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Engineering University student with no direction

  1. Aug 2, 2016 #1
    Hi,

    I've been lurking here for quite a bit for a while now (reading old threads, stickies, etc.). I figured it's time I finally make a PF account to join the community.

    A little about myself. I'm currently a 6yr student (I know...) at a medium size state university close to my home. I graduated HS, went to college for a semester as a Criminal Justice student, dropped out, joined the military, and now I'm in the reserves with 6 months left on my contract. I went back to school and realized pursuing CJ wouldn't be for me. Then pursued a Biochemistry degree in hopes of getting into med school. Realized I didn't like all the memorization and didn't want to be in school forever. Took my first physics class, fell in love mainly because there is little to nil memorization in physics. I then found out I had enough math (I took more math as my electives as I realized math was a strong point) and gen ed to transfer to the 3-2 engineering/physics program so that I only have one year left for the physics portion of the portion (in which I'm completing this following academic year).

    The problem for me lies in when I transfer to a small private university to pick an engineering program. Originally, the 3-2 program had two schools to transfer to (a large state university and the small private) but because I transferred into the program I'm only allowed to go to the small private. They only offer a BS Engineering or BS Mechanical Engineering. I have no idea what I want to do in life yet, but the reason why I chose this degree path was because I am getting too old to constantly be flipping around majors and I need to start working so I can provide a life for myself. I have no interests in anything but science, I wanted a well-paying job, I don't want to do research, I don't want to teach, I don't want to go to graduate school to get a PhD to find a decent job *yet* (so this eliminated Chemistry and Bio degrees), and I figured I have no problem with the math are the reasons why I chose this path. At the moment I am leaning towards ME because from what I've read, it is the most flexible. But I have no idea what I want to do in the future with this degree to be honest. I also know that there are unconventional careers for physics majors (but they do not appeal to me as well). I am currently looking into aerospace which seems to be the only one appealing to me or maybe medical physics (should've pursued my physician dreams younger if anything...).

    Outside of academics, I like playing sports mainly when I have time or bsing with friends. I also enjoy traveling and one day hope to live outside the US (I've been looking into grad schools in Europe as of late).

    Summary:
    Undergrad student has no idea what he is doing in life with his degree. I apologize for wall of text but I included more so that you guys are able to see my strengths/weaknesses. I just transferred my major beginning of last semester and was thrown in the loop with no real advisement (my current advisor is not really that helpful to say the least). I also feel as if everyone has a leg up in their engineering undergrad career (building things, learning how to program, etc.) meanwhile I'm just f-ing off.

    Cheers.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2016 #2

    marcusl

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    Welcome to PF, and thanks for sharing your story. You seem to have a solid and realistic handle on your situation, and I didn't see any questions asked, so I'm not sure what you are looking for from us.
     
  4. Aug 2, 2016 #3
    I guess I'm looking for more advice/reassurance because I felt as if I was thrown into this field without any knowledge. This is the first time I ever considered engineering or even physics as a career. Everything I know is from reading online. But the one thing that sticks out is I really don't know what I would want to do with this degree. I know having a physics/engineering degree entails a variety of careers outside of science but that is not something for me. Ideally, I would like to travel internationally while working as an engineer but would it be possible as a mechanical engineer? That also brings up a few questions. Say if I were to want to move after finishing my studies to say Europe, how much value is a US engineering degree say, compared to a EU one (would I still be as marketable given same set of other qualifications)? And if I were to get a graduate degree in EU would it be "frowned" upon if I moved back to the US to pursue a job? But even so, this all goes out the window without first considering what interests me in ME. I also mentioned before how aerospace seems to be the only thing interesting me but I don't want to work in an industry that has it's up and downs (job security). Is there anything else a ME can do with space that doesn't have a fluctuating market? I know all of this is subject to uncertainty because it depends on the future.

    The other question is, is there anything I should be doing in my downtime or breaks? I've been scrolling through reddit/talking with peers and it seems they all started working on projects by themselves or learning something in their free time. Things such as building/crafting something or knowing programming. I have never built anything before. And I've been reading here how getting a engineering job besides a degree requires skills/projects. But is it really necessary that I start working on a project now?

    Sorry if my questions are vague. It feels as if I'm just ignorant on the field of engineering. When people ask what I study I tell them engineering. Then they ask oh what can you build or what do you learn. Meanwhile I felt as if I learned nothing about engineering but more about physics/math..
     
