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The Should I Become An Engineer? Thread

by russ_watters
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physicsless
#37
Feb27-05, 02:11 AM
P: 1
I would like more information (not just the usual university descriptions) on these four different branches of engineering if possible:

Computer Systems Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechatronics.

I hope someone can answer questions like

What does each branch generally do? What do graduates of each branch typically get jobs doing? What is the pay difference? Which has the most promising and exciting future? Which do you like best and why?

Thanks
swirljem
#38
Mar7-05, 11:50 AM
P: 2
Interesting post indeed. I guess I'll put my 2 cents in for those who are considering an Engineer career down the road.

To me Engineering is all about one thing - pratical problem solving. Even though there are research and development work associated with many different fields of Engineering, at the end of the day, it takes good problem solving skills to become a good engineer, no matter in what discipline of Engineering you are in.

Engineering is difficult in the above sense, because not every problem has viable solutions. One has to take the term "Viable" in greater context, i.e. solving a problem under certain constraints (physical limitations, available time/resources/funds etc). This is perhaps what makes Engineering interesting because there is a great deal of achievement associated with the resulting success of "a problem solved" within those realistic constraints, and to be able to do successfully it takes good engineering skills, experience, and not the least - creativeness - capability to think outside the box.

Some people tend to think to become an Engineer one must have good design capability. That's only part of the story. Besides strong math and engineering skills, A good engineer must strong analytical and communication skills and common sense.

There are many career functions which requires strong Engineering skills and knowledge but the responsiblities are not necessarily directly related to design. I can give a few examples:

Applications Engineers - work with Design Engineers, Sales & Marketing and Manufacturing to define product specifications, qualify technical issues / inquiries and define scope of work. They are not design gurus but they are very important links between the real world (customers) and the draft desk (manufacturer).

Quality Assurance Engineers - these are problems preventers - they develop and enforce quality check procedures protocols to make sure things are produced / implemented correctly.

Sales Engineers - for people who got into Engineering, like to work with machines as well as people but found actual engineering somewhat boring, and they like to make money. Knowing the product or service your company makes and find ways to sell them to those who needs them, not only requires good product & application knowledge (which comes from your Engineering skills), but also self-motivation and good people skills.

Controls Engineers - this is a fun career who likes automation. A machine can only be a machine when someone figures out which part moves, when should it move and how far it should move. Not only you need good Mechanical amplitude but Electrical equally as well.

Project Engineers - sometimes I don't see them as "real" engineers because the scope of work they do go beyond "typical" engineering responsibilities. Running a project is fundamentally solving a problem under certain contraints as mentioned above. So it takes great organization, communication, and even management skills to handle issues at hand. You can find project engineers in almost any fields (Mechnical, Industrial, Chemical, Civil, Computer). Because of the great demand of the three different skills as mentioned, many corporate managers were one time Project Engineers / Project Managers.

I've been working for a packaging machinery company for 12 years. These are the typical "Engineering" positions I deal with on a day-to-day basis, and of course they are a small part of the vast Engineering positions / disciplines out there, you simply don't hear or learn about these type of jobs when you are in school, not until when you start looking for jobs.

As our world is becoming more and more sophisticated, new Engineering disciplines emerge every day, and more complex and unique Engineering functions are developed to meet corporate demands. I would say the answer to the question "what type of Engineer should I become?" is fairly simple - go with what you love the most, but keep an open mind because things can change rapidly during the few years when you go through your Engineering degree, and your future career may not be what you think at this time. Be perceptive to what is out there and keep an open mind.

One last word of advice though - don't make your decision based upon which Engineering Discipline makes more money. You may end up getting into something you don't enjoy doing (which should be the most important thing).
cincirob
#39
Mar10-05, 07:05 PM
P: 24
Engineers use science, physics and mathematics in particular, as tools. As with all tools, learning how to use these scientific tools takes hard work, largely because they are not:

a) intuitive
b) reinforced by day-to-day living.

cinci: As a Mechanical Engineer (capitalized because that's the title of my degree) with 40+ years of experience I must disagree slightly with your first comment. If engineering principles aren't intuitive or at least become intuitive as you study, then engineering isn't for you.

On being reinforced by day-to-day living, I must disgree completely. :-) Again, a good engineer (and I've known a few) will see the principles at work in everything around him. Sometimes distractingly.

