Could really use some advice for last semester of undergrad

  • Thread starter saber1357
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  • #1
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Hello! I will soon be starting my final semester in my undergrad career, studying Aerospace Engineering with a focus on air-breathing propulsion. I would highly like to pursue a career in the propulsion field (as well as find a place that will pay for masters), so I'm looking to make myself as marketable as possible with an undergrad degree.

Last semester I acquired a research project position with a graduate professor. Unfortunately, due to my heavy coarse load, I was unable to contribute a significant amount to the project. This upcoming semester, I only need 3 classes to complete my degree, I have a choice between having a relatively small coarse load and being able to significantly contribute to the project, or filling my schedule with extra classes to achieve a minor in CAD.

In your opinion, which choice do you believe is the better way to go and will look better for an employer?

Thank you very much for any input!!
-Vlad
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Tricky

Recruiters will firstly look at your degree class (or GPA or whatever it's called in your country).
Especially at intro level jobs this is often an absolute barrier, they will simply throw away all applicants below some level just to reduce the number.

But once you actually get an interview the research will be more usefull, showing that you have an interest in the subject and give you something to talk about - rather than purely mechanical classes like CAD.
As you get more experience in work your degree class/GPA become more and more irrelevent, as does a lot of the stuff you learned in classes.

My single sentence advise would be - make sure you have sufficent classes to get a good class/GPA then do research.
Don't bother taking lots of intro level CAD/Programming minors just because employers might want them - they wont, even if they use the same CAD system/programming language that you used they will assume you can learn it or be trained on the job.
 
  • #3
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I do believe my GPA is pretty competitive, but even though a minor sticks on your diploma for good, in your opinion it's still better to have actual research experience getting out of undergrad? What about if the research project doesn't have much to do with one's projected career path? For example my research project involves airflow over an aircraft body, but I would like to pursue a career in turbofan propulsion.

Thanks again for the useful response!
 
  • #4
I do believe my GPA is pretty competitive,
Good - if you are hiring at a big company (easiest place to start with no experience) then HR will filter out all the resumes with drool on them or written in crayon.
Sometimes this means they reject a genius that happened to do badly in exams but thats life.

What about if the research project doesn't have much to do with one's projected career path? For example my research project involves airflow over an aircraft body, but I would like to pursue a career in turbofan propulsion.
Then when you get an interview I want to talk to somebody that loves the subject, that is interested in it and will be useful and interesting to work with.
I don't care (in fact will be slightly depressed) that you did an intro Java course because it was an easy 'A'.
I do care that you can talk about why you did an airflow project, what were the challenges, how you solved them, what you learned etc. All that is going to be exactly the same in the turbofan project - or the project in 20years on a technology we haven't dreamed of yet.
 
  • #5
AlephZero
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What about if the research project doesn't have much to do with one's projected career path? For example my research project involves airflow over an aircraft body, but I would like to pursue a career in turbofan propulsion.

That is no problem at all. If you want to pursue a career in turbofan propulsion, then apply to companies that make turbofans [DOH!] You will soon discover that those companies are also interested in the aerodynamic loading on their engine nacelles, the interaction between the aircraft aerodynamics and the flow in the engine intakes, etc.

Ive interviewed people applying to work on aircraft propulsion who have done projects on all manner of subjects which I knew nothing about before the interview. One that springs to mind was a guy who was researching into the effect of alcohol on the dynamics of human reflex actions. No I'm not making that up. The long term objective was better early diagnosis of things like Parkinson's disease. And several years on, we haven't had any regrets about hiring him.

It's not hard to identify the people who understood what they were doing, and can explain it to a scientifically literate interviewer who isn't an expert in that particular specialism. They are the candidates that get hired, so that's the skill you should work on.
 
  • #6
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Incredible advice, thank you very much NobodySpecial and AlephZero, I will pursue the research project. Hopefully I encounters employers that share likewise ideas :)
 

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