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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old June 26th, 2008, 02:02 Thread Starter
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Question Mechanical Engineering Technology vs. Engineering Science

Hi, I am currently in college and my major is mechanical engineering technology, which was described by my professors as the more applied side of Engineering. I have been considering changing my major to engineering science, which is less about the applied technology and more about the theory behind it (lots of physics, chemistry, and calculus). I was just wondering what you guys who are in college or have graduated thought about these majors. Which major do you guys think is more interesting and is a better major for someone who wants their future career to have to do with designing/inventing performance car parts or cars? Also, I am planning on getting involved in formula SAE, and I was wondering, can any engineering major get involved in that? Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old June 27th, 2008, 16:09
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I, myself, am in my 3rd year of construction engineering technology but was in mechanical engineering technology and the big difference is, indeed, the more applied side of engineering. I have heard countless times by people who work in the field that engineers do not know what they are doing because they have not spent adequate time actually welding, constructing, or building things. You can read all the books about design and theories, but there's no use if the theory can't even be produced because the actual construction of the item isn't possible. If you are wanting to actually be out there designing and fabricating things for SAE or the likes-thereof, go with the technology program because it will truly educate you for that. If you want a desk job that people from the field will constantly complain to you about how your plans didn't work, go with the engineering science. Not to say that you would be a bad engineer, but 9 out of 10 field workers correct textbook engineers due to the lack of experience.

On the other hand, if you are truely looking for a career in automotive design and fabrication, go to a technical college instead of a 4 year program. My buddies are doing just that and they learn all the details involved with vehicles and their dynamics. The money, however, is in a 4 year degree, so stick with that if you can.

Good luck with you decision and study hard! Hope you like math! lol
-Connor
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old June 27th, 2008, 18:22 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fender0122
I, myself, am in my 3rd year of construction engineering technology but was in mechanical engineering technology and the big difference is, indeed, the more applied side of engineering. I have heard countless times by people who work in the field that engineers do not know what they are doing because they have not spent adequate time actually welding, constructing, or building things. You can read all the books about design and theories, but there's no use if the theory can't even be produced because the actual construction of the item isn't possible. If you are wanting to actually be out there designing and fabricating things for SAE or the likes-thereof, go with the technology program because it will truly educate you for that. If you want a desk job that people from the field will constantly complain to you about how your plans didn't work, go with the engineering science. Not to say that you would be a bad engineer, but 9 out of 10 field workers correct textbook engineers due to the lack of experience.

On the other hand, if you are truely looking for a career in automotive design and fabrication, go to a technical college instead of a 4 year program. My buddies are doing just that and they learn all the details involved with vehicles and their dynamics. The money, however, is in a 4 year degree, so stick with that if you can.

Good luck with you decision and study hard! Hope you like math! lol
-Connor
I was thinking about that, and either way I am still going to learn to weld and fabricate just because I find that fun , but I also want to get into things like designing/inventing new products (whether it be engines, cars, or whatever) and it seems like engineering science is what I'd need for that.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old June 27th, 2008, 19:29
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Schools are all different, but I could see engineering science being more detailed, just less applicable. Applicable in the meaning of distinguishing exactly where the information could be used. I'm better at learning by doing, so the technical side is definitely better for me versus someone who learns better by reading. Either way, I don't see any of those two majors being vastly different to the point you cannot do what you wish to do after school.
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old June 28th, 2008, 20:07
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I feel that the Mech Eng Science is the better route. Your internships and jobs will teach you how to apply the theory to the task. I graduated from KU with a degree in mechanical engineering and i did formula car my senior year. You learn so much while going through formula SAE, you'll be ready for anything after that.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old June 29th, 2008, 13:26
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I've never really understood this whole "applied" versus "theoretical". Last time I checked, I went to school to learn theory. You learn "applications" on the job, very quickly... not to mention the fact that if you are interested in learning to weld, then take a class at a community college and just practice on your own.

