Thinking about switching from Petroleum to Mechanical Engineering

Hi all,

So I’m currently a freshman in Petroleum Engineering. I am thinking about switching to Mechanical Engineering next semester for various reasons and I wanted to see what ya’ll thought about them and if it is a good idea or maybe my perceptions are wrong. Basically, I love Petroleum. I want to work in the oil industry on the oil rigs specifically if possible. MEs, CHEs, EEs, and PEs all have openings in the oil industry.

However, PE is a very narrow field. The oil industry goes up and down a lot. I talked to the President of some very large independent oil company who majored in PE at MsState and he said he couldn’t find a job relating to his major right out of college because the industry was down. Obviously he’s doing great now but it was difficult. If I had an ME or another common engineering degree, there is almost always an industry I can get into with those degrees. I also talked to a CHE and he claimed that CHEs could do all and more that PEs can do in the oil industry with the same degree. So those are some of the cons that are making me rethink my major.

The pros of majoring in PE are that I’m actually interested in petroleum which could translate to me doing better in it whereas if I major in something I don’t find interesting, i.e. ME and CHE, maybe my grades won’t be so great. Also, looking at the bureau of labor statistics on PEs vs other engineering majors, PEs make a good $40,000 more than most other engineering majors. I don’t want to get passed over in the industry by someone with a PE degree when I have an ME degree.

What do ya’ll think about this? Are those good reasons to switch? Are my perceptions of the different majors and what career paths they can get me into incorrect?

I think you pretty much answered your own question and especially, after actually talking to the president of a large oil company to get his opinion One thing though, have tried talking to a big company like Shell, BP, or Exxon to see what their thoughts are? I would also imagine that if you are willing to go where the job is you would be more of a “lucrative” hire.

The ME or CHE degree does make you more “versatile” but if your heart is in PE, go for it.

Also, how do you like MSU? My son is a hs senior in Ks and is looking at MSU, Ole Miss and Alabama for ME. He wants to design cars. He has been accepted to all 3 and all 3 offer really good merit scholarships. We visited all 3 back in July and likes all 3. The CME at Ole Miss, the CAVS program at MSU, and the whole shebang at UA. There is not a whole lot of “threads” on here for MSU so it was good to see one.

Hi Raven. Thanks for responding. I have talked to Exxon kinda sorta about this but I should’ve been more specific about it with them. As far as MSU goes vs Alabama and Ole Miss, well I am a freshman so my perspective is limited. I know people who have gone to all of those universities. From my understanding, Ole Miss and Alabama are very “uppity” I guess you could say, especially when it comes to Greek life. At MsState, pretty much everybody is relaxed and friendly and there is pretty much no hazing going on in Greek life. We have a very good engineering program here too.

I don’t know how good Ole Miss and Alabama’s engineering program is but I would bet they are pretty good too. The price is as cheap as it gets for a state university. My biggest issue I guess with it is the location. I’m from Michigan and I lived about an hour and a half from Chicago and a lot of other cities and there isn’t any of that here. Oxford has a bit more to do around there but still not much going on. I would say Alabama is the best location. So the answer is it depends on your son’s interests, his personality, and what his financial situation is. (Just briefly on that, I got accepted into University of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and a few others and none of them gave me as good scholarships as MsState did so thats something to think about)

Oh and one more thing. About the cars. My brother is a Chemical engineering getting his masters right now. He works at CAVS and I’ve been there a few times. From what he told me, its a cool job and all but he feels like they work him too many hours for too little pay and I don’t know anything about the car programs at Ole Miss and Alabama but I hope that helps.

Thanks so much for the info! How do you like Starkville? Just doesn’t look like much? How is easy is to fly back n forth? Thks

Well, theres not really anything to do in Starkville (other than college events) so I wouldn’t say I dislike it but the actual town is boring. I still have a lot of fun with all the activities and stuff on campus but Starkville itself is nothing special really. As far as flying in and out goes, I’ve never flown here so I don’t know the specifics. We have a small airport here so that means there are not very many flights connecting. If you want to fly here, the nearest major airport would be Jackson probably. Columbus (about 45 minutes away) has an Air Force base their so they may have a lot of flights coming in but I don’t know if they allow civilian aircraft so overall, I would say its probably hard to get a flight here close to Starkville.