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Engineering Engineering Degrees and Job Prospects

  1. Mar 15, 2017 #1
    I have been accepted to the UT Austin Cockrell School of Engineering for Mechanical Engineering in Fall 2017. I'll be starting as a sophomore because I have finished all my general education requirements. However, I am not entirely sure I want to stick to MechE. I have been considering Chemical and Electrical Engineering as alternatives.

    Some things I want from my degree:
    -diverse array of available careers
    -solid job prospects
    -opportunity to work in renewable industry
    -opportunity to research material science and nuclear fusion
    -opportunity to study modern Physics and Computer Science

    Looking at the course catalogs, the most attractive and interesting to me was Chemical Engineering but I didn't pick it because I have found that jobs for ChemEs are essentially constrained to the chemical and biotech industries. If this isn't true, please tell me.

    The Electrical Engineering program at UT would allow me to take concentrations in Nanotechnology (which includes modern Physics), Power Engineering (relevant to renewables), and software engineering (CS). Only issue is that the breadth is much less than MechE or ChemE and BLS reports that there is 0% projected growth for EEs in period 2014-2024.

    Mechanical Engineering includes courses in Material Science and Thermal-fluid systems (relevant to renewables) but it barely has any courses in modern physics or CS. However, the job prospects appear to be the best (5% projected growth according BLS).

    I am not sure how to weigh these pros and cons. If you have any additional insights let me know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I think you assessed your situation fine; for your interests, both mechanical or electrical would be fine, and while they vary by specific job, the prospects tend to be good.
  4. Mar 16, 2017 #3


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    Science Advisor

    I would defer any decisions until you've had some classes. People generally enjoy their mechanical engineer lower-division courses (e.g. statics, thermodynamics) and hate the electrical (electric circuits, signals and systems) or vice versa. I think that is a much better guide to which path you should follow than abstract musings about potential jobs.

    I wouldn't base any decision at all on BLS forecasts.
  5. Mar 18, 2017 #4
    Thats true. However, UT Austin, the college where I am going to is very restrictive when it comes to allowing students to take courses outside their major.

    I think it might help if someone could tell me which degree, Electrical or Mechanical, is more needed and more relevant to each of my interests:

    -Solar Energy
    -Rocket Propulsion
    -Nuclear Fusion/Plasma Physics
    -Electric Vehicles
    -Remanufacturing/Making the transition to circular economy
    -Artificial Intelligence
    -Biotechnology/Engineering Living Matter

    Then I can go with the one that's relevant to the majority of them.
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