Industrial vs Mechanical vs Computer E at Georgia Tech

<p>I'm going to be a freshmen next year at Georgia Tech, I'm trying to decide on a major before my registration next month (July). I'm torn between Industrial/Systems, Mechanical and Computer Engineering. I've always had a strong curiosity in discovering how things work, I was the kid in elementary school taking apart all my family's old electronics/computers. I always loved lego's and the lego technics kits with the gears/pulleys. Starting at age 10 I started really getting into computers - building them, fixing them, reformatting them, trying out different OS's like linux etc. In high school I took AP calculus 1 and 2 and did very well. </p>

<p>I consider mechanical because its all about physical parts moving and working together. Mechanical engineering seems like it goes along with my curiosity in learning how machine/electronics work. Designing a car sounds like something I would enjoy doing more than designing a graphics card. I took honors physics in HS and got an easy A (probably wasn't mature enough for AP at the time). I like building things, the senior design projects for ME - the cars, robots etc that compete in contests - look extremely interesting. I visited Clemson's BMW design/testing facility and was in awe, I loved it. My worry about ME is that it is one of the most popular engineering degrees, would I just be another one of the bunch? It also worries me that it seems like a lot of ME jobs are moving overseas - I'd probably like to stay in the US.</p>

<p>The reason I consider industrial E in the mix is because I like the business/management aspect of it. In my spare time in high school, I sold a lot of the computers/electronics/phones that I've fixed or refurbished on ebay or craigslist and enjoyed it. I like making things more efficient. The academic workload of industrial E sounds like it is the least of the 3 here.</p>

<p>Sure, I can put a computer together, but I'm just not sure if I want to be the one designing the circuits on all the boards. From what I've heard from others at GA Tech, it sounds like a very heavy academic load in Computer Engineering. I think it would be cool to create computer components, network devices etc but it sounds like very hard and long process just to make a small device which I don't think is what I want.</p>

<p>So basically I'm trying to find a balance for my passion of computers, business and love for building things. Any words of advice or experience are greatly appreciated!</p>

<p>I doubt very much that there will be an oversupply of Mechanical Engineers, the field is probably the broadest engineering field there is and has potential for many many job options. Personally I would stick with that, you seem to have most valid interest in that.</p>

<p>Yes - computer engineering is tedious and and you need lots of patience for the discipline - but it isn't just building computers, but could also encompass some CS material, such as programming those hardware devices or simply creating new programs. But I get the feeling you wouldn't want to code all day long - which requires a very strong passion to do so and deal with the frustrations dealing with syntax errors.</p>

<p>Have you considered Electrical Engineering? Not as hands on as Mechanical Engineering, but it does have CE and CS relations, which could open doors into more of your interests. </p>

<p>Also, about business. In the long run (and this is over 7-10 years after undergrad), many engineers chose to pursue an MBA - which opens doors into more management positions, effectively combined with engineering for management in engineering firms. Engineering you will find opens more doors then just engineering.</p>

<p>Just follow your passion and love what you do, which seems like you are already doing it. I believe that this is really what makes an engineer an engineer. Kudos.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Just follow your passion and love what you do, which seems like you are already doing it. I believe that this is really what makes an engineer an engineer. Kudos.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Thanks for the response! Very insightful. I have looked over Electrical briefly, not too in depth. I'll definitely read up on it some more. My choice seems to change day to day lol but I am going to put down mechanical for now. Freshmen year curriculum is similar for ME and ECE majors so I don't think it would be that big of a deal if I decide to change my mind during my first year. I feel like ME would be pursuing my passion for building things and I'm sure there would be plenty of computer stuff involved to float my boat. I think I would enjoy using already-made CAD programs and computers to design things rather than be the one making the CAD software and computer hardware to run them.</p>

<p>EDIT: Oh and GA Tech gives the option of choosing Engineering Undecided as your major freshman year but you don't get first choice of classes with it, I'd rather declare ME and worst case change at the end of freshmen year and still get good class/professor selection</p>