The fact is, getting a crash course in the "applied" side, just isn't useful. Most company's I've seen employ technicians to do the work, and engineers to direct them. Thats not to say that all technicians are uneducated, or all engineers unskilled. But the fact is, that skilled labor is not something you can learn at school, its something you pick up from a lot of repeated experience and its not cost effective for engineers to be doing that. Just like its not cost effective for technicians to be doing design work.

So I think the real question is what do you want to do? If you want to do real engineering design work, get a degree in engineering. If you want to be a technian get a degree in engineering technology.
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old June 29th, 2008, 13:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fender0122
I, myself, am in my 3rd year of construction engineering technology but was in mechanical engineering technology and the big difference is, indeed, the more applied side of engineering. I have heard countless times by people who work in the field that engineers do not know what they are doing because they have not spent adequate time actually welding, constructing, or building things. You can read all the books about design and theories, but there's no use if the theory can't even be produced because the actual construction of the item isn't possible. If you are wanting to actually be out there designing and fabricating things for SAE or the likes-thereof, go with the technology program because it will truly educate you for that. If you want a desk job that people from the field will constantly complain to you about how your plans didn't work, go with the engineering science. Not to say that you would be a bad engineer, but 9 out of 10 field workers correct textbook engineers due to the lack of experience.
This is kind of a silly attitude. First, there are good engineers and bad engineers. Just like there are good technicians and bad technicians. There are also experienced engineers and inexperienced ones, just like experienced technicians and inexperienced technicians. If you were trying to restore a vehicle to literally perfect condition, you would never take a car to someone who just got out of technical school, you'd take it to someone who has 20 years of experience. Complaining that a technician who has 20-30 years of experience knows something specific that an engineer who just graduated from a 4 year school is ridiculous. Of course they do. How does that make the engineer stupid or the technician smart? It makes the engineer in-experienced and the technician experienced.

I can tell you that in my 10 years of experience of doing electrical engineering, I've never had technicians come to tell me "my plan doesn't work." Occasionally, I have people tell me something would be very hard to do and we negotiate an alternative plan that satisifes both of us. I am also usually careful to ask the technicians what is practical before specifying it. The problem is, when you design something there are a near infinite number of variables, and there are often things you simply don't know, so you have to make assumptions and estimations. You try to have some estimate on how uncertain you are design the part to tolerate the level of uncertainty you have, but sometimes thats not enough, or something happens you didn't think of. Its easy for a technician to be critical after he sees a failure in a large complicated system. Instead of thinking "Holy Cow, that guy just put 300 parts together and it was working great until this one part failed because it wasn't quite strong enough", he thinks: "Wow, what an idiot for not knowing this part wasn't strong enough beforehand." Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old July 1st, 2008, 16:53
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LOL, hpmaxim I feel your pain, we have "union" techs. Some are cool and work with you, but some can be critical. Engineers are professional and non-union. Unfortunately I am not supposed to even touch a screwdriver.

Inferno, my backrground is ME and I did do the FSAE racecar project for WPI. It was a good time. My ideal job would be to work for a race team doing telemetry and testing but I still get to work on some cool stuff. Space and jet fighter stuff.

As far as racing I do all that as hobbies, I have been into motorcycle racing for over 10 years and you meet all sorts of people. I would go mechanical engineering. You will have a good time.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old July 2nd, 2008, 09:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KU_MechE
I feel that the Mech Eng Science is the better route. Your internships and jobs will teach you how to apply the theory to the task. I graduated from KU with a degree in mechanical engineering and i did formula car my senior year. You learn so much while going through formula SAE, you'll be ready for anything after that.
I'm actually a KU ME interested in joining that team, did a little volunteer work but didn't have enough time to do it. Was it selective on who got to be on the team?
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old July 2nd, 2008, 12:49
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It also depends on what industry you want to work in. Most aerospace engineering contract positions state "A xxxxxxxxxx engineering degree from an ABET accredited engineering school. Degrees in engineering technology are not considered qualifying for this position."
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old July 2nd, 2008, 20:06
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Originally Posted by Prime_Minister
I'm actually a KU ME interested in joining that team, did a little volunteer work but didn't have enough time to do it. Was it selective on who got to be on the team?
absolutely not. In fact, there are often freshmen volunteers on the team and one happened to be a civil engineer. They need all the help they can get. I would strongly encourage you to join the team as the main duty of the volunteers is to take last years cars out on Saturdays and drive/test them while the seniors are stuck in the computer lab doing 3D Solidworks design and FEA analysis. You will be going to a lot of saturday work mornings and helping build stuff. FYI, the guys that drive the cars in competition are usually the ones who volunteered over the years and have the most seat time in a formula car. Over the summer, the team usually takes the cars to autoX races. It's a lot of work to build and maintain a formula car, but its a lot of fun too. Just start showing up to some meetings and introduce yourself.

