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branches of engineering - which to choose?! (1 Viewer)

viviannn12

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hey guys,

a year 11 here. recently, my parents have been pressuring me a little to choose which degree i want to pursue in university.
i'm pretty set on engineering - just because it feels like a good fit for me - but i'm having trouble deciding which area.

i am about to take 4u maths, 3u english, chem and phys in year 12, so any suggestions on engineering?
im open to all thoughts :)

thanks
 

enghero

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hey guys,

a year 11 here. recently, my parents have been pressuring me a little to choose which degree i want to pursue in university.
i'm pretty set on engineering - just because it feels like a good fit for me - but i'm having trouble deciding which area.

i am about to take 4u maths, 3u english, chem and phys in year 12, so any suggestions on engineering?
im open to all thoughts :)

thanks
I'm quite partial for Civil Engineering being a civil engineer myself.
It's by far the easiest engineering and the one where you can easily score a job once you get out.
I've got a blog post that covers this topic. Private message me if you want to see the post.

Having said that, my sister is a biomedical engineer by qualification but works more as a mechanical engineer.

Anyways, it's good to have more female engineers in the world instead of the stereotype male no matter the branches.
 

Young Laflame

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Bioinformatics or Mechatronics or Electrical engineering fam . Don't even front. Research these 3. Then again there is always flexible first year where you can try out everything then decide.
 

BLIT2014

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You could do a flexible engineering programme whereby you don't declare your major until after first year. This gives you an opportunity after you try the subjects out to help determine which you enjoy more.

Civil or bio engineering typically has more females enrolled if you are interested in taking that into consideration.
 

Neil_

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You could do a flexible engineering programme whereby you don't declare your major until after first year. This gives you an opportunity after you try the subjects out to help determine which you enjoy more.

Civil or bio engineering typically has more females enrolled if you are interested in taking that into consideration.
lol wtf who picks their degree based on amount of females? might as well get tinder while you're at it.
 

30june2016

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Neil_ said:
lol wtf who picks their degree based on amount of females? might as well get tinder while you're at it.
Teh person who posted originally is a gril

Classes tend to be better if you're not stuck being the only girl in your class.
 

blyatman

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If you're not sure just take the flexible first year option. Also, as mentioned below, job prospects are greatest for civil engineers. Software and IT job prospects are also pretty good if you're into programming, since every sector needs them. Electrical also have good job prospects. Job prospects for mechanical are reasonable. Job prospects for biomed aren't great - there's very few biomed jobs out there. However, most mechanical engineering jobs will accept biomed engineers since there's a strong overlap. Needless to say, aerospace engineers have the worst prospects in terms of finding a job directly related to their degree.

Keep in mind that most graduates (I'd say >70%) from the mechanical-related streams (e.g. biomed, mech, aero) don't end up finding jobs in engineering, since the job market in that sector isn't huge to begin with. Most mech-related engineers I know are in consulting, finance etc, since there's a much larger variety of jobs in that area and they look for people with quantitative backgrounds. I myself graduated with aerospace engineering, and I consider myself one of the few lucky ones who landed a job in a related field. However, I've been offered jobs in consulting, financial trading, game designing, etc.

Most students entering the mech-related streams of engineering have very romanticised ideas of what they'd be doing after they graduate - designing the next generation aircraft, using cutting edge tech in designing engines, artificial organs, etc, which is simply not the case. E.g. Of my friend's biomed cohort, only 1/3rd went into engineering - the others went into some other industry like business/finance.

I hope I didn't burst your bubble, but that's the reality of the situation. If you're planning to go into Civil, IT/software, electrical, then it's likely a much more different (and better) story. Most graduates that I know who graduated from those fields are in their respective industries.
 

HoldingOn

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If you're not sure just take the flexible first year option. Also, as mentioned below, job prospects are greatest for civil engineers. Software and IT job prospects are also pretty good if you're into programming, since every sector needs them. Electrical also have good job prospects. Job prospects for mechanical are reasonable. Job prospects for biomed aren't great - there's very few biomed jobs out there. However, most mechanical engineering jobs will accept biomed engineers since there's a strong overlap. Needless to say, aerospace engineers have the worst prospects in terms of finding a job directly related to their degree.

