Mechanical Or Electrical???

I have been asking myself and other people this question should i go into the field of electrical or mechanical engineering? I am quite fascinated by both but do not want to take a double major.

Since you’re fascinated with both, why not try Robotics Engineering. WPI is the only college in the world that offers it, and I am currently enrolled and loving it.

Also, WPI is very involved in FIRST Robotics. They sponsor a team (190) that is built on campus with students from Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science.

They also offer two full-ride scholarships for people involved in FIRST.

Or, if you’re willing to cross the border into the Great White North, you might want to look into Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. There is even a scholarship for FIRSTers going into Mechatronics Engineering at Waterloo.

Yeah I don’t mind crossing borders, not like i haven’t before:D
I am not that fascinated in robotic engineering, kinda odd…

I would say electrical. But that’s just my biased opinion.


I really don’t know for you though. What are your like’s/dislikes?

Virtually every school that offers engineering–at all–has both ME and EE. Most of the engineering schools offer a course that can help you choose which you like. Many make that course required–here at SDSM&T, 9 of the 12 engineering programs/departments require the course.

Where are you going to college, just to know? Or is that dependent on this? (If the latter, go in undeclared and choose after taking courses in both or a decision course. I’m doing that right now.)

It seems like mechanicals pick up on basic electrical knowledge as they go. Mechanical is a pretty broad field as it is and you cover many types of engineering. Electrical isn’t as broad. You may want to look want ads for the type of career you would be doing when you graduate. Sometimes an electrical position will list either a degree in EE or ME. Also, if you decide on a degree and then want to switch, it might be easier to switch from ME to EE as intro to mechanical classes typically cover designing and physics. Your best option would be to talk to someone at the school you are considering. They can probably help match you with students of each major and go over the differences between both majors.

I have several degrees, an AS in EE, a BS in ME and an MS in ME. I originally planned to be an electrical engineer (hence the AS in EE) After I got to the 4 year program and started taking courses, I seemed to like the ME courses better (in early engineering you have have to take both) it may have been the personality of the professors (the EE people tended to be abrasive). At any rate, I got my undergrad degree in ME and have enjoyed working as an ME for many years. I would probably do the same if I had to start over.

My 2 cents.

This is not an easy question to answer. We know so little about you and what you like. High school counseling offices have a variety of questionaires that can examine your likes and aptitudes. I would suggest taking one or more of those. I would also take a look back at things you have investigated when you were younger. Were you always taking apart your bike or your radio? When you walk through your school do you wonder how they bolted it together or how they ran the wiring and what might it connect to out back? This is one of the hardest decisions you will make in life and you want to as right as you can. If you pick a career you really like, you will never work a day in your life. Someone will pay you to perform your hobby.
I took and received a degree in EET. I was good with my hands and found it easy to fix certain things but I needed more tools to analyze circuitry and electrical problems. I needed to understand why RF acts differently than audio and why certain real world issues needed to be overcome in order to preserve video and broadcast signals to your house. Along the way I have met some great people in both fields. My son is a ME working at UL.

This seems to me to be the most important thing…what are you interested in?

And I agree it’s a tough decision, and very personal. My identical twin brother went into EE, I went into ME.

Keep your options open for now. Don’t go into a program that forces you to pigeon hole yourself into a specific slot right away. My alma mater (Olin) won’t let students declare a major until their sophomore year, and I strongly agree with that philosophy.

I strongly disagree with hallk, though I may be biased as an ECE myself. The amount of “cross pollination” you receive is not a function of your major, but rather a function of your own interests/drive and the quality of the program you are enrolled in.

You might want to consider Systems Engineering, as it sorta kinda not really straddles the two.

It’s also a whole different ball game. The systems folks tell the MEs and EEs what the requirements/constraints are for their system.

And don’t limit yourself, either. There are a lot of other engineering majors out there, like Civil, Mining, Materials, Chemical…the list goes on.

