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      03-25-2014, 10:52 PM   #1
Xyruss
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Mechanical vs Civil Engineering

Hey guys.

on the forum i am sure that there are some Engineers floating around.

Well i am in my first year of engineering, and I am faced with the decision of picking my specialization. Pretty much up until this point i have been set on going off into mechanical because: I dominated in my dynamics class compared to how I did in my statics class, I grew up with a very mechanically Inclined background (working on my own cars/dirtbikes/quads etc.) and over all, I have an interest in mechanical. I love the idea of possibly working with solidworks, autocad, and all that.

The thing is, i have began to consider civil. I honestly dont know much about the discipline, but i know i would want to go into structural if i took that route. as you can see... not much to say about civil, and where all of you may be like obviously pick mechanical, im posting on here to ask you guys (who maybe were once faced with this decison?) to shed some light on where i could go as a civ E.

the pay as far as i know is around the same (I live in canada). But i also know nothing about the economy, and have no idea where it will be heading in 4 years time, and also what job opportunities/security would look like. I am also interested in traveling.

other things i have to consider. I am offered a co op program where my degree takes a year longer to get, but i have work terms where i take a term of studying off to go work with a company for engineering work. or a i can go traditional where i just do the degree and am done with it, but no experience out of school. as it stands, mechanical engineering co op at the University of Alberta has the second highest GPA requirement to get into, and i am on the very fine line of meeting that requirement (literally wouldn't know if im in until i get the email with my timetable). where with mech traditional, civil co op, civil traditional, i would be able to get into those programs no problem if i made them my first choice.

and lastly, i have a friend that i have studied with this whole first year, and as an engineer, working in teams is huge. we are very good working together and they are going into civil. way i see it is if we are together for the whole degree it will help alot with my studies/success.

sorry for the short story novel, thank you for reading this, and i appreciate any replies/feedback!
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      03-25-2014, 11:39 PM   #2
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Mechanical engineering is probably a little bit more versatile than civil, although you really can't go wrong with either.

Generally speaking civil engineering tends to have the lowest starting salary (with a bachelor's degree only) of all the engineering disciplines. At least that's true for my school (Cockrell). For us, starting salaries with only a bachelor's in engineering are something like

Civil: $57K
Aerospace: $58K
Biomedical: $62K
Electrical: $66K
Mechanical: $66K
Chemical: $72K
Petroleum: $85K
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      03-26-2014, 12:10 AM   #3
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By the way, while we're on the subject of engineering you may find this resource useful:

http://nptel.ac.in/courses.php?disciplineId=103

IIT is considered to be the Indian equivalent of MIT in terms of mathematical and scientific rigor, and in general from what I've seen of these videos I'd say that's a fair assessment. That website has a suite of full length courses from IIT at both the undergraduate and graduate level and I've found it to be an incredibly helpful resource.

That link may default to chemical engineering (my major), although you can easily browse other disciplines as well. You'll want to click "course contents" on the subjects that say "video" under the "type" section, and it'll lead you to full length youtube lectures.

Even if your major is civil engineering, for example, be sure to browse the other engineering sections as well, as there's a lot of cross talk. There are also a couple of relevant courses under the "mathematics" section (like "Advanced engineering mathematics")
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      03-26-2014, 12:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NemesisX View Post
By the way, while we're on the subject of engineering you may find this resource useful:

http://nptel.ac.in/courses.php?disciplineId=103

IIT is considered to be the Indian equivalent of MIT in terms of mathematical and scientific rigor, and in general from what I've seen of these videos I'd say that's a fair assessment. That website has a suite of full length courses from IIT at both the undergraduate and graduate level and I've found it to be an incredibly helpful resource.

That link may default to chemical engineering (my major), although you can easily browse other disciplines as well. You'll want to click "course contents" on the subjects that say "video" under the "type" section, and it'll lead you to full length youtube lectures.

Even if your major is civil engineering, for example, be sure to browse the other engineering sections as well, as there's a lot of cross talk. There are also a couple of relevant courses under the "mathematics" section (like "Advanced engineering mathematics")

wow thanks very much, it looks like a very useful link!
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      03-26-2014, 11:17 AM   #5
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Mech > Civil
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      03-26-2014, 11:44 AM   #6
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It sounds like you'd be more suited for ME. That's what I picked

Buildings and bridges and stuff leave you a legacy, but they haven't really changed much in 50 years, and the contract goes to the lowest bidder. There are still advancements to be had in mechanical. In hindsight though I would've been more interested in their more artistic analogs: architecture and industrial design
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      03-26-2014, 11:53 AM   #7
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Oops- wrong thread
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      03-26-2014, 05:44 PM   #8
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I am biased on this one as I'm a civil engineer. It all depends on what you are passionate about. I did my bachelors degree in civil engineering specializing in construction engineering and project management. Construction engineering is a type of project engineering where you manage your resources from conception to delivery of a project. It includes: project management, resource allocation, budgeting, project cost estimating, planning and control, project delivery systems and etc..

