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Engineering Mechanical or Electrical Engineering?

  1. Aug 7, 2011 #1
    Well, I have decided to pull off a drastic 180º career wise and next year I will stop working as a lawyer in order to pursue a degree in engineering, however, I'm very confused in choosing between these two disciplines, so I'll just throw some general info about me as well as some pros and cons for both so you can enlighten me a bit:

    Electrical pros:
    - Somewhat wide field.
    - There's electricity all over the world.
    - The electronics part suits me because I play guitar for a hobby, I could design and make my own pedals and circuits.
    - I'm very curious about electronics, I find myself fascinated by circuits very often.
    - More challenging.
    - Electricity is fascinating.
    _ Though not kinesthetic I'm fairly imaginative for seeing things that aren't really there.
    Electrical cons:
    - It's believed to be the hardest of all engineering disciplines, almost like a math degree right?
    - Of the 2 schools I'm considering my alma mater offers a degree in Electrical Engineering with specialization in either Power, Electronics or Communications; on the other hand the slightly more prestigious school (in science) offers separate degrees fore each of those fields.
    - I like more physics than math.
    - It can involve programming, never done it but I don't think I would enjoy it one bit.

    Mech pros:
    - It's the widest of all engineering disciplines.
    - I enjoy physics.
    - It would be easier to choose an area of expertise.
    - "Easier" (I'm very aware of the difficulty of both).
    - The movement of things also fascinates me.
    - Related to industrial design.
    - My dream job would involve nanotechnology.
    Mech cons:
    - My drawing skills are nonexistent, I have never use CAD but maybe my inability to draw finds it's way to computers.
    - I live in a country with little industrial production.
    - More common than EE.

    As for me, I'm a 22 year old lawyer from Venezuela (engineering in the 3rd world is different) that would graduate from engineering at 28 (5 years of school), ad quite frankly my biggest concerns with this endeavor are not living up to the task (I have spent the past 5 years away from science but trust me, I'm going to work very hard in engineering school) and not being able to find a job because I graduate too late.

    Any tips or info you can provide are well received.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2011 #2
    I think you should go for Mechanical, I think this would be more fun for you and it involves lots of physics, and you actually design cool things. Most of the stuff you design is on autocad, age doesn't matter I started to go to school when I was 25 what matters if you are disciplined, have an imagination, enjoy solving complex problems and of course love to make calculations then you'll be fine if you have a passion for engineering then go for it, it is not the easiest but then again anyone is capable of learning anything as long as you set your mind to it.

    Buena Suerte
    (ME major 3rd yr)
  4. Aug 7, 2011 #3
    Great move!You are never late to change things!Go for it!

    Im currently in Electrical engineering and i can say that you have a very big, really big, field of choices!
    Both math and physics play the same share of study!
    Programming in EE is a must!If you really hate programming (easy thing to hate, but also to love if you are on the mood for that) than EE has a very limited field of choices of specialization for you!
    But, even hating programming, you can make it in EE!

    Circuits are awesome but their somewhat tough!

    Never been in a Mechanical engineering so i can't talk too much!But from some of my ME friends reaction all that i can say is physics will take this engineering for a different level of EE, physics related of course!

    Mech engineers have a very wide range also of jobs to do!

    Well!If you like it, probably is better to go now with experience and to take something you already know you like it, than to go straight from high school to university without motivation at all!

    And by the way!You are still very young!I know guys with 30 something who have just started and they don't think they're old!
    And don't forget that you have to be good to land in a good job!Not incredibly young!

    Best regards!
  5. Aug 7, 2011 #4
    Let me assure you that the differences between the two curricula are typically quite small.

    My brother chose Mechanical Engineering. I chose Electrical Engineering. They are both difficult.

    If electricity fascinates you, then you have found your niche. You can practice your craft in many ways. Do note that electrical engineering is not electronics engineering. If you want to learn about electronics, you will need to study this outside school. I have yet to see a school curriculum that actually teaches practical electronics skills.

    For example, an oscillator circuit may not oscillate. Do you know why? You could study issues such as impedances, circuit gain, phase noise, phase shift, and many other things. Or you could look at chip capacitor and discover that it isn't really designed to work at the frequency you chose and that it may actually look inductive.

    Read magazines such as design news on line or look at the Sherlock Ohms columns to see what I'm writing about. The stuff that trips you up is rarely theoretical.
  6. Aug 8, 2011 #5
    Don't worry, I'm very much aware of this, however, I do have one concern, between the two schools I'm considering, say UCV (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_University_of_Venezuela" [Broken]), the latter is the more prestigious school for science (though UCV doesn't fall behind by much really), problem is it offers separate programs for Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering and Communications Engineering. I know engineering disciplines overlap each other in many ways and that the first 2/2.5 years are basically the same, but since you're an EE major, could you enlighten me with an educated opinion on what the differences may be between these 3 degrees?

    Oh, on the other hand UCV (my beloved alma mater), though not as good in scientific careers (but again as respectable as USB), offers an easier alternative for admission since I'm a graduate from the school, should be cheaper along the way and it's only a couple blocks away from home (USB is on the outskirts of Caracas). On the strictly academic side of things, it offers a global EE program in which one then chooses a branch, so it's more general, definitely better for a person who's not sure exactly whcih disciplines inspires him.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Aug 10, 2011 #6
    This is an excellent point. The choice you'll have to make when you are done with school is to narrow it down even more, and if you can figure that out now that's even better because you can pick your electives accordingly. There are 2 main branches each for ME and EE that I know about:

    ME - Construction: designs building systems; HVAC, Plumbing, and Fire Protection
    ME - Manufacturing: designs any variety of mechanical parts or products
    EE - Construction: designs electrical distribution systems for buildings; lighting, outlets, panels, transformers, etc or works for the Utility designing power distribution substations or power plants - This is Electrical Engineering
    EE - Manufacturing: designs circuits for electronic parts and products - This is Electonics Engineering

    I don't have any experience with Manufacturing but in my experience in the construction industry I'd say the ME has a more challenging job than the EE. For your typical building, the ME has a more complicated systems to design, while the EE is simply providing power for the mechanical equipment and designing the distribution system which is typically very similar from one building to the next.

    I'm not trying to knock EE's, I'm just bringing up that it isn't always the case that the EE is doing more technical work than the ME. I would look ahead and think about what type of Engineering job you want after you finish school, then make your decision based around that.

    Good luck!
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