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Am I too old to enter Engineering? Don
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Posted by: wishfullthinking ®

11/07/2009, 15:01:33

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Greetings,



I joined this forum to find answers to my questions. Since you all are the experts in your field, I figured this was the best place to look.



I am a 28 year old corporate trainer. I have been working in the computer network field for 10 years. I have an associate degree in computer science as well as my Network+ and A+ certifications. I currently work for a communications company and am responsible for the education and training of the Technical Support department.



I don't like my job or my field. I want to change. My grandfather was a chemical engineer and he always talked to me about engineering. It has always intrigued me and I wanted to originally go to college for aerospace or mechanical engineering. I love mathematics and I love solving problems using math. I hold a 4.0 in all college classes I have taken to date. I don't know how I ended up where I am. It was not plan.



I am preparing to go back to school in January to finish my bachelors. I want out of the computer network field. I would like to change majors to engineering, specifically mechanical or aerospace. I have some catch up to do with some GE classes (some of my credits are not transferable) and if I go the engineering route, I will likely be 32 or 33 by the time I graduate.



Now that you have some background on me, here are my questions:



**What will it look like for a 33 year old to be entering a career field that a 23 year old is entering? Will I be limited by my age?



**Will my past experience be beneficial, detrimental or neutral to my goals?



**Is it best to finish my degree in my current field because I already have 10 years vested in this career?



**One of my life goals is to become successful in my career, and one of the aspects of becoming successful, at least to me, is reaching my full earnings potential. I'm not satisfied with a mediocre salary. Will entering this field at the age of 33 be harmful to this personal goal of mine? Will I have enough time to reach job maturity by the time I retire in my 60's?



Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. I am a straightforward guy who likes straight forward answers. Everyone says you're never too old to go back to school, and while that is true, the practicality of utilizing an education diminishes as the years go on. Please don't give me the answer that I am never too old to go back to school. I request practical answers.



-Mike







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: Am I too old to enter Engineering?
: Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- wishfullthinking Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: Marky ®

11/08/2009, 16:53:53

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Hi and welcome to the forum....It's not your age but lack of experience that may be a problem.

Here's a few scenerios

1. One area that you may have some impact in is Civil Engineering. With this economy..Mechanical Engineers are a dime a dozen...lack of experience puts you at the bottom of the pile....but we are always building.

One important area...Is cad training.

2. Another approach is become a teacher. Not corporate but in your town...but it sounds like you are looking for more $$.

3. Use your present computer skills learn Solidworks or Pro-E and perhaps you can work as a Cad Administrator in a engineering dept.

There is wide variety of career moves possible...if you have an advisor at school ask them.








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: : Am I too old to enter Engineering?
: : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- Marky Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: blake51 ®

11/09/2009, 16:15:40

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Look around your area and especially around the school your are planning on attending for engineering interships. When I was in college studing ME our department sent out emails all the time from companies looking for interns or part time help from students. Pay usually isn't the best but good experince and the right company will help you pay for college.

I graduate at 27 with two kids there were several guys in the program with me that were older 20's, 30's and 40's. Usually seems to take a bit longer to get all the classes in with a family and such but it sounds like you were a great student before so it shouldn't be a problem.

If its what you want to do then go for it.








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: Am I too old to enter Engineering?
: Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- wishfullthinking Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: zekeman ®

11/08/2009, 11:04:37

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At 28, I would consider pursuing the on-line engineering curriculum and immediately plunge into the physics, math, mechanical and electrical engineering , and structural courses offered and not worry about the degree just yet. More important to immediately seek an entry level position and get your feet wet in a SMALL engineering company with your ultimate goal of an engineering degree deferred.You don't need English or Humanities courses right now.
If, as you say, you are a 4 student, you can do it.







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: : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- zekeman Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: tom1362 ®

11/10/2009, 05:12:40

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In Response To MARKY's Comment.

I would tend to see the opposite to your view that Mechanical Engineers are a dime a dozen and that Civil Engineering is the way to go.

Presently, there are so many new buildings vacant everywhere, nobody is building large scale developments. Properties for Rent are located at every street corner. Property developers are going Burst because they have massive overheads from developing domestic sites and commercial sites that have not been sold. As a result, the demand for Civil Engineering has dramatically receeded.

