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BS in ME, want to learn more programming

  1. Oct 21, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    First a little history:
    I have one more year left after this semester until I finally get my BS in Mechanical Engineering. My GPA is 3.7 right now and I've taken all expect 1 of the hardest classes, I predict that I will be somewhere around 3.8 to 3.9 by the time I graduate. But all isn't sunshine and rainbows. I've struggled financially with college - I have to take summer classes to finish before I run out of money. Basically I had to start from scratch, I started college at the age of 22 with some savings from working. Anyway, this means that I won't be able to intern. If I intern I won't have money to finish my BS. I'd have to take time off and I really don't want to (I'm already 26). It has taken me this long because I had to start all the way from Algebra with my mathematics. I'm proud to say that I did very well. Through endless hours of studying I managed to get A's in all of my math classes, all of my physics and chemistry classes and almost all of my engineering classes.

    Anyway, sadly it took me this long to realize that I'm really much more passionate about programming than I am about mechanical engineering. I'm bored out of my mind in my design classes. Who could have thought that picking a specific screw and thread count could be such a massive project? I sure didn't, and I sure ain't interested in it. Really I enjoyed my sophomore year the most. My physics professor was absolutely amazing and I looked forward to his classes (I was originally an economics major but his lectures blew my mind and I switched). I loved my science classes and I enjoyed my math classes. The only classes in engineering that I really liked were thermodynamics and heat transfer. Fluid mechanics was interesting but my professor really didn't help me understand any of it, anyway, I digress. At this point in my college career I realized that I really like programming. I especially like to program for engineering purposes. I would love to work as a programmer but I feel like most companies wouldn't hire an ME to do programming for them. All of this has led me to consider graduate school. I found a really cool program that I think sounds about right for me:

    https://me.ucsb.edu/research/computational-science-engineering

    The only problem here is that I would need some kind of funding to actually complete it, as I said, I don't have the money and my parents are working class and do not have the money to support me. In addition, I am not a US citizen - I am a EU-citizen. For personal reasons I would like to stay within the US. So finally after this wall of text I get to my questions:

    1. Are there jobs in this area? Does it seem like an area that will grow in the future outside of academia (I'd rather work in industry)?
    2. Does anyone know of a similar program at a university where I could perhaps get paid for being a research assistant or TA?

    Thank you very much for reading all of this :)!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2015 #2

    billy_joule

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    What makes you think that?
    ME (along with other engineering degrees) have to learn programming because it's becoming an increasingly large part of ME. There is a lot of programming that can only be done by someone with an ME background.
     
  4. Oct 22, 2015 #3
    Just from asking around, that's what I've heard. It seems that the jobs are at a master's level or that you simply help programmers do their thing. I've only taken two programming courses, both in MATLAB. I doubt that's enough to do any real programming work.
     
  5. Oct 22, 2015 #4
    If you're only interested in matlab programming, an engineering background with relevant experience is great. If you want to develop software in general, two courses in matlab are of little value.

    Hard to say. Check job postings for the regions you're interested in living. I'm not sure how much demand there is for a fulltime matlab programmer in industry. I think you may have better luck looking for an engineering position that may include some matlab programming. When I hear matlab, I immediately associate it with academia and research facilities.
     
  6. Oct 22, 2015 #5

    billy_joule

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    No, it's probably not. But the other courses probably won't prepare you for real work in XYZ either.

    In addition to Jaeusm's good advice, check out the final year ME research projects at your University. At mine, ~50% were solely programming, and many of the others include some programming. So there is scope to gain more specific ME programming knowledge.
     
  7. Oct 22, 2015 #6
    Cool, thanks for the advice guys. I'm not just interested in MATLAB. That's just all that I've been exposed to lately. I really like programming in general and I'm kinda beating myself up over not having realized it earlier. I taught myself HTML coding back when I was around 12-14 years old just for fun. Then I kinda left it behind until high school where I took a HTML course (this was back in 07/08), which I really liked again. But after high school I got busy with work and life and didn't really have time to pursue any type of coding so I forgot that it was something that I liked. I really enjoy doing FEA-type stuff too so I think programming is right up my alley.
     
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