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Mechanical Engineering Worth It?

  1. Oct 29, 2012 #1
    I am currently a Sophomore in Mechanical Engineering. To give you guys some background, I have been involved with motor sports my whole life (I have raced motocross most of my life), so Engineering was right up my alley, and it has always interested me. I haven't had much trouble in Engineering as of yet (all A's and B's) and I have been through all the Physics, almost done with the Math (currently in Calculus 3) and done with all my sort of "pre-req" classes. I am taking Statics right now and I am doing really well, and have an A in the class.

    I have some questions though...

    What is a mechanical engineering job like compared to school as far as fun, difficulty, time, etc?

    As I am sure most of you know, engineering takes up a lot of free time (although I still have quite a bit since I manage my time well) and was wondering if it pays off in the end?

    Is mechanical engineering a degree worth having?

    I guess these questions are a bit subjective, opinionated, and maybe plain stupid, but I guess I am looking for some encouragement or feedback.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2012 #2
    What would you want to study otherwise? What else do you enjoy? You also haven't given it that much of a chance yet, you're only a sophomore and most of your real classes are ahead of you. Look at the job market right now, too. Graduates with an engineering degree are far better off that the rest of us from this basic viewpoint.
  4. Oct 29, 2012 #3
    That is the thing, I'm not sure there is anything else I would rather do, maybe construction management, seems like it would be a bit easier, but I know I will stick to engineering, just don't want some job that doesn't allow me to spend anytime with my family (when I have one). Certainly not saying I don't want to work hard, just looking for something that pays off your hard work.
  5. Oct 29, 2012 #4


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  6. Oct 29, 2012 #5
    Well C268, one of the best things about engineering is that it is probably one of the most versatile degrees out there. I'm not gonna tell you that you should study this or that, but try and find some engineers in the workforce and ask them questions, ask your professors (that have been in industry that is). My point is, you make what you can of your degree, not the other way around. About spending time with family, know that in today's world, you have to make a lot of sacrifices to have a comfortable lifestyle, but the corporate world is also changing. Hang in there!
  7. Oct 29, 2012 #6
    Do it!!!!!!
  8. Oct 29, 2012 #7
    Yeah, mechanical engineering is a very versatile degree. The free time that you will have and the location that you do it in will depend on what type of job you are able to find. I say able to find, becuase these days you will graduate and take what you can get. It's a competitive field. Finding that job you dreamed of doing since you stared your degree rarely happens. Just be aware of that.

    It's definetely worth doing even if you end up doing something else, but it's upto the individual to decide if the sacrifices are worth it.

    A word of warning, the first year is nothing compared to the later years...
  9. Oct 29, 2012 #8
    Haha that is a good one...definitely would never do a liberal arts degree! I am very motivated for engineering, but I know when times get stressful in school I start to have some questions
  10. Oct 29, 2012 #9
    Yea I like how versatile the degree is, I have heard of students with Mechanical Engineering degrees even going to Law School! Not that I am interested in that, but it is nice to have a versatile degree. I would like to get some job experience and maybe get my masters in business while working. I actually talked to a retired Computer/Electrical Engineer (back then the degree was combined) and he was Vice President of one of the sectors at Motorola. I found it interesting as he really recommended getting a job after my Bachelor's and NOT getting a Masters in Mechanical, as the job experience outweighs the importance of a Masters. He said if I wanted a Master's in something else though to have a little diversity, most companies would pay for it and it wouldn't be a bad idea. Eventually, depending how jobs with corporate companies go, I would like to start my own Engineering firm and have my own business. I would really like to some day be my own boss, much like my dad was in Dentistry. I think if I find a job in the Aerospace industry or Automobile industry (even better the motocross industry) I would enjoy it a lot more than school work.
  11. Oct 29, 2012 #10
    What do you mean by your last sentence?
  12. Oct 29, 2012 #11
    Thanks a lot for the encouragement guys it can be very helpful! I have a Calc 3 and Statics test this week so I am pretty stressed
  13. Oct 29, 2012 #12
    Yeah, you and everyone else... The two hardest fields of all to get into. I'm still trying, good luck with that. I did manage to get into Aero, but it didn't last long.

    What a I meant by my last sentence was that the later years of your degree are much much harder than the first years. You'll notice the size of your classes will drop by like a half. It's not becuase they aren't turning up, it's because they gave up. I had a lot of friends just dissapear with no word. I reckon they do it so you pay for the first couple of years and when it gets harder you either don't want to quit because you've already paid a lot of money and they've sucked you in, or they at least get a couple of years of money out of you. Also depends on the uni, some make it easy.
  14. Oct 29, 2012 #13
    Yeah man, get ready to buckle down, some schools like to give a nice intro to engineering then really stick it to you. But, if you really like it then you won't mind and will probably have some fun. Just get ready to sacrifice sleep!
  15. Oct 29, 2012 #14
    Sorry I lol'd a little at this. These are basically preschool courses. Oh and I'm not trying to scare you.

