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Old 10-12-2009, 01:44 PM   #1
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Default Mechanical & Electrical engineers

Im looking to continue my education, and I was looking at these two professions. But I am curious as to what types of things you would be doing daily in these positions. I know a large group of you are nerds, so I was hoping there might be a few of each in our midsts.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:05 PM   #2
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I'm still studying...but have worked several years at a full-time internship with a company that is just waiting for me to wrap up degree to put me on salary.

I have done ALL kinds of work for them over the past several years. Everything from the AutoCAD and component design stuff you envision while in class to human resources and management decisions. I actually do a lot of time studies and cost analysis, and bitch/intern work like organizing graphical description libraries and making bar code labels (repetitive work that needs an attention to detail).

As an engineer, from what I've seen watching my boss and another engineer that mentors me, you will generally be either assigned to a group of individually taking on whatever tasks the company needs that have a technical aspect no one else is fit for. Granted this is a ~300 person company...but not everyone ends up at Exxon-Mobil.

I certainly recommend attaining a degree for one big reason:

OPTIONS

Regardless of what you end up doing, or what others do...you've always got a door open somewhere. There are "headhunters" that are payed to find experienced engineers and get them to work for smaller companies that need the expertise. The way I see it...if I ever hate what I'm doing I will -and can afford to- go do something else.

I worked 5yrs as a machinist before getting Assoc and moving into an office....and as much as I liked it sometimes I truly hated the idea of being stuck there...forever. There are a lot of great career machinists out there, and I applaud them. I tend to get bored once I've learned nearly everything...and want to move on.


I'm kind of partial on this...but I recommend Mechanical since you will have a greater variety of opportunites. Electrical guys really can do a lot...but MEs are needed everywhere, and more of them are needed. It is a broader field, and we're more common, so we don't get quite the pay of the Petroleum guys, or the smart EEs.

I started studying with the grand scheme being to design cars. Things change in 5yrs though, and so will your plans. Don't set your sight on one thing or it's easy to lose motivation...just set a goal with the assurance that ample opportunities will await.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:36 PM   #3
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I'm an ME so I'll chime in. I graduated in 98 and in that time I worked several jobs. I prefer to be hands on so I've kept my focuse on jobs that allow that. You can work in consulting, etc, but it will more likely keep you in an office. I am very glad I got an ME degree as it's very versatile. Since graduating I've had the following jobs:
Toyota Assembly Line support engineer. For this job they typically hired Industrial engineers, but ME's were also hired as they were versatile enough.
Tire design engineer for Goodyear. Almost all engineers in this field were ME's.
Electrical design engineer for a small subcontractor to Ford and GM. This job was mostly EE's, but they also hired ME's.
And lastly, I work as an Aerospace Structures engineer. This job is about 50/50 AE's and ME's.

So you can see the ME degree is very versatile as it's kind of a jack of all trades engineering degree. Good luck!

Last edited by clay; 10-12-2009 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:37 PM   #4
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i am also still studying.... 21 years old and a senior at uconn.

I started out as electrical engineering and switched over to mechanical. I found that while I do like to play around with stuff like megasquirt or logic circuits, there is just so much more out there for mechanical. I like working with my hands and seeing what I am making. You cant always get that with electrical.

As for jobs... In mechanical it is endless. You could be behind a desk using software to analize some abstract system on some huge device if that is what you are into...or you could be in a machine shop working with a machinist to model and test a prototype. It really is all up to you.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:57 PM   #5
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I'm in my 4th year as a Mfg. Eng. major (very similar to ME's, content-wise). Not to threadjack, but how many of you guys in the field are using high-level math?

It seems that everyone I talk to including my dad who was an ME for 30 years never uses anything above basic calculus. I've been required to take Calc 2 and differential equations and I'm not very good at either of them.

I understand the importance of this math, but do you utilize it manually or just rely on powerful computer programs?
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:10 PM   #6
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This is the path i'm attempting to head down myself. Pretty much at the very beginning of things in CC right now though.

I'm preparing myself to not have any kind of life when I move on to taking the ME classes.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:11 PM   #7
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Thanks for the responses. I am looking for something where I get to work with my hands. I did some CAD in HS and while it starts out fun, it got old very quickly. I would like to, in theory, design something, build it, then watch it being used. I was already leaning towards ME, and I think that is the direction I will go.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:12 PM   #8
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On threadjack:


We are required to take up through CalIII, Dif Eq, and then Engineering Analysis using MatLab. While most don't use the higher level math...you have to understand it in order to use the "powerful computer programs." I know guys that are given problems they know nothing about...but using basic formulas and their mathematical modeling knowledge they are able to kick out FEAs...with a fast turnaround.

I personal have had to solve ODEs for vibrational and combined loading problems. Not fun...but can be done in a couple of hours with some refresher work.

In school you really just learn how to learn. I implemented an inventory tracking system earlier this year that I came to understand and design within a week. They were considering paying someone full time to do that. The more you know and the faster you learn the more useful you are.


OP:

I know ZX-Tex is also a practicing ME...so hopefully he contributes.

EVERY engineer I have EVER talked to has told me to NEVER stop studying...that it is very much worth the sacrifice and hard work.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:15 PM   #9
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i use trigonometry...

occasionally I'll use kinematics.

however you'll find that while you think you dont use what you learned in school, you've actually built up a pretty solid intuition about engineering in college. and that is worth the 4-5 yrs.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icantthink4155 View Post
I am looking for something where I get to work with my hands. I would like to, in theory, design something, build it, then watch it being used.
I actually got to do this on another project this summer...two of them actually.