<p>Some info taken directly from Georgia Tech's website:</p>

<p>Individual engineering majors placement rate (at graduation) from highest to lowest:</p>

<p>Nuclear/Radiological: 77%
Environmental: 66%
Industrial: 63%
Computer: 61%
Mechanical: 60%
Aerospace: 57%
Chemical: 54%
Polymer: 50%
Civil: 46%
BioMedical: 45%
Materials: 40%
Electrical: 35%</p>

<p>Individual engineering majors median starting salary from highest to lowest:</p>

<p>Chemical: 66,000
Electrical: 63,000
Computer: 63,000
Aerospace: 60,000
BioMedical: 60,000
Polymer: 60,000
Nuclear: 60,000
Materials: 58,000
Mechanical: 57,000
Civil: 50,000
Environmental: N/A</p>

<p>The two main problems with this data set are that for one, it only takes into account placement rates AT graduation, 3-6 months after graduation could paint a different picture. Two, the hiring practices of employers in different engineering disciplines can change drastically over time, as evidenced by electrical engineering placement rates falling from about 80% to 35% in just two years (!?!), an astonishing turn of events. </p>

<p>2010</a> Career & Salary Survey (Spring)</p>

<p>Cool, great link you posted to the survey. The salaries are interesting to look at, they seem to run very close to each other, not enough difference to pick one major over the other though. I'd obviously rather pick a major that I enjoy instead of one that makes a $1000 more.</p>

<p>Root, I've also gone back and looked at the results for the 7 preceding semesters. The conclusions I've drawn from that limited data set is:</p>

<p>--Biomedical engineers consistently have a very difficult time finding work at graduation. They were in the 40 percent placement range every semester.</p>

<p>--Industrial, Mechanical, and Computer appear to be the most consistent in placing graduates and have stayed relatively strong during the great recession.</p>

<p>--Not sure what the hell happened to electrical engineering. They went from placement rates near the top to placement rates at the bottom in the span of a couple of years. It's likely a very temporary supply/demand issue that will be fixed soon. It could have to do with Asian outsourcing, but if that were the case we would expect to see the same results with the computer engineers.</p>

<p>--Civil Engineering is VERY cyclical. For a few semesters they were at the top of the placement rankings with over 90% placement, just a few semesters later and they were close to the bottom. </p>

<p>--Nuclear and Polymer engineers appear to be in relatively high demand.</p>

<p>Georgia</a> Institute of Technology :: Salary Reports</p>

<p>Inmotion, good info, and yes very strange with electrical. I would think ece would parallel alongside comp e. Like you said, ME, IE and CE all look pretty consistent.</p>

<p>By the way, from your reading your original post, it's obvious your subconscious has already narrowed it down to mechanical vs. industrial. Ask yourself this question. Would you rather work in the business office or on the ground floor of a factory? If you can't answer it right away, find some shadowing opportunities so you can make up your mind. </p>

<p>Another way of figuring out which one you prefer would be to take intro to macro econ and intro to micro econ classes. If you like marco more you should be an industrial engineer. If you like micro more you should be a mechanical engineer.</p>

<p>Good point about the subconscious, I actually was noticing that as I wrote my original post lol. I took AP Macro Economics in high school, it was one of my favorite classes of all high school, but that may have been because we had a really good teacher. I haven't had any personal experience with micro yet, they didn't offer it on-campus at my high school. I'm going to read up on it.</p>

<p>I would be really careful about using GT's employment info. We had an argument on it awhile back on the GT boards and concluded that it didn't represent even close to a majority of the students because the survey is not required to be filled out. For example, I received an MS pretty recently and I don't recall filling out the survey.</p>

<p>It's also difficult for me to tell whether the data is biased one way or the other.</p>