On the contrary, companies have realised that it is time to buck up and develop better products at competitive prices, so demand for design mechanical engineers have increased.

Also with companies looking for ways to reduce overheads demands for HVAC systems costs to be reduced has increased.

If I was to offer a single bit of advice to you. It would be this. Automation Engineering (Mechatronics) This is a growing trend within the Engineering sector as companies are continually looking ofr ways to Automate their production lines, reduce overall expenditure and improve manufacturing time.

I have to admitt that it is one of the most interesting courses i have seen to date. I am aquainted with Civil Engineers that have Decades experiences and those who are starting out with Phd's under their belt and unfortunately it is the same story. No work !!

I would consider spending some time researching Mechatronics

HTH








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: : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- tom1362 Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: Kelly Bramble ®

11/10/2009, 08:59:42

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Civil engineering is more than buildings, civil engineers professionals work on bridges, dams, canals, lakes, oil platforms, roads, nuclear, coal, hydro- power plants, cranes, sewage treatment plants, jettys, tunnels under mountains, and more.

Our current president in the USA is more apt to spend money on civil infrastructure than products.

see: http://www.engineeringmotion.com/category/civil







Modified by Kelly Bramble at Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 09:00:26


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: : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- tom1362 Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: Marky ®

11/10/2009, 07:25:22

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Hi Tom....We'll said. I stand corrected but should have thought outside the box.

I guess I should also thrown in "Experienced" Mechanical Engineers...no experience most times gets cast aside...I do it when hiring.

Up here in New England...there is building going on. Commercial property is moving...a $20 mill solar equipment plant in my town slated in spring. My former company...$40 mill plant outside of Boston. A lot of highway work due to stimulus.

My son is an Estimating Eng...budgets & quotes new building work. He's working on 3 or 4 multi million dollar projects at once.

As a Manufacturing Engineer for a very small company...my charter was production line automation...due lack of sales/money. This part of my job has been put on hold.

Tom may be right on the Mechanical Engineer career...but I guess it depends on the area of the country you're in.








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: : : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- Marky Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: zekeman ®

11/10/2009, 10:01:05

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'I guess I should also thrown in "Experienced" Mechanical Engineers...no experience most times gets cast aside...I do it when hiring.'

Marky,
How did you get your first job? I guess you didn't follow your own advice.
What about electronics, automation, mechanical,nuclear,wind power,automotive engineering, applied physics, innovation, HVAC,environmental solar, etc, etc. Moreover, with all the unemployed blue collar workers out there now and the growth of new worker coming out, it seems to me that opportunistic companies will bring back manufacturing to the US and thus open up all the engineering disciplines required. There is a future for engineering, especially for high academic achievers.
With that many opportunities in engineering , the OP should be able to find his area of interest, perhaps while taking the coursework at college . The fields could be very rewarding both financially and psychically.








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: : : : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? Not Worthy
: : : : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- zekeman Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: Marky ®

11/10/2009, 11:24:35

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All right guys...I'll be the bad guy. This a great post tho.

I think the original poster pretty much wants as much bang for his buck as fast as possible.

I'll throw this out to back up my statement " Mechanical Engineers...no experience most times gets cast aside...I do it when hiring."

I'm planning a project to get a widget out in <6 mos...developed, tested and into manufacturing. Development time is 3 mos....
My Requirements: 5+ years ProE
10+ ISO, FDA, exp
10+ yrs widget exp.

Who do I hire? As a hiring manager...what are my options? I'm certainly can't afford to train anybody.

Someone without experience goes un-noticed. It's too bad.

As a side note to the Solar Industry..A plant down in Mass. took $5 mill in stimulus money from the state to keep going...announced after they received the funds...WE'RE MOVING TO CHINA!!

It's tough out there...I do not envy anybody starting out there.







Modified by Marky at Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 12:11:54


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: : : : : : Am I too old to enter Engineering? -- Marky Post Reply Top of thread Engineering Forum
Posted by: PPP ®

12/12/2009, 21:29:54

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OK I've tried to cut through the BS and explain things as clearly as I think they are. Please don't be turned off by the curt comments, I mean to give genuine feedback and maybe even a shock of reality.

