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Need Advice from Engineers (ME, CE, MSE, etc.,)

  1. Jan 21, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    First of all I apologize for posting a thread that may already exist on these forums (I skimmed it to the best of my abilities to see if there are similar posts out there).

    Currently I am working for my Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering, as of this moment, or at least since last semester I am considered to be a Junior, and I hate it. Spring 2015 semester started two weeks ago and I already detest every single aspect of it. I never chose this major w/o knowing the fact that it would be easy, I knew exactly what I was getting into and I liked it at first, not sure if it is the material or just me, but the love that I had for this topic is gone. I don't care anymore, the only reason I still keep going is to keep my GPA up, and I'm afraid that I'll fall into a minor depression once again (Fall 2013). There's also the matter of instructors, last time I had to learn everything by myself, I still showed up for class because of attendance list, but other that that it was a waste of money and gas (I commute). It seems that every semester is going from bad to worse and I have no way of motivating myself to keep on going. I got into this major because I aspired to be an astronaut (silly/hopeful) or at least work with planes, rockets, etc., However, things change, I never wanted to be stuck with one job until retirement, I always wanted to do more than one thing, working in labs, flying planes, traveling, I guess I was never decided on one thing as majority of students are (have one's fingers in many pies I suppose).
    So, the question is: Do I switch my major to CE? Or Material Science and Engineering? Or any other major at this point? Majority of my classes would transfer over, it's the thought process (adjustment to new material) that scares me.
    I also have a minor in Mathematics if that helps in anything.

    Sorry for any grammar/punctuation etc., I'm looking for any input at this point.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2015 #2
    What do you hate about it?
  4. Jan 22, 2015 #3


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    It does seem that if your interests lie in flying planes or being an astronaut, getting a regular ME degree is going about achieving this goal in a sideways manner.

    Since you are just starting your third year as an ME student, have you explored the possibility of transferring to aerospace engineering or at least concentrating on this field by taking aeronautical courses? As far as pilot training goes, that is something typically obtained at a flight school of some sort, not at an academic institution.

    I don't think switching to CE or Material Science is going to get you closer to achieving your goals, unless you also want to be the first civil engineer in space. They've sent geologists to the moon before, but AFAIK, no civil engineers have ever been put into orbit. Building roads and bridges to the stars is an entirely metaphorical concept at this point. ;)
  5. Jan 22, 2015 #4
    Let's be honest, aerospace engineering is pretty much just mechanical engineering but with more specialized electives. Until the OP gives us more information about why/what they hated so much about ME it's almost impossible to give them useful advice.
  6. Feb 12, 2015 #5
    Thanks for the replies, and I apologize for late response. I've been swamped with work lately, and let's say that I won't be able to see the light of day at this point.
    It is a miracle that I was able to find some time to finally visit the page and write come up with a response.

    What I don't like about ME is the fact that every class is basically the same. Go to class, listen to a lecture, get home, do homework. Rinse and repeat. Every instructor/professor that I currently have thinks that his/hers class is the most important one. They keep on giving ridiculous amounts of work, without realizing that I can only spend so much time on each subject per day. Last week for example, I've spent both Saturday and Sunday doing one homework (Machine Design), it wasn't difficult by all means, but it was just unnecessary busywork. How am I supposed to learn and study for Heat Transfer? Or better yet, write those lengthy lab reports from Applied Measurements, when one lousy homework takes two days to do? (Heat Transfer is difficult here (very good instructor, difficult homework and exams), and Applied Measurement Labs take a good day to write up). This is all work by the way. I can't remember the last time that I actually had fun, or had the chance to relax. The work keeps on piling up like there's no tomorrow, and I barely find time to do some of them. Got out of shape beyond belief, probably run a mile in more than 10 minutes, and on top of that I am getting bald at the age of 24 form all this stress.

