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Electrical, Electronics or Mechanical engineer?

  1. Nov 27, 2010 #1
    What career should I choose? I really don't know what I would like more and this is my first semester in college so I need two more years to learn about either of these field, however, I am taking a Basic Electric Circuits course for electronics engineering right now and well... most of is confusing, I mean I get like a lot of stuff from that class, but than during that labs I really do not know what to do. I know how to draw a simple schematic, but not some intense one.

    I really didn't care much for Mechanical Engineer until like two days ago, because the thought of robotics, mechanics and stuff like that intrigued me. I also noticed that Electrical and Mechanical Engineers take the same math and science courses, which are basically my two years of schooling before I get into the actual Electrical or Mechanical stuff plus the GE. Electronics Engineer, I saw, has different physics classes and not that much math courses as Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, can someone tell me why that is?

    I would like to know like what are the differences between these three careers and what is more hands on. And what is more fun in your opinion or the better choice. I don't like math especially calculus, but if I have to I will take it to become one of these engineers. So, can someone please help me come to a decision? Thank you...
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2010 #2


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    Go with either a BS in Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. You'll have more options in your career and you'll learn more. Electronics Engineering is probably a technology type degree which isn't as comprehensive.

  4. Nov 27, 2010 #3
    Ok, so I guess we narrowed it down to Electrical and Mechanical Engineer. Looking at my previous post, what would be the better career choice for me in terms of pay, job outlook, and maybe flexibility. I would also like to know what exactly do each of these jobs do so we can narrow it down even further.
  5. Nov 28, 2010 #4
    As far as I'm aware, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers earn approximately the same; other factors such as the type of industry you work in, the company you work for and other economic factors will probably have a greater impact on how much than whether you're mechanical or electrical.
    I did a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronic) and I can say that job wise there are 4 major arenas of work (unless someone thinks up something else):
    - Power Generation and Distribution
    - Communication systems
    - Control & Systems Engineering
    - Microelectronics
  6. Nov 28, 2010 #5
    I'm finishing with a MEng in Mechanical Engineering, and I have friends in EME and EEE.

    They're all good degrees and can all expect to start on a good salary. In terms of jobs, well, the chap above nailed it for EEE. The actual job you do when you go to work in the morning will vary everywhere to some extent.

    A good mechanical engineering degree covers the following topics:
    Classical Mechanics (newtons laws essentially)
    Laws of Thermodynamics (heat transfer)
    Fluid Mechanics (bernoulli's equations)
    Structural Mechanics (Engineer's theory of Bending, various others)
    Dynamics (Vibration in Engineering, Resonance)
    Materials and Metallurgy (Corrosion, alloys, strengthening etc.)
    Systems and Control (Feedback control loops)
    Electrical Theory (The basics, atleast)

    You may also find you have some scope for choosing your own classes and taking ones that interest you more.

    Mechanical Engineering offers the opportunity to work on the tools, or in the office. Offshore in oil and gas, or in the design office creating 3D models of components. You could work in almost every sector, and most have 'mechanical engineers' of some description. The job varies from company to company - no two roles are the same. What your degree equips you with is a skill set which is transferable where ever you end up. That might not seem like a lot to you know, staring down the barrel of 4 or 5 years of education, but it will be worth it in the end. You'll get knowledge of how the world around you behaves too, but just an insight - nothing more and you'll probably end up coming out with more questions than answers.

    If you don't like calculus it's probably because you don't understand it very well - try and get your head around it because it is absolutely fundamental in all kinds of engineering. Differentiation and Integration come up time and time again in all subjects and it's important to be able to do this. Don't get me wrong, I forget it every summer and had to reteach myself the basics every September - everyone does - but all engineering courses will have solid mathematical basis.

    You're more likely to see more robotics and mechatronics in EEE - but on that note, my group project involves building a robot and I'm mechanical - again - the tasks are varied. In terms of flexibility - I'd have to say mechanical engineering. It's a broad field and as such, has more applications.
  7. Nov 28, 2010 #6
    Calculus and complex numbers are essential for Electrical engineering; you need to be really comfortable with them to be good at electrical engineering.

    The introductory courses you're doing now are probably a good indication of which degree you'll enjoy more. Interestingly, all the engineers I've spoken to chose their major based on which first year course they enjoyed most/found easiest. It appears to be an aptitude thing; some people are better at Mechanical and find Electrical hard and vice versa.
  8. Dec 4, 2010 #7
    Im a senior Mechanical Engineer and taken a few EE/CS courses as well. My interest is Controls though, which is covered in both Electrical and Mechanical engineering disciplines. As far as the things you need to know for each major...in Both you need a firm foundation in Calculus, and differential equations. In EE (and ME if you do dynamics/Controls) you will need a firm foundation in complex arithmetic as well.

    My problem with ME (and for this reason I wish I had done EE) is that it is SO broad. At my university ME and EE students all have the same math and science classes and the same humanities requirement. Then both ME and EE have to take 5 more lower division classes which are different for each major. this is where the big split comes:

    ME's have to take 7 core upper division required classes AND complete 6 ME electives.
    Wheras EECS has to take 5 classes, which are their electives.

    ME simply has too many classes. If you are interested in that kind of stuff - matierials, thermo, heat transfer, etc. go with ME. Otherwise you'll be taking a LOTT of boring classes.

    Also, at engineering career fairs, over 75% of the recruiters are typically EECS. So it seems that it is easier to get a job as an eecs stdent.
  9. Dec 11, 2010 #8
    Does anyone know the average salary of a mechanical or electrical engineer?

    + Thanks
  10. Dec 14, 2010 #9


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    DOE...but usually around $70,000 USD is the national average IIRC.

  11. Jun 30, 2012 #10
    In India, Electrical and electronics are separate degrees.
  12. Jul 17, 2012 #11
    What textbooks you recommend for college calculus and engineering calculus
  13. Jul 17, 2012 #12
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