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Structual engineer?

  1. Nov 8, 2006 #1
    Hi im 16 years old and from nz. I want to be an engineer but dont know which area. Im tossing up between mechanical or structual, structual appeals more to me because i want to work on large projects like stadiums etc. Mechanical also sounds interesting but think may be a bit too hard? Do you know if you could incorperate both fields into each other? also my other query is how important is english? im currently in yr12 and am not going to study english in yr13 is this a wise choice?

    Thanks Nick:smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2006 #2


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    'Being too hard' shouldn't be your criteria. If you're interested in something, go for it. And of course you could incorporate both fields into each other. If you pick a field, that doesn't mean you can't do further additional investigation connected to another field.
  4. Nov 8, 2006 #3


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    I know a lot of ME's that do structural analysis. Perhaps not on large buildings or structures, but there is a lot of structural analysis out there to do on smaller scales.
  5. Nov 8, 2006 #4


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    Structural engineering is more specialised, but most large engineering projects now are so multidisciplinary that you'll end up working in a number of fields anyway.

    How important is English? Well if you're wanting to work in an English speaking country, it's bloody useful!
  6. Nov 8, 2006 #5


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    Of course Mechanical and Structural engineer overlap on some simple courses, like all engineering career, but in the long run structural like its name says require much more structural analysis & design (Woord, Steel, Concrete, etc...) courses than Mech Eng.
  7. Nov 8, 2006 #6


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    Structural engineering has largely evolved from Civil Engineering, which is essentially Mechanical Engieering applied to Civil Structures, e.g. buildings, dams, bridges, . . . . Some Structural Engineering programs may have evolved from Mech Eng. The bottom line is that Structural Engineering can be as rigorous as Mech. Eng.

    A worthwhile engineer tackles the hard stuff, because real world problem as sometimes difficult and a poor job could mean economic loss, injury or loss of life.
  8. Nov 9, 2006 #7


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    Speaking as an uneducated outsider, I would tend toward mechanical. That is simply based upon the fact that there should be more jobs available with that. As Astro said, structural is a synthesis of mechanical and civil. Aeronautical begins with mechanical and then specializes. Likewise for nuclear, hydraulic, etc.. The limited knowledge that I have seems to be primarily based upon mechanical stuff, and it seems to relate to almost anything that I need to do. Automotive mechanics and/or engineers, millwrights... all need a solid mechanical background.
    Just a suggestion, mind you...
    As for English... your grammar could use some work, but that still puts you far ahead of most North American Anglophones.
  9. Nov 13, 2006 #8
    I'm a structural engineer. If you get a job with a good firm that works on big jobs, it is a pretty interesting profession. If you get a job at a smaller company, you might end up doing smaller "cookie cutter" type stuff over and over again. Structural engineering is a branch of Civil engineering which is what your degree would be in. Geotechnical, Transportation, Envirnmental, and Hydrawulics are other disciplines within Civil Engineering. Structural is the toughest of the disciplines because of the in-depth calcuations and the number of codes you have to be familiar with (general building code, steel, concrete, wood, masonry, ASCE 7 (wind, snow, seismic) etc.). I would certainly not expect structural engineering to be any easier than mechanical engineering though.

    I don't know as much about mechanical engineering, but there are several different directions you can go there as well. We have mechancal engineers that work on our structures, but they design things like the HVAC systems, ductwork, plumbing, etc.

    English is not as important in engineering as it is in other professions. Of course you will need to communicate effectively and clearly, and read and interpret codes, but that is about the extent of it.

    I will be happy to try to help if you have any other specific questions.
  10. Nov 14, 2006 #9
    I have the same dilemma, but I need to decide SOON. I will basically be starting the ME or CE focus classes next semester in upper division. Problem is, I'm not sure which way to go, either structural, geotech, or mechanical with emphasis on design. I'm done with all GE classes and just about all of the lower division requirements for engineering. I need to decide soon! I was so sure about structural before, but I hear it is difficult to get a job with it mainly because almost all CE's end up doing structural, therefore making the job market much more competative. ME's seem to have a lot more job options here in the Bay Area in CA, where I'm planning on staying.

