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Could use guidance -- seeking a BA in Mechanical Engineering

  1. Sep 28, 2015 #1
    Hello all,

    So,I am seriously seeking a BA in Mechanical Engineering. I still have 1 year of school,and a few extra since I will be working to save up for college.

    I'm fairly proffecient in trigonometry and basic Algebra. And am currently studying basic Physics.

    But I know I need to know basic Calculas. So how's a good way to go about it? Any good material that's understandable I can look for?

    Also,though I am "ok" at tech stuff,I am faaaaarrrr from proffecient with computers,is that gonna come back to bite,or will they teach me that in college?

    Any other skills I should be aware of that is expected of me?

    I'm just starting off,so some general guidance is definitely appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2015 #2


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    The undergraduate engineering curriculum will include all necessary math and science classes you'll need for your degree (including calculus).

    In the US, it takes about 120 credits to earn an engineering degree. Whichever institution you decide to attend, that school should have a catalog or website which details the curriculum and the courses you'll be expected to complete before you can be awarded a degree.
  4. Sep 28, 2015 #3
    So to clarify, the undergraduate program should actually teach calculus? And shouldn't be a pre-requisite to actually get into the program?

    I don't mean to sound slack-ish,I will still go as far in my mathematics as I can,but knowing they'll teach it and not be a pre-requisite would be a monkey off my back,sorta speak.

    Thanks again.
  5. Sep 28, 2015 #4


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    Check the university entry requirements on their website.
    In my country, calculus at high school is one of the prerequisites for a BE.
  6. Sep 28, 2015 #5


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    When I went to engineering school waaaay back in the Dark Ages, I had to take three semesters of calculus, one semester of ordinary differential equations, one semester of numerical analysis/programming, one semester of probability/statistics, and a few weeks of partial differential equations. All of these courses were spread out over approximately three years or so. This was back in the day when no one owned a personal computer and your telephone was hung on the wall and took quarters.

    In order to ease my transition from high school to college, I did take calculus, chemistry, and physics in HS before entering college. My particular school required its students to take the same curriculum and did not offer credit for any advanced placement classes taken in HS. I did not mind having to repeat these classes, since I had already been introduced to the material, so I didn't need to study as hard as my classmates who had not prepared while in HS. There was plenty of new material which was offered in subsequent courses, but having some of the burden lifted that first semester made the difference.

    As mentioned before, check the school you want to attend and the curriculum you want to take to clarify what is required of entering students.
  7. Sep 29, 2015 #6
    I was going to comment on how this advice from the dark ages is undoubtedly still good advice. But then I thought about this:

    You are planning on several years off before beginning college? This is much more important than when you first study calculus.

    Time off can be good (most people grow up quite a bit in those years, making you a better student) and it can be bad (as most people tend to forget a lot of what they have learned up to then). You should figure out a way to keep up study habits and practice your math during the off years. Math particularly, I believe, is a use-it-or-lose-it subject. Maybe you can take night classes at a local community college while working? I know that is very difficult but even taking one class at a time can help keep your mind in study mode.
    I get the impression that most young people likely to be interested in engineering school have already a lot of skill with the computers. You should try to pick up these skills as best you can. AFAIK, there aren't really classes in computers, it is just something you pick up to help with your work in the classes you take.

    Cheap advice from another denizen of the dark ages...
  8. Sep 29, 2015 #7


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    Well, unlike a lot of kids today, I didn't have the luxury of taking "gap year(s)" and whatnot.

    I wanted to get through with school, and the college I chose was an all-in, start-to-finish, four-year degree, no ifs, ands, or buts. Being an extremely small school, all the students got to know each other fairly well, but there were only so many students who could be enrolled at any one time, since we all lived on campus, even the students whose homes happened to be within commuting distance of the school.

    If you wanted to take a year off and try to re-enter school, that meant that someone from one of the incoming classes would be denied a slot, so the school was extremely reluctant to allow such a policy. It meant that while you were out of school, your knowledge and skills got rusty, so that jumping back into the program became much more difficult than if you remained in school.
  9. Sep 29, 2015 #8
    Thanks for the advice gentleman.

