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Engineering vs Business

  1. Dec 29, 2015 #1
    Hi I am a college freshman trying to decide between Engineering and Business. I am "naturally" good at business because my Dad has been an executive in corporate america for a long time he is also an entrepreneur, growing up I've picked up some of his tendencies so everyone always says they could see me in the business arena as an executive of a major company or CEO of my own. This sounds nice but I have wanted to be an Astronaut since I was a little kid and now I have the power to shape and mold my life to make myself the best candidate I can possibly be. I don't know what to do, if I choose to become an Astronaut then I'll major in Mech. Engineering with a double minor in Electrical Engineering and Russian Studies after that I'll get my Masters in Aerospace Engineering, then join the Air Force and hopefully become a pilot and do that for a few years then apply to become an Astronaut. Or if I choose to go business then I'll major in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I don't know which one to choose, if you were ever in my position or have any insight please comment. Thank You.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Starcrossed, this is the seventh similar thread you have started. First, we can't decide what you are going to do with your life. Second, if you don't know, asking a bunch of random people on the internet is not the best path forward. And finally, people are disinclined to respond when they know that in a few weeks time you're going to post a message "Chartered Accountancy vs Lion Taming".

    You should probably focus on the advice you already received and ask questions on that rather than starting over from the beginning. Again and again and again.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  4. Dec 29, 2015 #3
    Thank you for your helpful advice in this confusing time in my life I really appreciate it. In fact I think that I will go into Lion Taming, Thanks for the idea know all of my life problems are fixed because I asked a casual question on a forum (where people...you know...ask questions) and you took the time out of your day instead of ignoring it to tell me that I don't know what I should do with my life because that wasn't already obvious enough. #LionTaming2K16 :wink:
  5. Dec 29, 2015 #4
    Good plan, I think it's more likely to succeed in lion taming than it is to become an astronaut. So it's a more realistic choice than your OP.
  6. Dec 29, 2015 #5
  7. Dec 29, 2015 #6
    Wow what? You think becoming an astronaut is a realistic plan? It's not impossible sure, but you actually think it's realistic of you ever becoming one?
  8. Dec 29, 2015 #7


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    Which set has more members: astronauts or lion tamers?

    Actually, if you look closely at the biographies and resumes of most astronauts, you'll find that the occupation 'astronaut' is not like most other occupations, even lion taming.

    The first astronauts were drawn almost exclusively from the ranks of military or civilian test pilots, that is, individuals who were trained to react instantly in unfamiliar and dangerous situations. Later astronauts were drawn from a larger pool of applicants, which included scientists and engineers from various fields.

    It seems that if you truly want to be an astronaut, you'll need to decide on studying some field of science or engineering which might have applications in space. At the present, there are no astronaut academies, so it seems like the best approach is to study to become a scientist or engineer and then apply to an astronaut program, which entails more specialized training.

    I wouldn't get too set on Russian studies if you're really serious about becoming an astronaut, though. The Russian space program is living off of past glories from when it was the Soviet space program, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of new investment available to modernize the program or to design and develop new hardware.

    The Chinese, however, seem to have set some national goals, similar to what the U.S. did half a century ago, to not only develop their own space program with orbital missions around the earth, but also to send their own astronauts to the moon eventually.
  9. Dec 29, 2015 #8


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    In comparing business with engineering, it's always seemed to me that the majority of what you'd learn in a business degree is stuff that you can pick up by reading on your own or through trial and error. I don't mean to belittle it or suggest there is no value to the degree. But there are a lot of examples of people who've been successful entrepreneurs without a formal business education. I think one big thing that that a business education can get you is connections - internships, opportunities to see how established businesses work that you wouldn't get if you were out on your own.

    On the other side of the coin, engineering tends to be more difficult to learn on your own. You need a lab, you need to struggle with problems and it can really help to have someone mentor you through all of that. There are also examples of people who've become successful engineers on their own too, but engineering is a profession. Part of becoming a professional engineer is a requirement to have that degree. Entrepreneurs have no such requirements. On top of all of that, once you have the engineering degree, you can always do an MBA or decide to start that business on your own. The reverse is a lot harder. You won't be able to jump into a masters of engineering with a degree in business.