    Any advice? Thanks.
  11. Nov 14, 2006 #10


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    I don't mean this to sound facetious, but be prepared to move. One has to go where the jobs are, not hope that one is available in the old neighbourhood. Up here, jobs are pretty nicely available. While I won't leave where I am lightly, I (with my non-existent education) have been offered jobs in the oil patch which involve nothing more than sitting on my butt monitoring a computer station... that start at over $100,000/year. The only thing holding me back right now is that I have to pay off a couple of grand in fines before I can get my driver's license and registration renewed. (In Alberta, you can't get anything from the government when you have an outstanding fine, even if it's just for parking tickets.) :grumpy:
  12. Nov 14, 2006 #11


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    It's really up to your interests. Regarding CE, I have to make that decision next year (we decide which way to go in the fourth year on our university of CE). In my oppinion, structural and geotechnical engineering are the most perspective directions. One more benefit is that both of them are completely open both for theoretical research and for practical work, so you've got lots of space to fit in as you like.
  13. Nov 14, 2006 #12
    Well, right now you just need to decide between mechanical and civil. With a degree in civil engineering you will be able to go into structural or geotechnical. I would pick the one you are most interested in and not let the issue of finding a job down the road effect your decision at all. It will probably be tough to get your foot in the door with any kind of engineering firms because you will still need a lot of training when you first come out of college. Lots of companies don't want to spend the time training "green" engineers who are fresh out of school. Once you do get some experience and your PE license, finding jobs will become much easier. Getting a Masters degree or some kind of experience (internship, co-op, etc.) while you are in school will also help you to get your foot in the door somewhere.

    If I were you, I would call some local engineering and explain your situation. Ask if you can stop by for an hour so you can get a feel for what the jobs would be like. Most companies would probably be willing to help you out.

    One more thing to keep in mind... it is a little more difficult to get your PE for structural engineering in CA than in other states. This is because CA has some additional tests you have to take because of the high seismic activity there. I would imagine that the structural engineers that do get licensed there would make more money than engineers in other states.
  14. Nov 15, 2006 #13
    OK, having practiced structural, and conquered the choice 'tween mech. and civil, I will relay what I encountered. Mech. is harder in school. Structural is harder after school in my opinion. Once you are licensed, and have to stamp your calcs, you make sure your calcs are safe and hopefully efficient. The pressure is tremendous. You don't want a room full of kindergartners and thier parents killed because you blew it.

    Of course you don't want the astonauts to die either.

    When you become an engineer, you will eventually be asked to consider will your design be safe and for how long.

    Whatever discipline you choose, peoples lives will eventually be one of your concerns. If you want to do structural, then make sure the civil engineering college you attend has structural professors that have practiced professionally, and are registered as structural engineers, in the field. Take any structural and soils course, and always take every lab. You also need to learn some surveying too, and a summer internship in surveying is invaluable.

    Engineering is a broad field. Do good in your fist two years and keep your options open. Choose an area when you get there is my recommendation. You don't have to decide until you are a late sophmore.

    Good Luck, and learn your math!
  15. Nov 16, 2006 #14
    thank you civil_dude. i was really hoping to hear from a structural engineer. that's a very graphic scenario by the way :yuck: . I'm currently taking a surveying class and i'm looking for an internship with the city for this coming summer. i'm very excited about continuing my studies. however, i will do more research before i finalize my choice. if you don't mind, or if anyone, structural engineers in particular, could give me an overview of what you do and how do you enjoy it? i'm sure this is irrelevant, but i would like to hear how structural engineers are doing currently or previously on their jobs.


  16. Nov 24, 2006 #15
    Many of the best Engineering degree courses in England list a good command of English as a requirement of entry. This is because apparently (and I'm no expert because I don't even have A Levels yet), being a chartered engineer requires you to communicate complex ideas.
  17. Nov 24, 2006 #16
    you have to deal with alot of mathematic fraind
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