http://www.jayhawkmotorsports.com/contact.html




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Last edited by KU_MechE; July 2nd, 2008 at 20:09.
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old July 4th, 2008, 12:18
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I totally agree with KU. I am a member of the Missouri S&T Formula SAE and the experience and skills you will pick is top notch. It will get you jobs that you could only think of; I've been able to work with Harley-Davidson Motor Company and now I'm an Engine Development Engineer in Chicago. Stick with it and you'll go places; it breeds success.



I designed the Exhaust manifold and silencer
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old July 4th, 2008, 23:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hpmaxim
This is kind of a silly attitude.
Silly, yes, but I guess this is a difference between mechanical and construction, which I suppose I should not have brought up in this mechanical discussion. However, I find a big difference in knowing the technology versus knowing what technology will work in a certain application.that is where a lot of the communication problems originate. I suppose the reasoning behind that is there are more nimrods in construction than in mechanical.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old July 10th, 2008, 03:43 Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the info and your thoughts on the subject everybody, this was very helpful in making my decision . I think I am going to change my major to Engineering Science; in the end, it just seems like the theory side of things will offer more. Also, after looking at the formula cars that KU MechE and Cacaman took part in designing, I can't wait to join Formula SAE . Thanks again.
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old August 21st, 2008, 20:43
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I'll agree with the folks above and reiterate the idea to seek out experience outside your classes. I'm finishing up my ME degree at Purdue this year, but I have to say, I have picked up so much outside of the curriculum that is just as valuable as any of my course work, if not moreso. I haven't had a chance to do formula because of other time commitments, but I have to stress internships/co-ops. I was lucky enough to co-op for 5 semester rotations at a Toyota manufacturing plant, designing and implementing production equipment for the body structure dept. There's a wealth of knowledge there that I never would have gotten in the classroom. From getting feedback from the production and maintenance groups that will interact with the equipment when I'm done with it, to learning how to communicate with contractors and suppliers, there's a lot that you just can't pull from a book or a lecture. Even just wrench time in the garage. Spending a year rebuilding my MR2 from the ground up, BGB in hand, taught me as much about the other aspects of vehicle construction (drivetrain, paint, electrical, etc) as the plant did about the body. If you can devote the time to formula, DEFINITELY do that, but also try to get some seat time in the industry you're aiming at. At best it will teach you a lot, build your resume, and maybe even put some cash in your pocket. At worst, you may find out what you DON'T want to do for a living, which is better than going into it blind after graduation.

Best of luck getting through school, and afterwards. And don't forget to enjoy the time you have there

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post #16 of 39 (permalink) Old March 15th, 2009, 23:20
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I know that this is an old thread, but as a technican, my hat is off to you engineers and interns. Having to disamble and repair your creations for the past forty-five years has been entertaining and never boring. Kudos to those of you who do ask our opinion on designs during the early stages. The final product is usually easier to service.
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post #17 of 39 (permalink) Old March 25th, 2009, 17:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inferno
Hi, I am currently in college and my major is mechanical engineering technology, which was described by my professors as the more applied side of Engineering. I have been considering changing my major to engineering science, which is less about the applied technology and more about the theory behind it (lots of physics, chemistry, and calculus). I was just wondering what you guys who are in college or have graduated thought about these majors. Which major do you guys think is more interesting and is a better major for someone who wants their future career to have to do with designing/inventing performance car parts or cars? Also, I am planning on getting involved in formula SAE, and I was wondering, can any engineering major get involved in that? Thanks in advance.
When I started college, I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. I went to Oregon Tech to study "Mechanical Engineering Technologies", and during my second year there, I was talking to my uncle who was an Electrical Engineer (UCBerkely) at Nasa (yup, he worked on the Shuttle and was a Rocket Scientist! --he has passed away unfortunately), and I was telling him about what I was studying and he realized that I was going to become a Technician, and not an engineer. He told me that companies do not consider MET's to be engineers. He advised me to switch to a university, which I did. I graduated 4 years later from Oregon State B.S. Mechanical Engineering. I basically used Oregon Tech as my "junior college" then transferred a lot of credits to OSU, thanks to my understanding Professor/Advisor (I didn't have to repeat very many classes, but ended up repeating some of them).

