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Beginning Engineering Student Exploration

  1. May 5, 2012 #1

    I am currently a beginning engineering student. I'm thinking mechanical engineering, but nothing is really set in stone.

    I am trying to spend a lot of this summer exploring different aspects of engineering and actually go out and go through the entire engineering process of designing, creating, and refining something. But as I do this, I also want to explore the things that are core to engineering. I am reviewing math and physics in order to develop more of an understand to why things happen.

    But beyond just that, I am looking for textbooks, books, videos, any resources that I can use to explore engineering. I know that engineering is a hugely broad field, but I can't really say that I have a huge interest in a super specific aspect of it because I have no true experience yet. I am trying to understand the philosophy behind engineering along with important core aspects and concepts of engineering itself. What suggestions would you guys have for me?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2012 #2


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    psv1120, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    Of course there are lots of resources like books, etc. for you to explore engineering. It seems to me you could gain from talking to experienced engineers...and not just short dialogs here on PF!

    I suggest you seek out some actual older, more experienced engineers. Existing companies, universities, and civil governments all employ engineers. Contact them and ask for some of their time. Don't forget, retirement homes certainly have experienced engineers whose vast experiences and variety of projects worked on may open up new horizons for you. I imagine many would be pleased to share their experiences and viewpoints about the core concepts and philosphy of engineering itself. Prepare yourself with your questions and your comments before meeting with them. Do not leave your humility at home...be sure to bring it with you when you meet with them. In my opinion, this excercise would be very useful for you at this point on your career path.
    Good Luck,
  4. May 5, 2012 #3
    Thank you for your advice. I have actually spent time with several experienced engineers and it has actually guided me towards the field of engineering. I feel like I have an idea of what an engineering job is like and I am comfortable with it and am quite excited. At this point I am trying to expand that and actually start doing things with engineering in mind. So my original question stands...what textbooks would you suggest for me? Could also be websites, or any other resource you can think of...
  5. May 5, 2012 #4


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    Unfortunately, I don't have any suggestions of specific textbooks, websites, or other resources. When I was twenty years old there was no internet, no search engines, and information was a lot harder to find. Even in the library if one could locate the "right" textbook there were not Xerox copy machines yet. So one had to copy everything by hand from the book. Enough of the past.

    I am surprised you are asking for help in finding information in these times! You obviously have internet access. We are in the "Information Age"...never before has the human race had access to so much information.

    The Germans and other Europeans use the "journeyman" system to bring inexperienced folks into the skilled workforce in all areas-not just M. Es. but into the whole spectrum of jobs. Here we have the "work-study" program in some places. I watched a student in E. E. from UCLA come to my company when he was only a junior. He spent a summer with our team getting "hands on" experince in testing our equipment. He became intersted in our products (Helicopter-borne Anti-submarine dipping sonar). When he graduated he got hired because of his education and his proven ability to work well with others. Today, thirty years later, he is Senior Engineer at that same company. And I'm sure he still enjoys his work and makes a fat salary.

    If I wanted to work as a mechanical engineer I would research federal and state employment statistics to find where they get employed. I would learn what industries need them (answer:nearly every single widget that gets manufactured needs M. Es.).

    Why not design your own job? Why not strive to find work you will enjoy ? Let's say you were interested in electro-mechanical machines driven by hydraulic power. Clearly they need M. E.s to design and test them. Find out who makes them and who else competes in that market. Do not limit yourself to some comfy, familiar geographic area: in these days of globalization, the entire planet earth should be your limitation. Maybe there's some Brasilian aircraft manufacturer, loaded with orders for new aircraft, but can't deliver because they lack enough qualified M. Es. Or a Chinese firm.

    Once you have some idea of the type of work you desire plan a strategy to get yourself hired. The old saw, "Conceptualize the goal, Articulate the plan, Implement it by action", or CAI, seems appropriate here.

    Good Luck,
  6. May 9, 2012 #5
    Choose what you love most! You will stick to it till the end!
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