I have one warning about being an engineer though: If you chhose t be one, you will find yourself at parties or in your neighborhood and someone you know sill approach saying "You're and engineer........................." In general, what follows will be the most intractable question that you can imagine.
Hellstorm
#40
Mar11-05, 02:32 PM
P: 10
Do I sound like Engineer material? I'm 16, and still play with Legos... I love building! And am always building something. From rock castles when I was 7, to tree forts when I was 11. To computers, lego buildings and designing lego Spaceships now. I'm a very creative person... from art, to legos, to even writing stories... I'm also into Astronomy and space... I also have always been intrested in how things work. Iím a big Gamer. I like games like Homeworld & Homeworld2, Halo & Halo2... In school, Biology is my Best subject, but not my favorite... thatís history... Math used to be my favorite, but I slowly fell behind with the smartest of my grade and never picked back up on it. so, do I sound like a future Engineer?
physicsCU
#41
Mar16-05, 09:55 PM
P: 202
Legos are the first tools of an engineer.

Let me answer the questions first:

1. Hells yeah, be an engineer.

2. As far as a discipline, choose what you love. I love airplanes, always have. I am an aerospace major. If you like more generic mechanical stuff, choose mech. I can give you some insight into aero though. You learn a lot about everything. You will study thermodynamics, design, aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, materials, biomedical, etc.

3. The work is INSANE. Luckily all I need is 4 hours of sleep and a shower, then I am good to go. I will say when you are pulling all-nighters, about 5 AM, you will get a second wind and you seriously will be able to run a marathon. That is when your body runs out of energy and adrenaline starts pumping out like there is no tomorrow.

As far as a school, only you can decide. I chose mine mostly on cost and location, but we also have the 12th best aerospace department of any school in the USA, public and private. That is pretty damn good.

Basically, if you want to learn how things work, love math and science, enjoy tinkering, and are not afraid to get dirty, you will be a good engineer.

And don't worry about grades. The engineer who graduates last is still an engineer and will still get a job out of college.

Basically, you are about to commit three+ years of your life to insanity.

You must be of sound mind and body, grasshopper. Only then will you be ready to take on the demons of engineering.

But I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.
jai6638
#42
Mar17-05, 04:26 AM
P: 269
Basically, if you want to learn how things work, love math and science, enjoy tinkering, and are not afraid to get dirty, you will be a good engineer.
The problem is that I'm interested in knowing how things work ( and thats mainly why i wanna do engineering ) and love math and science too but i personally dont like "tinkering"..Its probably me being lazy or something but i try avoiding it.. Does that make me unsuitable for engineering?
Hellstorm
#43
Mar17-05, 04:37 PM
P: 10
In reply to jai6638

LOL, i'm the same way... except I love tinkering and I hate math....
Hellstorm
#44
Mar17-05, 04:42 PM
P: 10
In reply to physicsCU

Well, If I could, I would love to fly like a fighter jet... (i'm a big thrill seeker and my dad was going to be a fighter pilot but studied acounting instead.) I don't have the eyesight to be a fighter pilot tho... Planes are cool, but I dont know I'd want to build them... as in Aerospace tho, I'd love to create spaceships but I was born in the wrong time for that... Even when I talk about it I doubt myself because it sounds so fantisyish.. but I am very creative on the other hand...
burnhard gandah
#45
Apr14-05, 06:44 AM
P: 8
If you want to know how to do things without knowing why they are done then become an engineer, but if you want to know how to do things and why they are done then physics is the best option for any one who is considering whether they should become an Engineer. I personally think Engineers just put into practice Physics laws something which can not be said to be difficult. Engineering is not a difficult subject, Maths and physics are.
brewnog
#46
Apr14-05, 08:09 AM
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Quote Quote by burnhard gandah
If you want to know how to do things without knowing why they are done then become an engineer, but if you want to know how to do things and why they are done then physics is the best option for any one who is considering whether they should become an Engineer. I personally think Engineers just put into practice Physics laws something which can not be said to be difficult. Engineering is not a difficult subject, Maths and physics are.

With all due respect, you're talking out of your arse.
FredGarvin
#47
Apr14-05, 11:20 AM
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Quote Quote by burnhard gandah
If you want to know how to do things without knowing why they are done then become an engineer, but if you want to know how to do things and why they are done then physics is the best option for any one who is considering whether they should become an Engineer. I personally think Engineers just put into practice Physics laws something which can not be said to be difficult. Engineering is not a difficult subject, Maths and physics are.
Your head is up your arse.
AntonVrba
#48
Apr14-05, 01:44 PM
P: 91
Engineering has lost it status and competition is tough

In India most who can afford to study either study medicine or engineering, and let me telll you the engineers from India are really clever and due to their numbers do not demand high salaries.

So what happens - big companies outsource their engineering work to India.

As for stautus, remember engineer is derived from the french word genius and not from the steam engine, but we have so many non technical managers who have connected their PC to their toy train set and now think they also can do engineering.

I certainly will not study engineering again, this is after 30 years engineering experience, leasure management that is what I advise.

