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Engineering Mechanical Engineering vs Civil

  1. Jul 28, 2011 #1
    Hello I am wondering what is the better one to go into. This upcoming year I will be going into first year engineering, then the second year we must choose our specialty., Right now I am thinking about civil and mechanical. I dont like the ideas behind electrical nor am I interested in it.

    I have friends and relatives who are civil engineers, and there is mixed opinions on it. Some people say it gets boring after constantly doing the same things.

    As I heard many things about mechanical as being better balanced and once I have a b.s there is other options to persue if I am not entirely interested in mechanical. I also heard you are working with other people designing so it makes the job fun.

    I am wondering what has a better job security, which i guessing mechanical because if the economy is bad civil can get laid off.

    I like travelling and want to move to australia when I get the p.eng and currently wondering what would be best in the upcoming 10 years. I heard cars becoming eco friendly so mechanical might be better. more job opportunitys.

    Thanks for support!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2011 #2


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    Welcome to PhysicsForums!

    You'll have a bit of a snoozer course that gives you a bit of an overview of what the various fields of engineering do--don't snooze through it! Even for fields where you think you definitely don't want to go into (for instance, I had no idea what vacuum engineering was, even though that used to be the catch-all name field that I'm doing my graduate work in--micro/nanotechnology, yet another catch-all...) Even within disciplines, you'll have specializations (depending on how you concentrate your electives, or even, structuring of core courses, e.g. structural vs. transport vs. a bunch of others for civil engineers)

    If you have relative engineers, take the most of the opportunity and, rather than take their word for it, beg, plead and bribe to tag along! It'll give you a little sneak peak into what the profession is like (and probably disabuse you of the notion that all engineers are designers or even do technical work, e.g. sales and management).

    Some of the MechEs I know complain that they just do CAD/CAM--probably a complaint of the CivEs too. Within and without a field, academic or industry, there's a huge diversity in what you might end up doing--everything from nanotech (ChemE, MechE, MatE, EE) to working on one of those giant megaprojects you see on the Discovery Channel, to basically being tech support or parts acquisition. Such is life.

    I'm assuming that you're from Winnipeg, or at least Manitoba--you could always be a mechanical engineer of the aerospace persuasion! (the aerospace industry and the Canadian Air Force around those parts are what gave your original namesake its name)

    Lastly, you may want to give APEGM a call if you know for sure that you're going to Australia (although 4-5 years is an awfully long ways away...) They can tell you what sort of courses or exams you might have to take to become a licensed engineer there given a P.Eng (or even an engineering degree) from Canada.

    EDIT: A bad economy sinks many boats--at the start of the current recession, I had lots of friends (of many disciplines) who worked in the oil-field service sector who got pink-slipped because construction and development got halted by the big players up in Fort Mac. Civil is one field that frequently picks UP in a down economy due to infrastructure / stimulus spending (at least, for some types of CivEs).
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  4. Jul 29, 2011 #3
    Hi thanks for the reply, I learned lots. I see you say it is best to wait for the overview of each type of engineering and to see what best suits me, which I will do.

    I see what you mean by there can be many different ways ME and CE spend their time. Some spend most in the office on the CAD while others are more designing with the other ones.

    Yes I am from Winnipeg(boring city) Im going to be going to the U of M. The university has the 5th best mechanical engineering in Canada it says. I heard many people who graduate from mechanical engineering in U of M graduate with the aerospace option because it is one of the well developed programs here. Just not sure if there would be as many jobs in AUS as here, but I do like air stuff too.

    And I see what you are saying about the P.Eng licencing being valid in AUS, test and courses may be given to get Chartered Professional Engineer qualified (in AUS/NZ).

    And yes the b.s program here is 4-5 years for mechanical engineering. But you mentioned (4-5 years) long ways away to talk to APEGM. But I thought it would be more of 8-9 because 4-5 for the degree. Then 4 years of an EIT program working under a p.eng.

    But does the time working under a p.eng in university(co-op program/internship) go towards the time needed for the p.eng? I estimated 4 years afer degree to get p.eng.

    thanks for the reply mldude
  5. Jul 29, 2011 #4


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    Glad I could help!

    Don't put too much stock into ranking (there's only something like 30 bonafide major engineering schools in the whole country!) As much of a pain as the accreditation renewal process can be (and I believe it's something like once every 4 or 5 years), Engineers Canada keeps programs across the country on a pretty even keel. We're also lucky enough to have universities funded pretty well across the country. FWIW, a grad school friend of mine loved her undergrad experience and the general atmosphere of U of M. Then again, that's what I hear about many universities from many people (home is where the heart is?)

    I mention the 4-5 years being a long time because that's something like a quarter of your life! (Assuming you're fresh out of high school). People, situations, and the world can change a fair bit in that time (or not). But if you're dead set on Australia while also earning your P.Eng., I believe it's quite possible to work overseas and accrue EIT experience (as long as you're being supervised by Canadian P.Eng's)--you'd have to check with APEGM, however. Say, a company like Schlumberger or even Rio Tinto (though they're actually Australian / English).

    When I was going through (and at least as far as APEGGA was concerned) Co-Op terms counted (but only to a max of 1.5 years, or some such--and it had to be under the supervision of a P.Eng.) Not sure about non-Co-Op summer work (if you don't get into the Co-Op program), but grad school also counts (again, there's a cap of 1.5 years on the time, and must be under the supervision of a P.Eng). As my seemingly-standard disclaimer goes, "You'd have to check with APEGM"

    If you decide that Australia is where your future lies, no looking back on the land of hockey and maple syrup, you can do what another friend of mine did--he finished his CivE degree, went to Norway (to be with his Norwegian girlfriend at the time and now finacée), and now he's the equivalent of a P.Eng there. Unfortunately, I don't know the details--if something similar exists, you'd have to check with Engineers Australia:
    http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/about-us/program-accreditation/ [Broken]

    EDIT: I do have engineer friends that went down to Australia, however two of them are in med school, one (who's now coming back) worked in academic administration, and the only one doing engineering is in graduate school!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Jul 30, 2011 #5
    Hi thanks again. I see there is many engineering schools in Canada, but I want to study at home. not in another province. I hear the program is great here for engineering and I am eager to start with it. I hear from my friends; like you say, the atmosphere is great.

    4-5 years is along way away. But I have been thinking about this for along time already and want to make it happen and move away. Im a big climate person and can't stand the cold winters here. I also have some cousins who moved to AUS after they finished school and they love it. I think the co-op program is 3-4, four month terms, equaling 12-16 months. Im pretty sure it is under the p.eng.

    I am not sure about gaining the EIT experience overseas under a Canadian P.Eng. I know to get a work permit in Australia under the 'skilled migrant' you need to have around 4 years of experience I think. I have to look into that.

    Much research I have to do,
    thanks again.
  7. Aug 5, 2011 #6
    Civil engineering
  8. Aug 5, 2011 #7
    how so?
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