Keep in mind that most graduates (I'd say >70%) from the mechanical-related streams (e.g. biomed, mech, aero) don't end up finding jobs in engineering, since the job market in that sector isn't huge to begin with. Most mech-related engineers I know are in consulting, finance etc, since there's a much larger variety of jobs in that area and they look for people with quantitative backgrounds. I myself graduated with aerospace engineering, and I consider myself one of the few lucky ones who landed a job in a related field. However, I've been offered jobs in consulting, financial trading, game designing, etc.

Most students entering the mech-related streams of engineering have very romanticised ideas of what they'd be doing after they graduate - designing the next generation aircraft, using cutting edge tech in designing engines, artificial organs, etc, which is simply not the case. E.g. Of my friend's biomed cohort, only 1/3rd went into engineering - the others went into some other industry like business/finance.

I hope I didn't burst your bubble, but that's the reality of the situation. If you're planning to go into Civil, IT/software, electrical, then it's likely a much more different (and better) story. Most graduates that I know who graduated from those fields are in their respective industries.
What sort of work do you do? I have my heart set on aerospace but slightly worried about job prospects
 

Neil_

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Teh person who posted originally is a gril

Classes tend to be better if you're not stuck being the only girl in your class.
oh oops, my bad. thought it was yet another guy complaining about the lack of females in engo. nvm my comment then :D
 

blyatman

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What sort of work do you do? I have my heart set on aerospace but slightly worried about job prospects
I work at a wind tunnel lab, where we perform wind tunnel studies on buildings and structures, many of which are in Sydney. I'm a computational fluid dynamics engineer (google it if you want to see pretty pictures), and I primarily deal with buildings/clients in the US. I love the work, since I'm always learning and working on new and interesting projects (not going to go into specifics on a forum like this).

I'll be taking a break from that next year, since I'll be doing some work at NASA over in San Francisco for a few months.

In terms of job prospects...it's difficult to generalise in a few lines. Firstly, what is your career goal that you want to strive towards? E.g. The big aerospace companies using cutting edge technology like NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed etc? Or just any job anywhere? Based on that, I'll let you know how about the likelihood/job prospects of achieving your end goal.
 
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FrequentBF4

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If you wanna be a modern day snake oil salesmen, who gets paid alot, for selling software that is highly exaggerated. Be a software engineer.

Honestly if your good at programming, you will be a ace in the field, unless you are a complete imbecile. The topics are so straight forward except discrete maths.

2012-11-19-0430-software-engineering-now-with-cats.png2012-11-19-0430-software-engineering-now-with-cats.png2012-11-19-0430-software-engineering-now-with-cats.png2012-11-19-0430-software-engineering-now-with-cats.png2012-11-19-0430-software-engineering-now-with-cats.png
 

HoldingOn

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I work at a wind tunnel lab, where we perform wind tunnel studies on buildings and structures, many of which are in Sydney. I'm a computational fluid dynamics engineer (google it if you want to see pretty pictures), and I primarily deal with buildings/clients in the US. I love the work, since I'm always learning and working on new and interesting projects (not going to go into specifics on a forum like this).

I'll be taking a break from that next year, since I'll be doing some work at NASA over in San Francisco for a few months.

In terms of job prospects...it's difficult to generalise in a few lines. Firstly, what is your career goal that you want to strive towards? E.g. The big aerospace companies using cutting edge technology like NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed etc? Or just any job anywhere? Based on that, I'll let you know how about the likelihood/job prospects of achieving your end goal.
In an ideal world I would love to work to Boeing or NASA- but I would just be happy working anywhere in the industry.
I’m thinking the creation of the Australian Space Agency will boost domestic employment levels in the near future as well
 
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Squar3root

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overall engineering is a pretty solid choice but there are many branches. have a think about what you want to do in the future

do you want to design buildings, work on electronics, work on new materials, thermal design, research, etc etc??

have a read over https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_engineering_branches to get some ideas on where you would like to go in the future
 

blyatman

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In an ideal world I would love to work to Boeing or NASA- but I would just be happy working anywhere in the industry.
I’m thinking the creation of the Australian Space Agency will boost domestic employment levels in the near future as well
With you a bit of luck, you can get a job in the industry. However, enjoying it is another matter. One of my friends worked at the airport for a company that manages a private fleet of jets. He was around planes all day, but all the work was all admin-related work: setting up the maintenance schedule etc. He hated it, and went on to become a consultant (which he did for a while before becoming an air traffic controller).