I've always had a passion for science and architecture, and that is where my two passions meet.

There are a multitude of specializations in civil engineering, such as: geotechnical/foundation engineering, construction engineering, structural design (concrete/steel/timber), environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, transportation engineering, building engineering (energy analysis/HVAC), oil/energy mining, and etc...

Also, there are PLENTY of jobs in civil engineering in Alberta in upstream engineering... (petrochemical, oil/energy, mining)

Civil engineers who specialize in structural and finite element analysis draw on AutoCAD a lot too (along with Revit, SAFE, ETABS, and SAP2000).

Regardless, both mechanical and civil engineering are fast-moving, challenging, and rewarding careers.

Good luck on getting your degree and iron ring
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      03-26-2014, 06:25 PM   #9
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We had a saying at our school: "if you can't cut it in mechanical, try civil. If you can't cut it in civil, try another school [our less rigorous in-state rival]"

Either way, getting into a co-op program will prove to be extremely valuable
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      03-26-2014, 10:18 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone. well it seems my best path is still with mechanical. I think with my skill set that is where im best suited
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      03-27-2014, 08:00 AM   #11
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Civil generally pays lower with longer hours, because the construction industry is a bloodbath for cost-cutting and competition.
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      03-27-2014, 12:42 PM   #12
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why not pursue computer engineering with a focus on software/programming?
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      03-27-2014, 04:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adobeee View Post
why not pursue computer engineering with a focus on software/programming?
I think that would be fun, but i dont know enough about computer engineering. and I am unsure what my ability to develop soft ware would be like. right now i am in a basic programming class and I think its a lot of fun. im just not sure about having a career with it. and where i live there isnt a huge demand, so job security/ salary wouldnt be like what i could get out of mechanical
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      03-27-2014, 05:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyruss View Post
I think that would be fun, but i dont know enough about computer engineering. and I am unsure what my ability to develop soft ware would be like. right now i am in a basic programming class and I think its a lot of fun. im just not sure about having a career with it. and where i live there isnt a huge demand, so job security/ salary wouldnt be like what i could get out of mechanical
if moving to silicon valley wouldn't be an issue, there's a huge demand for that. even NY! just some friendly advice. feel free to do your own research on the software/computer engineer job market
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      04-02-2014, 06:31 AM   #15
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Starting pay for all isn't so great. Your first few years you'll be put in charge of finding vendors and trying to get shelved projects started again. They lead to nothing and the projects stall. Also you sit in front of a computer all day. It's frickin boring. I'm not an engineer but the company I sell for is in CNC machinery and I see what the engineers we have go through.
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      04-02-2014, 07:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hajduk View Post
Starting pay for all isn't so great. Your first few years you'll be put in charge of finding vendors and trying to get shelved projects started again. They lead to nothing and the projects stall. Also you sit in front of a computer all day. It's frickin boring. I'm not an engineer but the company I sell for is in CNC machinery and I see what the engineers we have go through.
That seems true for most jobs. Some jobs you get to be proactive, mostly if it's a company that is developing their own product or improving on products, etc. If you have a job that's more of a maintenace type then it will mostly be paper-pushing, I work in the energy field and it's more of keeping the plant running kind of thing. My last job was at Gulfstream where they build and produce their business jets, so I was constantly in the simulator working to improve on the design rather than just upkeep and maintenance.

I really think software/computer engineering is the way to go. Even though it will mostly be coding, you will be working on something new every time (at least that's my opinion). I wish I would've gone in that direction instead of electrical which is mostly the hardware side
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      04-02-2014, 10:59 AM   #17
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Old saying I heard: "Mech-E's/Aero-E's build airplanes; Civ-E's build targets"

Just sayin'.....


full disclosure: I am an Mech-E working for a major airframer. We do not see any difference between Mech-E, Civ-E, Aero-E. They are all just "Engineers" here.
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      04-02-2014, 01:27 PM   #18
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One question. Do you have to pick a branch of mechanical engineering? I ask because in my days and where i studied, we had to pick a branch and study in that field. I also were good at fluid dynamics so i picked fluid mechanics and the whole thing was a piece of cake.

