I’m trying to decide between 2 engineering careers. Any help?

In summary: That's definitely a good reason to consider a career in Mechatronics, as you would be able to stay in your home state and still pursue your education.
  • #1
doglover9754
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So I am a high school freshman student this school year. We have this career guidance presentation every once in a while by our counselors. I wanted to be an engineer but I realized something. I don’t know which engineer I’d want to pursue.

I’ve limited it down to two. Mechatronics or Mechanical? I honestly have no idea what each of them specifically does. Also, I’d like to stay in Hawaii for college. So I don’t have to worry my parents with costs (and I don’t want to totally depend on scholarships to cover EVERYTHING), I won’t get home sick, and I won’t have to worry too much about choosing a specific college throughout the mainland.

That kind of limits my engineering choices but I’d like to ask for what an mechatronics engineer and a mechanical engineer does. I’ve tried searching it up. I get even more confused. I’d like to compare the two careers to try to make up my mind so I know what courses I need to take. Also if I need to look into other colleges for this. It would help to know that I have a college and career plan for now that may change throughout my high school years.

I appreciate any answers or advice to my question!
 
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  • #2
My two cents:
Keep in mind that the programs at a given University may blur the boundaries between the basic specialties. That being said, Mechatronics would include more control theory, EE, computer engineering, and artificial intelligence. I think that there is a great growth potential in it that will go in many directions.

PS. You have years to make such a specific decision. In fact, people often drift into different specialties on the job after college.
 
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  • #3
doglover9754 said:
I’ve limited it down to two. Mechatronics or Mechanical? I honestly have no idea what each of them specifically does.
Looks like the University of Hawai'i has an ME program, but no explicit Mechatronics program:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechatronics

https://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/engineering/

upload_2018-10-18_9-36-53.png


Maybe send an e-mail to their contact shown on that page to ask if Mechatronics may be offered as a degree in the near future. If not, you may be able to add more electronics type classes into your electives list to help you start to specialize in the field. I agree with @FactChecker that it is likely to grow faster than generic ME in the future. And I also agree that you have a couple years before you have to make final choices on which colleges to apply to.

Have fun! :smile:
 

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  • #4
I might just add that at this point you're not choosing a career per se. You're making a choice on your educational path. That will inevitably influence your career options, but it's important to remember that your education and career are not necessarily one and the same.

You could for example find a mechanical engineering program that allows you enough flexibility to take courses in electronics, control theory, etc. such that even though you don't technically have a diploma that says "mechatronics engineering" you're equally qualified as those graduates for entry level positions in that sector.

In my experience, when it comes to education, it's better to start general and then work into the specific as you need to, i.e. start out in a general engineering program, then work into a specific discipline as you get a few courses under your belt, learn what you're good at, and explore the career options in each different direction.
 
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  • #5
doglover9754 said:
I’ve limited it down to two. Mechatronics or Mechanical? I honestly have no idea what each of them specifically does.
<<Emphasis added.>> If you honestly have no idea what each of them specifically does, then you have no rational basis upon which to limit your choices to those two. But it really doesn't matter at this point, since in high school, your basic science and math subjects are applicable to a wide range of science and engineering college majors in the future. If your high school offers opportunities for hands-on work (science-fair projects, battling-robot competitions, 3-D prosthetics for patients, ...), get involved. Don't focus exclusively on book work; learn vocational skills such as machine-shop work and building circuits. By trying out a variety of activities, you'll find what you like and what you don't like. Then by your senior year, you'll have a better idea of what you want to major in. Good luck! Glad you're thinking in advance, while there's plenty of time.
 
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  • #6
I change my major throughout my academic career (I changed from mechanical to electrical engineer). I don't think either would be wrong, and you can change to the one you like better.
 
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  • #7
Plenty of good advice already given.

If I may comment on this part of the OP:
doglover9754 said:
Also, I’d like to stay in Hawaii for college. So I don’t have to worry my parents with costs (and I don’t want to totally depend on scholarships to cover EVERYTHING), I won’t get home sick, and I won’t have to worry too much about choosing a specific college throughout the mainland.

I understand there are good reasons to stay close to home, but I would suggest you at least consider going away to school. Leaving home can be a big learning experience in itself.
 
  • #8
berkeman said:
Looks like the University of Hawai'i has an ME program, but no explicit Mechatronics program:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechatronics

https://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/engineering/

View attachment 232366

Maybe send an e-mail to their contact shown on that page to ask if Mechatronics may be offered as a degree in the near future. If not, you may be able to add more electronics type classes into your electives list to help you start to specialize in the field. I agree with @FactChecker that it is likely to grow faster than generic ME in the future. And I also agree that you have a couple years before you have to make final choices on which colleges to apply to.

Have fun! :smile:
Oh wow! Thanks so much! I was looking into UH Manoa which is located on my island after I posted this question. I might want to look into this. Thanks again!
 
  • #9
Choppy said:
In my experience, when it comes to education, it's better to start general and then work into the specific as you need to, i.e. start out in a general engineering program, then work into a specific discipline as you get a few courses under your belt, learn what you're good at, and explore the career options in each different direction.
I never really thought about choosing something more general. Thanks for the advice!
 
  • #10
CrysPhys said:
Don't focus exclusively on book work; learn vocational skills such as machine-shop work and building circuits. By trying out a variety of activities, you'll find what you like and what you don't like. Then by your senior year, you'll have a better idea of what you want to major in. Good luck! Glad you're thinking in advance, while there's plenty of time.
I am part of the robotics team at my school. We have multiple programs that cover machine-shop work and circuit building. I've been getting the hang of it. But anyways, thanks so much for the advice! I’ll sure look into it!
 
  • #11
Joshy said:
I change my major throughout my academic career (I changed from mechanical to electrical engineer). I don't think either would be wrong, and you can change to the one you like better.
Wow. That was so simple, yet I can relate to the change. I’ll sure keep that thought in my mind.
 
  • #12
gmax137 said:
I understand there are good reasons to stay close to home, but I would suggest you at least consider going away to school. Leaving home can be a big learning experience in itself.
I’d say my total dream college would be MIT but of course that is if I keep up with my engineering interest. I heard about a full 4 year scholarship to MIT that I can try for if I have at least a year in robotics.
 

Related to I’m trying to decide between 2 engineering careers. Any help?

What are the differences between mechanical engineering and electrical engineering?

Mechanical engineering focuses on designing, developing, and manufacturing mechanical systems and components, while electrical engineering deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.

What is the job outlook for mechanical engineering compared to electrical engineering?

The job outlook for both engineering fields is positive, with both experiencing growth in demand. However, mechanical engineering tends to have a wider range of job opportunities, while electrical engineering is more specialized.

Which engineering career offers higher salary potential?

This can vary depending on factors such as location, industry, and experience. Generally, electrical engineering tends to have a higher starting salary, but as engineers gain experience, the salary potential for mechanical engineering can catch up and even surpass that of electrical engineering.

What are the required education and skills for each engineering career?

Both mechanical and electrical engineering typically require a bachelor's degree in the respective field. Some common skills for mechanical engineering include problem-solving, creativity, and knowledge of computer-aided design. For electrical engineering, skills such as critical thinking, attention to detail, and knowledge of circuitry are important.

Can I switch between these two engineering careers later in my career?

While it is possible to switch between these two engineering careers, it may require additional education or training. However, having a background in one engineering field can also be beneficial for exploring opportunities in the other field.

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