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Well my university doesnt have aerospace

  1. Sep 10, 2008 #1
    Well im a freshman in college (University of Toledo) and all day today i pretty much was contemplating on whether to pursue Pharmacy, Med School, or Aerospace engineering. Well the side of my thats obsessed with airplanes took over and im pretty much set on aerospace engineering.

    problem is my university doesnt have an aerospace engineering major, but it does have a mechanical engineering and it is one of the top engineering schools in the country (University of Toledo). If i go through with mechanical engineering which i hear is pretty similair to aerospace, can i expect to work with aircraft in my career? Can mech engineers get the same careers as aerospace? I really do not want a career working with cars or factory robots or anything boring like that, i just wanna work with planes. Thanks very much for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2008 #2
    also do you think i can take classes that specialize in aircraft while majoring in mechanical?
  4. Sep 10, 2008 #3
    Uh yeah. If you look at companies like Lockheed, Boeing, or even Cessna, the majority of their engineers are MEs and not aerospace or aeronautical. A NASA recruiter once told me that only about 2% of its engineers are actually aerospace engineers. Personally, I think aerospace is a BS (not bachelors of science but the other BS) degree because its to general and braud.
  5. Sep 10, 2008 #4


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    Hey AA, glad to see another Rocket! I recently finished graduate school there (undergrad there as well) and currently work in Aerospace. I do work in small gas turbines, and we work with Skunkworks, Air Force, etc etc.

    It's about half and half here between ME and AEs.
  6. Sep 10, 2008 #5
    hmm after thinking it through i dont know how well i would do in engineering. I mean as much as i LOVE airplanes and the thought of working with them, i am terrible at math. I am currently struggling in college algebra 1, seriously. And thats only basic. What do you guys think, should i even try pursuing engineering? Math was never a strength for me...
  7. Sep 10, 2008 #6


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    Well, I personally seen a lot of people do well in engineering without great math skills, it simply takes a LOT of time and effort. Having said that, there is a LOT of math involved, and it will depend on how much time and effort you're willing to put in.

    You take pure math classes through your 3rd or 4th year, so it's pretty continual. If you can tolerate extra studying, help sessions, tutoring, then you'll make it through and it will pay off in the end. If you don't have the work ethic for it (and you know if you do), then you'll never make it.

    To be honest, I 'think' most of us started in Calculus 1, so if you're struggling with College Alg., maybe you need to talk to your adviser. Perhaps switching to Eng. Tech might be right for you. Eng. Tech is more algebra based, rather than calculus based.
  8. Sep 11, 2008 #7
    How does specialising in aerospace make it broad? How is it broader than mechanical engineering? Why would a degree that is broad be considered BS, as you put it?

    In the aeronautical BSc that I studied, the difference between ME and AE is only apparent in the last 2 years of the degree as the first 2 are the same for both fields. This gives you some time to grow and to choose. Then the only differences at the end are that MEs do more thermodynamics and a mechanical engineering design course and AEs do aircraft structures, gas dynamics and propulsion, aircraft design, and an aeronautical engineering design course. Also the labwork is different to apply to the course work. I guess it could be considered broader because we studied more subjects, is that bad?
  9. Sep 11, 2008 #8

    Yea, i could see how having a very broad education and being able to do a little of everything would be bad, and companies DEFINITELY would not want that. [sarcasm]

    but what would i know? i just have a bunch of knowledge in aerospace BS.

    where i graduated, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona - #5 school in the country for aero BS. i can guarantee you that the aeros were "smarter" than the ME's. there were many aeros that couldn't handle the courses and dropped into ME, and of course did reasonably well there.

    there's probably a reason why there is a level of quality called "Aircraft Grade" and is 10x more expensive than a general part. must have to pay for all that extra BS.....
  10. Sep 11, 2008 #9
    I didn't mean to offend anyone as apparently I have, but in my experience AE usually know a little about a lot. That is they know about electronics, mechanics, computer hardware, etc but not really in depth enough to do much good without at least some grad school. Again, this is just my experience, those of you that have BS degrees in AE obviously think differently.

    And in my school, you don't really get just a general ME degree. You get it in a specific area such as automotive or automation engineering.
  11. Sep 11, 2008 #10
    to answer the OP,

    i work with a lot of ME's making UAV's for the military. I would say that you should have no problem getting a job at an aerospace company with a ME degree. when you have your technical electives, select ones that you think may pertain to aerospace, or better yet talk with your teacher/dept chair. lots of schools that offer aero degrees are actually a division of the mechanical department, thus showing the similarity of the two degrees. however, graduating from a pure aero curriculum they are almost looked down upon

    but even taking a class in robotics or something (a field you don't want to work in) doesn't so much feed you information as it does build the engineering through process - arguably the reason for going to college.

    as far as the math thing goes, your love for airplanes will prevail - at least it should. classmates of mine started in algebra 1, and admittedly it will take them longer to get a degree, having to take another year of preparatory math.
  12. Sep 11, 2008 #11
    i'm not overly offended, for the majority i agree with you completely

    its just i dont think its correct to say that knowing a lot of different things is entirely bad.

    admittedly fresh out of school, i couldn't do all the aero design on the next fighter, or the structure of the whole thing. but by the same token, i don't think its reasonable to say that a new ME is going to come out of school and completely design an engine for the newest ford vehicle. that's just the way it works, it takes years of experience for stuff like that
  13. Sep 11, 2008 #12
    It isn't bad at all. Once I had an interview at Cessna (great company BTW) where they will typically take new graduates and move them around until they find the field or position they want picking up knowledge from all disciplines on the way. They are all about getting the "best fit" so they like to recruit new graduates with a broad range of knowledge and skills. But in my experience 99% of the companies out there don't work this way. Perhaps because I am mostly engulfed in the automotive and automation industry but most employers like their employees to have as much knowledge and experience as possible specific to their position. This is probably because of the incredibly high turnover rate you get in the auto industry.

    Anyway, my advice for the OP is to get your BSME and you can later switch over to aero for graduate study and specialize in a specific area.
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