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Undecided Major Engineering

  1. Computer Engineering

    1 vote(s)
  2. Electrical Engineering

    9 vote(s)
  3. Mechanical Engineering

    4 vote(s)
  4. Other (please specify)

    2 vote(s)
  1. Dec 12, 2009 #1
    Hey, I'm a freshman at a community college. I'm planning on transferring to a university once I get enough of my prerequisite courses out of the way. However, to take the classes, I need to know what I'm majoring in. ;)

    So far, Ive decided its going to be in the engineering field. The problem is, I dont know what part.

    Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering... I wish there was one major that covered all of those so I could have an equal understanding of them and open up my options for a career.

    But because this is the real world, I need to decide on one. The problem is, I don't know what I would like to do as a day to day job. Primarily because I guess I don't know what an engineer DOES.

    Could some of you maybe chime in and help me figure out the real word applications and daily duties of the different types of engineering jobs?

    Also, poll included...
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2009 #2


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    One could do a major, e.g. MechE or EE and minor in the other, or perhaps one could do a double major MechE and EE (Electromechanics). The problem is that both fields MechE and EE have many specialties within. For example, in Mech, one could do thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, structural mechanics or mechanics of materials, turbomachinery, . . . . In EE, one could do circuits, microelectronics, power electronics, insulation, network analysis, control theory, . . . . Computer engineering also has many options, and perhaps it is more compatible with EE - although both MechE and EE use a lot of computational effort.

    It would be worthwhile to browse the course requirements for both MechE and EE and see which are common courses for both, and which are uniquely required for each, and how one might integrate into one program. Similarly add CompE to the mix.

    One can also visit the ASME and IEEE websites to get an idea of what opportunities exist for engineers.

  4. Dec 12, 2009 #3
    Those websites seem like they could provide a lot of info, but I'm having trouble navigating them. Certain areas are member only and wont accept the username I just created.

    I think it would be good to stick to one field I think. At least keep it simple. Its jsut a matter of deciding I guess.

    Do you have any other resources?
  5. Dec 12, 2009 #4
    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm has a brief high level overview of engineering disciplines in the work force. There are a lot of other things engineers can do in the workplace though besides continuing in engineering, so I suggest searching all over that site. Look at the related jobs at the bottom of the page and follow some links around. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos016.htm is one example of a related job that prefers people with engineering degrees.

    You might read through other threads on this forum too that have more specific questions about certain disciplines. See also the career guidance forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Dec 12, 2009 #5
    Join a robotics club/project at your school to learn about the different fields (it's a totally interdisciplinary meld of the three) and go for the field you actually like for the major. The three fields are very different ways of thinking, and one will probably appeal to you more than the rest. CompE is the digital part of EE and the basics of CS, EE is applied physics E&M and optics, and Mechanical Engineering is applied Newtonian Mechanics.

    Also go to the webpage of the school you're looking at and look at the curriculum for the three disciplines. Look at some posted jobs and see what the requirements are (utility companies and car makers will have openings for all three, so will any big electric device company.)
    They overlap a lot more than you think. Most EE's can get most Computer Engineering jobs and both can get most programming jobs (That's cause a lot of people still haven't figured out that compE differs drastically from CS.) A lot of the EE's and ME's I know go into power (we've got lots of utility companies recruiting), lots go into control systems (how a motor operates, how a device works), and others go into one of the fields MTA (the big public transportation company) needs.

    In theory it's supposed to work like this: If I've got three engineers designing an oven:
    The ME figures out how the body should work so that the heat is best distributed, the EE works out how to run the power for the oven to get as hot as it needs to be, and the CompE designs the circuit board with all the options for the oven. They all work together to get those options to work.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2009
  7. Dec 12, 2009 #6
    The closest thing Ive got at my tiny college is an "intro to mechatronics" class that isnt transferable to any of the colleges I'd go to.

    Would It be wise to take that just to see? Actually... I dont know if it works with my schedule. I'll have to look into it.
  8. Dec 12, 2009 #7
    Dunno, maybe/maybe not. Look at what it actually covers and figure out if you can afford an extra course. (GPA wise and financially.)

    other options are:
    a) see if there's a local meet up for robotics/hobbyists
    b) physics will do you good: see if you lean towards mechanics or E&M
    c) take intro classes in all three fields (at my school mechE's have to take circuits and can use CS as an elective, it may be similar at wherever you go).
  9. Dec 12, 2009 #8
    my campus doesnt offer any physics, engineering, or computer classes.

    Theyre all at the main campus which is 45 min away. I dont want to commute until I need to.
  10. Dec 12, 2009 #9
    I meant when you get to that stage in your academic career, when you'll have to take most of those courses anyway. (Physics is required for every engineering major.)
  11. Dec 13, 2009 #10
    According to the poll results so far... EE has got the most opportunity...

    Any of you care to elaborate? especially with it compared to CompE
  12. Dec 13, 2009 #11
    I'm compE and voted for EE, so I'll give it a shot. EE is a much more flexible major and has been around longer, so it's more established and better known. CompE usually covers all the fundamentals of EE and then diverges into just the digital/ embedded system stuff, whereas EE has the digital stuff, analog, communications, optics, power, semi-conductors, and some more specialized stuff.

    Computer Engineering varies greatly from school to school (some schools sell it as CompE + Comp Sci, others as EE+CompSci, and others as comp E) so most people don't get what the major is about. I always get "so, you do computer science" and everyone's surprised to hear that the major is half EE. Lots of internships don't recruit for compE, but want someone with those skills (they recruit for CS and EE). It's starting to change, 'specially in the industries looking for it, but most companies will still take an EE as readily as a CompE. As for programming jobs, enough of them will take anyone with an engineering degree, doesn't matter much which one; unless they want someone with a really solid comp sci background, in which case they may not take a compE anyway.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  13. Dec 13, 2009 #12
    CompE wont get me locked into writing code forever, will it? I definitely dont want to do that long term.

    On the other hand...
    The reason I'm hesitant to go for EE is because I do like things that are computer oriented.

    Unless I misunderstood... CompE is essentially CS and EE combined?

    Real life example:
    Hardware Engineer (http://www.aja.com/company/careers_article.php?id=2" [Broken])
    what degree would be most helpful? CompE or EE?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Dec 14, 2009 #13
    Embedded circuits are done in code. HDL is Hardware Discription Language, and whether you use VHDL, Verilog, or something else entirely, you'll likely be "coding" out your hardware to test it before you ever do anything with it. Granted, most engineering fields nowadays have tons of codes 'cause everything is simulated before it gets any real world implementation. Simulation environments are like code but with model parts instead of code. You may get to build things when doing prototypes, but that totally depends on the type of shop you're at.

    Depends on the school, but yeah. It's the fundamentals of each major + a focus on hardware (registers, processors, operating systems, assembly, etc. ) on the CS side and digital circuits on the EE side. Basically

    CompE will definitely have courses using VHDL or verilog to design and test on FPGAs, hopefully from both the CS and EE perspective, but an elective in EE on FPGA design may get you the job anyway. Or it may be required: look at the schools you want to go to and check the electives.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
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