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Ask Slashdot: Best Second Major For a Mechanical Engineer? 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the underwater-basketweaving dept.
Scarred Intellect writes "After attending DigiPen Institute of Technology and deciding that I liked the idea of programming more than programming itself (I still do enjoy it a bit); after getting my AA at a community college with no direction; after much tinkering with engines growing up; after 4 years of service in the US Marine Corps infantry; I have finally decided what I want to do when I grow up: mechanical engineering. The reason is simple: I believe our automobiles can be a lot better (in terms of engine/propulsion) than they are now. Better technology exists, and there's more technology to develop for them. I've taken an intense interest in biodiesel and other clean, alternative energy methods (fuel cells being one of my favorites — second is solar, with wind being last). I figure mechanical engineering will give me a broad understanding of the more specific engineering disciplines. My uncle, also a mechanical engineer, suggested I get a second major in computer science to complement ME. It sounds like a good idea to me; I could mate mechanical processes with computer controls pretty effectively. It should take me 3 to 4 years to complete. What do you think? Is ME + CS a good option, or would ME work better with something else? I'll almost definitely have a math minor coming out of this."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Second Major For a Mechanical Engineer?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:09PM (#37297154)

    In that order.

    If none of those appeal to you, then take a few classes on technical writing.

    Good luck

    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      I'd reverse that list. Statistics are a core requirement of any Quality Management system. Most companies are so short on people fluent in statistics they end up doing the training in-house. With a more formal statistics education it puts you ahead of all of those people, even if they have seniority.

    • by antdude (79039)

      And English since you misspelled Business. ;)

  • Consumer products? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:14PM (#37297180)

    Best degree (in addition to ME) to work on consumer products would be something involving reading/speaking Chinese.

    • That was 5 years ago.

      Today, the Chinese economy is faltering, at the same time that there is a great deal of pressure on politicians to stop allowing so much outsourcing.

      I would not bet on China so much to still be a "leading economy" in another 5 years, if the US government can manage to pull its head out, unless the Chinese government in turn pulls ITS head out. Which very much remains to be seen.
    • by dj245 (732906)
      Why?

      Most of the Asian counterparts which you will encounter have better English than your Chinese/Japanese/Korean will ever be. For the forseeable future, the bulk of the workflow is going to be China doing the manufacturing subcontracting for the US. Not the other way around. That means we are sending them the drawings and specification, in English, and it is their responsibility to understand them. If they don't or can't, it isn't like there is a shortage of Chinese manufacturing companies....

      If the
    • Believe me, they will all speak English long before any appreciable number of us speaks Chinese. I suspect language in the not-too-distant future is going to be a lot like the show Firefly...everyone will speak English, but we'll all know some Chinese curses and idioms.
  • Biology (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:15PM (#37297188) Journal

    Biology... so you don't show up on the Internet a few years later insisting that your experience and training in engineering equips you to declare evolution false.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Salem_Hypothesis [rationalwiki.org]

    • Maybe engineers tend to believe Creationism because they've seen how many things can go wrong even when there is a modicum of intelligence behind the design. A functioning planet like Earth, with its diverse biomes, million-plus species, and resilient ecosystems makes them look really stupid because they can't do better than supposed "random interactions" and survival of the fittest.

      • I don't think engineers "tend to believe Creationism". That statement gives the impression that most engineers believe in creationism, which certainly not true. What the Salem Hypothesis says, as I understand it, is that of those with formal training in scientific disciplines those who believe in creationism are more likely to have training in physical sciences or math (the foundations of most engineering disciplines) than those who have training in the life sciences. If 1% of engineers believe in creation

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LordKronos (470910)

        1) Look at living beings...at the huge variety of diseases and malformations that can occur, many of them fatal, and you'll see that nature often doesn't do better

        2) Look at the speed of our advancement. We typically get a new technology off the ground in 5 to 20 and then make pretty radical changes to it over the course of each couple decades, never mind centuries. Nature, on the other hand, spends millions of year, just slightly tweaking it a tiny bit at a time.

