How far should I aim...?
I think I want to try and major in engineering for college, because I like designing and problem solving.
There's a lot of different branches... I'm sure a lot of people probably choose mechanical engineering, which deals with industrial and everyday objects (maybe?). However, some seem really high up there, like aerospace, which deals with space stuff!
It just seems like some of them way up there would be kind of hard to find a job for, since, for example, I don't think there is space companies all over the place... it seems like it would be hard to find a job in that field.
Asked By: Dream Puddle - 6/19/2009
You have a good point about being able to find places to work in more "specialized" branches of engineering. If you scan job postings, you'll probably see the most for mechanical, computer, and electrical engineers. But, like most things in life, it depends...
If you go to school and study aerospace engineering, you'll find out that a lot of the courses, especially at the undergraduate level, have a good number of mechanical engineering students in them as well. As a matter of fact, while I was at the University of Florida, they actually combined the mechanical and aerospace engineering departments into one! But once you start looking for a job, just because you have an aerospace degree doesn't mean you can only work for an aerospace company!
All of the structural analysis classes you will take can be applied to building cars, bridges, buildings, ships, power plants, etc. Your fluids and aerodynamics classes can be applied to all of those things as well. Classes in controls can be applied to cars and ships, power plants, robotics... Thermal classes can be applied to electronics packaging. I think the only aerospace course you wouldn't be able to apply more broadly would be propulsion, because most folks don't put jet engines or rockets on their cars!
So the point is, with an aerospace degree, you can feel comfortable applying for any job your friends in mechanical engineering are applying for.
Now, if you decide you really want to work with airplanes or spacecraft, you will be kind of limited. There are still lots of options, though - you've got your big companies building planes and engines, like Boeing, GE, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce; you've got the general aviation manufacturers, like Cessna and Gulfstream; there's the "old space" organizations like NASA, United Space Alliance, Boeing, Lockheed, ULA, and Orbital; there's the "new space" companies such as Scaled Composites and SpaceX... Plus, all of those companies have suppliers, and there are lots of consulting firms that work in the industry.
And don't forget, all of those companies need more than just aerospace and mechanical engineers - they need electrical and computer engineers, materials engineers, industrial engineers, maybe even biomedical engineers (if they're launching people into space). Plus a whole host of other specialties in math and science. So if you really want to work at NASA but aren't that into mechanical engineering, you've still got lots of options!
Answered By: tomsing98 - 6/19/2009