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MechE undergrad who also enjoys programming and eletronics?

  1. Feb 11, 2016 #1
    I'm now at the second year of my MechE course. Until now, I've taken basic classes in physics, calculus, linear algebra and basic computer programming. I choose to undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering because I'm aware that it is a good and broad degree and it's a field that I like also.
    It happens that I too have some interests in fields that are not covered in my curriculum, like further programming studies and electronics. Some people said that, to cover those fields, I should switch to mechatronics. I've given some thought to it, really, but some of my professors warned me that Mechatronics is very "shallow" regarding
    the three subjects that it covers the most: mechanics, computer science and electrical, and that it's best for me to finish my undergrad in MechE and then major in some mechatronics related field.
    I really like things like Arduino, for example, and I try to devote some time to study or learn things that I won't see in MechE. My question is: what is the kind of career that someone with my background and interests should pursue? I am aware of the kind of job that mechatronic engineers do - control and automation - but I wonder if there are any other fields in Mechanical Engineering that are more multidisciplinary in nature. I've met core mechanical engineers that say that they never do any programming. I think I would be more interested in careers that would require extra knowledge from me.
    There any fields in industry where mechanical engineers need to know some electrical or electronics? Anyway, it's useful to devote time to learn these stuff?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2016 #2
    I have always viewed Mechatronics as a marketing buzzword. In a classical education, there is mechanical engineering, and there is electrical engineering. There is a lot of common ground in both. Getting a dual major in both is quite achievable. If both interest you, I suggest getting an education in both.

    As for software, it is something you could learn in a software engineering course. Or you could learn it on your own.

    Do note that at some point you will stop with your formal education and start practicing engineering. They don't call it practice for nothing. If you're not constantly learning something and applying it, your career will be finished.

    Contrary to what most educators and HR staff believe, you really can learn on your own and you can do it on or even off the job. In fact, the whole point of your college education is to teach you enough that you can learn on your own. So note that I, as a practicing engineer, EXPECT all other engineers to be able to do that. If they can't, I won't have much patience with them.
     
  4. Feb 12, 2016 #3
    Lots of mechanical engineers work in robotics and control systems; at my old uni the MechE department was where the robotics research was housed. MechE also tends to be the home of most fluid dynamics and finite element analysis research, which is very heavy on computations, you can be sure those guys do lots of programming. To your point though, I would look into any robotics research groups at your university, get in on projects that are electronics/programming heavy; it'll give you a real leg up when you do your senior capstone project as well.
     
  5. Feb 12, 2016 #4
    Thanks for the answers, folks! I do have some interests in controls, and maybe automation may be interesting to look into. I've been researching on master's degree programs avaiable in my country, and there are research areas in fields like controls, robotics, industrial automation... My doubt is that I will be seeing very little electrical or electronics in my degree. I had one semester of very basic programming in C and, from the Electrical Engineering department, only basic electricity. So, I want to take some electives in those fields. Any hints on important subjects that I should cover so I have a good background for a major in controls, automation, electronics?
     
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