        Imagine if, for example, instead of moving o

      • by LordNimon (85072)

        Maybe engineers tend to believe Creationism

        Sorry, but Engineers do not tend to believe Creationism. I'm an engineer, and I've worked with hundreds of them, and I don't know a single person who believes in Creationism.

        • We have two other engineers on this thread that do. There's a problem in your discipline, at the very least it seems to teach an extraordinary amount of arrogance when dealing with disciplines its adherents seem ill-equipped to assess.

      • Maybe engineers tend to believe Creationism

        Balderdash. Engineers assign credibility to hypotheses based on actual evidence. That pretty much wipes out creationism and its ilk.

  • EE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Titoxd (1116095) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:24PM (#37297236) Homepage

    If you want to learn controls, it seems Electrical Engineering would be a better fit than Computer Science. While Mechanical Engineers have to learn a fair degree of controls theory, the EE guys live and breathe controls, so it would make you more proficient in that area, at least on paper.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Skip CS. You won't be doing any kind of upper level programing for 90% of the engines out there. The controllers in those things are really basic.

      For engine management systems, go ME + EE, and fill your choices with control theory classes.

      This also gives you a backup plan. If you have to find a job, the EE degree will give you a broader choice of positions. The industrial control systems field is an excellent spot to be looking for work.

      • by codegen (103601)
        I have to be careful what I say here, since I do research with automotive industry and am under NDAs. The controllers are not that basic any more. You not only need the control theory, but more importantly, you need SE formal methods. The main future of the automotive control systems not moving in that direction, it is already in there. They are using formal models of the ignition/air-bag/anti-lock systems and then they are using formal methods to prove properties about those systems. Only when it passes
    • You need to learn MATLAB early on, since MATLAB and Simulink are the tools that the automotive industry uses the most for engine modeling and control, and to generate the low-level code that ends up in the ECUs.

      • by 32771 (906153)

        Plus you could also learn that other stone age language called Fortran. But hey, there will be no better number crunching system than Matlab.

        Over all it makes sense. Learning C that other slighty more modern language can help too.

        Also there is the issue of array indices starting with 1 In both stone age languages despite there beeing an EWD discussing the benefits of starting at 0.

    • Yeah - double plus. ME/EE seems way more compelling as a job/career generator than ME/CS..

    • EE is the way to go (Score:5, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:13PM (#37297608)

      Parent has it right. EE isn't just about circuits. It also covers embedded controls and systems engineering (feedback loops, etc.). If your goal is a broad understanding of engineering that allows you to mate different technologies, then you can't go wrong with ME+EE. You can do just about anything with that pair. Certain fields (such as a aerospace on the ME side and IC design on the EE side) require you to focus more on depth of knowledge than breadth, but for most careers being well rounded is more important. They'll teach you the specifics on the job.

    • by Dr Max (1696200)
      Ditto, this is what i came to the comments to say, EE is the way to go. Sure we will need the mechanical for a long time to come but more and more parts of any mechanical system is going electrical. It opens up many new doors like controls and robotics and means you'll be doing some quite interesting stuff. My father who is a civil and mechanical engineer recons most plain mechanical engineers spend there time designing a particular bolt to hold the fuel tank on or something, not the revolutionary new engin
      • by Dr Max (1696200)
        Also CS is a bit of a waste without EE. For example you will have your engine and a software way to control it, but no way to connect the two or monitor the variables.
  • My Advice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs AT ovi DOT com> on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:24PM (#37297238) Homepage

    I work part time as a contract consultant for a giant company. The division I work at requires 2 separate degrees for their second flor elves. One in computer science, the second in either mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. They also require at lest one of those to be a masters or doctorate. They prefer a masters & a doctorate both.

    One discipline is no longer enough to get the really, really, good jobs.

    The bad new is out of 65 guys and 1 woman in that second floor cave, only 1 guy is caucasian and speaks English as a 1st language.

    The VP in charge said it was just sad that American kids didn't want to put in the work and take the time to get the educational requirements of that group.

