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Engineering Transition to Different Engineering Discipline?

  1. Sep 7, 2011 #1
    Does anyone have any advice on transferring to a different engineering discipline? I currently have a BS/MS in nuclear engineering and I'm really growing to dislike it after a little more than 2 years in the workforce. How feasible is it to transition into another field such as electrical or industrial engineering? I have little formal education in electrical or industrial. At this point I don't consider going back to school an option, I have enough debt already. Can one reasonably attempt to do one of the following:

    1) apply in new field, hope to get hired and learn on the job
    2) learn fundamentals from books and/or free courses online (such as MIT's open courseware), then get hired on

    Or is the piece of paper that says BS/MS in XXX pretty much a necessity for a near entry level position?

    Mainly Im very displeased with nuclear because the jobs seem to be in rural areas (Im a city guy) and more importantly Im tired of working on projects that I will never see (or may never even get built), everything just seems to exist on a computer file. Even if I mostly use a computer, I still need to see the fruits of my labor from time to time, do walk-downs of facilities, etc.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2011 #2
    You want out of nuclear? It's kinda funny: I am in undergrad electrical right now, and I was thinking of doing a masters in nuclear because of the broader range of physics that it touches on.

    Sorry I don't have any advice for your problem. I imagine that you'd just have to sell yourself as best you can, and see who will give you a shot.
  4. Sep 11, 2011 #3
    Yeah. It was extremely interesting to learn and overall nuclear science is pretty great. For me the problem is where the jobs seem to be located along with the actual work itself.

    For example a civil or mechanical engineer can go see in person the fruits of their labor. For me, I see computer files of text based input decks all day. I feel lucky if I even get to see a photograph or diagram on occasion. I loved nuclear engineering in school but if I were to do it over again (and stay in this field) Id just be a technician, at least they get to see real things.

    With nuclear, jobs do not seem to be plentiful in large urban areas for obvious reasons. There is always Washington DC, but with the way the government is looking to make cuts right now, I perceive moving to DC too much of a risk
  5. Sep 12, 2011 #4
    Interesting. So what you guys just said reminds me of this article @ http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science

    "...A friend of the author says that most medical doctors choose the wrong specialty: "They pick based on what part of the body they think is the most interesting. They should really pick based on whether or not they want to have the responsibility of running an office, having employees, and marketing themselves or whether they want a shift job and can walk away at the end of the shift." She finds some of her colleagues less than optimally happy because they chose to be plastic surgeons and don't enjoy being the boss and not being able to take eight weeks of vacation per year. On the other hand, she finds some emergency medicine doctors who, while they enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work as much or as little as they choose in any given year, would prefer to have the responsibility and prestige of running their own practice.

    A person who says "I love Chemistry and therefore I will become a chemist" is potentially making the same mistake as these medical doctors who end up in the wrong specialty...."

    For a while I really wanted to be an astronomer. Maybe it was some form of Carl Sagan worship. Anyway, later I found that telescopes are usually in extremely remote areas (for obvious reasons), which will not allow a lifestyle that I prefer. Same concerns with working at LHC and a lot of US national labs. Which means I really shouldn't go into observational astronomy or experimental HEP.
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