Advice #0: Don't let my opinion be the last you get. Make time to talk to actively talk to WORKING engineers. Talk to all of your friends and try to make contacts with as many engineers as you can before you need a job. DO NOT ask for a job. Ask them what they do at work. Ask them how they got their first job. Ask them what they get paid (you'll be surprised how low it is). Compare your expectations with reality.

Advice #1: Figure out why you don't like your job. Everyone hates certain things about their job. Most people are happiest irrelevant to their job and making more money.

Advice #2: Your highest earning potential will be in IT hands down. Stick with it if your priority is earning and try to kiss ass to become a manager. That's it.

Advice #3: If "reaching my full earnings potential" is something truly dear to your heart then you need a serious attitude adjustment before you try making it as an engineer. People who become engineers don't give a sh1t about earning potential. They want to build cool new sh1t cheaper and better. Because this is seldom profitable, engineers are not well paid.

Fact #1:
At 99.9% of companies there are only 3 types of engineers: Mechanical, Electrical and Computer Science. If you are not one of these 3, hiring managers will not know where to put you. Chemical, Nuclear and Civil Engineers exist, but are niche fields-all require special government accreditation and a graduate degree.

Fact #2:
Engineers specialize. Eg: Within mechanical enginer there are: Parts Engineers (mostly), Mechatronics (some), Fluid Dynamics (few). You'll need to pick a specialty as well. See Advice #0.

Fact #3:
Few Aerospace engineers are mechanical. Those that are come from Stanford/MIT.

EE:
You have zero chance to become an Electrical Engineer. From your description you have no passion and no overlap of expertise. Please don't try.

ME:
If you learn SolidWorks you can become a mechanical draftsman with some difficulty, but without a BS or MS in mechanical you will never become a mechanical engineer. You'd have to be phenomenally motivated and financially stable to endure the pay cut to become a full blown mechanical engineer in less than 5 years (I'm talking multiple internships at little to no pay). It's plain not going to happen.

If feel strongly that mechanical engineering is where your passion.

Life Plan #1:
1. Continue working in IT, but find a SolidWorks class at a local community college. Make friends with EVERYONE you meet and state that you are trying to become a draftsman/mechanical CAD technician. Under no circumstances should you state that you want to become a mechanical engineer. You might be able to leverage your IT experience and offer to set up a PDMWorks server to manage their mechanical files.

2. If the reduced pay and demoted status don't turn you away from ME forever, then finish your ME degree at night/online. And try to search for your second ME job after 2-4 years of technician experience--then you'll have a fighting chance with a BS and 2 years experience. The market for MEs is pretty tough because computer based CAD has made things much easier to learn.

CS:
You would be wiser to consider finishing your computer science degree. The demand for programmers is still high in engineering (the highest of the 3). If you study C#, C++ AND Java you may be able to leverage your extensive IT experience and join a company as slightly higher than entry level, but I have to tell you that IT is not programming. You can have no arrogance in your skills; you will literally be less useful to any company than an undergraduate intern. You will be a drain on their resources.

Life Plan #2

FACT #3: Most Aerospace engineers are firmware programmers. Most if not all mechanical aerospace engineers come from Caltech/MIT/Stanford/PhD Overseas. No joke.
Again, I would try to find a small company that could use a part-time IT person, but also has a need for a computer programmer. Learn how to manage SVN version control running on an Apache webserver and offer to help run their internal needs. State explicitly that you expect something in the range of 65k/year range because they will assume you want 80-90k which is what most good IT people seem to demand. Use your free time to befriend a mentor and build your programming skills. If you can work at a place like that for a couple of years your Resumé will look like you have 15 years of experience with computers and it will be very easy to get a job in the 90k range (if you're very easy to get along with and a competent programmer).

Cold Hard Truth
Most of the IT people I have met are completely useless and would fail as engineers. IT tends to abuse their power and in general are a bunch of overpaid dicks. They are not team players, but we need them so we put up with it. This is the perception you will have to overcome. I probably wouldn't even mention the word IT in any interviews with CS guys.

- Anonymous Engineer

PS I'm not going to read this thread again so please don't expect a follow-up. Sorry.








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