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Deciding between Electrical and Mechanical

  1. Apr 19, 2015 #1
    First off, thank you for spending your time to read this and respond. I'm quite aware that there have been other posts on this and I've read through nearly all of them, but I'm looking for a bit more personal advice.I started typing out a bit about myself and my experience thus far with college, including how I get into Engineering, but I figured a lot of you might not want to read all of that. Therefore, I put it in a spoiler for you to read at your own discretion.

    So I'm currently a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering student, although I'm technically in my 1st year of the program as I did all GE's my first year and declared ME my 2nd year. I went into college wanting to do Computer Science, but realized during orientation that I couldn't handle the intensive programming required. I love computers, I love problem solving and creating things, but I'm definitely not the person who could sit behind a computer in an office setting the rest of my life. I need to get outside and see new things.

    So I decided on ME after talking to a few advisers, as they pretty much explained to me that it was the jack-of-all trades of the engineering disciplines and seemed right for me. I went right into it without doing huge amounts of research (ie. going to job fairs and talking to people in the field) and sorta just went off the idea that I could land a job in any field I found in interest in later in my schooling/career.

    Recently I've been talking to a few of my Electrical Engineering buddies and the classes they get to take (computer architecture, circuits, basic programming) really interest me.

    I've considered that I could always just get my degree in ME and then go back later and get it in EE as well. Also, I've considered the fact that I could always teach myself programming/circuits in my spare time and turn it into a bit of a hobby.

    Here are my PROs and CONs of each field as I see it:

    Mechanical Engineering
    • It is a jack-of-all trades. AKA I can potentially get into any field/specialization I want to (I think) in the future.
    • I genuinely enjoy working in AutoCAD and SolidWorks. In fact, in my graphics class I had one of the best and hardest-worked-on finals in SolidWorks (A fully functional rotary engine).
    • I went ME in the first place as everyone told me more jobs were open for them.
    • I have a natural curiosity for how things work (ie. since I've been a kid, I would take things apart and figure out how the mechanics of it work).
    • I do enjoy the physics of how things work.
    • I really enjoy finding how processes can be made more efficient.
    • Everyday mechanics of things such as ceiling fans, lawn mowers, etc interest me.
    • I don't have the natural affinity for automotive that my peers seem to have. (I grew up with a dad as a mechanic. Cars are cars to me; although how they work is interesting)
    • It seems like ALOT of people are getting into ME.
    • Using programs such a MATLAB absolutely bore me to death (might be my professor).
    • I'm not genuinely excited/interested in taking the shop classes I will need to. That may change once I get in them.
    Electrical Engineering
    • I'm very much so interested in electronics. I built my own PC when I was 14 and loved the whole learning process.
    • I grew up with computers, so they are something that have always been very interesting to me.
    • Just reading through the coursework for EE, I tend to be more interested in the upper division classes I will get to take.
    • I've always looked at mother/circuit boards and been absolutely engaged in how they work.
    • I really want to pickup programming. I constantly have ideas for simple windows programs to make life easier, or apps that could be very useful/successful. Also, the idea of programming my own devices seems interesting.
    • I feel like working with electronics in general seems like a very interesting job.
    • I have a natural affinity for electronics, opposed to my lack of affinity for automotive.
    • I'm already very knowledgeable about computers and in general electronic processes.
    • I'd love to have the knowledge to design my own electronics.
    • I really don't know how open the job market is for EEs.
    • I don't like the idea of being only an expert at electronics.
    • In my perfect world I would do Mechanical with and emphasis in Electrical. Which is totally a possibility, but I also have had dreams of being my own boss some day. I wanted to minor in Business instead.
    • I don't know how "hands on" EE really is. Will I end up sitting at a desk coding for a circuit board all day? I could handle this if my jobs also included going out into the field to tinker.
    • Where can I progress to with EE?

    All and all, I'd just love some of your guys' opinion based off what I've written. I don't have anyone to guide me along and I want to make the best decision to have a happy future.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2015 #2
    Do you have any opportunities to study computer engineering? That seems like it would be a good option for you. Additionally, there's a, I think new, field called mechatronics. The Wikipedia definition:
    I'm not sure what the job market looks like with these degrees (graduate, in this case, if you can find a suitable graduate program and if you plan on going to grad school), so you may want to look into it. And of course, there's always the option of a masters in EE or CE.
  4. Apr 20, 2015 #3


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    EE is pretty much just as broad as ME.
    You can end up doing high end research, programing behind a desk all day, building electric motors, working on aircraft controls, designing web apps, building computers, etc.
    I'm an EE and for the past few months I've been designing motor control systems, then testing it on the motors in our lab. Lately most of my time has been in the lab, very hands on.

    My advice, talk to the seniors at your school, and other schools, about their senior projects. Look at projects on the web. If your goal is to be happy in your job and you can't decide, jsut expsoe yourself to a bunch of projects, and go with the major that seems the coolest.

    note: EEs use matlab a lot, possibly more than MEs
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