    The wording of the college program on their sight is aggravatingly difficult to understand.

    From what I believe I have gathered I will need a C or better in Math 102(College Algebra 3) and Math 104 (Calculus I) or a CLM score of 55+,to get into the program. Not having access to their accuplacer test,I have no idea how well I would score.

    Yea,I'm taking roughly 3 years off to focus on a full time job so I can actually fund my education and not have a pile of debt when I'm finished.

    gmax137,I agree fully. Math is definitely a use it or lose it skill.

    2 years ago I was wizzing through trigonometry before the year was through,but ever since then I've been going back through all the things I learned up to that point just to make sure I'm proffecient at it.

    I planned on aquiring text-books and other Mathematical material to study through the years,and try to learn as well as keep that knowledge that way up until it's ready to be used in college.

    Any recommendations on basic material you guys find easy to understand for somebody just entering?

    Thanks again,
  10. Sep 30, 2015 #9


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    How much money do you make now??

    The reason I bring it up is lets say you have $10,000 a year after your living/entertainment expenses. That will allow you to save $30,000 for college. Lets assume that is the exact amount you need. You now enter the workforce at age 25. You go to college being three years older than your peers, therefore very slightly disconnected.

    or, you enter college at age 18 and leave when you are 22 with lets say $35,000 in debt. You are the same age as your peers therefore more likely to hang out with them. for ME most likely you will get an extra $10,000 at a minimum over what you are currently making (even that is on the small side). Maintaining the same exact standard of living as you would in scenario 1 you are saving $20,000 a year with $35,000 in debt. You can pay that off in 1.5 years. You are then debt free at age 23.5 with 2 years of engineering experience and hopefully on your way to your first promotion.

    I'm not saying you NEED to go to college right away. For you it might be the right choice to save money. But missing out on income and potential life enjoyment only because you don't want to accrue debt is not a decision I would make.
  11. Sep 30, 2015 #10
    Well, I currently live at home still. I have a position lined up (still praying hard as its not set in stone,but my chances are fairly strong) that will net me $30,000+ a year.

    The college I'm looking at has a 2 year program in Engineering that,upon completion,Is set up to transfer to a larger college for the final 2 years of the Bachelors degree.(both very fine universities).

    The first one costs $15,000 a year,the second,$25,000.

    At roughly $30,000 a year for three years I should have around $90,000+ by time I'm ready to start college.

    First College:$15,000×2=$30,000
    Second College:$25,000×2=$50,000

    Sum: roughly $80,000 in education.

    So that 90k had aught to be able cover that nicely.

    Unless my math is off? Or perhaps I'm missing something? In which case I'd be legitimately intrigued to hear.

  12. Sep 30, 2015 #11


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    is that $30,000 after all expenses??

    even then you're missing the point. The point is the increase in salary after your degree in many cases will make it more beneficial to get your degree right away.
  13. Sep 30, 2015 #12
    Yes,that's after all expenses paid. I might even be selling myself a bit short there.

    So,in theory,wouldn't I be in the same position at the same time(that is,a debt-free mechanical engineer with his future ahead of him)? Only with my rout,I now have 3+ years of workplace experience at a respected bussiness. (At this point I should mention,that,despite my age, I already have 2 years of experience in management. Including training of new-hires and supervision at my current job).
  14. Sep 30, 2015 #13


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    That depends on what your job is...

    Like i said, assuming you get a pay bump you will pay off the debt faster, or have a higher standard of living.

    IF you are working as a first shift manager at a restaurant, having 3 years of experience is much different from 3 years experience as an ENGINEER. IF you think it's practical experience then by all means go for it.
  15. Sep 30, 2015 #14
    Fair point. I appreciate the food-for-thought.

    Regardless of which rout I go,it's definitely another option,and more options never hurt.

  16. Sep 30, 2015 #15


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    Thats a great way to look at advice!
    never just take someone's advice and follow it blindly
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