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Should I be a Mechanical Engineer or a Chemical Engineer?

  1. Jul 10, 2014 #1
    Hey guys, I'm 16 this year and I've already decided to be an engineer. it's just i don't know what type i want to become. im leaning towards mechanical engineering more because i heard you get to break things apart and assemble them. and it's the most diverse engineering branch.

    i currently ace my physics, chemistry and english. my biology is pretty much lousy while i usually get Bs for my advanced math (in my country, we can't choose calculus or algebra) it's just advanced math which covers things like trigonometry, algebra, coordinate geometry, functions and much more. i personally love physics, though chemistry doesn't excite me that much.

    i'm thinking of taking some workshop classes during my holidays, i wanna learn to fix cars. i've gotta start the practical side somewhere right?

    What do you suggest?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2014 #2


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    If chemistry does not excite you I recommend you do not become a chemical engineer
  4. Jul 10, 2014 #3


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    Well most mechanical engineer doesn't involve a lot of fixing cars and breaking things about. Typically technicians do a lot of the hands-on work but that varies, of course.

    It's way too early to decide which engineering branch is best for you, as they are somewhat different. They all typically have very similar coursework the first two years (math and physics foundation) so you have time.
  5. Jul 11, 2014 #4
    then what do mechanical engineers do?
  6. Jul 11, 2014 #5


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    I always recommend electrical engineering simply because we are the smartest people on Earth.

    From what I've seen of mechanical engineers, they size heating and coolilng ducts and size fans, condensers, air handlers etc. They also work with fluid in pipes for machines. Kinda boring stuff in my opinion.

    Some mech engineers will design gas motors and bearings and the sort of thing you might imagine. I belive this stuff is the minority, and the heating/cooling stuff is the majority. Just my opinion tho.

    It is also my belief that electrical engineering has a huge future as far as job security and money making. Just think about what would happen if there was no electricity even for a day.

    Of course, you could say just imagine if you had no heating or cooling for a day.
  7. Jul 11, 2014 #6


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    ^He's right you know
  8. Jul 11, 2014 #7


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    As for what mechanical engineers do...
    That really depends on the industry.

    They design motors (both electrical and mechanical), build housing structures for electronics, do vibration analysis, do thermal analysis, fluid analysis (air is a fluid), acoustics, dynamics, etc. There is a lot you can do in mechanical engineering.
  9. Jul 11, 2014 #8


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    I used to think that as an electronic engineer. Then I saw the engineering physics major. My pride was broken forever. :P
  10. Jul 12, 2014 #9
    Don't worry at this point whether to pursue ME or ChemE. There is plenty of time to explore, learn, and follow your path. I received excellent advice from a professor many years ago about which discipline. He told us newbies "If you don't know which discipline you want to enter, then go with mechanical. It is the broadest of all engineering disciplines. From there you can change to anything."

    The first two years of all the curricula are almost identical. That gives you two years in the academic environment to explore the different disciplines and decide what best suits you.

    And ignore the descriptions of what ME's do that are given here: those comments are weak and uninformed. Do your own research. The US Government's Department of Labor offers some fairly good ME job descriptions. ME's are engaged in so many broad areas it is genuinely difficult to encapsulate what it is that they do. Generally MEs are considered to work in three major areas: machine design, thermal sciences, and manufacturing. Those broad categories branch out into thousands of different job descriptions.

    But here is the bottom line: an BS engineering degree teaches one how to solve problems. And THAT is the skill companies will hire you for.
  11. Jul 12, 2014 #10
    thanks everyone! i'll take my time and think about it for sure
  12. Jul 13, 2014 #11


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    Generally speaking, a MechE and ChemE can do each other's jobs if they are willing to adapt and continue to study "on the job". The major tradeoff between these two disciplines is the emphasis on chemistry for ChemE instead of machine design and IC engines for MechE (in general). However, barring very few exceptions (catalysis, production process, industrial machine design) the concepts taught to both are familiar enough that they can start working and become competent engineers in each others' respective fields. I would thus advise you not to worry too much about it if you are unsure of where you want to work as switching over is not a herculean task. However, if you do have a clear idea of what you want to do - for e.g. ChemE's are preferred for the pharmaceutical industry - then go for the branch best suited to the kind of job you want to do.
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