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Thread: Transitioning to mechanical engineering, where to start?

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Transitioning to mechanical engineering, where to start?

    Hey everyone,
    I'm glad I've been able to find a forum full of like minded people. Hopefully I can find some helpful answers here, so I'll get right to it here.
    I'm currently attending college courses majoring in mechanical engineering. I have been working in the HVAC industry now for 10 years and I am fully licensed here in the state of Connecticut. I do service, installs, and maintenance of nearly all forms of mechanical equipment in commercial and industrial buildings.
    That being said, I am currently in my first year of college but I would like to know if, considering my work experience, I would be able to find a job in the engineering field as early as this year? I don't expect to be hired immediately as an engineer as I don't yet have the required licensing and certification. But is there a position or positions I can apply to that would let me get in the door?

    After 10 years I'm finding that my current career just isn't enough for me. While my job is extremely technical at times, and I am very good at what I do, I want to do more with my life.
    For perspective, I am 26, married with 2 kids, working and going to school full time. It hasn't been difficult yet but I'm expecting greater intensity in the future. My current GPA is a 4.0.

    All things considered I'm hoping to break into the engineering field this year but I'm just not sure where to begin from where I am now.

    Thanks to anyone who can help me out here.

  2. #2
    Principle Engineer
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    Think about this - Consider getting a Stationary Engineers license so you can get a night job watching some hospital or school HVAC plant. Study when things aren't busy and go to school during the day.

  3. #3
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G_Tibbs View Post
    That being said, I am currently in my first year of college but I would like to know if, considering my work experience, I would be able to find a job in the engineering field as early as this year? I don't expect to be hired immediately as an engineer as I don't yet have the required licensing and certification. But is there a position or positions I can apply to that would let me get in the door?
    I doubt it as the engineering degree is the key to most employers. There is the strong possibility that you cold an opportunity as designer or similar role.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

  4. #4
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    Most engineering firms have a staff of "Designers" and "Senior Designers". Generally, these are folks that do a lot of the footwork, drafting, and details, but don't have an engineering degree. If a firm near you is in the hiring mode, they would give preference to someone who is already on the engineering education path. Sounds like a very good option for you.

  5. #5
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    First off, great choice with engineering. It's a rewarding career choice but it's a challenging one as well if you don't have your ducks in a row.


    Those beginning 100 level courses will get heavy right from the getgo. So why not rest up and get organized instead? Get all your stuff together - stationary, scientific calculator, files, binders, graphing paper, a USB drive, your laptop etc. You could try and get an idea of what textbooks might be required in your initial classes.


    Speaking of calculator, do a bit of research now and DO invest in one with graphical capability. I will assure you it's going to be one of your best friends for the next 4 years. I'm not suggesting you heavily depend on it, but one of the things I regret now when I look back at my college years is not having harnessed this tool more.


    After you get the general point, there's really no rationale to sit and hand calculate quadratic roots over and over again, it's just not the smart way to do things when you have just an hour on your test and you've got a heck of a lot to complete in front of you. Young engineers these days have to be handy with computers, and the most overlooked happens to be the calculator. More so, it's instruction manual ! So yes, don't throw that out the window either!


    Secondly, I assume you'll be attending a big campus. If not that's okay, but otherwise, get familiar with the campus map. Knowing where the key buildings and facilities are located will help you tons when you have to rush to classes. I know when I was going to college, I had to worry first about things like where I was going to stay, who I was going to dorm with, how far the dorm was from class, what buses could I take to school and so on!


    Put AutoCAD slightly down in the list of things to do. If you insist on brushing up on software, I suggest you get familiar with the latest version of Microsoft Excel. Fire this program up and go over some tricks, like for example, how to do scatter plotting, draw trend lines, doing cell referencing, pivot tables, things of that nature. In fact, even if you didn't do all these yet, just getting familiar with where all the ribbons and menus are will help you immeasurably. You'll remember my words when you're slogging through a 20 page project report and you're sweating it in the 11th hour trying to do a really silly thing. Been there, done that!


    I don't have much more to add to this. Relax, take it slow. You'll be busy as a bee in a few days so enjoy the free time now.
    Last edited by Kelly Bramble; 05-14-2016 at 07:29 AM.

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