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Can somebody help me decide which degree will be a better fit for me?

  1. Sep 9, 2012 #1
    Ok so i can't decide between civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and aerospace engineering. what things about you and what interests you helps to figure out which is the best fit for what you want? also a little bit of info on each one would be helpful as well ty.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2012 #2


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    You don't mention where you are in your education, so I will assume you're just starting college.

    The first two-or-so years for all three of those fields are all but identical, so you don't have to decide right away.

    Join engineering clubs - the activities they do will give you an idea of what sort of engineering you like.

    Talk to professors - they will give you good advice (hopefully :smile:).

    Ask your career center how to do job shadowing. Observing working engineers can give you insight, too.
  4. Sep 9, 2012 #3
    sorry bout that, yeah im planning on starting back to school either this spring or next fall, depending on if i can get a job in town or if my wife decides she can pay the bills by herself. but until then i'm trying to decide which degree would fit me best.
  5. Sep 9, 2012 #4
    The difference between the fields you can find through a quick Google search. I would suggest just choosing one of them (assuming that 1st year civil/mech/aero programs are similar, which they will be 99% of the time). One thing that you might want to consider is if your school has one of these programs that are very prestigious, it might be harder to switch over into it after 1st year so maybe start in that one. During 1st year university you will most likely be given a couple lectures on engineering in general and you might take an Introduction to Engineering course, which will help you decide further. Your profs in other classes will also mention different "streams" of engineering throughout their classes, ie. this is an example that may be most applicable to civil engineering (and continue on the example). You'll meet other students that chose these streams which you can discuss why they chose their stream. You can also go talk to profs and upper year students.

    So basically, if you're not 100% sure now, it's not a big deal as your opinion will be a lot less ignorant after 1st year studies. But you can always begin basic research now, on Google, like I said.
  6. Sep 9, 2012 #5
    It is true that the first year of any engineering discipline is identical, so you have 2 semesters to decide what you like. Taking classes alone will not be helpful because they will be foundational providing very little insight into specific fields. To learn more about the technicalities of each field you should talk to professors or professionals on the job. It may also be helpful to read technical papers or visit the professional societies website (for aeronautical this is the AIAA). Don't forget to take a look at the 4 year curriculum for each major to see what classes you will be taking!

    Coming from a small university, I can tell you that a BS in aero will be the most demanding. This primarily because this field requires the most amount of courses and a good fraction of the material taught is abstract. For instance, at my undergrad university aeronautical engineering students only had the opportunity to take 4 electives for their entire undergrad career (assuming 15 credit/semester taken). You emphasis in aeronautical engineer will be either on fluid mechanics, structural mechanics for aircraft (light structures), or propulsion systems.

    Mechanical engineering is very closely related to aerospace engineering. You will share about 75% of the foundational knowledge. The main difference between aeros and mechis is that a mechanical engineering degree is very broad and tends to focus on applied material, while aero is specific to...aircraft! Consequentially aeronautical engineers will have more required classes, as stated before, such as aerodynamics and gas dynamics, than a mechanical engineer. This major is not as demanding as aero, but still a more difficult option. Most mechanical engineers can work on aerospace related jobs.

    I am not a civil engineer, but from the civil engineers I know here is some information I've gathered. Civil engineering by itself is a relatively "easy" major because requires the fewest upper level classes. However, many civil engineers will concentrate in an area, such as concrete design, will increase the amount of required classes you will need to take. Civil engineering is a very applied program, but can also be abstract if you are going to go into a field fracture mechanics.

    In order of job prospects after graduation:
  7. Sep 10, 2012 #6
    I had similar questions many moons ago. At the "engineering orientation" I was told "if you don't know what field you want to enter, then enter Mechanical Engineering because it is the most broadly-based of all engineering fields." Just so. And it's true, the first 2 years of all the differerent curricula are almost identical...there's time to explore and change.

    I'd suggest also to surf through the online job sites and read descriptions of various job postings. That would give a good idea of what the job content is.
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