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Thread: Which field to pursue?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Which field to pursue?

    Hello everyone, I'm having trouble deciding what engineering path to choose out of these two:

    1) Aerospace Engineer. Specifically, an Astronautical Engineer (is that what it's called?), maybe try working for NASA.
    2) Geothermal Engineer.

    I'm interested in both but can't really decide which to progress further down. I'm sorry if I come off as wildly uneducated on this, but I can't really find this question anywhere. I'm only a high school junior so I still have some time to decide, though, help would be nice.

    Also, any more specifics on these two areas would be awesome (what's required skill-wise and personality-wise, what a day is like for one, etc.).

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    A voice from the opposite end of an engineering career: At this point in your life you have plenty of time to make any final decisions. If you could save your message and then look back at in 20 or 30 years, you would be amazed at all the changes in that time. Trust me, at this point you don't really know what final career you will be following. You do, however, know what kinds of things fascinate you, intrigue you, turn you on. I assume that's why you are pursuing the whole field of engineering.

    When I was at your point in life I discussed the very same question with my father, who was a mechanical engineer specializing in machine design. He and I had always shared a fascination with all things aviation. We built and flew models, attended airshows, read biographies of the Wright brothers. It just made sense to me that I should pursue Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering. He gave me some very good advice. He was very plain spoken man and didn't care who he offended. He said, "A good mechanical engineer could probably get an aerospace engineer's job, but an aerospace engineer probably could not get most mechanical engineers' jobs." (No offense to any aerospace engineers out there!)

    All he was really saying is that the wider and more basic your educational base is the better. A fresh young aerospace engineer and a fresh young mechanical engineer enter the job market. The mechanical engineer could get hired by any number of manufacturers, utilities, government agencies, etc. He or she could go to work designing cars, bridges, buildings, automatic equipment, special machines, consumer products, turbine engines, ...... The aerospace engineer probably does not have that many options.

    If you look all the diverse fields of engineering, you will see that they all evolved from the few basic disciplines - mechanical, electrical, and civil. Actually I think civil engineering was the first official engineering field. If you study the life stories of the early famous engineers you'll see that they all started as civil including even John A. Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    I always advise young folks to immerse themselves in the basics. You have plenty of time to specialize later, and nothing you learn in basic mechanical, electrical, or civil will be wasted. If you choose later to go back to school to get more specialized education, you will do so with much more confidence.

  3. #3
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    We need a rubber stamp for these kind of questions. Seem to be getting at least one a week.

    My guess is if you have to ask, then none of the options are for you. Find a course in life that will excite you and you will not need to ask.

  4. #4
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    I am in a similar position as blender so I understand where he is coming from. I have spent countless hours reasrching trying to see what path best suits me but not having people in the field I can talk to it is hard to know what to do in order to end up where you want to be.

    My situation is I am going back to school to get my engineering, at firts thought I clearly wanted to be an electrical engineer as I am currently a licensed electrician and that is my main interest. But more specifically in my field I am fascinated with power generation, wether it be nuclear, bio gas powered recip engines and turbines, tidal generators, hydro electric stations, or harnessing the power of lightning. What I have been thinking about lately is that Electrical Engineering alone might not be enough... it will be great for the electrical side of it but what about all the rest, its all about making the energy from a different source that is not electrical at all. Currently I am thinking a combination of Electrical and Mechanical.

    Jboggs was very fortunate as a child and young adult as he had a mentor who happened to be his father, guide him and offer advice. School is expensive financially and us young future engineers would like a place to get some guideance. Everyone says its just important to be happy at the end of the day, and I agree but I do need to know what education I need in order to make me happy.

    Brad

  5. #5
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    Dear JBOGGS, I personally like your reply very much. One can not give a very correct advice more than this. You prove that, there are still good mentors exist in the world.

    Thanks and regards,
    GM

    Quote Originally Posted by jboggs View Post
    A voice from the opposite end of an engineering career: At this point in your life you have plenty of time to make any final decisions. If you could save your message and then look back at in 20 or 30 years, you would be amazed at all the changes in that time. Trust me, at this point you don't really know what final career you will be following. You do, however, know what kinds of things fascinate you, intrigue you, turn you on. I assume that's why you are pursuing the whole field of engineering.

    When I was at your point in life I discussed the very same question with my father, who was a mechanical engineer specializing in machine design. He and I had always shared a fascination with all things aviation. We built and flew models, attended airshows, read biographies of the Wright brothers. It just made sense to me that I should pursue Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering. He gave me some very good advice. He was very plain spoken man and didn't care who he offended. He said, "A good mechanical engineer could probably get an aerospace engineer's job, but an aerospace engineer probably could not get most mechanical engineers' jobs." (No offense to any aerospace engineers out there!)

    All he was really saying is that the wider and more basic your educational base is the better. A fresh young aerospace engineer and a fresh young mechanical engineer enter the job market. The mechanical engineer could get hired by any number of manufacturers, utilities, government agencies, etc. He or she could go to work designing cars, bridges, buildings, automatic equipment, special machines, consumer products, turbine engines, ...... The aerospace engineer probably does not have that many options.

    If you look all the diverse fields of engineering, you will see that they all evolved from the few basic disciplines - mechanical, electrical, and civil. Actually I think civil engineering was the first official engineering field. If you study the life stories of the early famous engineers you'll see that they all started as civil including even John A. Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    I always advise young folks to immerse themselves in the basics. You have plenty of time to specialize later, and nothing you learn in basic mechanical, electrical, or civil will be wasted. If you choose later to go back to school to get more specialized education, you will do so with much more confidence.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by blender View Post
    Hello everyone, I'm having trouble deciding what engineering path to choose out of these two:

    1) Aerospace Engineer. Specifically, an Astronautical Engineer (is that what it's called?), maybe try working for NASA.
    2) Geothermal Engineer.

    I'm interested in both but can't really decide which to progress further down. I'm sorry if I come off as wildly uneducated on this, but I can't really find this question anywhere. I'm only a high school junior so I still have some time to decide, though, help would be nice.

    Also, any more specifics on these two areas would be awesome (what's required skill-wise and personality-wise, what a day is like for one, etc.).
    You have plenty of time to figure it out. When I graduated high school I too didn't know exactly what I wanted to do for a career. About three years after I graduated from high school I decided to go to school for mechanical engineering.

    I would also recommend you take as many advance calc classes while you are in high school so you don't have to take those classes in college.

    As far as what skills are involved, depends on which companies you work for in the Aerospace Engineering field. I am assuming once you get into the field you are required to work your butt off. Going to school for engineering is probably one of the hardest things I am experiencing right now. It takes a ton of commitment and hard work. Good luck!
    Last edited by ME_student; 02-02-2013 at 09:19 PM.

  7. #7
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    Sorry for not responding in a few weeks, guys, but I've been loaded with school work.

    I really appreciate the help, though, especially from jboggs. This is probably one of the better forums I've been on. The thing is, I'm very interested in the vastness, beauty, and danger of space, and any work to further our venture into it sounds like something I'd really like to be a part of. I think I understand what you guys said though, about choosing a broad field then specializing further after.

    I'm going to try going for the aerospace degree later on, after maybe getting a degree in one of the basic ones. At any rate, though, thanks. Maybe now I can focus more, and if I decide I don't want to be an aerospace engineer later on, then the others allow for more flexibility to change my career path.

    Thanks, again.

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