     

    • The fact that you think that non-Caucasians AREN'T getting the good jobs probably means that you have been focusing primarily on your job and not the bigger picture of what your job means to the environment and society. It's easy to get tunnel-vision and focus on the immediate benefits of some particular product or technology. What is harder to see is the unintended consequences that are usually negative and range from annoying to deadly. There is getting to be a preponderance of evidence that our current

      • by kurt555gs (309278)

        I think Anonymous said it best. Why get a Doctorate in electrical engineering and a Masters in computer science to get a job that pay $100K per year. One of my friends there who is from India told me he is lucky that his parents paid for his schooling. If he had to obtain loans for all that school, he would be making payments with his Social Security checks. (assuming Social Security even exists then)

        Some of this is American kids weighing costs vs benefits, but it is a fact that other cultures will make a g

        • This is simply untrue. Every Caucasian person I know gets ridiculous amounts of help from their family. Its just that they pick bullshit degrees, and even the ones that pick science/engineering end up getting out-competed for career-building research opportunities by foreigners that have a free-ride education courtesy of their government.
    • Its not that they people in the US are unwilling to put in the work, its that they simply can't afford to do it. Tuition is out of control, and you get paid hardly anything for being a researcher at a US university (which is typically required as experience for the jobs you mention as well as to pay your tuition costs). Your VP is completely out of touch for not realizing this. I would guess he is from an old generation when it was much easier to do as they expect.

      I received a wage of 1000 a month with NO

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The VP in charge said it was just sad that American kids didn't want to put in the work and take the time to get the educational requirements of that group.

      Here's what one of my Indian grad school classmates said to me, "I want to stay in school as long as I can." Never got a chance to ask him why.

      The Chinese classmates value education and degrees, I think for the sake of just getting degrees - more degrees means better person (Like we Americans think more money means better person).

      But here's something to ponder:

      They also require at lest one of those to be a masters or doctorate. They prefer a masters & a doctorate both

      OK, they require those degrees. Are they actually needed?

      I can't tell you how many times I've talked to managers and people who hire folks and ask

    • Curious on two points:

      1) Do they pay at a level commensurate for what they're asking for (i.e. an expert in two completely different fields with basically a decade of formal education backing it up) or do they want it and expect people of that skill set to work for peanuts (either in real terms or relative to whatever the managers/executives make)?

      2) Does the VP who said that have a doctorate and extensive experience in both of those fields (with a doctorate in one of those two)?

      I just ask because
  • Take a foreign language such as Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or German to ensure you can communicate with your co-workers in 3 years.

    I'm only half joking.

  • by plopez (54068) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:33PM (#37297310) Journal

    Cars have complex electrical and control systems and an Electrical Engineering degree may put you closer to your goal. EE's do a fair amount of programming as well. It would work for Aeronautical and Medical Device Engineering as well. Tough you may have to take some pre-med courses. Also weapons engineering. Since you are a vet, you already have at least a minimal security clearance. That boosts your employ-ability, if you decide weapons are right for you.[1]

    Note that you may have to get a Masters degree to do any serious design work for a car company, aircraft company, or a medical devices company. That's what a ME student once told me. You should investigate.

    One thing to consider is that ME and EE are easy to offshore. Anyone with solid engineering training can do it anywhere on the globe. For job security I would recommend Civil or Environmental. As one CE I knew once put it "There are always jobs in roads and commodes".

    Math minor is OK, but I think you should focus more; either EE and ME or ME and Math.

    [1] As an undergrad in CS I had a Math prof once offer to do a letter of introduction to a guy he knew working at the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Center in CA. I decided that I did not want to pursue that path, so I was under employed for a few years. This was during the 1980s Reagen "prosperity". But I still think it was the right decision for me.

  • English (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You can mock all you want, but English or Communications would definitely be helpful for an Engineer. I know someone working on an MA in English, and part of that is teaching a basic writing class for freshmen. A lot of the students who struggle are those from engineering or science programs who just don't know how to write down and communicate their thoughts academically and professionally. You have to at least be able to communicate effectively with other engineers, and being able to organize your thought

  • you will never ever meet any girls in engineering school. ever.

