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Auto industry and EE/ME dual major

  1. Oct 12, 2005 #1
    I want to get into the R&D team at one of the big 3. I am currently a dual major in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, which is a 167 credit hour program. I am currently a second semester junior in EE and a second semester sophomore in ME. I am going the EE/ME dual major route because I was told by many, including professors that have worked in the auto industry, that the EE/ME dual major is highly sought after by the auto industry, even moreso than a master's degree. However, I would like the opinion of the physics forum people. Do you think it is a good idea to go for the EE/ME dual major instead of a BSEE with a MSEE?

    I am going to a a ~5000 student engineering university (detroit area) with very close ties with the automotive industry. I DO plan I getting a master's, and possibly a PhD, since I know that 85% of the people in the R&D team at GM have PhDs, so I'd need at least a master's. However, I would like to work in industry for a couple of years before attending graduate school, and maybe the company will pay for the grad school if my PHD research coincides with one of the company's problems. I also hope to get an internship for my summers.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2005 #2
    Sounds like you know what you're doing to me. If professors and people from industry agree, then I don't see how you can go wrong. Maybe someone else can give you the physics response you were looking for.
  4. Oct 12, 2005 #3


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    I'm a senior in a school of electronics engineering. I really doubt how indepth you can go with a dual major. I seriously have trouble learning enough about a major in just electronics (photonics, semiconductors, control, integrated electronics, etc). Also, since you plan to do a PhD, by the time you get there, all the introductory material you have learnt at undergrad level would be worth little.

    I think the purpose of the dual major is that they don't want electrical or mechanical engineers who are total morons in the other field since their trade is interelated. If they hire PhD's, they must be in for specialists for the most part.
  5. Oct 19, 2005 #4
    I plan on studying mechatronics in graduate school, and ME/EE dual major will be an invaluable asset in grad school, even if I work in industry for a couple of years before attending.
  6. Oct 20, 2005 #5
    Perhaps you could look at the requirements to study in that field for grad school and choose one undergraduate major with necessary courses filled in from the other major. Ex -- EE major, while taking classes in machine design, etc.
    I've always been skeptical of double majoring in two different engineering disciplines. It just seems like such a waste at the undergraduate level. There is NO WAY you will finish both degrees within four years. In my opinion, staying as an undergrad for longer than five years it a waste. With the exception of learning disabilities, changing your major, dire need to work, etc.
  7. Oct 20, 2005 #6


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    My college also had a dual degree program. I wish I had the time to take it. It basically added a year on to your curricula and was more intense, but it would have been worth it.

    Leright, what gives you the idea that you need a master's or a PhD to be in their R&D? What are you calling R&D? I have been in R&D and testing since I was a technician during school. You don't have to have advanced credentials to get in the door. What you do need are 1) good timing and 2) A willingness to work at other possible jobs before you get your "dream" job.

    IMO, I would get that dual degree and then see what you can get into and work for a while. You will be amazed at just how much learning you will have to do once in industry. I would say to still push for some sector of R&D, but be prepared because it encompasses a lot of area in the automotive world.

    Another thing you should consider is the climate of the big 3 right now. They are VERY stingy with direct hiring of anyone. That means that you may be better served to look at tier 1 or 2 suppliers as possible employment. The fact of the matter is is that all of the biggies are relying more and more on contractors and suppliers to do the bulk of the engineering work. Don't get caught up in having to work for the big 3. There are a lot of cool companys to work for out there that may have more options for your career growth that you may know.

    BTW...are you at WSU?
  8. Oct 21, 2005 #7

    Thanks for the advice Fred. I am at Lawrence Technological University. WSU has more like 28,000 students. It is a lot bigger than most people think. the reason I get the feeling that R&D requires graduate schooling is because I was looking at GM's website and read that 85% of their R&D team has a PhD in engineering or the natural sciences. Even if I don't necessarily need graduate schooling, I would like to pursue it for its own sake, just because of my love of learning new things. And I am not just looking at the big 3. I am looking at many tier 1 or 2 suppliers as well, such as TRW, Faurecia, Denso American Axle and others.

    And to the others saying it is not worth it...it's worth it to me, regardless of how much it's worth it to employers. But trust me, the employers such as TRW are very impressed by dual majors in EE and ME since many of their engineers deal with systems that interface electrical systems with mechanical systems.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2005
  9. Oct 21, 2005 #8


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    A fellow Larry Tech'er! Is it up to 5,000 people? Holly cow. Welcome! We are in short supply.

    I would have done the dual route if I had the money to stay an extra year. I just couldn't pull it off.

    Trust me, I am not saying to not pursue a graduate degree, I was just wanting to say that you could get your foot in the door with the dual undergrad and then go to grad schooll later, especially if work pays for it (that's what I did).
  10. Oct 21, 2005 #9
    Wow, I didn't know you were an LTU guy! Awesome! The school has nearly 5,000 students now...I think it is more like 4,500. Have you been on campus lately? When did you graduate? They have been doing a number of campus expansions. Just in the last few years they put up the new University Technology and Learning Center, they put up a second dorm, and they are now finishing up the new student services center and a new Innovative Materials Research Center. The research center is completely funded by the government for defense applications. Kinda cool. Also, they have a very large campus beautification campaign funded by the city of Southfield which will begin in the spring, I believe. There is going to be the largest planting of champion trees in the country in the quad. http://www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/5192 [Broken]

    There's a lot of cool stuff happening on campus. If you ever decide to go back to check it out, PM me. I am living in north housing.

    And yeah, I do plan on working in industry briefly before attending grad school with hopes of getting funding, and if I go right into grad school I will seek research assistantships or teaching assistantships and get the tuition covered. Also, where did you go to graduate school? Did you go to LTU?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. Oct 22, 2005 #10


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    I graduated in the early '90s after a stint in the Army. At that time there was talks about an expansion for the Buell building but that was it. It sounds very different now. I kind of miss the little area in the engineering building that had the tables next to the fireplace to study at. It's probably been remodeled by the sounds of it.

    I looked at LTU for grad school, but they didn't have a MSME (mechanical, not manufacturing) program at the time. I have heard they recently started one though. I am doing a remote degree with the University of Washington. It has a better fit into the aerospace area since a lot of Boeing people go there.

    I'd say you've got a good handle on what you are doing. Focus on getting through under grad first though.

    PS: If you ever have Prof. Josephs for statics, dynamics or kin/dyn of mach. get him to tell you some of the monkey stories from his NASA days. Those alone are worth the cost of tuition.
  12. Oct 22, 2005 #11
    The fireplace lounge is still there, and I study there very frequently.

    LTU now has an MSME, MS Automotive engineering, and MS Manufacturing systems. They also have a Doctorate in Manufacturing Systems Engineering. They also have a number of graduate programs in EE, and Civil engineering.

    Haha, I had Prof. Josephs for intro to mechanical systems (an ME course for EEs that they replaced statics and dynamics with...MEs don't take it however.) Funny guy. I dropped the class when I realized I wanted to dual major in EE and ME, and MEs are supposed to take the full statics and dynamics courses. I got a full tuition refund though. In fact, Dr. Josephs was one of the profs that highly recommended the ME/EE dual major.
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