As for civil vs mechanical engineering, since both civil and mechanical engineering are not that different than each other pick one that has more jobs available with higher salary. Sadly the days of "study what you like" are over. I for instance got my diploma in Mechanical engineering but for ME i switched to Industrial engineering which i didn't like at all simply because where i lived industrial engineers had much higher salaries than mechanical engineers. And as it turned out, it was a good move.
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      04-02-2014, 04:15 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwzimm View Post
Old saying I heard: "Mech-E's/Aero-E's build airplanes; Civ-E's build targets"

Just sayin'.....


full disclosure: I am an Mech-E working for a major airframer. We do not see any difference between Mech-E, Civ-E, Aero-E. They are all just "Engineers" here.
We used to say "Civil engineers build things mechanical engineers blow up".

I went to an engineering heavy university with friends who've done both. Civil engineers tended to get the shaft vs. the other engineering students but both are good trades. Civil engineers seem to work longer hours, work in a more cut-throat industry (construction) and start off with lower pay on average than mechanical. On the flip side, the course work while at school seemed not as difficult...which leads me to the second thing people always said back when I was in school "Civil engineering? You mean common sense engineering?".

But whatever, I studied economics and statistics while in college so I was amongst the lowest of the low out of my engineering friends.

If you can take the course work, may want to look into chemical or computer engineering. Lots of money to be made there.
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      04-02-2014, 11:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soorena View Post
One question. Do you have to pick a branch of mechanical engineering? I ask because in my days and where i studied, we had to pick a branch and study in that field. I also were good at fluid dynamics so i picked fluid mechanics and the whole thing was a piece of cake.

As for civil vs mechanical engineering, since both civil and mechanical engineering are not that different than each other pick one that has more jobs available with higher salary. Sadly the days of "study what you like" are over. I for instance got my diploma in Mechanical engineering but for ME i switched to Industrial engineering which i didn't like at all simply because where i lived industrial engineers had much higher salaries than mechanical engineers. And as it turned out, it was a good move.
In my later years i belive we get more specialized. In mechanical im not sure what the options would be. The only thing i am not looking forward to in mech E is thermodynamics. i hate chemistry

which brings me to why i woulnt want to do chemical. By far chemical engineers make the most money, but i just would not want to be involved with any of the work they do.

with mechanical i feel like its the jack of all trades type of dicipline when it comes to engineering, at least from what i heard. so for my program selection, i picked mechanical co-op first (3.3 GPA requirement) and civil co-op second (2.7 GPA requirement). those baseline GPAs fluctuate through the years also, so we will see where my GPA lies, and ill let it decide the path i take. either way i feel like i will enjoy the work i do

EDIT**

"And as it turned out, it was a good move."

judging from your garage list i would have to agreel!! haha

also to the guys recommending computer,

where i live we are very oil/gas/industrial base. computer engineering here doesnt not have high demand nor high salary. on the other side i dont plan on staying here the rest of my life. i defianltey have intentions of moving to another country. i love canada, but i want to change things up for a bit.

Last edited by Xyruss; 04-03-2014 at 12:06 AM.
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      04-03-2014, 06:55 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyruss View Post
In my later years i belive we get more specialized. In mechanical im not sure what the options would be. The only thing i am not looking forward to in mech E is thermodynamics. i hate chemistry

which brings me to why i woulnt want to do chemical. By far chemical engineers make the most money, but i just would not want to be involved with any of the work they do.

with mechanical i feel like its the jack of all trades type of dicipline when it comes to engineering, at least from what i heard. so for my program selection, i picked mechanical co-op first (3.3 GPA requirement) and civil co-op second (2.7 GPA requirement). those baseline GPAs fluctuate through the years also, so we will see where my GPA lies, and ill let it decide the path i take. either way i feel like i will enjoy the work i do

EDIT**

"And as it turned out, it was a good move."

judging from your garage list i would have to agreel!! haha

also to the guys recommending computer,

where i live we are very oil/gas/industrial base. computer engineering here doesnt not have high demand nor high salary. on the other side i dont plan on staying here the rest of my life. i defianltey have intentions of moving to another country. i love canada, but i want to change things up for a bit.
If it's mostly oil/gas/industrial I would suggest petroleum engineering if it is offered. Highest salaries in engineering field I believe, and they're always in demand
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      04-03-2014, 05:10 PM   #22
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i ended up doing civil because i didn't have the grades to get into mechanical. It didn't really matter in the end because i ended up doing my MBA an switching into finance where all the money is.

I was doing bridge design, but a lot of the time was spend designing rehab for old bridges. Pretty boring stuff and pay was crap.

If i could do it again i would probably do mining engineering or petroleum engineering, lots of money and lots of easy transferable skills into the finance sector in Canada

as for co-op, i think its great if you don't end up scoring great summer jobs that gives you related experience. i did the year off co-op, and its the only thing that helped me land a job afterwords.
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