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Should I learn Programming or learn to build things?

  1. Mar 7, 2014 #1
    Hi fellas. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I basically wanted to know if it is better to learn programming different languages rather than say building things? The reason I ask is because I want to get an internship by next year and I have no experience with programming or building stuff so which one would you guys recommend? Obviously having a knowledge of either gives one a significant advantage over a person who doesn't. I am in my second year of mechanical engineering if that helps.

    Basically do employees prefer one over the other?

    Also is it possible to get an internship with zero technical and programming skills?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2014 #2


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    A mechanical engineer will ultimately design or analyze some system, so it is worthwhile to learn programming and perhaps to learn to build or construct things.

    Some simple systems, e.g., a heating or cooling system, may be treated with simple or standard calculations. More complicated systems, e.g., turbomachinery, require more complicated simulations.

    Does one wish to do design and analysis, or testing and experimental work, or both?
  4. Mar 7, 2014 #3


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    I agree that the correct answer is both. At this point in your career you don't know what you will want to do eventually. Also, in my experience most engineers do at least a little scripting that is required to do simulations or massage data. Therefore, at least one course in programming is mandatory (and as far as I know required in most curricula).

    As for the internship, do what interests you the most! Also, do you have any engineering project clubs at your school? At my university we had various car and tractor research competitions that ME students loved to work on (and learned a lot by doing)
  5. Mar 7, 2014 #4
    I am a third vote for both, I once worked in a plant that made engine control modules, and the engineers and programmers worked very closely with one another. At times, there was a very fine line where an engineer's job ended and the programmer's began.
  6. Mar 13, 2014 #5
    So the general consensus is both. Thank you all. I have already begun learning to program and so far so good but I don't know where to start as far as building stuff. I looked at the adruino stuff and it's already confused me. Not to mention, I am on a budget. I work full time and attend school full time to support myself and my family.

    Anything that I can easily build without buying those lego stuff?
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