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Other Back to school for pure mathematics?

  1. Nov 13, 2017 #1
    So I am currently a mechanical engineer working in aerospace designing and testing different interior assemblies, video arms, meal tables, etc. For a while now I have been thinking that this field is just not up my alley. I probably use Creo for about 80% of my time while the other 20% I am testing and writing plans. I have some friends and family in mechanical engineering and they do essentially the same thing. I have been thinking for a while now that overall this field just isn't right for me. I went into it because of not knowing what to do and i have family members that are M.E.s and I figured it would pay well. At this point I don't really care about the money and would rather do something that I enjoy. I had always had a back thought that I wouldn't care about going back to school and acquiring more debt if it was for something I really wanted to do. At the moment I have been thinking of going back to school for pure mathematics and then move on from there. I had always enjoyed math and I tended to be good at it. I usually would get the hang of it quicker than at least the people I studied with and would try to help them understand. I have been going over some maths to re-jog my memory and it has been enjoyable so far.

    How has working in mathematics been? Has there been any regrets to going into pure mathematics in terms of job opportunities? How is the research (I know that is broad)?

    This is more of a curiosity question since I know I don't want to be in the of M.E. field any longer.
    Is this what a lot of mechanical engineers do, that is work primarily with cad software? Or is it just the aerospace field in particular?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2017 #2
    I should add that I have looked at the other threads relating to going into pure math. Honestly, my underlying question is am I making the right choice, but I know that is subjective.
  4. Nov 14, 2017 #3
    Are you sure you know what you would be getting into? Let me tell you my experience.

    Back in 1960, I transferred to UT-Austin to study pure math. There were two really famous men on the faculty at that time, R.L.. Moore and A.M. Wahl, both "pure mathematicians." I was assigned Moore as an advisor, and when I told him that l wanted to take second year physics, he said, "My students don't take physics," but I did anyway.

    I also signed up for Diff Eq under Wahl. We spend the entire semester, every class period, proving properties of the solutions of x''+k^2*x =0, but we never learned how to find any solution at all. I had second thoughts about all of this, and went to engineering instead.

    Be sure you and your school are on the same page.
  5. Nov 14, 2017 #4


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    Would a choice toward not-so-pure Mathematics been a better choice for you? Maybe more "applied" courses or program would have given you more desireable or satisfying courses.
  6. Nov 14, 2017 #5
    Probably not. I wound up in the right place, I think, in the Engineering Science degree program, then on for MS and PhD in ME. That's really where I learned how to solve DEs. But what was right for me may not be right for the OP.
  7. Nov 14, 2017 #6
    Thank you for the response Dr.D. I have enjoyed all of my math teachers, save 1, thus far but that is a good point to consider the professors with the school. I know if I went back to school and my opinion changed and I did not want to continue in mathematics I would always have the M.E. degree to fall back on and with a fuller math background. However, that does just put me back in the same position.

    If you don't mind me asking what kind of work/research have you gone into?
  8. Nov 15, 2017 #7
    Since you asked, my career has been a mix of industrial research (Hamilton Watch Co, Bethlehem Steel Homer Labs, Stewart & Stevenson (diesel engine distributor/packager), Southwest Research Institute, Naval Surface Warfare Center), academic faculty positions (UT-Austin, Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, NC State, UW-Platteville, MSOE, and others), along with some private practice as an engineering consultant. I'm registered in two states, and I've published in a variety of journals (ASME, SAE, Mech Mach Theory, etc). Now I am retired and re-writing a textbook I published almost 30 years ago. Through it all, my interest has been consistently in dynamics and dynamic systems modeling and analysis.
  9. Nov 16, 2017 #8
    Oh wow that's quite a lot that you have done. I think it is the most diverse/largest portfolio of someone's career that I have seen. System dynamics was definitely one of the better subjects I had when I was in school. Thank you for sharing.
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