    As for the astronaut thing, that's great. Aim for it. I'm sure if you're smart enough to have any chance at getting in at all you already know how small the probability is of successfully becoming one. But that's no reason not to try. It's one of those goals where if you don't make the final destination you'll go through a few pretty awesome stops on the way.
  10. Dec 29, 2015 #9

    D H

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    There are a lot more lion tamers in the world than there are astronauts. Every zoo in the world that has lions needs at least one lion tamer, and probably more than that. There are only two zoos in the world that need astronauts, Star City in Russia (but they have cosmonauts, not astronauts) and Clear Lake in Texas.

    I used to work in one of those two zoos.

    In particular, I worked for the Goddard Space Flight Center and (for most of my career) I worked at the Johnson Space Center, as a contractor. In those roles, I occasionally worked with astronauts. Much more than occasionally, I have worked with people who tossed their hat in the ring to become an astronaut. Without exception, the ones who made it past the first cut were all exceptional people. The three I knew who made it to all but the final cut were beyond exceptional. And even they didn't make that final cut to become ASCANs (astronaut candidates).

    You won't make it past the first cut if you are not exceptional in multiple regards. You need to be an exceptional physical specimen of humanity who is exceptionally talented in some regard to make it past that first cut. Even if you are exceptional from a physical, mental, moral, and psychological perspective, the odds are you won't progress much beyond that first cut. You apparently need to be exceptionally lucky as well.

    Suppose you are a near-perfect specimen of humanity who is also exceptionally intelligent, exceptionally stable, and exceptionally perceptive. Even then, the odds are you won't make it through to that final cut. If the possibility of not making it through to the final cut will destroy you, they will find out -- and you won't make it.

    Two of the three people I knew who made it to all but that final cut are still leading exceptional lives. Not making that final cut did not destroy their lives. The third -- I went to her funeral. She thought that she needed more flight time to make that last cut the next time around. Unfortunately, multiple equipment failures on the jet she was flying killed her.
  11. Dec 30, 2015 #10


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    I was reading this thread, and I'm surprised that no one (except for the OP and Vanadium 50) seemed to have picked up on the fact that the whole accounting vs lion taming is a joke, directly from a Monty Python skit.

    Is no one here on PF familiar with Monty Python? :))
  12. Dec 30, 2015 #11
    Oh to the contrary, I love that specific sketch!
  13. Dec 30, 2015 #12
    I just assumed they were using the Lion Taming thing to make a point but yeah guys I have never considered Lion Taming as profession I was joking. From reading through the rest of the comments it seems like the odds are stacked against me 100 to 1...but I still like those odds. I'm going to go for it and if I don't make it I still have plenty of other things I want to do with my life that will benefit humanity in some way
  14. Dec 30, 2015 #13


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    So, I have a useful answer to this question, but before I provide it, I need you to prove to me that you aren't trolling by explaining why you have asked the exact same question about several other career fields.
  15. Dec 31, 2015 #14
    First, let's be a little more realistic about that whole "astronaut or CEO" plan. If that's truly your goal, then by all means pursue engineering with everything you have, but from the fact that you have asked similar questions many times it seems that you are greatly troubled by indecision.

    After you graduate college you'll have roughly 50 working years ahead of you. All of that time will be spent developing your skills and maturing in both your profession and in your personal character. One of the things that will be brought about by that process is the discovery of new talents and interests. Basically, it would be very unwise to set yourself to such a very specific career path when you don't even have a rough idea of what's out there yet.

    Astronauts and Fortune 500 CEOs didn't get there by deciding when they were 18 that they would be astronauts and CEOs. They got there because they greatly enjoyed what they were doing, and what they were doing happened to be conducive to being an astronaut or running a business. And if you can't even get your heart fully set on studying engineering in college, I do not think that being a spaceman is for you.

    Basically, where you might like to be in 20 years isn't the question you should be troubling yourself with if you can't even decide where you'd like to be next semester.

    So instead of agonizing over the decision of which career objective you'd like to pursue (which will change at some point in the next few years), and worrying about what other people have said they could see you doing or want to see you do (do they have to live your life?), I think you should take an honest inventory of what you actually like doing in the here and now, because if you don't actually like what you're doing enough to care about it you're never going to be successful at it. If your degree doesn't make you more skilled at something you genuinely want to be better at, then all you've done is wasted 4 years and $80,000.

    Since I assume you're currently on interim break for the winter, I think you should take some time to develop your own interests and maybe think about what you actually like doing, and then make your academic plans accordingly.
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