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Should I pursue a degree in mechanical engineering?

  1. Sep 9, 2015 #1
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm hoping to get some advice from you all as to whether I should go to school for an engineering degree. My dilemma is that I am 29 years old this year, I am married with a 7 year old son and a daughter to be born in January. I already have a great job and I work between 48 and 60 hours a week. More often 60 than 48. I work from 6am to 6pm. As I said I have a great job but I fear that if something were to happen with my job I wouldn't have a trade to fall back on that pays what I make now, at least not while allowing me to be home every night. I've been out of school for over ten years now so I know it would be a challenge. Right now I think I would like to go into mechanical engineering because it would be the closest field to what I've done all my life. I am very interested in learning science and math also.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2015 #2


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    Hey Dbertram1986. Welcome to the forum.

    The key thing is, how good were you at math and science when you were still in school? If the answer is "very good" then maybe mech eng is for you. If the answer is anything less than "very good" then you might be wasting your time. You still might be if your current job does not involve any math or science. Being out of school for ten years is not a trivial thing when considering going back.

    I can't tell you if you have the resources or the energy to spend four years getting a degree. Money, time, energy, and access to a university. You would have to decide that for yourself. The usual university setting is 8 months per year studying, 4 months off, for four years. During the studying part you usually don't have time for a full time job, usually only 10 hours per week is the generic expectation. Can you survive not having a full time job for 4 years? Is your wife ok with this? Can you and your family survive this and not starve or be on the street? Can you pay tuition and pay for books? Is the university close enough to your home for you to live where you do now? Will you and your family be ok with things like spending huge blocks of time studying for finals or working on term projects?

    If all of that is still "yes, let's go ahead with the degree" then Google up the university you are thinking about. Find their admissions department. Find out what they think about it. Find out what financial support is available. Make sure they know your situation.

    Check with your current employer. Maybe they would be willing to support you getting a degree. You might have to promise to work for them for some length of time after the degree, or some such agreement. Lots of employers will do this, lots will not.
  4. Sep 9, 2015 #3


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    Sometimes there are other ways of gaining qualifications more suited to mature students in full time employment .

    This applies to UK but many countries have similar :

    Go for a lesser qualification like a HND by part time college study . Stick with that or springboard to a full degree later .

    Study at home for an OU degree and only go to full time study centres for a few weeks a year to do practicals et al . .
  5. Sep 9, 2015 #4

    Hey thanks for the response,

    I would say I was pretty good at both math and science in high school however my interests were not in learning either of them. I was more interested in girls and parties than learning at the time. As far as the resources and could my family afford for me not to work? That answer is most definitely no. The reason I am even considering this path is because my wife tells me that one of our local community colleges offer a pre engineering course and a scholarship to the University of South Alabama. Both the community college and University offers online classes for engineering which would be the way I would have to go. Also the company I work for has a tuition reimbursement program. They will pay me back per semester of school providing I maintain at least a C average.
  6. Sep 9, 2015 #5
    Go for a lesser qualification like a HND by part time college study . Stick with that or springboard to a full degree later .

    What is an HND?
  7. Sep 9, 2015 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's a British thing:


    This is an international forum with lots of posters from outside the US, so it often happens that people in one part of the world get advice which might be useful only in some other part of the world. Best way to prevent it is to say right off where you are, and ask questions (like you did) if you see unfamiliar terms or acronyms.
  8. Sep 9, 2015 #7


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    In your situation, I think your chances of completing an ME degree in this lifetime are slim to none. Your situation just does not permit you enough time to study and think about the degree material. I strongly suggest you try something else.
  9. Sep 9, 2015 #8
    I appreciate the honesty. I never doubted that it would be an incredible challenge but I feel I must do something. I need a challenge, I want to learn, and I want something to fortify financial security for my family. It's not that I need more money, I made 95k last year which is plenty for my family to be comfortable but I'm always thinking about the "what ifs". I also want to be realistic in what I can do and not go chasing pipe dreams. So for the last year or so I've been kicking around ideas of getting a degree or finding something to get certified in. Thermography and vibration analysis is one are I'm interested in but there isn't much opportunity to get into. I could go to welding school at night but I don't want to go on the road. I guess I'm a little spoiled being able to come home every night.
  10. Sep 10, 2015 #9
    so just so we're clear, you want to continue working 6 to 18 everyday, and add online courses in engineering on top?
  11. Sep 10, 2015 #10
    Yes 6am to 6pm Monday through Thursday one week and Tuesday through Friday the next week. Sometimes it's just Monday through Friday though. Obviously adding Online/night classes on top of that isn't ideal but I am not seeing any other options at the moment.
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