Honestly i do you not exactly what to do because i have never actually done anything that is directly involved with mechanical, but i have not done anything major in electrical either. My college is something i hope to decide based on my major, so i can go towards what is best for my major.

Thanks for your inputs and i will keep them in mind when it comes time to decide. :smiley:

There is a 3rd option. Mechatronics engineering, which is a combination of both. I was faced with your same delimna. I was torn between electrical and mechanical. My first year i declared myself as a mechanical, but started to miss the electrical side of things. When i found out my school was offering a Mechatronics degree, i jumped on it and so far have been happy. Its a personal decision and you should go with what you feel. Look at the kind of careers each offers when you graduate. Remember, alot of the basic classes overlap between EE and ME. You can easily take core classes for a while until you make up your mind.

I’m almost to the point where I need to make this decision also. Can anyone go deeper into what an EE does and what you learn about?

An EE degree, like an ME, doesn’t lock you into much at all. It’s a huge field and you could end up doing all sorts of things. I have a few EE friends. One is working on wind mills in New England developing weather logging equipment and another is working for a company that makes aircraft lighting products. Both use the same basic skills but have very different responsibilities.

I can tell you that your education will probably start with basic technical math and DC/AC circuits. From there you’ll get into logic, microcontrolers, signals and programming. All the while you’ll be taking more advanced math courses. By the time you graduate you’ll have created a senior project that incorporates what you’ve learned, sometimes as a group. EE senior projects are often robotic in nature.

If you really are unsure of which one, a lot of technical schools offer a bachelors degree program in electro-mechanical engineering, or something similar. It’s basically 2 associates degree programs, one in EE and ME, welded together to form a bachelors. Holders of one of these degrees are likely to end up in a very hands on position, perhaps in a supervisory role over a small team. Emphasis is on skills, experience and flexibility, and less so on high level theory. They have excellent placement rates and young people with this kind of degree are aggressively recruited. If you want a technical job right away with the opportunity to move up, this is a good option. In any case, it’s a good opportunity for you to get a side by side comparison of the two fields.

Both fields are so broad, it’s hard to limit what an EE does or an ME does - either one can do just about anything. The good news for those folks on the fence is that there is a lot of overlap in the math and theory when dealing with things like energy, power, and system stability, so you can pick a program or make your own mix from EE and ME for the first two years and then decide. The college I attended my freshman year (Cooper Union) had no difference between ME and EE programs in the first year - calc, physics, chem, thermodynamics, english, programming, whatever.

Every college has “suggested” courses to take at suggested times, but they all assume a single major and a four year stay. You don’t have to do that - this isn’t high school, and there’s no time limit. You can try one thing and if it’s not a good fit, try something else. You can change concentrations, majors, schools, or advisors at any time. You can try to get a co-op position for a semester to get a better idea of what’s available. If it takes a semester or two longer to earn your degree, that’s absolutely not a problem.

My advice is, first, second, and third: don’t worry. It is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be made all at once, and certainly not all right now. Try one, explore it as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to change your mind later. The worst thing that’ll happen is that it’ll take a little longer than you originally thought (and five years after graduation, you’ll only be glad). One advantage is that you’ll have a broader background than many of your peers. You should be free enough to tailor your course selection with your out-of-major electives to keep yourself interested. Relax.


P.S. I’m an EE, doing mostly circuit design since graduating in '85

Just adding a little to what a lot off other smart people have said, don’t get too settled or worried about not be settled yet. Get started in a good engineering school and look for opportunities to Coop. Coop programs let students “try out” different careers. It also lets employers try you out. Its one of those rare win-win situations. It looks great on a resume when its time to get the real job as well.

Good luck!

I suggest doing a job shadow or two. Perhaps one of an ME and one of an EE. This will give you a little more of a visual of where you could be in the future. Granted, the odds of you having the exact same job as the person you job-shadow is very low. This is just meant to give you a little more data to consider when making your decision. I did something similar between an ME and an MET and found that I definitely wanted the ME degree.