<p>Really good point gthopeful. I would expect that the numbers aren't completely meaningless because we do see meaningful patterns emerge. The reported placement rates of civil engineers is exactly in tune with the timeline of the construction boom/bust. The relative and consistently poor prospects of biomedical engineers is in line with the fact that the supply of biomedical degrees has exponentially increased in the last decade. You're right, there are some huge flaws in a survey style report like this, but I don't think the numbers should be completely dismissed, but rather taken as a small part of a greater whole.</p>

<p>To really give you my thought, let's go through yours first.</p>

<ol>
<li>You like physical parts, especially something that you can actually build with hands, and with really physical design. </li>
</ol>

<p>Great. Mechanical seems a really good choice for you. Mechanical engineering get involved with almost any engineering project, beside chemical engineers.
Look at your cell phone. The product design (not the electronic parts) is actually a work of mechanical engineers. It has to go through a series of testings to test its realibitly. For example, giving 1000kg object fall onto the phone - will it break? How will it break (pieces).</p>

<p>Other famous mechanical engineerings are probably aerospace engineering, automobile, and robotics. </p>

<ol>
<li><p>You like business and management.
Well, I am not from GT, so I don't know whether they allow you to double major these two disciplines. However, if you really like mechanical engineering (for now), and you are also interested in management and business, I would rather to take a major (or even just minor) in business management (or business, or economy).
I don't think industrial engineering will fit you. In fact, what really make you a good entrepreneur is your knowledge from school. Industrial engineering will not guarantee it. I don't want you to waste your time. </p></li>
<li><p>I like computer.
Most of us here in engineering probably have to touch computer at least a few hours per day. Whether it's facebook, youtube, wolframalpha, or even CC, we all love to know how to make the coolest website, the coolest application, or the coolest videos ourselves.
But this is not really the reason that put you in the spot. Many people actually start hating computer related study when they find themselves lost in higher programming classes, and also the mathematical aspects behind it.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Computer engineering is a cross section between electrical engineering and computer science. It is difficult because you are touching two different things at the same time. Some people really hate physics, and some people really hate the weird logic, abstract mathematics, data or some other courses. But you really can't screw up because if you want to be a good engineer, you need to crack them.</p>

<p>Conclusion:
From what I see, you are not really into computer engineering just yet. You are definitely interested in mechanical engineering. You can continue to build robot with the guys in computer science and computer engineering (they do vision, sensor, and robotic automation, assembly language, and a bunch of other things). You can be in a national team and compete with other great universities across the nation in the vehicle design competition.</p>

<p>Mechanical is definitely your thing. I would strongly urge you to look into what industrial engineering can really offer you. I would instead take business management in this case.</p>

<p>side mark:</p>

<p>Civil engineering is overpopulated, and is quite a dead field. I am sorry if I offend anyone lol. I suppose that in the past decade, and for the next ten years, due to the need to improve the nation's infrastructures, civil engineers will be in high demand. However, it is a dead field unless you are really interested in research and research. In particular, because there are so many civil engineers already, the average salary is quite low.</p>

<p>Jwxie, thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough response. For now what I am going to do is select ME. It seems like it is what I would enjoy doing most. If at the end of undergrad I still wish to pursue business, I can go for an MBA or similar. At GT (probably many other schools too) the ME, IE and ECE freshman year curriculum are so similar that it would not be a big deal to change from one to the other at the end of the year. </p>

<p>Thanks for the input everyone! I will update this thread if things change!</p>

<p>Welcome. Also enjoy your freshman year. Get involve in a club at least, and get to know your upperclassmen. Talk to them and ask for their opinions as well.</p>

<p>By the time when you are a junior you should be really confident about whether you want to continue as ME, or a different major.</p>

<p>I'm a compE at tech, and I love it, but it's a TON of work; it's electrical with some extra classes and more CS if you choose. Although that's very much a matter of choice - you could graduate a CompE without knowing any languages other than C (and Matlab, if you consider that its own language). I would recommend Mechanical, especially if you aren't sure, because from there you can specialize if you discover you're truly interested in a particular specialty (it has tons of core classes in common with BME, Civil, Aerospace...)</p>