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Electrical Engineering vs Mechanical (again)

  1. May 14, 2012 #1
    I know there are a ton of these posts, but I still need help as I have about one month to decide my degree ( I'm portuguese and I'm in the 12th grade) ... My favourite subjects are by far maths and physics (probably physics) and I would say that I'm very good at them. The problem is that my knowledge is purely theoretical, I've never done a project in my life! I also think I lack some passion... in my free time, instead of learning more about engines, cirtuits, robots or programming I would rather play videogames, workout or hangout with my friends. But I might love those things if I learn more about them in college and I do like technology and studying physics from time to time.
    It may seem that a degree in pure maths or physics would be the best thing for me, but I seek to apply these subjects in creating something...So, I'm debating whether Mechanical engineering or Electrical is the one I enjoy the most ( I already eliminated all the others). I'm not sure, but I think that the part of physics I prefer to study is mechanics and it is the part where I have a more intuitive thinking (but of course circuits and electricity is much more "abstract"). However, I don't know if I prefer engines, cars and moving parts to technology and computers as a whole (I might prefer the last, eventhough I never learnt how to programme on my own :P)
    So, what can you tell me?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2012 #2
  4. May 14, 2012 #3
    As you will see in previous posts, it solely depends on your preferences. As a mechanical and aeronautical engineer, I can tell you some things from my own experience that may help you get a better picture.

    First of all, both choices are probably equally heavy in math and physics. What you learn exactly depends on which courses you take. From my viewpoint, mechanical engineering gives you more choices in where you can be employed later (depending of course on the market in your country).

    As a mechanical engineer you can work in most heavy industries, design products, develop software (if you go along this path), specialize in control, become a manager or production line designer, work in biomechanics and biomedicine, do aerodynamics, design cars, robots etc.

    As an electrical engineer you can develop software, robots, study computer architecture (how to build boards, GPUs, CPUs etc), be employed in heavy industry (many factories need almost as many electrical engineers as they do mechanical engineers). You can also be employed in designing networks, or products that need electromagnetic simulations, such as cellphones, antennas, or medical imaging devices. Becoming a manager is, of course, always possible, given the proper MSc choices.

    The separating lines can get thin after a while, because the underlying mathematics are pretty much the same in both disciplines. As an example, in my current work I am doing electromagnetic simulations in human tissue, even though I am a mechanical engineer. Starting September, I will be working in software development and applied mathematics, along with electrical and chemical engineers.

    Some things are usually discipline specific though, so for instance you will very rarely find a mechanical engineer designing networks, or an electrical engineer doing aerodynamics.

    Both disciplines have great prospects and are very fun to study. Just choose whichever you think you will enjoy the most. Unless you want to do something very discipline specific in the future, chances are that you will get the chance to do it no matter which you study. It's always best if you choose the one that has the most relevant courses in its curriculum though :smile:
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