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It feels like M.E. undergrad degree is a JOKE

  1. Oct 8, 2011 #1
    I'm getting pretty annoyed at this point, I don't know if my department is a special case or if this is universal but the M.E. undergrad degree is a joke.
    I'm pretty much done with undergrad M.E. courses, I just need to take 1 or 2 more ME electives and 2 more non-ME electives and I'm out. Looking back at the core classes, I don't see how it was worth showing up to class, let alone pay the tuition:

    - Mechanics of Materials
    A joke of a class, all you do is plug numbers into formulas (which are just datafits). Completely mindless.

    - Engineering "thermodynamics"
    I call this class turdmo-dynamics because it is a disgrace to the beautiful science of thermodynamics and the name should not be associated with this. All you do in this course is look up tables and memorize how to do specific types problems (which are all the same except for the numbers). They don't even teach you what entropy is, meaning that kids coming out of this class don't know what Temperature means (since it is defined in terms of entropy). Very sad indeed.

    - Heat Transfer
    Laplace's equation on R^2. Solutions to some oversimplified problems and some nondimensonal groups.

    - Fluid dynamics
    Energy is conserved equation (aka bernoulli's eq)
    Reynold's number
    Moody chart which is seldom better than 50% error.
    Viscosity (which they don't explain but rather state it as "experimental fact")
    Lousy derivation of Navier Stokes with 2 simple solutions.
    Data fits and nondimensional groups which don't help you understand anything.
    Oh and supersonic flow, which was cool, except the derivations were very lousy if at all present.

    - System Dynamics
    2/3 of a year spent on linear (often homogeneous) system of ODEs with constant coefficients.
    Some Laplace and Fourier transforms without any explanations/derivations/proofs. Basically memorize the process and do it on exam/HW.

    -Manufacturing Processes
    One of the most boring classes ever, all qualtiative babbling on things that are either common sense or too simplified to be useful. All exams were short answer, basically a test to see if you were awake and memorized the vocab ("engineering terms" as they call it).

    - Engineering Design
    lol this class reminds me of 7th grade, completely useless and everything is either common sense or just dry talk. I get bored to tears after the first 20 min and start doodling or reading a math book.

    - Formula SAE
    Build a racecar? How about buy a racecar. This club is a joke, all they do is buy things and wrench them together, save for the monocoque which they actually lay out with CF. Other than that everything is bought or sent off to be made elsewhere. Oh and believe it or not, a steel plate bracket is a year-long project for some members.

    - Undergrad "research"
    I don't understand why the word "research" is in there. All you get to do is push some buttons, epoxy some junk, and make plots. And everything being "researched" has already been done with 99.999% similarity and is most of the time completely useless.

    I know for sure some want to come in here and be mad because you feel I "dissed" your field, but the honest truth is that this is sort of depressing and it makes me feel like I wasted 3 years of my life (and money too). Does anyone feel the same way or gone through the same thing. Any thoughts appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2011 #2
    Too long a rant to read properly but sounds like engineering to me.

    The profession probably isn't for you.
  4. Oct 8, 2011 #3
    I guess maybe you have wasted your life then. It's your field, if you don't like it then waste your life some more and get another degree. Frankly I'm not sure what you want, I had started toward physics/applied math, switched to pure math and still don't find anything very hard. Working on proofs versus plug&chug may be magically different for some, but I find both to be rather straight forward. Short answer, you could get another degree and rant about it, you could go to grad school and cry you didn't learn more, you could get a job and say its depressing and stupid, you could go live out in the woods and reject society. Let me know how it turns out.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2011
  5. Oct 9, 2011 #4
    Ok Curl, in the cold light of day here is some proper advice.

    You seem really upset that engineering is not theoretical physics. Engineering applies scientific concepts to solve practical problems. As such every subject area above is a means, not an end.

    Judging from your posts online you have an abrasive personality and severe ego, which means you probably aren't suited to working in a team of people.