    On a totally different topic, I just don't care anymore about any of this. Who cares how much heat this system is losing, or how much work is done on the gas in the piston cylinder? There was a time when I actually wanted to know, but now I just do the work for the sake of not destroying my GPA. There are times where I find snippets of motivation, but those do not last long. As far as my goals/dreams, I am far more likely to ... (fill in the blank) than achieve those goals.

    Lastly, I feel like an idiot in all my classes. I feel like I am the only one that does not understand this or that, and that later on translates into my work.
    I find myself looking up formulas towards specific questions even though I used to remember them months ago.
    I have a minor in Mathematics, but if someone gave me a simple question involving Integration or Derivation, I'd be stuck. It seems that even though I am going into Engineering, which seems heavy on math, I forget math theory, formulas, principles and such. Going into one topic makes me forget the other, if that makes any sense.

    I've made an appointment with an Undergraduate Advisor in Math. Thought about switching to math and graduating, then eventually coming back and finishing up. Sort of like starting with a blank slate.

    I am looking forward to hearing from You.
  7. Feb 12, 2015 #6


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    Just a small note. junior year in engineering is typically hell. I spent many many many hours doing homework and projects my junior year.
    It will take you a lot of time to complete, that will be expected.

    that being said, it sounds to me that you need to teach yourself to be more efficient in your work. Its easier said than done
  8. Feb 12, 2015 #7


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    Also this is what a carear as an engineer is like sometimes. every manager thinks their work is the most important, you are pushed hard, etc
  9. Feb 12, 2015 #8


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    Your time is limited, so if you have many different things competing for your attention, you must prioritize what is most important to achieve your goal (graduate with a degree, I hope).

    You can't do much about getting bald unless you have a diagnosable physical or mental condition; a lot of guys go bald anyway. It's a genetic thing.

    Unless your college administers a fitness test which you must pass in order to receive a degree, you might have to postpone your workouts until you have more free time, like the summer.

    The work in some of your classes will occupy more of your time in others; that's the nature of the beast.

    BTW, what do you think is going to happen if you graduate, get an engineering degree, and then go to work? You're going to be assigned to work on certain tasks, which must be completed by a certain deadline. You may not have the luxury of working on these tasks solely from 9 to 5, five days a week. To be good at your job, you might find that you have to spend part of your nights and weekends working on completing these tasks. If you work on salary, you must put in this extra time, for no additional pay.

    I think most people get immersed in a large amount of academic work and lose sight of their ultimate goal in choosing a particular field of study. It's not that you particularly care about the gas in a cylinder, but you want to be able to graduate and get a degree. You don't want to be stuck asking someone, "Do you want fries with that?" You are investing a few years of your life in some intense study, so that the rest of your life, outside of school, can be devoted to more interesting pursuits.

    Do you think all students studying proctology at medical school have wished they could spend more time looking up someone's backside all day?

    I can't speak to why you are having so much trouble with things like math. Engineering is chock full of math, so if it's going to be a problem, then changing your focus might be in order.

    If you are worried that you are having trouble remembering all the material, and you can't recall everything from memory, don't. Unless you are a genius, there are some things you will forget over time, especially if you don't use them frequently. However, you should have handy reference works which cover these things which are infrequently used, so that you can review and jog your memory. It's going to happen, especially as you get older.
  10. Feb 19, 2015 #9


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    A lot of the guys gave you pretty good advice for your current situation. As some have said, Junior year is the toughest. However, before you waste another semester, take a career aptitude test. You can find one or two online for free. Take them. See where you actually are suggested to work. I don't believe these are gospel in any way, but they can offer some insight into what may be a better career path for you.

    If you seem to land in the suggested engineering area, you are probably just being swamped by workload and burned out. Chalk it up to taking way to many engineering classes with out enough electives and gut it out to the end of the semester if possible, drop your worst class or do something vs crashing and burning. Next semester take only one or two engineering classes and something else that really interests you and maybe even qualifies as an elective.
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