechanics
Mathematical physics
Relativity and cosmology
Techniques of problem solving in physics
Metals, semiconductors and insulators
Advanced electrodynamics and magnetism
Atomic and laser physics
Statistical physics
Projects

I've missed out some optional modules that I did so that you can see the core of what physics students at my university were expected to learn. In years 2 and 3, there are a few modules that were down to my personal choice but they're mostly more advanced versions of the core stuff anyway.

Many students at my university studied physics combined with a similar subject, such as astronomy or computer science. It's possible that you could find a university that will let you study physics and also cater to your interest in aircraft engineering. At some point you might have to decide which aspect of your course you want to focus on, but hopefully by that point you will have done enough to know if you like physics or engineering more.

As for my engineering masters I studied the following:

Optical properties of solids (physics)
IC technology
Optical communications devices and systems
Reliability and failure
Communication principles
Compound semiconductor technology
Physics of low dimensional semiconductors (physics)
High speed electronic devices
Microsystem packaging
VLSI devices

I did my dissertation on some laser devices that my supervisor's research group had fabricated. I tested them at low temperatures (as low as 10K) to see how the charge carriers were distributed inside them.

My PhD research is on the subject of selective area epitaxy. That's the growth of semiconductor crystals on top of semiconductor wafers. A mask is deposited on the wafer and it's shape determines where the new semiconductor grows, how thick it grows and what it's made of. By controlling all these aspects it should be possible to make some interesting and useful opto-electronic devices that can be used in applications like medical imaging, fibre optic communications and quantum cryptography.
Rabsh
#9
Mar23-11, 04:02 AM
P: 3
I see. The Electronics/Semiconductor part actually looks more interesting when people tell you what they do. Tried looking up on youtube, people talking about their jobs, only made the choice yet harder. Any programming in your course? Cause, that's something i'd suck at.
MrEEE
#10
Mar23-11, 05:40 AM
P: 3
Quote Quote by Rabsh View Post
I see. The Electronics/Semiconductor part actually looks more interesting when people tell you what they do. Tried looking up on youtube, people talking about their jobs, only made the choice yet harder. Any programming in your course? Cause, that's something i'd suck at.
That's one of the problems with choosing a degree. The more subjects you look at the less sure you are about what you want to do.

Keep in mind though, that when experts talk about their own fields they are talking about something that they enjoy, so they will inadvertently make it appear interesting.

Also, university professors are going to try and make their subject seem as interesting as possible, because at the end of the day your tuition fees make their wages.

In other words, they're biased.

The only programming that I've had to do is the Programming in C module for physics. It wasn't very difficult, but after an hour long quantum mechanics lecture, anything seems easy.

I think generally, most labs and working environments will use off-the-shelf software for most of their needs. It's a good skill for a scientist or an engineer to have, but not vital, and you can learn to write your own code as and when you need to.
What_Is_X?
#11
Mar27-11, 01:18 AM
P: 11
Shouldn't this be in the Academic Guidance section? Just sayn...
andreajolie
#12
Mar29-11, 03:17 AM
P: 8
In my opinion one should be very strong to do engineering..and what i felt that you are not interested in maths.whatever will be your subject in engineering maths is must.so first build interest for this then go for engineering
xxChrisxx
#13
Mar29-11, 03:42 AM
P: 2,043
Quote Quote by andreajolie View Post
In my opinion one should be very strong to do engineering..and what i felt that you are not interested in maths.whatever will be your subject in engineering maths is must.so first build interest for this then go for engineering
I don't like maths, i'm an engineer.

So long as he's not totally dreadful at it, he'll be fine. You can avoid really tedious maths more than you'd think on a day to day basis in engineering. You may need a couple of days setting up a spreadsheet or a mathcad/matlab simulation. But then it's done.


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