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Studying engineering and working full-time

  1. Jul 26, 2013 #1
    So here's a bit of a background about a bit of myself:

    I'm 22 and since I've started college at the age of 19, Ive bounced around from major to major, finding my true passion in life. Ive gone from psychology, music, radiographic technology, back to music and now, mechanic engineering.

    I fell in live with math and science, the very two subjects I've hated. I love it now. In spirit of my love of science and math, I decided to pick up a trade. So I settled on aircraft engineering (basically maintenance).

    Before I got this job, I started college to pursue mechanic engineering. I was doing eel and picking up temp jobs until I landed in JFK as an aircraft engineering apprentice (i.e. an aircraft mechanic). I work 40 hours a week and hours that are pretty stable. It's a pretty sweet gig: I'm learning so much about aircraft, I get to fly for free, I work with engineers who know a whole lot about various kinds of aircraft.

    My question, of course, is: Is it possible to study mechanical engineering part-time and work full-time?

    I need input because this is a question I have been asking myself since I've started working. I live in NY, by the way.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2013 #2
    I know for graduate school you can take night classes while you work. Check your local university they will tell you right away.
  4. Jul 26, 2013 #3


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    1. You need a college that supports your schedule (night classes, etc).

    2. Accept the fact that you can't carry a full time course load while working full time.

    I worked full time and completed an Electrical Engineering degree. I did it two classes at a time. If every class had a nice steady work load, I probably could have handled three classes at a time. The problem is that the work load for each class never seems to be steady. Each class has its peaks and valleys when it comes to work load.

    When two classes hit a peak at the same time, it took a major effort to get it all done. If I had three classes and all three hit a peak at the same time, I'm not sure I could have handled it. Or, I could have done what some people did and just decided finishing quicker with worse grades was a good trade off (provided they at least passed each course).

    Strangely, I began to look forward to having a heavy workload in both courses at the same time. If the courses were hitting peaks at the same time, then it usually meant they were going to hit valleys at the same time. And that meant that once in a while I actually had a weekend!

    I didn't know anyone crazy enough to try four classes while working full time.
  5. Jul 29, 2013 #4
    It can definitely be done, it all depends on how bad you want it. I work full time as a baker (third shift to boot), and I go to school full time for Mechanical Engineering. I'll be applying for a combined BS + MS program soon.

    The thing you need to remember is that your GPA will be inversely proportional to the number of hours that you work in the week and you can't avoid that. Sometimes you simply don't have enough time to dedicate to your studies.

    I used to take 3 or 4 classes while I working on my associates. I took (while working full time.. over night) Physics II (calculus based), Differential Equations, Dynamics, and Solid Mechanics (sometimes known as Mechanics of Materials, or Mechanics III). I got all B's and a C, so it can be done. Now that I'm in my senior year, it's impossible to take that sort of course load. The classes are no longer intuitive and require an in depth understanding of the material (read: STUDYING + HOMEWORK).

    I've finally discovered this fact this summer semester, where my university does 2 7 week sessions over the summer. I got an A in thermodynamics last session, and plan on getting an A in controls this session. That being said, I've had to devote an hour to an hour and a half or more per day in each class studying. It's been fantastic.

    Just do it and work towards a better future.

    PS If you have a girlfriend, and she's willing to help, support, and be there for you and your cause... then marry her when it's said and done. ;-)

    Additionally, if you do take 2 classes a semester, or 1 class a semester - do try to group your engineering classes together so that you take Statics one semester, then Dynamics, then Mechanics. Avoid at -all costs- taking statics, then dynamics 2 years later. Hope this all helps.. Good luck!
  6. May 2, 2015 #5
    This helps me even though I'm not the intended target. Any advice for a man with a wife and 4 small kids tryin to get a bs in Mech Engineering?
  7. May 2, 2015 #6


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    Go to community college first and take half the full time course load. If you work, you either need 1. A job with flexible hours, or 2. A college that normally has a few sections from each subject taught when you aren't working. You'll also need a supporting wife, but I can't help you there. ;)

    When you transfer to a university, you should probably quit your job. If you need part time work in addition to student loans, you can always work in the math/science labs for a decent wage. It also has the benefit of being a good time to study yourself, without 4 kids asking you what you're doing every five minutes.

    It can be done.

    You should also probably start a new thread if you need further advice, we're kind of hijacking this one.
  8. May 2, 2015 #7
    It can be done, as a number of people here have pointed out. I work 30 (plus or minus a few) hours a week and take a 15-17 credit hours a semester. That has gotten progressively more difficult, but it is doable if you have a good work ethic. For my first three years I made straight A's without much trouble, it was hard word but it wasn't overly stressful. I'm just finishing my fourth year (I'm taking 5 years to do an engineering major and double minor) and I've made a lot of B's and I currently run the risk of even making a dreaded C on one of my courses. And getting this level of performance has been significantly more stressful. Luckily my last year will have a lighter course load (two 12 hour semesters), but this last semester nearly killed me.

    If you want it bad enough you can do it, provided you have the work ethic to make it happen. You also will have to accept that you will have limitations that some of your fellow students don't. You may not be able to do as well on exams, or understand things as deeply as students that have no obligations other than school. That can be frustrating at times because you will know that you can do better, you just don't have the opportunity to put in the time to do better. But it will (hopefully) be worth it in the end.
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