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Engineering What Engineering path is right for me?

  1. Nov 5, 2011 #1
    I am a first year engineering student at Purdue and I don't know which path I want to go down. I know I want to do something with a direct real wold application, so no math, physics etc majors. I do want a degree in the sciences and I want a job with stability, good pay, and some contact with the product. I don't want Chem-E or EE. But the other branches of Engineering all seem interesting, Nuke, Mech, Aero, and Civil. I enjoy tinkering with things, like my dirt bike and car, I also like music and art. I am on the crew team and part of the FSAE club where we build a half scale f1 car. I would love to one day run an R&D company and patent a few ideas I have, but that is expensive and isn't going to happen over night so realistically I need a career. I came here planning on doing ME but now I am thinking Areo is cool, Civil means I get to be outside if I want or I can work in a group on big projects, if I pick Nuke I can be on the geek team and the work environment and pay seem great in a growing field, and ME is more or less universal to most tech fields. My question is, how do I decide? Any suggestions based on what I have said? I don't want to get 3 years deep into a degree and suddenly decide I don't like it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2011 #2
    Look into the courses that distinguish the sub fields and then read a little about the topic of each course. That might help you decide what you are more interested in. The bls.gov website has some good info on job outlook, and daily job activities that you might find interesting as well. Just google search for "BLS <field> engineering" to easily find the right pages (because it seems that you are in the USA). Another great thing to do would be to simply talk to people in those fields.
  4. Nov 5, 2011 #3
    Thanks I'm going to check out the BLS now.
  5. Nov 5, 2011 #4
    Nuke, Mech, and Aero all have the same core basis. . .

    Some schools with Aero/Nuke programs are taught by specialized Mech faculty. So if you like those 3 specifically, you should do Mech and then specialize. Our nuke program is 3 classes that ChE and MechE students (optionally) take in their last 2 years. It's 3 night class electives taught by people in the Mech dept.

    The core classes are all stuff like kinetics, statics, heat transfer, fluids, thermo, dynamics, calc1-3, etc. -- all mech / nuke / aero students would take these at any school.

    So if your school doesn't have an aero/nuke program, you could do Mech and be fine, and then still go to an aero / nuke graduate program. And if your school does have an aero/mech program, take a look, and I bet the classes don't differ that much.
  6. Nov 5, 2011 #5
    I think it's better to discover what lifestyle you want, and what path may lead you to this lifestyle. For example, I used to really want to work in observational astronomy. But then I realized that telescopes are usually built in the middle of nowhere, and I'd really prefer to live in a city. Same with high energy physics and the particle accelerators.

    So, if you work in a big aviation company, is it ok that it takes one decade for your product to ship, and that you might work on the same model for an entire career? If you work in civil, is it ok that you might need to spend months away from home for a big project? If you work on nuke, is it ok that you move to where the plants are, and where exactly are they?

    I don't claim to describe any of the above professions accurately. I just wanted to provide another point of view. I think talking to the people actually making a living in the field is much more revealing than looking at what's taught in courses.

    The other thing is, it may still be possible that 3 years later you'll totally hate your field no matter how well you chose. Or the world may change so much in 3 years that your chosen field gets driven into the ground.

    Oh, and welcome to Purdue ;)
  7. Nov 5, 2011 #6
    What I gathered from the BLS site is;
    Areo - I get to design airplanes, missiles etc. very cool like I thought, and good career outlook, good pay.
    Civil - Design and supervise new infrastructure, interesting but not as cool as Areo, great career outlook, reasonable pay.
    Mech - suits my interests as much as Areo, but has worst career outlook of the four, and about the same pay as civil.
    Nuke - Suits my interests least, pretty good career outlook, paid like a god.

    I am left with this, Mech, although interesting is declining in demand and I can do the same type of work in Aero. Civil is interesting but not as much as Areo, and the pay isn't as good, but it's going to be easier to get a job. And Nuke is out the more I look into it, too muck like Chem E with some Civil. So Areo looks the most promising so far. Next question would be is Areo mostly desk work with no interaction with the product? I would think it depends on situation. That's something to talk to someone in the field about.

    I'm going to have to do more research on this.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  8. Nov 5, 2011 #7
    Good point on the life style. I forgot to mention that one. I want to live near a city, and I want my day-to-day to change some what, I would hate looking at the same thing all day everyday. That's where mech would be good. Areo would be great if I can do something not related to airlines, but I don't know a lot about the field. I think I should go talk to an adviser and go from there, I bet they have something. Right now I don't know what questions to ask even if I talked to someone.
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