Aerospace Engineering versus Mechanical Engineering

In summary, the conversation is about a freshman engineering student considering switching from mechanical engineering to aerospace engineering. Their ultimate goal is to work in the aerospace industry, but they have concerns about the high degree of specialization in aerospace engineering and the job outlook. They also prefer to work on the hardware side of things and are unsure about the applicability of a 4-year degree in aerospace engineering. The student is considering doing a BS in mechanical engineering and an MS in aerospace engineering, but is unsure due to the strength of the aerospace program at their university. They have until April to make a decision and are seeking advice.
  • #1
goaliematt76
4
0
Hello,

I’m a freshman engineering student at CU Boulder and I'm currently majoring in mechanical engineering, but I am seriously considering making the switch to aerospace engineering. I had a 4.0 GPA for the fall semester, but obviously that is not with very difficult classes (calculus, chemistry, physics, etc.). I am planning on doing Space Grant and trying to get internships in aerospace even if I stay in MCEN.

My ultimate goal is to work in the aerospace industry since that is what I really love. I’m a huge space and aviation nerd and I love the idea of working in that area. If I ever had the chance to be an astronaut I would do it in a heartbeat.

One of my concerns about majoring in ASEN is the high degree of specialization and the somewhat uncertain job outlook. I like the idea of having a broad base of knowledge and a multitude of options even outside of the aerospace industry, which is the reason I’m in MCEN. As much as I love aerospace, I am 18 and it is difficult to know how I will feel when I'm 40. I don’t want to get stuck in some awful defense job if the aerospace industry takes a plunge.

In addition to that, I would prefer to work primarily on the hardware side of things, and I am somewhat deterred by the amount of software in ASEN. I also feel like a 4 year degree in ASEN is not very applicable since the aerospace industry is extremely multidisciplinary, and no single person is possibly going to know how to do everything. Other than aerodynamics, it seems to me that a specialist in anyone discipline (mechanical, chemical, electrical, computer science, etc.), would have the edge over an ASEN major.

Ideally I would like to do BS MCEN and MS ASEN. However at CU we have an extremely strong ASEN program (top 10), while our MCEN program is only in the top 40. CU also offers a 5 year concurrent BS/MS program, which is extremely appealing to me, but has to be within the same department. If I stay in MCEN I am unlikely to be accepted to the ASEN program when I graduate since CU’s ASEN grad school is 4th in the nation (above MIT). The ASEN advisor is strongly encouraging me to switch to ASEN since it would be much easier to do my MS.

I have until April to make my decision. I have it set up so that all my credits transfer regardless of which major I choose. Right now I'm about completely split on what to do. I apologize for the length of this post, but any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 
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  • #2
You can certainly make a good career in aerospace without a ASEng degree. Any engineering speciality is fine.

Your engineering education doesn't stop when you leave university. You will pick up a lot of stuff from specialists in other fields along the way. In fact you will probably be working with people who are specialists in things that you never even heard of at university - and after a few years you will probably be one of them yourself.

As for the "amount of software in ASEng", it depends very much what you end up doing. If you are working on multi-disciplinary computer simulations, you could spend close to 100% of your time writing and using software if you wanted to do that. On the other hand there are test engineers who are hardly involved with software at all, except for using computers to store the measured data, etc.

As for the ranking of your courses, it might make a bit of difference in getting your first job, but you will soon get to the point where people look at what have actually done, not what college you went to. Provided your course is in the top half of the rankings, I wouldn't lose any sleep over whether it's ranked 10th or 40th.
 

Related to Aerospace Engineering versus Mechanical Engineering

1. What is the main difference between Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering?

Aerospace Engineering is a specialized branch of Mechanical Engineering that deals with the design, development, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, and related systems. It focuses on the specific challenges and requirements of aerospace vehicles, while Mechanical Engineering covers a wider range of topics and applications.

2. Can Aerospace Engineers and Mechanical Engineers work in the same industry?

Yes, Aerospace Engineers and Mechanical Engineers can work in the same industry. While Aerospace Engineers may have specialized knowledge and skills in aerospace systems, both disciplines have a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and engineering principles that are applicable to a variety of industries.

3. Are the career opportunities different for Aerospace Engineers and Mechanical Engineers?

While there may be some overlap in career opportunities for Aerospace Engineers and Mechanical Engineers, Aerospace Engineers typically work in the aerospace industry, while Mechanical Engineers can work in a wide range of industries such as automotive, energy, manufacturing, and more.

4. Is one discipline considered more challenging than the other?

Both Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering are challenging disciplines that require a strong understanding of math and science, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, Aerospace Engineering may be considered more challenging due to the complex and highly regulated nature of aerospace systems.

5. Can someone with a degree in Aerospace Engineering work as a Mechanical Engineer and vice versa?

While a degree in Aerospace Engineering may provide a strong foundation for a career in Mechanical Engineering, and vice versa, it may be more difficult to make a direct transition between the two disciplines. However, with additional training and experience, it is possible for individuals to work in both fields.

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