One design was a "headed product quick cut." It was basically a jig that can hold 6-15 bolts at a time when we have to cut them down in length. The guys were cutting them one at a time on a chop saw...and somebody lost a finger. This device fits into the hydraulic vise saws...and is MUCH faster. There was a lot more work to it than I could have imagined...coming up with a design...sourcing off-the-shelf parts like a toggle clamp...and then machining everything else. It meant a lot of drawings...but also a lot of getting out there...talking to folks...and a few days over in the mill department.

The other deal was a hanging rack for our coating department for the behemoth flanges they have to roll into the ovens. It was like a Statics HW problem on steroids...but meant a few days of helping with cutting and welding. Fun stuff.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:22 PM   #11
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My dad's an ME, he's spent most of his career designing paper equipment for paper mills. He bounced around from company to company since he kept getting better and better offers. The last offer he took was to join a sales partnership selling the very equipment he used to design. He now makes a good deal more than 6 figures and has a very good understanding of what he's selling, which helps a lot.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:10 PM   #12
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I'm in my senior year at Okla State in Mechanical Engineering Technology. This degree is a touch different from a traditional ME degree in that you only have to take up to Calc 2 and have more application based classes. The curriculum has fit me perfectly. Not that I'm bad at math, but I don't necessarily love it either. You should look into it. Lots of ME's come over to MET and are much happier. There is also a technology version for Electrical Engineers if your into that. Like others have stated Mechanical is the way to go I think. I'm a little biased though, as I don't really enjoy trying to manipulate electricity.
As for work experience, I also started off as a machinist and wanted to go further. I've interned a lot of different places and done all sorts of things from designing parts to writing planning documents to make aircraft parts. Its all up to you and what you want to do.

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Old 10-12-2009, 06:27 PM   #13
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How many of you were involved in things like FSAE? How did it change/improve your experience?
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:28 PM   #14
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Im going for mechanical, but Ive been working in a law firm and I want to be a patent attorney.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne_curr View Post
How many of you were involved in things like FSAE? How did it change/improve your experience?
FSAE at uconn is HORRIBLE. it is a bunch of non car guy retards who think they are the best engineers on earth. The school doesnt support it very well, so its just doomed. I feel if it is good at your school then it would be a great experience. My best friend is a big part of BAJA and absolutely LOVES it.

I instead chose to be the head of the Uconn car club...we are mostly MEs anyway, lol.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:19 PM   #16
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I looked into FSAE at my college, but it seemed to me most of the guys were extremely focused on it and that experience was their primary method for getting a job. Many of the guys put in 50 hour weeks and had grades to match. I had to keep some scholarships that required a B average and that took all of my time so I wasn't really able to get involved.

And not to knock MEtech degrees, but employers do note the difference and MEtech degrees don't always qualify for ME jobs.

Any engineering degree is very tough, but I think it was worth it. In fact, I wish I had stayed at gotten my Masters as going back is nearly impossible once you get in the workforce. But when I graduated, I was so tired of all the studying that I wanted nothing to do with more school. Oh well.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:21 PM   #17
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I'm a ME and hope to eventually get my boss to pay some of a Masters in ME from Univ. of wisconson-madison. But that'll never happen.

I do lots of cad work and FEA. Boring. I use sooo little of what I learned it's sad. I'm a sad man. I forget it all now. I have my trusty EIT/FE exam formula booklet though which reminds me of whatever I need to know.

My wife who is also a ME and a secondary in engineering management works for a large pharma outfit and has had a lot of interesting jobs with that company. There's sooooo much you can do with a ME it's silly. A company like that prefer engineering types over the typical business grads, the engineering way of thinking is a benefit in certain areas.

All the EE's I know are weird. Not necessarily in a bad way, but...you know what I mean.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Im going for mechanical, but Ive been working in a law firm and I want to be a patent attorney.
I'm an ME and I chose that major knowing i wanted to be a patent attorney. Now in 2nd year of law school. ME is nice because it is a true "general education." If you decide after graduating with an engineering degree you can always pursue patent law as a career move. (A few of my classmates worked in industry for 5-7 years before moving to law school).

Patent law is truly the only specialized area of the law. (there is a separate bar you have to take and only science/engineering majors are allowed to take it)

I look at it as a back up plan also, if the law thing doesn't work out, there are always lots of engineering jobs to grab up. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clay View Post
I looked into FSAE at my college, but it seemed to me most of the guys were extremely focused on it and that experience was their primary method for getting a job. Many of the guys put in 50 hour weeks and had grades to match. I had to keep some scholarships that required a B average and that took all of my time so I wasn't really able to get involved.

And not to knock MEtech degrees, but employers do note the difference and MEtech degrees don't always qualify for ME jobs.

Any engineering degree is very tough, but I think it was worth it. In fact, I wish I had stayed at gotten my Masters as going back is nearly impossible once you get in the workforce. But when I graduated, I was so tired of all the studying that I wanted nothing to do with more school. Oh well.
Don't mean to thread jack. FSAE as in automotive engineers right? I'm studying to be an auto technician at the moment and have been kinda curious about going to that afterwards...Unless its close to the same thing.
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:54 PM   #20
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You don't have to be enrolled in automotive engineering to do FSAE. My dad did it at USF as an ME student.
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