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Engineering and military ?

  1. Dec 22, 2009 #1
    I like both civil and mechanical engineer. But I don't like working a lot indoors. I would rather work indoors and outdoors once I get my degree.

    If I wanted to join the military with an engineering degree, what would be the best major that could get me to work during military operations ?

    You might ask me why should I choose joining the military. Well, I am very strong in Maths and Physic. These subjects have been self taught to me with the help of some teachers. Plus, I do not want to work only indoor.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2009 #2
    If you got a job as a specialist in the military, you probably will be working off the field (inside). Why don't you want to work indoors? Do you just prefer solving math/physics equations outside? If so, the military is probably not a wise choice. You can't just quit the military, you will have little freedom and flexibility. If you disagree with something in the military, too bad.

    You might look for a flexible job that will allow you to sit outside while you work. Without any further elaboration about why you want to work outside and what you want to work on I can't help you. Besides, an engineer who wants to work on weapons doesn't join the military, he applies to a company like Boeing that has a contract with the military. A friend of mine's little brother works on missile tech and is not in the military.

    If you are developing technology you probably won't be outside much unless you have a special deal..as a matter of fact, there are not many good jobs that are done outside..
  4. Dec 22, 2009 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Let's not derail this thread.

    The US (at least) military has a career path for engineers, and indeed the US Navy's Civil Engineering Corps and the US Army Corps of Engineers are world renowned. However, even these engineers don't work exclusively outdoors. Your assignments would be driven by the needs of the service.
  5. Dec 22, 2009 #4
    Joining the military is a huge decision and not one that should be made because of you would rather work outside. Take up an outdoor hobby.
  6. Dec 23, 2009 #5
    Thank you for the reply. I thought about joining the military because I think that being in your 20s, your fitness level is at its highest and I didn't want it to go to waste.

    I am only 17 right now and I am almost done High School. And because I have a pretty good skills in understanding mathematics/sciences, I am trying to find a way or a career that could mix the "problem solving" and the physical fitness.
  7. Dec 23, 2009 #6
    Become an engineer then play on your companies softball team.
  8. Dec 23, 2009 #7
    I have it on good authority that to overcome the effects of the one pound per year you will gain over the next 30 years you need to work out (cardio and weights) 5 to 30 hours/week.

    As a baseline, how long does it take you to run up several flights of stairs?
    If you weigh 150# and are able to go 70' vertically in 18 seconds you have put out just over 1 hp over this interval.

    You can probably do this, but putting out 2 hp might prove challenging.
  9. Dec 23, 2009 #8


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    ......kineseology? :biggrin:
  10. Dec 23, 2009 #9


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    You need to put a whole lot more thought into what exactly it is you want out of a career in the miltiary because you aren't describing anything relevant to the decision.

    First and foremost, it is important to recognize that the purpose of the military is to wage war. So first and foremost, you'll need to think about and realize that having to kill people or order people into situations where they might be killed is a real possibility. One of my roommates at the Naval Academy quit a few weeks into boot camp because he simply hadn't considered those realities before joining.

    Next, what exactly do you want to do? Recognize that the vast majority of military jobs are highly specialized and geared toward waging war. For more than 90% of officers, the choice of major is completely irrelevant to what you will do in the military. Want to sudy astrophysics and lead a platoon of Marines? You can do that. Study art history and fly fighter jets? You can do that too. If you have a specific engineering task you want to do - designing/building bridges, designing airplanes, you're probably better off as a contractor for a company that services the military. Even the Army Corps of Engineers is essentially a government run construction company staffed 98% by civilians. One of the biggest homegrown engineering branches is the nuclear power branch of the Navy. Better like subs and hate the sun!

    So if you want to join the military to do engineering outside, that's probably the wrong choice. If you want to drive tanks or ships, fly fighter jets or roll around in the mud with Marines, the military might just be for you.

    And for the love of God, unless you plan on using the GI bill to pay for college, do not enlist and do not trust your recruiter! Military recruiters are the worst kind of used car salesmen. Make up your mind by talking to people who have been in the military and know what it is like - and plan ahead. Get accepted to an academy (may be too late), ROTC scholarship, etc. and know exactly what you want to do with it before you do it.
  11. Dec 23, 2009 #10


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    If you want to take advantage of your physical fitness, maybe some form of experimental physics? In an undergrad lab, I always had to move the photomultiplier tubes around, my lab partner could never do it. That's probably pretty light as things go, but in some fields of biology, one needs scuba diving skills and good physical fitness.
  12. Dec 23, 2009 #11
    Yes, more or less what Russ wrote.

    With a few exceptions (Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers, Chaplains . . .) the military could care less about your educational background. Officers tend to be generalists, so if that is what you want to do, get a degree in whatever you like. The commanding officer of an engineering battalion could have a degree in Music.

    Are there jobs in the uniformed services that specifically require an engineering degree? I do not know. You want to call up the Army Corps of Engineers or one of the other branches and find out whether they have those types of jobs specifically reserved for uniformed members, or if they only hire civilians.

    If you really do not care what you do in the military, you can join, become an officer, and spend six years learning to be a good leader (and a good follower) and, most importantly, how to work on a team. Then you can resume your civilian career with a lot of experience that is going to help you in whatever field you decide to pursue (including working for the military as a civilian engineer).
  13. Dec 23, 2009 #12

    D H

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    The Navy tends to like engineers. That said, even the Navy might well send a college grad with a mechanical engineering degree to get training to be the Judge Advocate's assistant.

    Russ nailed it. The military is about waging war/making the enemy think twice (think many times) about the wisdom to wage war. The latter is preferred, but the former is sometimes needed to achieve the latter. If that doesn't sit with your psyche you should consider something else.

    The key advantages of getting the military to pay for your college degree are that someone else paid for your college degree and that you have a guaranteed job for five years. The disadvantage is that you have guaranteed job for five years, even if you find you do not like it. Quit early and you will quickly find that someone else has *not* paid for your college education.
  14. Dec 24, 2009 #13


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    If you're American, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers might be up your alley. They employ civilians too, so it's not necessary to enlist.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
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