  5. Aug 2, 2016 #4

    marcusl

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    I can't comment on ME, it's not my field. As for a move to Europe, I don't know what the chances are of applying for a foreign job from the US. Maybe others can comment. I can point out that travel opportunities occasionally arise. I worked for a company that partnered with a UK company, and was able to set up a one-year stint in England with my family. Working for foreign companies is another approach. I traveled extensively while working for a US division of Ericsson, while a few of my colleagues transferred to jobs with Ericsson in Sweden, Canada and Spain.
     
  6. Aug 3, 2016 #5

    DrSteve

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    Perhaps I've missed something, but I don't know how you can conclude that you got thrown into this field. And what field would that be anyhow, since you are indecisive about the nature of the engineering program that you want to pursue? You sound unmotivated, or worse.

    I'm afraid that the onus of the hard work of deciding what what you are going to pursue is on you, as well as what you're going to do with your degrees once you get them. You really wouldn't want one of us to pick your life path for you, would you?

    I wouldn't worry about careers too much at the moment and certainly wouldn't spend time daydreaming about running off to Europe at this point. I would study the websites of the various engineering departments, talk to some of the faculty this school and decide, based on what you've heard and read, what program you're going to chose. Once you start making some of these decisions you'll find that it's easier getting help with the others.
     
  7. Aug 3, 2016 #6

    symbolipoint

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    Sweetartums
    You do not have a clear goal and you have (or have not said) what things you do/have done outside the classroom which would indicate a possible clear goal. Some of ones development must occur outside of any classroom, for at least a few years, before picking a major field for an undergraduate degree, like in Engineering or other things related.
     
  8. Aug 3, 2016 #7

    symbolipoint

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    Sweetartums, some more...

    The mathematics and Physics you had will help in studying Engineering and any sciences.

    What have you done during the last several years to take care of this:
    ?
     
  9. Aug 3, 2016 #8
    DrSteve -
    The reason I feel as if I was thrown into the field was because to me all me it was the fastest way to get a degree and start working in the real world. I originally wanted to do Chem.E when I first heard of engineering. But the program won't allow me to transfer to the bigger state university (I believe they offered it there). I could have transferred to a different university but I don't want to spend anymore time in school. Plus, I have military benefits that allows free tuition for state schools and the ones that offer Chem.E around me, the benefits wouldn't cover 100%. The program also appealed to me because I wanted a thorough grounding in a science in case I wanted to do research in the future (I know it is still possible with just an engineering). Along with this it seems I enjoy my physics classes because of the theory. I can't say much for practicality because all I've had so far were labs. But if those are an indication of engineering then I guess I'm going to have to suck it up. To me, majoring in something I enjoy in life in university never made sense. I say this because I always hated grade school and to me university is a place on learning something completely new (and I tried and it didn't work out well).

    I guess you do make a fair point that it is on me having to figure it out what I want to do.

    Symbolipoint-
    I haven't done anything in the last years to address those points. Engineering never really crossed my mind till beginning of last semester and that was when I made the switch. This is the first summer I've actually started thinking on what I wanted to do with my degree.

    Thank you for your time for your replies btw.
     
  10. Aug 3, 2016 #9
    Well I obviously dont know everything about your situation, how well off finacially you are, or what you lack to finish your degree. but I would reccomend you go with the quickest possible route to the career feild as you could. It kight not be glamourous but a teaching certificate teaching highschool mathmatics is easy and it pays the bills, while you can pursue something else on the side.
     
  11. Aug 3, 2016 #10

    DrSteve

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    That was a very mature and thoughtful response. You actually have a lot going for you - perhaps you're looking at your situation as half-empty rather than half-full. Why don't you make some inroads along the lines of what the folks here have suggested and come back with specific questions. More than happy to help.
     
  12. Aug 3, 2016 #11

    donpacino

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    The reason people are working on those projects. They enjoy it. They have fun with it.

    My two cents. If you really want to do engineering... look at all of those projects people are doing. find one or a few that you think are interesting and you can see yourself doing. Give it a shot, or a more basic version of the project. People tend to do better in fields they enjoy
     
  13. Aug 27, 2016 #12
    I guess you are not all alone pal! I'm struggling here too. I'm utterly in love with physics and had been studying it since high school and when I say studying it means real research stuffs but after graduating I came to realize I just don't want physics to be my career. I just love it as a hobby but after devoting half of my life to it, I'm wondering what to take as career option. and the problem is I love every kind of science. So yes! I guess I know how you feel. Why don't you try going into those area where they mix engineering and management such as consulting, that is a pretty fun job I guess.
     
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