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A mechanical engineering student hating mechanical design

  1. Nov 20, 2006 #1
    Hi all!
    I am a final year mechanical engineering student.
    I am kind of confused about my choice to do mechanical engineering...
    I love mathematics and physics. I am comfortable with those theoretical and abstract concepts that most of my classmates are not really into them. Like classes of heat transfer, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics and mathematics etc.
    And I have been doing well in nearly all classes, which give me a cumulative gpa of 3.89/4.0...
    but you know...I meet a mechanical design project this year...and I am just sick of it!
    I discover that I am not interested nor good at mechanical design: I don't know where to put the pair of gears, what mechanisms to use or what materials to be used for each part etc...
    I feel much frustrated and am having doubts on my choice to do mechanical engieering instead of physics or mathematics.
    Are there any people who feel the same?
    I am planning to go for graduate school....still mechanical engineering...:frown: It is fine with me to deal with advanced heat transfer, fluid dynamics etc...But I just FEAR to cope with mechanial design again..
    I did think of subjects like applied mathematics for graduate study...
    But you know, I feel that I may not be capable to catch up with the missed mathematics. (how could I compete with those math or phy graduates?)
    I am just feeling that the undergradute mechanical engineering degree has ruined my mind..:eek:
    I mean I would have learned better or at least more mathematics if I do math, which would better prepare me for my favourite graduate study....and I would be happier not to touch DESIGN!!!!
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2006 #2

    Maybe you should find a different major or go into academics, because when you get a job people are paying you to design things, not derive equations.

    I'm not good at design either, I tend to the mathematical stuff. But that does not mean I'm not willing to design.
  4. Nov 20, 2006 #3
    Yes..I understand what the industry looks for, and that's why I am purusing graduate study and try to get into the academic field.

    um...it is still frustrating to do the design..
  5. Nov 20, 2006 #4
    Well, then you picked the wrong major.

    I dont know what else to say. Even in academics, professors typically do research which involves design of test experiments.
  6. Nov 21, 2006 #5


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    Design is an area unto itself. If your undergrad was anything like mine, it was lacking in general design classes. Even a class I had, Design of Machine Elements, was not a real design class. So it is no wonder that you may be experiencing the same thing.

    I see two things come out of this:

    1) Your senior year project is supposed to be a culmination of what you have done in classes. It should encompass a lot of different areas and even some which you haven't seen. It is supposed to be a learning experience and a challenge. You are getting a taste of all the things that have to come together in a real design.

    2) You have discovered you are lacking in an area. What are you going to do about it? Obviously this is the first time you have hit any kind of real stumbling block in your academics. In industry you will come across this scenario all the time. The thing is, will you have the fortitude to buckle down and do what is necessary to bring yourself up to snuff and learn what you need? You should have some kind of faculty advisor for your project...hit them up, ask them for information and ideas. That is what they are there for.

    Pure design work really does require a mentor or someone to critique your ideas and work. There are many parts that are cut and dry like calculating stresses. However, there are a lot of areas that are handled by rules of thumb and just plain old experience.

    It's ok to be frustrated, but it's not ok to think about changing the course of your professional career just because you hit a snag. If you can understand the theoretical stuff, there's no reason you can not understand basic design.
  7. Nov 21, 2006 #6


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    You are certainly not alone. I work with many Mechanical Engineers who cannot design their way out of a rotten paper bag. It has not stopped them from getting good jobs, and even doing a good job at what they do. There are jobs for MEs and not all of them entail a lot of design work. What you need is a job and a good mentor to guide you through a few designs. As a student you still have a lot to learn and employers know this. You are not expected have well developed design skills fresh out of school.

    Don't worry, sweat it through and do your best on this project. You will find that the true learning begins once you are out of school.
  8. Nov 22, 2006 #7
    Thank you guys!

    Anyway, I have to face the design project and get it done decently.

    By the way, I am actually thinking about having my graduate study on applied mathematics. It seems to be a good choice for my little bit theoreitcal-inclined character...
  9. Nov 24, 2006 #8
    i swear you'll get extra credit if you can prove perpetual motion

    I thought the whole point of takig mechanical engineering was to learn mechanical design. Well, the more challenging design is, the more you will learn
  10. Feb 23, 2007 #9
    I have a question for all the mechanical engineers here.
    Did you find the design class easy the first time you took it?
    Were your drawing skills great, before you started your degree or were they developed during it?
    I am a first year engineering student. I wanted to do a mechatronics degree. But I found the technical drawing very difficult. It wasnt like the programming or math modelling classes(which I found easy).
    So I was wondering, is this drawing and design skill something that you can develop.
    My TA says that that was all there was to mech design, that you either get it or you dont.
  11. Feb 23, 2007 #10
    Its never the case where you either get it or you don't, if you try hard, constantly you will learn it.
  12. Feb 23, 2007 #11
    But can someone hopeless at drawing, manage and excel in technical drawing and mechanical design?
  13. Feb 23, 2007 #12
    I never drew a single picture by hand. We did things in Pro-E. Apart from that one class, I have never drawn anything ever again. If I have to make a picture I just do it on the PC. I dont know what you're calling a 'mechatronics degree', but if you are talking about something like robot design, it involves alot of dynamics and controls, not drawing pictures.

    Here there is one Grad Course on robotics:

    Note, no where does it say *Draw pictures*.
  14. Feb 23, 2007 #13
    That question of a robotics class is interesting. As a electronics and electrical engineer, do you think one would be able to handle the industrial automation and robotics. Considering that the major question in robotics is the sensing and programming, wouldnt a computer science or EE have a better chance? They do control systems in EE right?
  15. Feb 23, 2007 #14
    No, MEs and EEs can both do controls. I am going to do controls and im an ME. All you have to do is take courses that are geared towards what you like. If you like EE courses more than ME, then you should not be an ME, and visa versa.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2007
  16. Jun 15, 2009 #15
    See if you can get some professionally drawn parts and assembly drawings. That will be a huge help.
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