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Is engineering for me?

  1. Aug 23, 2008 #1
    Hey, next year is my sophomore year, and i cant seem to make up my mind if i should pick an engineering major.
    I am good at math and physics, i especially like things relating to energy, however their are lots of chapters i dislike in physics.
    And later on in my life i would like to be head of a company...
    So can you please help me decide if engineering is for me, and if so what should i major in.
    Thank you for your time and help...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2008 #2

    brewnog

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    Nobody can tell you whether engineering is for you, though it sounds like it could be.

    How about you go and get some engineering work experience to see if the working environment suits you.
     
  4. Aug 23, 2008 #3

    russ_watters

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    One thing - though your college may in general only require you pick a major at the end of your sophomore year, that is not true of ever major. You should talk to an engineering advisor immediately to make sure you aren't just spinning your wheels in place right now, taking courses that won't count toward an engineering major and/or missing courses that you need early on. In particular is th math courses. Did you take calculus classes both terms last year and are you signed up for another one this year?
     
  5. Aug 24, 2008 #4
    "And later on in my life i would like to be head of a company..."

    I can assure you that your ability to meet this goal has nothing whatsoever to do with your chosen major in school.
     
  6. Aug 24, 2008 #5

    russ_watters

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    Depends on the type of company you want to head.
     
  7. Aug 26, 2008 #6
    There are several topics in (mechanical) engineering:
    -Thermo fluids
    -Controls
    -Structural
    If you like energy I would suggest thermo fluids track. This also means that you won't have to do many other topics in physics that you might not like, besides maybe some of the fundamental classes.
     
  8. Aug 31, 2008 #7
    Unless you want to found a company being the head will be hard

    The best way to rise to the top is find a company you like and work your *** off to make the sucessful.
     
  9. Aug 31, 2008 #8
    thewhills has captured my point, the way to get to the top is hard hard relentless hard work. Your ability and desire to sustain that effort is what matters, not what you studied in school.
     
  10. Sep 1, 2008 #9

    russ_watters

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    Well if I wanted to head an aerospace company, I'd get into that business and I'd run up against 100,000 to one odds of eventually being able to run such a company and far smaller odds of being able to own one, since most are huge and publicly traded. But in the engineering field I'm in - HVAC - a pretty large number of companies are pretty small and the career path toward management/ownership is much, much shorter. Not to mention, the start-up capital for such a company is essentially nil.

    Basically, any HVAC engineer who wants to can start an HVAC engineering company. Effort and intelligence, of course, determines if it will succeed. But for many fields, the cost of entry is far to great for that to be a possibility. Not to mention, I don't want to own/run a huge company, I want to own/run a (relatively) small one.

    These aren't trivial differences - the type of company matters and idealistic 'anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it' talk isn't altogether helpful in trying to explore the practical realities of the issue.
     
  11. Sep 1, 2008 #10

    russ_watters

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    An anecdote as a demonstration of what I'm talking about:

    My father rose through a major industrial gas company to become President of a subsidiary of the company. He had no real shot at running the parent company, as it was based in Germany, but he probably could have been a director of American operations or something. In any case, being near the top of a company with 100,000 (that's a guess) worldwide employees wasn't what he wanted. He wanted his own company, not to run someone else's. And he wanted it small. So he quit and found a budding industry in energy cost consulting and started a company. That was 15 years ago, he's never had a full time employee, and he's never worked out of anywhere but his spare bedroom, the breakfast room (they had a computer in there) or the living room couch. He makes a great living and as he trys to retire, he slowly slows down (he works at whatever pace he wants), and picks clients adjacent to good golf courses and ski areas (ski areas actually make great clients for that kind of business). He couldn't have been happier with how it worked out.

    Now his engineering and business education helped with the mindset and general knowledge but the particulars of the fields he was in didn't much matter (perhaps that's what you mean). But picking the right industry was critical in matching the type of company he wanted to his particular skills and ambitions.
     
  12. Sep 2, 2008 #11
    Hi Russ -

    I guess I'm trying to make two points. First, in place of "idealistic 'anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it' talk," I don't think that everyone can do that - it is hard to put your mind to something day in and out. That's one reason why most new businesses fail in a short time. As a kind of corrollary, I think successful businesses are run by people who are able to stick to it and work hard every day at it.

    My second point is, most people don't use what they learned in school as part of their everyday work. Some do, but many don't (even many engineering majors).

    No doubt that you're right about the type and the size of business making a big difference.
     
  13. Mar 13, 2009 #12
    Hi. I am new here and I stumbled across this forum and believe that I will finally be enlightened regarding my worry. I hope this is the correct place to ask.

    I have just completed A-levels. And I got a C+ for my Math (not further math), a C for Physics and C for Chemistry.

    The thing is, Civil Engineering has been in my consideration for quite some time. And based on my results (interest aside) do I really have what it takes to be a Civil Engineer?

    I don't want to pursue it and end up regretting. And i am not asking you all to decide for me of course. i just wanna seek some opinions from anyone experienced here and to think through all opinions before i make my decision. Thank you.
     
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