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Mechanical vs Electrical engineer None
Old 05-06-2011, 08:57 PM   #1
Paloya
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Dear Intj-forum dwellers,

I am seriously considering studying engineering. The 2 engineering specialisations I'm most interested in are electrical and mechanical engineering.

To all engineers: Is there a difference in lifestyle between the two?
What are the pro's and cons of each?
Which of the two provides with more options to do something completely different later?
(I read on a lot of university websites that engineers usually end up doing something completely different then before.)
Suppose I would do consulting, which specialisation is most valued by consulting agencies?

Thnx!
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:41 PM   #2
Twilight
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I provide professional liability (E&O) insurance for architects and engineers in the construction industry. I can tell you that Mechanical Engineers have to pay less for their insurance premiums than Electrical Engineers. That may mean that Meachanical Engineers have a better lifestyle because they can keep more of their hard earned money than the electrical engineers can.
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
TylerRDA
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It's really, for cereal, personal preference. My father is an electrical engineer (INTJ) and loves it. I'm a biochem major but I still love circuits, etc., and mechanics to a lesser degree. I think the reason I like electrical better is because it's so abstract, yet so obviously 'concrete' according to my mode of thinking because of the application of mathematical concepts (especially graphs, trig functions, etc.) But some of the most abstract thinking people I know are mechanical engineering majors, so I figure they have similar feelings about their vocation. So I guess ask yourself, if you had a gear set and a circuit kit layed on the table, which would you fiddle with more?
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:48 PM   #4
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From what I hear, EE has the most math. There are two basic divisions, power generation/distribution and electronics. ME has more variety.

While your preference is obviously important, there is still a whole lot of variety in both fields and you can find work you like with any major engineering degree (something like naval, petroleum, nuclear, or fire safety engineering gives you less scope). The most important choices will be made after you get your B.S. I recommend avoiding any kind of work that is easily outsourced, even if you like it.
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:31 AM   #5
Ytterbium
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I've been thinking about both aswell. But I lean towards electronics. Mainly because mechanical engineering is more 'simple', maybe the wrong word for it. You can always revert to mechanical easier from electronics than the other way around. As mentioned there's more math in Electronics. So I would say it's better to choose electronics and then read the basic mech depending on what you'll work on. What do you want to work with?
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:46 PM   #6
robloja
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  Originally Posted by Abgrund
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There are two basic divisions, power generation/distribution and electronics.

Communications, signal processing, and controls are commonly seen as separate divisions of EE. Electronics is typically split between analog and digital. ME is a much broader field, but (most) ME jobs tend to involve less design/analysis and involve a lot of design codes, project management, drafting, etc.

EE pays better and typically is more mathematical, analytical, and abstract. It depends on what your interests are, but either degree is a very good option. There is enough variety in either field to find interesting work. Do not get either degree solely based on the starting salary- you will be unhappy if you do...

One major difference between them- people can rationalize (often incorrectly) ME concepts based on their daily experiences (with some significant exceptions at the nano-scale, supersonic flows, etc). MEs are sometimes lazy about actual engineering as a result. Also, if you work as an ME, there will be many more "armchair quarterbacks."

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Old 05-07-2011, 03:12 PM   #7
JonD
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  Originally Posted by Paloya
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Dear Intj-forum dwellers,

I am seriously considering studying engineering. The 2 engineering specialisations I'm most interested in are electrical and mechanical engineering.

To all engineers: Is there a difference in lifestyle between the two?
What are the pro's and cons of each?
Which of the two provides with more options to do something completely different later?
(I read on a lot of university websites that engineers usually end up doing something completely different then before.)
Suppose I would do consulting, which specialisation is most valued by consulting agencies?

Thnx!

Based on my experience:

  • Electricals earn more
    Electrical is math heavy, and quite abstract

I work in consulting as an Electrical Engineer, in the mining industry. The key industries for consulting are: mining, energy, infrastructure & environmental. Mining is more heavy on the mechanical in so far as the process engineering goes. Energy is mainly electrical, and I'm not sure about the last one I mentioned. I think there's a shortage of electrical engineers as compared to mechanical, though, which will help when it comes to job searching.
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:45 PM   #8
Abgrund
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Infrastructure and Environmental draw more heavily on Civil Engineers (and some schools even have a degree in Environmental E.) But like I said, you can get into most industries with any of the major engineering disciplines, especially Civil.

If money is important to you, or you just like math / electronics, EE is probably a good choice.

CE would be better if you want to keep your options wide open and like getting outdoors once in a while, but it pays less and you have to get a professional license.

ME is probably somewhere in between in terms of versatility and of income. Job security is probably less, but it may be more fun if you like machines.

If you go for a minor field, you may have trouble finding work and/or be forced to make frequent long distance moves, but when the market is right you are golden. The work is probably steadiest for Chemical. Industrial seems to be targeted more at engineering managers and accountants than at engineering proper.
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Old 05-09-2011, 01:25 PM   #9
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As an ME there is a great amount of job security and variety. ME's work on everything from furnaces to nuclear reactors to robots to space ships. It is, by far, the most varied field of engineering. So much so that many new disciplines of engineering that are becoming their own degrees are just split offs from ME specialties.
The nice thing is, you can get a job anywhere in the world you like doing a vast variety of things. If you get bored in one field, you can easily slide into just about anything else.