    I think the best way to answer your question is this:

    The people who have a degree in mech eng think it is worth it, the ones who don't quit half way through.

    Anyone who makes it through has some real balls in my opinion.
  16. Oct 29, 2012 #15
    Well you aren't very helpful...Junior year is right around the corner and by Senior year you've made it that far...might as well buckle down and finish it off...
  17. Oct 29, 2012 #16
    That's what I said in my last post, and surprisingly it doesn't happen that way. Some people continue and get booted cause their grades are so low or they just can't do it anymore. Where's the fun if I detail everything, it's better to be a surprise. Also, I'm Australian, I have no idea what this juniour and senior year balony is.
  18. Oct 29, 2012 #17
    Oh well..guess I will see what happens, I just will make sure not to post on here to bug you anymore
  19. Oct 29, 2012 #18
    Umm where'd that come from, if you were bugging me I wouldn't be posting here trying to help you...
  20. Oct 30, 2012 #19
    I have a master degree in mechanical engineering and still looking for an interesting job.
    All the jobs I had till now didn't really require all what I have learnt.
    It seems that apart from military related industry (where I don't want to work) the selection is very limited.
  21. Oct 30, 2012 #20


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    As a stand alone, yes a mechanical engineering degree is a very desirable degree. It's extremely versatile and, similar to most engineering degrees, is respected enough to get you into many careers unrelated to mechanical engineering. That's just to say that it will open more doors than the MANY already available to the broad mechanical engineering field.

    I'm currently a junior in mechanical engineering. I'm 29, have been working on cars since 15, and worked both offshore and in a chemical plant for about 6 years total. The hard work to get the degree AND do very well in your classes is most certainly worth it, so stick with it.

    There are many interesting jobs for MEs, or at least jobs that offer some interesting aspects. The bottom line is that work is almost always going to end up being work. You're not necessarily going to enjoy every minute of it, or even the majority of it. My goal is to end up back in the chemical industry, working in rotating equipment reliability. Optimally I'd love to work in a automotive performance division, racing team, or aerospace powertrain, but like stated above those jobs are extremely difficult to get into. The bottom line is that I already have a huge foot in the door in an industry that I know I can work in and make great money. This finances what I want to do outside of work.

    It's hard to say from here, but I really don't know if working in the automotive industry would strengthen or ruin the hobby for me.

    Anyway, much encouragement to you. In your last two years, you'll look back and realize how much easier the initial classes you took were. If you keep working really hard, you'll probably notice how those who might have found it easy at the beginning will start to trail off. As much as I loved the fact in the early years that I could understand everything without studying, consistent success really comes down to how hard you work. My suggestion is to work extremely hard, get the good grades, and have enjoy the spoils of a hard fought victory after you graduate.
  22. Oct 30, 2012 #21
    I think you should finish mechanical engineering, it really is a very versatile study. I don't know how the technical job market is in the US at the moment, but I'm located in the Netherlands and it is really in demand here now, students at our university find a job within 1 month in general.
  23. Oct 30, 2012 #22


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    Agree with what others said about versatility of an ME degree, which can actually be a bit mind boggling. Probably the most important choice you have is type of industry (looks like you have automotive in mind). Second would be the type of position you might want. In my college days, large industrey had 3 basic categories (production, development, research). There are other options, though. Somebody already mentioned law (engineers can make good patent attorneys). There is also sales or technical support of sales. I've had previous jobs as a development test engineer and in mechanical analysis (FEM). Some engineers end up being their company's standards representatives (e.g. SAE). I have ME colleagues that have taken vastly different paths (one started as a mfg. engineer in a automotive fuel injection plant and advanced to corporate VP, another performed seismic audits at nuclear facilities, another was employed at a small company that designed the first mouse for Apple, another spent 15 years in various countries around the world as a project manager, another got bored as a hydraulic test engineer in an aerospace company and spent 20 years as a navy helicopter pilot, another worked for 6 months and decided to go to medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon, another started his own company in the petroleum/chemicals industry after 3 years working for a large petroleum company, the daughter of a family friend is passionate about aerospace and only 3 years out of college just got her dream job with SpaceX and has visions of being a mission specialist). The stories go on. In the end you need to consider what type of person you are, what you believe you'd enjoy, where you want to live (geographically), how much you might like to travel, etc. The possibilities are vast.
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