Considering career in Mech. Engineering... Need advice.

Hello All,

I've been a professional computer programmer for the last decade or so, and I'm considering a career change... My "dream job" is to automobiles. Along these lines, I have a few questions...

I've done a little research on automotive engineering, and it just seems to be a subset of mechanical engineering. Is this tru? Or am I missing something? Would a degree in Automotive Engineering really be more benificial than a degree in Mech Engr? Do I need to go to one of the three or so universities that offer such a degree, or will a Mech Engr degree from any good engineering-focused college get my foot in the door somewhere?

Having don ethe computer geek thing for 10+ years, I'm fairly high up on the pay-scale, and can't afford to take too much of a hit switching careers. What is the average entry level salary for MEs? And would my prior experience as a computer programmer be of any benifit?

Lastly, are there any automotive engineers in the crowd here that would be open to answering a few more detailed questions?

Any advice or information is greatly appreciated.

Thank You, Ken K.

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Ken K
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First of all, I am a mechanical engineer but not involved with the automotive field.

I think an ME degree is a natural for the automotive industry. You could major in ME but specialize in areas related to automotive. I am an grad from the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR). I know the ME students at UMR have built a Formula 1 racing car as a project. So ME is directly related to automotive.

I think the starting salary for graduating MEs is around $40k depending on experience and the economy.

You may also want to contact the Society of Automotive Engieers (SAE). I am sure they have a web site.

Hope this helps answer some of your questions. Good luck.

Tom Mull

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Tom Mull

A degree in ME would be fine for the automotive industry. As far as pay goes, it really depends on your university, etc. At my university the range for new graduates is 45-55k. If you've been a programmer for 10 years, you're likely quite a bit above that. So if you're worried about taking a pay hit, becoming a true ME is probably not the best option. As another person mentioned, moving laterally rather than starting from the bottom is what you'd want to focus on. How would you go about that? I'm not quite sure. But maybe someone else on this NG can help you. If not, try talking to people at the auto companies, and see what you could do with the skills you have.

Hope this helps at least slightly.

-- if I could fly high above the world, would I see a bunch of living dots spell the word stupidity?

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True-ish, if you accept that aero and electrics and electronics are part of a proper ME course. If I were designing an AE course I would include a great deal of project planning, FMEAs and simialr disciplines, vibration and acoustics theory, a little less maths, and a lot of written reports in the course, compared with a mechanical engineering degree.

Don't know. I haven't met anyone with an AE degree, since here in Australia the first AE degree course has yet to vomit out any product.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a good ME degree from a good uni will be more use than an AE degree from a mediocre uni. For instance I doubt that many AE lecturers will have any significant automotive experience themselves.

Your problem is not the degree, it is that we like the meat fresh so that it can be moulded. This is your real foot-in-the-door problem.

Not much, but automotive usually pays better than most mechie jobs. 50k USA sounds about right for a wet eared graduate. Ten years later you might aspire to the giddy heights of 100k. OEMs pay better than suppliers, typically.

And would

Hard to say. Not /that/ many automotive engineers code on a daily basis. If you want to code EECs or BEMs then you'll probably work for a first tier supplier, not an OEM. Most OEM development engineers who calibrate automotive computers are entering numbers into lookup tables, not coding the actual programs.

Yes, I am willing. I have been messing about with cars and getting paid for it, mostly, for exactly 24 years and 9 months, as of yesterday. Wow.

I am interested in why you think the automotive field will be a more secure, interesting or lucrative one than programming. Comparitively few automotive engineers get to play with cars to any great extent. Those of us that do, don't get paid much, typically. On the other hand we have a lot of fun, occasionally produce something neat, and are always learning.


Greg Locock

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Greg Locock

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