    Rather than let what you've done go to waste, I'd look to see how you can turn your engineering degree into something more physics related. Something where you can sit on your own and solve problems all day.
  6. Oct 9, 2011 #5
    Education is a wonderful idea but it should remembered from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be thought.
    -Oscar Wild
  7. Oct 9, 2011 #6
    Curl, i know these subjects, especially Fluid Mechanics, and some previous subjects you keep on resolving a components in the whole book. But, still they are interesting.
    I always respected Mechanical Engineering and will continue to do so. Its not just simple Mechanical Engineering but rather i call it as "Royal Mechanical Engineering". ^_^
  8. Oct 9, 2011 #7


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    No, you haven't "dissed" the field. You may have dissed your college, or dissed yourself.

    Somebody once said that homo sapiens has a basic design flaw: They can all learn stuff, but many of them can't be taught. Think about that...
  9. Oct 9, 2011 #8


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    Posting your rant on an internet forum is probably loads more productive than actually addressing any of the issues you raise; well done!
  10. Oct 9, 2011 #9


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    You shouldn't think of an undergraduate engineering degree as the background necessary to build the first warp drive. I've heard a lot of people agree that most undergraduate education is meant to weed out those who don't really want to be in the subject. As for the difficulty of your undergraduate experience, get a respectable job and then come back and tell us what a breeze engineering is. If the job is too easy, then you're probably scared of a real challenge. If the job is too hard, then you might have found an actual engineering position, in which case you won't have time to reflect on how easy things are.
  11. Oct 11, 2011 #10
    So what's the point of paying for college if all you do is learn simple things that can be learned from a book?

    I picked M.E. because I want to design engines, and all the engines I designed were junk because I was uneducated. So I decided I need to study fluid dynamics, combustion dynamics, thermodynamics, kinematics/dynamics of rigid bodies, and material properties in order to make my designs better. That's why I went for ME in the first place. Guess what? I didn't learn any of that in the department: everything useful that I learned were from physics courses or from books.
  12. Oct 11, 2011 #11


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    Sounds like you either missed the point of your degree entirely or simply didn't retain the knowledge you were given. No undergraduate engineering degree is going to give you the expertise to design an engine from scratch on your own. There will be quite a bit of additional learning and hands-on experience needed for that, and even then it wouldn't be easy. The point of an undergraduate engineering degree is to give you the tools to head in that direction and to instill the correct problem-solving approach in you so that when new, bigger problems arise, you know how to tackle them.

    Calm down and quite whining to us about it. Instead, do something about it.
  13. Oct 11, 2011 #12
    For piping systems with pipe, fittings, valves, size changes, entrance and exit effects, and so on, I have matched the calculated and measured flow rate to within 10% for several different arrangements. For the calculation, I used "curve fits" to the Moody chart and resistance coeffcients from Crane Technical Paper 410.
  14. Oct 11, 2011 #13


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    I think that's the important part: when new graduates are told that leaving school isn't the end of their education, but the beginning, it's absolutely true. If your most valuable education happens after you leave school, then you can't expect an undergrad education to get you to your goal. You're still at the beginning.

    That stuff is the foundation. You need it to get where you're going, but it won't get you there on it's own. This isn't an ME example, but consider the foundation of a house: you MUST have a foundation to build, but a foundation alone won't give you what the house will. Your undergrad is the foundation; now that you've got that done, it's time to start building the main item, your career. And that will last as long as you decide to keep at it.
  15. Oct 12, 2011 #14
    I don't get what your talking about, but I may be a little slow. I don't magically gain knowledge by being enrolled in physics courses, but by reading my physics textbooks and attending lecture, and asking questions. While some of my physics classes have a lab attached, their aren't nearly as many labs that physics majors (at least at my school - undergrad level UNM) have to take compared with the number of labs that EE or ME majors are required to take. During those labs your getting hands on experience (what you don't get from reading a book), so your argument to me seems to reduce to kind of a weird statement like: "in physics I learn by reading books, in engineering I don't learn, cause the extra hands on experience doesn't help me and I don't read the books, cause I don't need to be in college to read books." Like someone mentioned above, it sounds like you just did not retain what you learned and don't want to review it or that you didn't learn much in the first place which could be proportional to the grades you received in your classes, but the problem certainly at least as you describe it, seem entirely independent of the major itself.
  16. Oct 12, 2011 #15


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    If you're really that smart that you could have learned that on your own, congrats. But here's the problem: nobody will believe that. So you need the degree as proof that at the very least, you are smart enough to earn a degree. Then once you get your first job, you can dazzle everyone with your brilliance. Just don't act like an arrogant tool, otherwise no one will hire you/want to work with you.

    If you can't fix your attitude, you will have a tough time with your first few years of work. There is another thread going where a new engineer is unhappy that he's doing glorified data entry right now. He has to suck it up: that's how you get started. You do the grunt work while an experienced engineer teaches you how to use the model you are building.
  17. Oct 12, 2011 #16
    I can sympathize, my aborted music degree appeared much the same, a waste of my time and money. I took Statics and Dynamics as well and though I enjoyed some of it, found it repetitious as well. In both cases, I also was bored and wanting to get to the good stuff right away.

    To the good stuff right away, I went out into the real world and did the jobs instead of training for them. Unfortunately, while I did get jobs in the areas of my interests, I found that my opportunities for advancement were quite limited. Without the letters behind my name, I soon found that no matter how well I did the job, I would never get beyond being a drone. If you think spending four years in college is aggravating, try a lifetime of cleaning up other peoples' messes and doing their work for them while they get promoted because of your abilities!

    The alternative was to go into business for myself, which I did and have been doing whatever I please with no more limits on my advancement (I'm the president!). I get to work any and all hours of every and all days that I want.

    If you want to get into the field and move up the ladder, jump through the hoops first and get your degree. If it is that easy for you (and it certainly could be), keep your interest alive by supplementing your education and expand your knowledge with your own personalized education plan. No rules saying you can't do research on your own time, and when you do get out there you'll be more up to date than most.

    Hang in there and finish your degree; I didn't and that's high on my list of regrets.
  18. Oct 12, 2011 #17
    I totally agree with the fact that the Mechanical Engineering degree is now a joke. Although I have much respect for the many different subjects involved in learning Mechanical Engineering, things are just crashing down at the moment.

    We also have an Engineering Design class which basically involves doing stuff we did in kindergarten. Last year we had to make a catapult to launch an egg, this year we are making suits out of tape and plastic to make people feel as if they are 60.

    Things are coming to the point now where I can no longer tell my friends what I do at uni, the last time I sent an example of the **** we do in class to my friends, they laughed their asses off at how retarded we all were.

    I'm getting the feeling that theres a big black hole in my mind, I feel as if there is so much I should know but in reality I don't have much of a clue about anything.

    The starting post by Curl although quite truthful and honest doesn't present much of a solution to the dilemma of feeling as if you accidentally got shipped to a mental hospital. So far all I've been able to do is try to study on my own all the stuff I've missed out. But I'm rapidly getting exhausted cause there is just so much **** out there to know, combined with that all my time is being taken up by these ******** classes.
  19. Oct 12, 2011 #18
    It sounds like you and the OP just went to crappy schools. I did my undergrad in ME and I feel like I learned plenty from my course work. Granted I learned a lot from working in labs and internships but I wouldn't have had the foundation to do that without my course work. Now I am getting my PhD in aerospace engineering and I am doing quite well at grad school. So the ME degree is not a joke in general, maybe just at your school.
  20. Oct 12, 2011 #19
    Well my "piece of crap" school got $2 billion endowment and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Washington#Rankings". Listen, it's got everything to do with the department.

    Why is it that physics and math courses are 1000 times more rigorous than the ME courses? In physics or math they're not scared to give you a problem where you have to think a little bit (OMG! think?). I took Stat.Mech/Thermo from Physics in the same quarter as Turdmodynamics from ME; when I walked from my physics class to the engineering class it felt like I was walking from college to kindergarten. One problem from the Physics homework was harder (and more enjoyable) than the whole "thermo" course from ME. And they were all different problems that required different types of thinking: in ME all problems are exact copies of the examples in the book (how dumb is that?).

    How are you supposed to "solve real problems" if the only things they teach kids to do is memorize how to plug numbers into a few equations? Give anyone in ME an original, abstract problem to solve and they won't be able to do it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  21. Oct 12, 2011 #20
    I meant your department. It wouldn't be fair to lump the rest of your school into the same pile of crap that your department is clearly in. I was a mech E and I am quite able to solve engineering problems on my own. If you don't feel you learning anything than do something about it. Quit, switch majors, switch schools, get involved in research...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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