In Sydney, there's very few aerospace jobs. The most obvious one that comes to mind is the air force - a few years back one of my old classmates was working at Richmond RAAF on the F16s (or F18s, can't remember). And while it's true that there are foreign aerospace companies in Australia (e.g. BAE, Boeing, Airbus Group etc), most of the work will be maintenance-related, and any design work is usually very limited in scope (e.g. upgrading a small component of an aircraft).

The Aus Space Agency will not be like other conventional space agencies. There will be no rocket launches, and their focus is on satellites and on management/policy. It just seems like they've just gathered all of Australia's space-related industries under one roof and formed a central body. Apart from that, nothing new. Personally, I'm not too optimistic when it comes to how they'll impact the space industry - seems like more hype than substance, but let's hope I'm wrong.

Now for the big leagues like NASA, Boeing, etc, I've got much to say. For starters, you'd have to move overseas to do that, as I'm sure you've heard. However, there's one small catch that many people don't realise or they conveniently leave out: Aerospace is inherently a defence-funded industry. The only difference between a rocket and a missile is that one has a person sitting on top, the other has a warhead. Hence, you'll notice that all overseas job applications at any of the major aerospace companies will all state the same thing: Only candidates with US (or whatever country) citizenship and eligible for a security clearance (which typically requires you to have at least 10 years of verifiable background history) will be considered. This means that it is extremely, EXTREMELY, difficult getting into places like Lockheed, SpaceX, NASA, ESA without some connections and someone pulling some strings.

The most viable way to get into that industry is probably through NASA as a research scientist, since they employ post-docs (which don't need a security clearance) for research, after which you might be eligible to become a PR. To get a post-doc position at NASA, you'd need a PhD (4-5yrs) from a US institution (or local institution, but you're chances won't be anywhere near as good) typically in a related research field. If you want to move away from research and go into corporate engineering at Boeing, Lockheed, etc then you'd need to obtain citizenship since that definitely requires security clearance. Even being an engineer at NASA requires you to be a citizen (or PR at least). NASA is a government agency, so they only employ US nationals. The only exception is JPL, which is privately managed by CalTech, so they have leeway in hiring foreign nationals (although they still must be residing in the US with a valid working visa at the time of application). However, their international intake is still EXTREMELY low (since they must be approved by the higher ups). Also, the foreign nationals are placed and restricted to work in some warehouse on the campus, and they were extremely limited in where they could go and what they could work on.

All in all, moving overseas to obtain a PhD for the CHANCE of a post-doc at NASA, and then for a CHANCE of getting into the big leagues as an engineer, is a massive commitment to say the least. This is the path I originally took - I was doing a PhD over there on a research project funded by NASA, and I even had job interviews with NASA JPL since my research was closely related to what they were doing. But not long after I started, I decided it simply wasn't worth it. Nonetheless, it was a great experience for me, and I don't regret anything since I gave it a a shot and decided it wasn't for me. And while I'll get to work at NASA next year, I got in through a very unconventional and selective process, and it's definitely not permanent.

I should also mention that if, as an academic, your research is revolutionary and you're a pioneer in what you do, there's reasonable chances that you could work on projects with NASA etc, which would make it a lot easier for you to work for them down the road. However, again, this is down the academic side of things, but tends to be the most realistic road, since getting into private overseas aerospace companies is next to impossible.

I know I've probably burst your bubble, sorry about that - I wish I knew someone who could have told me this earlier on while I was at uni. Keep in mind that these jobs are very romanticised. Like my friend who worked with private jets at the airports, there will be jobs, even at NASA, that are mundane and will make you hate it. Designing the next generation aircraft/spacecraft doesn't happen often, and when it does, only a very small select team will be involved in the design process - the rest of the engineers will be analysing the stresses acting on a bolt holding down the toilet during takeoff. So I'd recommend that you don't base your career aspirations on that infinitesimal opportunity.