EE's make more, considerably more even, but they're not as secure in their work since it's much more narrow in scope. I have yet to meet an unemployed ME, not so for EE's.

This is all just from my personal experience, I claim no actual authority on the subject.

In the end, I'd suggest this: Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do and you'll be much happier. Money is simply a means to an end, aim for the end and you'll get there.
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:35 AM   #10
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I would suggest EE

Mainly as I started off as an EE, and the challenge and varied scope is large.
That is unless like me you are colourblind, and find that eventually causes a problem with companies insisting EE's take colour blind tests even for desk jobs.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:25 AM   #11
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I'll not repeat the good advice and perspective already provided. Three comments:
1. ME is more Physics heavy (meaning differential equation heavy) whereas EE is more abstract Math heavy (think set theory and linear algebra). So both fields are hard and math heavy, but in different ways.
2. Consider how can you make your BS "special"! If you can marry "design" or "ecological sensibility" with a ME degree (robotics is so passe now) that'd be hot. Similarly an EE degree with a few courses in marketing could make you desirable from a consultancy point of view.
3. It is easy to do consulting with EE than with ME (unless you're into CAD or CNC machines) and it is closer to Computer Science which is where innovation seems to be coming from these days. But if you really like to BUILD stuff, ME is the better degree (though Civil would be more appropriate there but CE is relatively boring).
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:11 PM   #12
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I would suggest the gold colar Job of Bio-medical engineering which draws on electrical, mechanical and biological experience. That is a the best paying job and allows you to move between them. I'm an ME, but then got my masters in electro optics . . . so that I'm well grounded in all forms of hardware . . . and still I wished I had gone the bio route . . . perhaps that is in my future . . . after my doctorite in opitical nano technology.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:03 PM   #13
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Seems that EE can take on ME with greater ease than an ME moving towards EE. I would recommend EE if no interest bias towards either exists. I found a natural aptitude for ME and not so much for EE, so consider which area suits your style of thinking. You will succeed in the field you enjoy, and you will likely enjoy a field that vibes with your talents. Money will flow from either, but not so if you don't enjoy what you're doing.

The above is a bit out of scope of what you asked, but either field is good with respect to transferring into something different later on; however, consider that without an interest, your grades may suffer, and without good grades or a conveyable passion, it may be difficult to break into any initial career path that may potentially give you the opportunity or experience to further transfer into a different or tangetial field.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:14 PM   #14
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  Originally Posted by Abgrund
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If you go for a minor field, you may have trouble finding work and/or be forced to make frequent long distance moves, but when the market is right you are golden. The work is probably steadiest for Chemical. Industrial seems to be targeted more at engineering managers and accountants than at engineering proper.

Chemical did weather the recession rather well, at least for those who already had jobs. Now things are improving and more recent graduates are getting hired up quickly as companies rebuild their staffs.

My degree is in Chemical Engineering and I work as a Controls and Instrumentation Engineer, which places me in between process and pretty much everyone else when it comes to building chemical plants, refineries, etc.

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Old 05-17-2011, 10:05 PM   #15
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I don't know if this helps but I talked an ME who is now solving problems on buildings and traveling around the state instead of working in ME. It's possible you have more options with ME than you considered. I'm in a similar boat. I wish there was CivE around here but there isn't unfortunately. But the MechE program looked really interesting as far as hands on problem solving goes.
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:07 AM   #16
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From what I hear, EE has the most math. There are two basic divisions, power generation/distribution and electronics. ME has more variety.

No-one's mentioned Photonics/Electrophysics.

I say make your decision based on your particular talents. If you have outstanding spatial ability, go for ME. If you're better at higher level math, go for EE.

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Old 05-18-2011, 10:32 AM   #17
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  Originally Posted by Haumea
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No-one's mentioned Photonics/Electrophysics.

I say make your decision based on your particular talents. If you have outstanding spatial ability, go for ME. If you're better at higher level math, go for EE.

Higher math is evident in ME too . . . there were many multi variable partial differential equations for fluid flow mechanics . . . and Kinematics is no since for doing Matrix calculations . . .
You are right though, tallent is a big key here . . . but I'd consider doing something you like more.

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Old 05-18-2011, 12:53 PM   #18
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  Originally Posted by Ytterbium
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Mainly because mechanical engineering is more 'simple', maybe the wrong word for it. You can always revert to mechanical easier from electronics than the other way around.

Incorrect, mojambo.
I don't know why some of you guys seem to have this idea.
Since all engineering students have to take both electrical and mechanical related classes for the first couple years, MEs are as familiar with basic EE concepts as EEs are ME concepts. That said, I think the two subjects require slightly different types of thinking.

I would recommend studying whatever interests you, not whatever you may think will benefit you more.
I think ME would be the better choice if you are more hands on and intuitive. ME problems can usually be approached from more different angles than EE problems. It's usually more about seeing the big picture and knowing how to apply what you know to the particular problem and somehow making it all work.
EE would be better if you like applying more complicated math within a more narrow and specific framework.

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Old 07-09-2014, 09:46 PM   #19
ammari
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Well it's not that easy to determine your career, I am an electrical engineer ,lately I found that I have interests for software,programming and reverse engineering thus I started studying them in my private time and I must say it would be difficult to shift my career path if it was a mechanical engineering start

You need to remember that if you are an intx you will find it difficult to stay in a single job, most of the jobs can repeat it self this cause frustration when you can't leave and start fresh with responsibilities so make sure you take the right path
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