The point is that if you want to be considered a "real" engineer and get the corresponding higher pay, then you need to get an Engineering degree and not a Technologies degree. Either way you are going to school for 4 or 5 years, so which would you rather work your ass off for?
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post #18 of 39 (permalink) Old March 25th, 2009, 19:33
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Originally Posted by cbulen
...He told me that companies do not consider MET's to be engineers....The point is that if you want to be considered a "real" engineer and get the corresponding higher pay, then you need to get an Engineering degree and not a Technologies degree. Either way you are going to school for 4 or 5 years, so which would you rather work your ass off for?
I agree 100%. I work with a few EET's and MET's and they do not start where us engineers do.

The practical experience will come from you working on your car, or work experience. Don't short change yourself now, You will regret it later.
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post #19 of 39 (permalink) Old March 25th, 2009, 20:31
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Watch the episode of Monster Garage where they turn a Panoz into an airplane. They had a bunch of engineers who also had experience fabricating. They got that experience on thier own projects and thier own time. I especially liked the young guy that was an avionics/electronics engineer, but he built his own airplane in his spare time. He works for Cessna.

As for gaining real world experience, I found I learned plenty on the job from the fabricators, machinists, welders, etc. The companies I worked at encouraged communication between the shop guys and the engineers. Basically, we designed it, and we showed what we designed to the shop guys and they made suggestions on how to make it easier to manufacture, so we would modify the design or redesign.

Its usually the bean counters that really compromised the designs, and not the Engineers "who don't know what they are doing". Occasionally engineers do make mistakes, we are, after all, human. We must learn from those mistakes.

One time I was designing a hydraulic cylinder that was huge, around 36" in bore, and it generated millions of pounds of force. It weighed several tons. It was the biggest cylinder I ever designed, and I designed hundreds.

After spending $10,000 on one of the base heads (the end blocks of a cylinder) for machining etc, quality control rejected it. It turns out that the steel was of poor quality (IIRC it was delaminating). Thankfully that wasn't actually my mistake, as the supplier guaranteed a certain level of quality of steel. Unfortunately, all of our machining was down the drain on that particular part. Mistakes happen. Sometimes it isn't even the engineer.
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post #20 of 39 (permalink) Old April 29th, 2009, 18:26
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I agree with Cbulen. Be sure to get the best engineering degree you can. Julie and I have Mech E undergrads from UCSD, a school with a lot of theory. We both worked on the formula car, me more then her, to get practical experience. I also worked part time as a machinist. Years later, Julie has a phd from Caltech in Structural Engineering and I have an MBA from Cal Poly ... Our engineering undergrad has served us both really well. We work our day jobs literally building space robots here: www.alliancespacesystems.com . She works as a Dynamicist and I am a Program Manager. None of this would have happened if we had not buckled down in undergrad and gutted out some long nights.

You want my advice, challenge yourself in college, push your limits and see what you can learn. The older you get the slower you learn. I wish sometimes I had partied more in college, but if I had, I would not be where I am now.

Oh and speaking of scrap, I have scraped out something near a million bucks in hardware in one bad week ... Like they say, scrap happens. Luckily, it wasn't my fault, but I had to help figure out what to do to fix it.

My Two Cents,
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Last edited by WolfKatz; April 29th, 2009 at 18:53.
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