I'll just finish this off by saying that many of my friends who have worked at NASA, ESA, etc, have left since they weren't happy with it. So, my advice is that you should just find a job which you enjoy. Investing 10 years to get into that prestigious job at wherever is no guarantee that you'd enjoy your work (or even like it) any more than a job back home. I'm also not trying to discourage you from doing aerospace. If you love aerospace, by all means go and do it. Just know that there's plenty of jobs out there which you can land, and be happy with, even if it's not what you originally aspired to do.

Hope this helps.
 
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HoldingOn

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With you a bit of luck, you can get a job in the industry. However, enjoying it is another matter. One of my friends worked at the airport for a company that manages a private fleet of jets. He was around planes all day, but all the work was all admin-related work: setting up the maintenance schedule etc. He hated it, and went on to become a consultant (which he did for a while before becoming an air traffic controller).

In Sydney, there's very few aerospace jobs. The most obvious one that comes to mind is the air force - a few years back one of my old classmates was working at Richmond RAAF on the F16s (or F18s, can't remember). And while it's true that there are foreign aerospace companies in Australia (e.g. BAE, Boeing, Airbus Group etc), most of the work will be maintenance-related, and any design work is usually very limited in scope (e.g. upgrading a small component of an aircraft).

The Aus Space Agency will not be like other conventional space agencies. There will be no rocket launches, and their focus is on satellites and on management/policy. It just seems like they've just gathered all of Australia's space-related industries under one roof and formed a central body. Apart from that, nothing new. Personally, I'm not too optimistic when it comes to how they'll impact the space industry - seems like more hype than substance, but let's hope I'm wrong.

Now for the big leagues like NASA, Boeing, etc, I've got much to say. For starters, you'd have to move overseas to do that, as I'm sure you've heard. However, there's one small catch that many people don't realise or they conveniently leave out: Aerospace is inherently a defence-funded industry. The only difference between a rocket and a missile is that one has a person sitting on top, the other has a warhead. Hence, you'll notice that all overseas job applications at any of the major aerospace companies will all state the same thing: Only candidates with US (or whatever country) citizenship and eligible for a security clearance (which typically requires you to have at least 10 years of verifiable background history) will be considered. This means that it is extremely, EXTREMELY, difficult getting into places like Lockheed, SpaceX, NASA, ESA without some connections and someone pulling some strings.

The most viable way to get into that industry is probably through NASA as a research scientist, since they employ post-docs (which don't need a security clearance) for research, after which you might be eligible to become a PR. To get a post-doc position at NASA, you'd need a PhD (4-5yrs) from a US institution (or local institution, but you're chances won't be anywhere near as good) typically in a related research field. If you want to move away from research and go into corporate engineering at Boeing, Lockheed, etc then you'd need to obtain citizenship since that definitely requires security clearance. Even being an engineer at NASA requires you to be a citizen (or PR at least). NASA is a government agency, so they only employ US nationals. The only exception is JPL, which is privately managed by CalTech, so they have leeway in hiring foreign nationals (although they still must be residing in the US with a valid working visa at the time of application). However, their international intake is still EXTREMELY low (since they must be approved by the higher ups). Also, the foreign nationals are placed and restricted to work in some warehouse on the campus, and they were extremely limited in where they could go and what they could work on.

All in all, moving overseas to obtain a PhD for the CHANCE of a post-doc at NASA, and then for a CHANCE of getting into the big leagues as an engineer, is a massive commitment to say the least. This is the path I originally took - I was doing a PhD over there on a research project funded by NASA, and I even had job interviews with NASA JPL since my research was closely related to what they were doing. But not long after I started, I decided it simply wasn't worth it. Nonetheless, it was a great experience for me, and I don't regret anything since I gave it a a shot and decided it wasn't for me. And while I'll get to work at NASA next year, I got in through a very unconventional and selective process, and it's definitely not permanent.

