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Question about choosing the right engineering major

  1. Jul 10, 2015 #1
    Hi everyone!

    I am an engineering major at a community college (cc) in US.
    Right now I am having a hard time to determine my discipline. (be specific, EE or MechE)

    First off, let me talk about my background.
    I am originally from Hong Kong and I took the entire series of undergrad physics when I was there.
    I will rank each of the sub-field in the following order based on my familiarity:
    1) Mechanics 2) Heat 3) Electromagnetism 4) Wave, optics 5) Nuclear Physics
    It doesn't mean I got bad grades on 3, 4 and 5. I just feel like I "love" 1 and 2 more than the rest of them.
    I took my mechanics class about 5 years ago.
    I still remember most of the concepts currently and I almost forgot everything in nuclear physics.
    Besides that, I got As on lecture and lab for mechanics at cc but 2 Bs for electromagnetism classes.
    Are they good signs which show that my brain leans toward mechanical engineering?

    When I look at the job prospects, I feel like there are more jobs for EE.
    However, according to many job descriptions on indeed.com and monster.com,
    most of them are actually programming jobs.
    There are relatively few "real" and "hands-on" entry level EE jobs available,
    such as jobs in power, RF, computer hardware, control system, construction, manufacturing, etc.
    It's just my conclusion based on my observation and little knowledge about EE. Maybe I am wrong.

    I don't hate programming. However, I want to be experienced and knowledgeable
    on hardware or circuits rather than programming.
    Maybe I will get a programming job if I go for EE but I know it will only be temporary
    and I certainly know that it will not be my terminal goal.
    If I want to do programming, I could go for computer science degree or even go to boot camp.
    What is the point of getting a EE degree then?

    My thoughts I mentioned above obviously show that I put down EE quite a bit.
    However, I don't hate my electromagnetic classes. Actually, I found some of the topics quite fascinating.
    But my grades at cc and high school in Hong Kong show that maybe I am a little bit better at mechanics .
    Anyways, it is just my thought.
    Should it be an important factor to determine my major?
    Besides, I feel like there are more jobs in construction and manufacturing for MechE, which
    will be more relevant to what I learn in MechE program in my opinion.
    Again, I might be wrong.

    There is another big concern for me if I choose MechE.
    If I go for MechE, I might not be able to fulfill the GE requirement at cc
    because the MechE programs I aim at have more prereqs than the EE programs in general.
    I might need an extra or two semesters to make up the GE after I transfer. Is it worth it?
    If I go for EE, I will be able to finish everything and have extra time to work and get a little bit money.

    I know a lot of members in this forum have worked in different engineering fields for many years.
    I just want to know how you guys chose your engineering disciplines when you were at high school or junior college and what advice you would give me. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2015 #2
    When I was trying to figure out which field, I was given good advice by a professor. It works, and I repeat it often: "If you know you want to go into Engineering, but not sure what field, then go into ME because that is the broadest field. From ME, you can branch out to any field. The first two years of every Engineering course of study is almost identical. This provides time to explore the different subjects and determine what thrills you."

    I went into ME but acquired a lot of EE skills over time to make me (IMHO) a successful mechatronics/robotics/industrial automation Manufacturing Engineer. Now I'm an Academic and teaching those skills to students.

    Some more advice: if it "thrills" you, then I suggest it doesn't matter which direction your "brain leans" because if you wish to pursue the subject matter, then you will find the motivation to be successful.

    Some more advice: don't confuse Community College with University.
  4. Jul 11, 2015 #3
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
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