If you want to go for engineering, then my advice is become a real engineer and study a bit from all disciplines - the specialist that that universities spit out have limited opportunity but ideally suited for corporate structures - knowing a bit about all allows you to manage multidisciplinary projects.

Remember, an Engineer is someone who knows a little about evrything, a Specialist is somebody who knows everything about a little

As for burnhard gandah he seems to be the ultimate super specialist.
.....
#49
Apr25-05, 10:07 PM
P: 55
I'm in my first year of engineering (mechanical), I'm finding the workload almost impossible to cope with :(

A few people have told me it gets easier in the progressive years, but I'm skeptical, would you guys agree with their opinion?
brewnog
#50
Apr26-05, 05:04 AM
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Quote Quote by .....
I'm in my first year of engineering (mechanical), I'm finding the workload almost impossible to cope with :(

A few people have told me it gets easier in the progressive years, but I'm skeptical, would you guys agree with their opinion?
Yes and no. First year tends to involve getting everyone up to the same standard in all the basic engineering sciences, and maths, as well as giving a background in some of the things you haven't already learnt (perhaps manufacturing or design). While the material isn't necessarily that hard, it's probably harder than whatever you did before university, and there's definitely a lot more of it.

Depending on the course, you might find that 2nd year has a similar workload but more difficult material. I found this, and then found that 3rd year was easy, and quite fun!

Stick with it, engineering degrees are not easy courses, but the rewards are worth it.
bruce999
#51
Apr26-05, 05:53 AM
P: 11
Very simply. NO. You visit uni engineering departments and they look cool - loads of engines and wind tunnels and testing machines. When you get there you rarely, if ever, use any of that stuff. Its maths, maths, maths and very long hours. You also won't get a job unless you've got loads of relevant work experience.
brewnog
#52
Apr26-05, 09:00 AM
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Quote Quote by bruce999
Very simply. NO. You visit uni engineering departments and they look cool - loads of engines and wind tunnels and testing machines. When you get there you rarely, if ever, use any of that stuff. Its maths, maths, maths and very long hours.
You seem to be talking out of your arse too.

While there is a lot of theory (and there has to be), I've used high volume wind tunnels, supersonic wind tunnels, jet engine test bays, diesel engine testing facilities, load cells, drop hammers, compact testing machines, laser processing facilities, lathes, milling machines, welders, CNC routers and many others as a routine part of my course. On average, I had around 8 hours of practical lab sessions per week for my first two years, in addition to CAD, modelling, and design sessions.

It's not maths, maths and more maths. While maths is a tool which is always an integral part of an engineering degree, saying that an engineering degree is all maths is like saying an English degree is all words. A completely meaningless and inaccurate statement.

Quote Quote by bruce999
You also won't get a job unless you've got loads of relevant work experience.
This is also misguided. While relevant work experience makes you a more attractive graduate in the eyes of employers, one short placement is usually more than adequate to show employers that you have a taste for the industry, and have the skills needed to apply your academic learnings. Industry is desperate for good graduate engineers, and I'm sure most people would agree that you're far more employable as an engineering graduate than having studied any other course. A good proportion of my old coursemates who have since graduated have walked straight into very good jobs relying on academic success only.
bruce999
#53
Apr26-05, 12:58 PM
P: 11
Quote Quote by brewnog

While there is a lot of theory (and there has to be), I've used high volume wind tunnels, supersonic wind tunnels, jet engine test bays, diesel engine testing facilities, load cells, drop hammers, compact testing machines, laser processing facilities, lathes, milling machines, welders, CNC routers and many others as a routine part of my course. On average, I had around 8 hours of practical lab sessions per week for my first two years, in addition to CAD, modelling, and design sessions.
You were obviously fortunate. I had 4hrs of labs a week for the first 2 years. 4 Hrs out of 26 a week and you can't deny the fact that those labs always boil down to maths. I have nothing against maths i'm just saying that it IS the core of engineering. Every subject - Thermodynamics, Fluid mechanics, dynamics, control etc is all maths. I just think that people should be aware of this fact as most engineering departments carefully neglect to mention the true nature of the course.
FredGarvin
#54
Apr26-05, 02:15 PM
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I think anyone that enters an engineering curricula without the foreknowledge that it will be math intense has not done any research prior to enrolling in the field of study or simply chose to ignore what people told them.

I used pretty much every piece of equipment my school had for my major field of study. Playing with equipment is not what it is about anyways. They are tools for information. The information and data are what you are striving for. I guess I don't understand where you are coming from on this point.

Also, your comment about not getting a job without experience is not factual at all. Experience is a plus, but not necessary when companys are in the market for hiring young engineers. Companys know what they are getting when they interview new graduates.


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