I should also mention that if, as an academic, your research is revolutionary and you're a pioneer in what you do, there's reasonable chances that you could work on projects with NASA etc, which would make it a lot easier for you to work for them down the road. However, again, this is down the academic side of things, but tends to be the most realistic road, since getting into private overseas aerospace companies is next to impossible.

I know I've probably burst your bubble, sorry about that - I wish I knew someone who could have told me this earlier on while I was at uni. Keep in mind that these jobs are very romanticised. Like my friend who worked with private jets at the airports, there will be jobs, even at NASA, that are mundane and will make you hate it. Designing the next generation aircraft/spacecraft doesn't happen often, and when it does, only a very small select team will be involved in the design process - the rest of the engineers will be analysing the stresses acting on a bolt holding down the toilet during takeoff. So I'd recommend that you don't base your career aspirations on that infinitesimal opportunity.
I'll just finish this off by saying I got friends who have worked at NASA, ESA, etc, and they left since they weren't happy with it. So, my advice is that you should just find a job which you enjoy. Investing 10 years to get into that prestigious job at wherever is no guarantee that you'd enjoy your work (or even like it) any more than a job back home. I'm also not trying to discourage you from doing aerospace. If you love aerospace, by all means go and do it. Just know that there's plenty of jobs out there which you can land, and be happy with, even if it's not what you originally aspired to do.

Hope this helps.

Thanks very much for the detailed response- I’m still very keen to follow aerospace as a career path but will keep in mind that like most things in life, it is very much crystallised. I will just see where it takes me and be prepared for anything. Final question- would you still follow the same path you have given your knowledge now?
 

blyatman

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Thanks very much for the detailed response- I’m still very keen to follow aerospace as a career path but will keep in mind that like most things in life, it is very much crystallised. I will just see where it takes me and be prepared for anything. Final question- would you still follow the same path you have given your knowledge now?
Absolutely, I've had great experiences and learnt so much, and it's gotten me to where I am today. That being said, I consider myself extremely lucky to have had those opportunities. Most of my friends from my cohort went into banking or other unrelated fields, so I'm not sure if they would've followed the same path.
 

blyatman

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I recently noticed that USYD offers a computational engineering major (alongside space engineering and engineering design) for several engineering streams. It doesn't look like many universities in Australia have introduced it yet, but I've noticed more and more academic institutions around the world beginning to offer it due to its relevance in industry.

I'd personally recommend taking a computational engineering stream/degree, since computational engineering has applications in every branch of engineering and science (as well as any other field involving computer modelling, e.g. medicine, economics etc). You'll also learn about the science of high performance parallel computing, which is an extremely useful skill to have. These days, everything is done using computer models, and you'd be a very attractive job candidate if you had a background in this sort of stuff.

Just some personal examples of how the computational stream and knowledge of high performance computing would've been extremely useful in just about everything I did after uni:
- For my masters, I did a ton of work in general relativity and numerically simulating time dilation effects along orbital trajectories around black holes (like the movie Interstellar).
- My PhD experience in Texas involved developing computer models of the atmosphere of one of Saturn's Moons, Enceladus, using recent flyby data from the NASA Cassini spacecraft. Simulations were ran on the Texas Advanced Supercomputer, which is the most powerful US university supercomputer and one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.
- For my current work, I run computer simulations of airflow around structures on an in-house high performance cluster.

Even though all those tasks are quite different, computational engineering has applications in each of those fields, and a strong background would've helped regardless of the application. So given the hindsight I have now, I definitely would've done the computational stream if it was offered back in the day since it would've helped me considerably after uni. Can't say the same for my (aero)space engineering stream/degree, which more or less had no relevance to anything I did after. Even all the space work I did after would've benefited more from computational engineering rather than space engineering.

TL;DR
Recommend computational engineering in terms of a wide variety job prospects in just about every field.
 
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Destan

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MonEy iN SoFtWare EnGinEeRiNG (If working overseas). Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been hearing you can make bank if you work outside of Australia with software engineering skills,
 

Black Elmo

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can you give us a breakdown of your job on a daily basis as i also plan on becoming a civil engineer?
 

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