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Aeronautical or Mechanical Engineering?

  1. May 29, 2008 #1
    I have a hard time chosing between wether I should study Aeronautical or Mechanical Engineering at university. I have a general impression that Aeronautical eng deals with more high tech stuff than Mech Eng, but that Mech Eng is more relevant to society and the economy and thus easier to get a job with. Anyone who got insight into the subjects that can shine some light onto my path?:shy:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2008 #2
    For a while aeronautical/aerospace engineering has been a branch of mechanical engineering, but as we develop new technology it's becoming more prevalent to hold it's own...

    Mechanical Engineering is an engineering discipline that involves the application of principles of physics for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems.

    Aerospace engineering is the branch of engineering that concerns aircraft, spacecraft, and related topics.

    I guess you could say that it deals with a specialized area of mechanical engineering, however I wouldn't go as far to say there is more "high tech stuff" involved.

    Which one sounds more interesting to you?
  4. May 29, 2008 #3
    Thank you for your reply. I must admit my interests are slightly biased towards aeronautical engineering. It is the possibility of reduced job prospects compared to mech eng, if it exists, that concerns me.
  5. May 29, 2008 #4
    Are you talking about an undergraduate degree?
    I am just wondering if you can choose a department like "Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering" and choose to major in either Mech. or Aero. after spending your freshman year..?
    I think the best way to make the decision is to actually enroll in some classes and see if you like them...
    I am not in the US, so I just raise the possibility of doing this.
    You may want to research into this option...
  6. May 30, 2008 #5
    I did my undergrad in ME (so I can get a job with no hassle if jobs are tough to find) and am doing a masters in Aero.

    I will say this. After taking a few aero classes, I wish I had done aero instead of mechanical, as I am much happier doing the problems. BUT, I can always find jobs aero guys cant, and I can take the aero guys jobs too! You can always learn the aero stuff on your own time, or just take all your electives as aero (while being a ME).
  7. May 30, 2008 #6
    In the US in all the universities I've seen the departments are combined anyways..

    To add to what Cyrus said, it does seem to be fairly easy to get a masters in aerospace after doing a bachelors in mechanical. At my school I can pretty much use all of the technical electives to take the core aerospace classes if I wanted to.
  8. May 31, 2008 #7
    Is it better if I am taking 4 aeronautical engineering subjects or taking 2 aero. and 2 biomedical subjects?
    In my university there are a few major electives subjects that I can take in my fourth year. I am interested in aeronautical actually, but if I see the high price of oil I am scared that the aerospace industry will be stagnant or becoming worse.
  9. Sep 30, 2008 #8
    Actually the employment in the aerospace industry is very recently growing.

    The problem with employment in aerospace is, it's a narrow field in comparison to mechanical, so there isn't as many jobs offered. Also the US over the years has been moving away from the design of new airplanes and thus the funding has been in decline. At the same time, we need aerospace engineers regardless of whether or not the field is in high demand. Aerospace had a bad employment period since there was no need to hire new workers. However, alot of the engineers in the field are retiring and this is leaving a huge void to fill, therefore the employment is on the rise. It was actually in the news over the summer. So if anytime's the time to be an aerospace engineer it's now.

    Personally though I say that going with ME is the best choice, since you can always narrow your field in grad school, and alot of the specifications for jobs in aerospace and such are taught and covered on the job and picked up easily if you are already an ME. I chose ME myself since I was lukewarm about aerospace and have constantly found myself changing my mind from aero to nuclear, or even biomed. The point is, there's always room for change in ME.

    As for the difficulty, alot of my friends who are in aero definitely have some tough classes, I haven't taken them myself though so I don't know if they're harder or not. However, I can most certainly say Mechanical Engineering classes alone are very difficult, and my classmates and I can tell you we've never worked so hard.
  10. Sep 30, 2008 #9
    My school offers a dual major in ME and AE. It takes an additional semester, and in my opinion, is well worth it. I'd love to get a job in aerospace, however with the relatively small number of jobs available and intense competition, having the degree in mechanical will offer a "fall back" if necessary. It's definitely something for you to look into if your school offers it.
  11. Apr 24, 2010 #10
    what if one got his BS in physics and is considering an MS in ME or AE? If I'd love to get a job in aerospace/defense, but would also a 'fall-back' option in case the aerospace/defense industry is really bad, is it still better to do my MS in AE rather than ME?
  12. Apr 24, 2010 #11
    My school only offers ME, and half of the ME graduates last year are designing jet engines now. I manage the production of airfoils for steam turbines. I also did NASA funded research on turbulent fluid flow under an ME professor as an ME undergrad.

    I really don't think you're at any disadvantage when applying to aerospace jobs with an ME degree. It's much easier to convince an aerospace company that mechanical engineering is applicable than it is to convince HR in a mechanical engineering department that your aerospace degree is applicable. If you know you want to do aero for sure, then aerospace engineering is perfect. If you have any doubts at all, I'd recommend ME.

    Graduate school is a little bit different and more specialized though.

    Edit: Sigh, old thread.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2010
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