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Engineering Important career advice needed

  1. Sep 10, 2016 #1
    hello, I am currently a sophomore pursuing a bachelor's in chemical engineering at Auburn University, Alabama. While chemical engineering is a great career, I just do not think that it is for me and I feel like I will enjoy Aerospace engineering a lot more (i really, really like physics and am very interested space exploration specifically rocket propulsion). However, everywhere i look and everyone I ask says that the job market is not very good and that I will most likely not end up working in the things that I am interested in. So I would like an honest opinion as in what I should do. I am willing to work as hard as it takes and go to grad school if needed to work in the area that I'm interested in (research and development; propulsion). Also in case some of you may not know, Auburn University is not exactly the place to be if you want to do Aerospace and go to grad school so will that hinder my abilities to go to a good grad school? thank you for your answers in advance; this is a though decision to make and need all the help I can get.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2016 #2
    I hear that Aerospace (at least in the US) is a boom/bust kind of industry. The same thing could also be said about oil/gas industries. That's a lot of money in there, but you have to be prepared to be unemployed at some point (or best: try to have a lot of easily transferable skills that you could use in another type of job).

    What I usually think about engineering is that you have to go in depth about what you want to do. By that I mean that if you really want to pursue a career in Aerospace Engineering, you probably should put a lot of effort into it (you want to go to grad school, and that's probably a good idea). If you want to work in propulsion, you should have a solid grounding in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid dynamics... If that interests you, I say go for it.

    But if you won't mind, I would sugest you pursuing a bachelor's in mechanical engineering and then going to grad school for aerospace. After all, aerospace is just mechanical engineering applied to aircraft/space vehicles. You will learn almost everything you need for aerospace by getting a mechanical engineering degree, and that you also give you enough flexibility to switch fields if needed to. You wouldn't be stucked into the aerospace industry.
  4. Sep 10, 2016 #3
    I really appreciate your advice and i agree with the idea of going in depth. I had also previously considered changing to mechanical and then specialize go to grad school for aero but i just did not know if it would in any way affect my graduate career as mechanical engineers do no take any sort of aerodynamics classes (which are also of great interest to me). I guess it will just have to come down to majoring in one of the two and being flexible about where i work after coming out of grad school.
  5. Sep 11, 2016 #4
    Where did you hear that? A lot of mechanical engineers take aerodynamics classes. After all, it's just applied fluid mechanics, which all mechanical engineers learn in school.
  6. Sep 11, 2016 #5
    I already looked at the Mechanical curriculum and do take fluid mechanics but not aerodynamics. I'm sure you can take Them as electives but are not part of the curriculum. they also only seem to have like 6 hours of free technical electives so I am not sure how many aero-related classes you can fit in there.
  7. Sep 11, 2016 #6
    I think aerodynamics is a elective discipline in most mechanical engineering undergrad programs...

    But have in mind that not taking aerodynamics won't hurt if want to go to grad school for aerospace (even if taking it, even as a elective, will only help). Fluid dynamics will teach you all the basic concepts, and a complete course in aerodynamics will only build upon those concepts for more applied and advanced stuff.

    Taking electives in aero will show interest in this area when you are applying for grad school, but that's not essential. You will learn all this stuff there.

    That said, you probably should choose what you like the most. ME will give you a broader idea of the engineering spectrum, I suppose, but you will be just fine with an AE degree. You probably will have a strong background in fluids, which will allow you to work in some other fields as renewable energy.
  8. Sep 14, 2016 #7

    Fervent Freyja

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    For the life of me, I cannot understand why you haven't thought about UAH, it's like 4 hours away from you (located in Rocket City), and ranks highly in the aerospace/defense industry. They also already offer both an MS or PhD in aerospace engineering. The department is near Marshall Space Flight and the Arsenal, it's one of the biggest research parks in the US. It really doesn't matter about the 'job market' if you get in at UAH, many students begin working in the defense industry through the program before they even get their BS...

    Roll tide... :smile:
  9. Sep 17, 2016 #8
    Auburn is not good for Aerospace engineering? That's news to me. My understanding is that it is a good program. I do know some alumni in AE and a faculty in AE at Auburn (not sure about where the faculty member is now but I believe it was Auburn).
  10. Sep 26, 2016 #9
    Hey UAH CS student here. Been fairly involved with aerospace clubs on campus. As I'm pretty young and not yet graduated, take what I'm about to say with a huge grain of salt.

    First off, with an aerospace engineering degree, assuming you do decently( decent gpa, get involved on campus, get some work experience) you have a 99% chance of finding a job in huntsville/redstone arsenal doing something aerospace related.

    Secondly, this is probably a fantastic time to get into the aerospace industry. With companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin popping up, the aerospace industry is about to expand heavily into the commercial market. I predict this will result in a huge resurgence of aerospace interest and this will be seen historically as the spark that propelled humanity into a space faring species :D. This might be seen as a "pre-boom" time, when in 5-10 years all the kids who grew up seeing Elon Musk finally get to college and want to become AE's. Anyways much salt required for this paragraph :D.

    Third, UAH is probably most famous for AE and nursing, but Auburn is a great engineering school too from what I hear, I don't think it would be worth it for you to switch assuming you're a couple years into your degree.

    To Ramzerimar's point on ME over AE, when I first applied to UAH, the adviser told me that AE is for the real "passionate" people who definitely want to do AE. So if you're not totally convinced, ME might be a better choice over AE like he was saying, as they share a large amount of core classes.
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