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Engineering Deciding to switch to mechanical engineering?

  1. Oct 17, 2016 #1
    Hello all,

    First off i have no experience nor knowledge in engineering whatsoever but have always had a knack for things of its nature. Currently Im a chef of over 10 years lol

    I would like to know what I would be getting into if I do persue this career path, considering most of my family on my fathers side have been engineers?

    I know a fair amount of math is involved but how much? Considering im not sure if im good or not at it since I didnt pay attention my in school.

    If anyone has any information that would some awesomely great help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF. :smile:

    What math courses did you take in high school? Did you get through geometry, trig and pre-calculus? Are you considering going to a 2-year community college and then finishing the degree out at university, or are you going straight to a 4-year university? Will you be working part time during school, or can you afford to take time off and not work during school?
  4. Oct 17, 2016 #3
    Didnt get through pre-calc too well, 4years hopefully and would be working on the side as well but wouldnt mind knowing what else to expect?
  5. Oct 17, 2016 #4


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    What was your exposure to your family engineers; and, did they talk much about their work?
  6. Oct 18, 2016 #5
    Didnt talk much about it and wasnt really exposed to engineering
  7. Oct 18, 2016 #6


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    It would appear that you did not have much interest in or curiosity about Engineering then, what has now increased your interest in that profession.
  8. Oct 18, 2016 #7
    I'd sign up for an ALEKS or Coursera online course in Pre-Calc and take it from there. If you can master this material with a couple hundred hours of effort, you are likely ready to pursue an engineering degree. If you crash and burn, you need to go backward to an earlier math course (Algebra 1, Geometry, or Algebra 2) and start there. Depending on where you are really starting in math, it may or may not be worth the effort to you.
  9. Oct 18, 2016 #8

    (a) It's not a good sign that you have several engineers in the family, yet have not discussed a career in engineering with them. You need to ask yourself, "Why not?"

    (b) Here's a basic indicator of whether engineering is right for you. Engineers are interested in how things are made and how things work. In particular, they like to take things apart to see what's inside. What about you?

    As a chef (unless you're a pastry chef, I suppose), you probably have a good set of knives. Do you know the grade of steel the blades are fabricated from? Forged or stamped? Rockwell C hardness? Full tang or partial tang? What material are the handles fabricated from? How are they attached to the blades? Do you even care about the answers to these questions? Do you sharpen your own knives?

    When an appliance (such as a mixer) breaks, do you take it apart to see what broke? Do you try to fix it? If it's not repairable, do you keep some parts (such as screws) in a junk bin? Or do you simply chuck it?
  10. Oct 19, 2016 #9
    I was never in a good relationship with any part of family so the questions i've wanted to ask never came out.

    In terms of the passion and interest, i love to know how things work, how to fix them, certain times i've broken things just to find out what was inside them, calculators, tvs, camcorders etc.

    As a chef learning more about how your knife was designed, gives you the further knowledge on the application and how far you can push it before it snaps eg. A carving knife and a filleting knife.

    I have recently wanted to go into mechanical engineering because an offer has been presented to me as well as it has re-sparked my interest in this field, learn how things work/how its made and how far it can be pushed i love.
  11. Oct 19, 2016 #10


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    Those are the kind of responses we are looking for and indicate the possibility that you can be a good candidate for engineering. At the same time, getting the education required for a n engineering degree will be a challenging and prolonged process particularly if you have to do so while still working at a full time job and taking night courses. But it can result in a very happy and successful career.
    When I stared with the last company I worked for there was a young draftsman that decided he wanted to become a mechanical engineer, so he started taking night courses at a local university and in a few years received his degree, to make a long story short from that point he steadily progressed up the ladder to the point that when I retired as the manager of the companies principle product engineering group, he inherited that position and went on to be offered the engineering department manager position.
    As a word of wisdom, he tried that position and found it did not fit his engineering personality and at his request was reassigned a leading engineering position in the new product engineering group where he very happily continues to this day.
  12. Oct 20, 2016 #11
    Well, at least you pass the basic gnurd 101 test for an engineer.

    It makes a big difference if you already have an "angel" supporting your transition to a new career, since you're an outlier. I've also known several instances such as the one reported above by JBA, in which the transition worked out well. One word of caution though: You need a solid Plan B, in the event your angel disappears, for whatever reason. I've come across those instances as well.

    Have you identified your area of interest in mechanical engineering? It would be great if you could leverage your experience as a chef; e.g., design of equipment or facilities for food preparation.

    You need to assess the amount of remedial course work you need. Perhaps you should take some practice college entrance exams just to get a baseline. Most engineering freshman will head into calculus. The amount of math you need in mechanical engineering will depend on your concentration. If you already have a notion of your planned concentration, look up the math requirements in a course catalog.
  13. Oct 20, 2016 #12
    Thanks so more for the responses, I would like to move into the areas of airconditioning and refridgeration.

    I understand it will be a long road in terms of study, I mean granted just recently I tried to pick up a practice math book and was instantly stumped.

    I would like to head into engineering but mainly worried about the math department.
  14. Oct 21, 2016 #13
    Well, at least those areas will require less demanding math than, say, control systems.
  15. Oct 21, 2016 #14


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    What is your main interest in that field as balanced between the thermodynamics and the applications. If you are truly interested in the thermodynamics of refrigeration then I suggest you seek out some text(s) or online information regarding that area. Calculus courses were a struggle; and, the least applied area of mathematics throughout my engineering career (geometry and trigonometry were much more prevalent). On the other hand, the thermodynamics course particularly the section regarding refrigeration type cycles just about did me in.
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