1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

About to study Mechanical engineering - Renewables vs oil

  1. Jan 13, 2016 #1
    I'm Currently 19 and I'm starting University this coming September, and i've received a place at the University of Edinburgh to do Mechanical engineering. Now, i've always been fascinated about big heavy industrial applications of mechanical engineering such as oil rigs and i've never really been attracted to the renewables sector. Through research and discussions with the University, i've discovered that Edinburgh's niche with engineering is with the renewable energy sector - in particular energy sourced from motion in water. I've applied to other Universities, and my second favourite would be Bristol University, from which i've gathered posses a more traditional engineering department i.e more emphasis on the traditional engineering (cars, planes and hydrocarbons). Would I be foolish to choose a University which would offer me a course more tailored to the Oil industry, or has the world reached a point where Renewable engineering > Petrochemical? I won't be gaining a degree in Petroleum engineering or Environmental engineering - just Mechanical. But my choice of University will be chosen on the basis of which route I go down.


  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2016 #2


    User Avatar

    While I spent 40 very rewarding and enjoyable years as a practicing BSME in a wide range of branches of the petroleum industry; at this point, it is not one that I would recommend as your focus point in your education. The conversion to alternative energy sources is the road for the future even if some individuals in the petroleum sector are having a problem accepting that fact. I believe that what we are currently seeing in the decline in petroleum fuels demand is not simply a "momentary event". Petroleum is not going to disappear as is at the heart of the many petrochemical products that we depend on today and will continue to need into the immediate future as more environmentally friendly alternatives are being developed; but it is definitely not going to be a "growth industry" that will provide you with the opportunities your will seeking in your career. If your choice is strictly based upon petroleum vs. renewable energy my recommendation is definitely to choose the latter.

    Beyond that my best recommendation is that your university choice be based on which institution is able to give you the best broad base Mechanical Engineering education. One of the great advantages of getting a good broad based Mechanical Engineering education is that it gives you the basis for employment in a broad range of industries so that the employment risks due to the ups and downs of any one sector can be offset by the flexibility allowed by that degree.

    As a personal example, my first focus when starting my engineering education was on Aerospace engineering and at that time, the early 1960's with the heavy focus on the start of the US space initiative, that was the degree that was the highest in demand and starting salary; but, along the way I discovered that with an ME degree I was qualified not only for approximately 95% of the positions in the aerospace industry but also for about every other industrial sector as well.
  4. Jan 13, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Mech. Eng. w' emphasis on traditional development/applications r/t the "feel good" school? It's been oversold, BUT (you'll notice the emphasis) there may actually be some advantage to a more "flexible" curriculum --- just my two pins.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook