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Mech hobbies/work suggestions?

  1. Jun 23, 2009 #1
    Hi, I am a second-year civil engineering major and am very interested in changing to mechanical eng. My issue is that while I have an excellent grasp of math and physics so far, and feel as though I have an intuitive understanding of mechanical motion (i.e. I know how my car works, but not what most of the parts are called); I have very little mechanical experience. I would like to gain some real world experience with mechanics and whatnot to see if I have any hope of being a mechanical eng. Could anyone suggest any hobbies (I am considering robot building) or entry level work a woman would actually be hired for, that would increase my knowledge of applicable mechanics? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2009 #2
    RC helicopters are a great hobby for any engineer. Cars are good to but they cost a lot of money to have one as a hobby. Robots are mostly oriented around digital logic/electromechanics and don't touch a whole lot on mechanical engineering. RC helis though will teach you the practical side of fluid mechanics, vibrations, kinetics/kinematics, materials, structures, and thermodynamics.

  4. Jun 23, 2009 #3
    When I was in college in the 1950s, I got all the mech engineering work/hobby I wanted keeping my '41 Buick running. Fortunately, there was a junkyard nearby with another '41 Buick.
  5. Jun 23, 2009 #4


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    Only if you want to. I know plenty of people that fly RC helicopters and planes that can't even spell fluid mechanics let alone talk about it. However, you will never find a more beautiful combination of moving parts than those of a helicopter.

    Just remember that mechanical engineering is extremely broad. Despite the name, you can be very much involved in other aspects of engineering and still be an ME. You don't have to be a grease monkey, but it sure helps. I always moan at work that we let brand new engineers right out of college design parts for jet engines but have never taken one apart or put one together. I think it is a serious gap in experience that needs to be bridged.

    I would recommend anything that you can get your hands dirty with would be a good thing. You can really find teaching examples in almost anything if you look hard enough and with a critical eye. You can learn a lot from simply taking your lawn furniture apart. Always ask questions about what you see and see if you know why something is the way it is. If not, find out.
  6. Jun 23, 2009 #5
    Very true, but I think that goes for just about any hobby. I know guys who can build and tune an entire car engine but don't know what an Otto cycle is. Every hobby is as educational as you make it I guess. I agree with what you said about any hands on experience is good experience. Employers also LOVE seeing technical hobbies on a resume.
  7. Jun 24, 2009 #6


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    We fixed-wing folks like to call them an accumulation of spare parts flying in loose formation. :biggrin:

    Meowthecat, it is always worthwhile to make friends with an auto mechanic and hang out in the shop with him/her.
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