    • by tfigment (2425764)

      When I graduated 50% of my Chemical Engineering class was female at that time, all my good friends then were female and one could easily have been a fashion model if she wanted it. Most focused on premed or biochemical.

    • "you will never ever meet any girls you want to sleep with in engineering school. ever."

      FTFY

  • Solid Plan (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:37PM (#37297346)

    Mechanical Engineer working in the automotive industry here. (3 years out of school, about half of that time in automotive.)

    You're 100% correct about needing computer science skills. I'm not sure going for a second degree is as beneficial as a minor, or just being skilled with computers. Many schools are shifting their focus for mechanical engineers toward computers anyways. You can expect to learn finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics and a programming language in a ME major. It's a really broad major, and the nice thing is that (in a good program) you will be exposed to all of the fields you mentioned above, and given opportunities to pursue them.

    A math minor could be useful if you're going to use it. I know a few people who got one, but it's not useful for most of them. Minors in materials are also common, and much more useful in my opinion.

    I think what you do beyond the classroom is more important. Getting involved in competitive engineering teams (FSAE) did much more for me in the automotive industry than minors. (Admittedly, I was a poor student... Internships and extracurricular activities helped me stand out.) More important to focus on the basics before double majoring and minoring in a ton of stuff.

    The Basics:
    Get into a good program. You will learn more from smart classmates and good professors.
    Try to get good grades. (>3.5 = genius, >3.0 = reasonable, 2.5 = not hirable to many employers.)
    Work internships. You'll learn how to be professional, and getting a real job will be a lot easier.
    Do extracurricular activities. This is where you learn how to apply your schoolwork.

  • by Ghostworks (991012) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:39PM (#37297356)

    First, let me say that all colleges and universities have slightly different curricula, so mileage may vary. But...

    Computer Engineerin/Science is probably not going to teach you control systems. It will teach you how to understand the problems and trade-offs of software design, and how to employ higher-level patterns to quickly solve common problems optimally. That will probably not be used in controlling a feedback system with a microcontroller, or in controlling a large scale plant. Automatic control generally falls into Electrical Engineering, though it will also be a large part of more specialized degrees if they are offered by your school: chemical engineering (emphasis on plants and processing), petroleum engineering (again, emphasis on plants), process engineering (duh), and automotive engineering.

    I would take a healthy dose of engineering economics. The auto industry is motivated by having very good system redundandy under harsh conditions with minimal cost. I know, that's theoretically every engineer's job, but the conditions here really are harsh, the redundancy is mandatary, and the margins are tight. Also, consider your willingness to travel, and what other fields (aeronautics?) your degree could be useful in once complete. Tough market out there.

  • by Narmacil (1189367) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:48PM (#37297416)

    If you would like to work on automobiles I recommend sticking with ME, and just doing that for now. Mechanical engineering is quite an undertaking on its own and if you double major, plan to spend at least 6 or 7 years in college to get a good understanding of both subjects. If you try to double major with mechanical engineering as one of the majors in the standard 4 years, you will either not gain a satisfactory understanding of the fundamentals and theory or you won't have any time to participate in the practical non-classroom experiences that make a mechanical engineering degree worthwile. I would recommend joining the Baja or formula SAE team at your university or college to get a better understanding of what goes into real world vehicle design, also project oriented teams look great on the resume. You will pick up a little CS and EE in Mechanical engineering if your school is doing it right. You might want to get a green minor if you're interested in biodeisel and low carbon emmisions vehicles, but make sure your university offers this first. Getting the math minor is easy, but probably won't do alot for you in the long run (most mech e's have one by default).

    And Controls theory is definately a mech E subject, you can get very in depth in mechatronics and controls courses offered through a mechanical engineering department, and you'll get alot more real world hands on examples than you would in an EE course (EE's tend not to care about mechanisms, and are more interested in the electric theory) I would say if you're interested in cars, go the ME route and stick to it.

    (This advice is coming from a practicing Mechanical Engineer who got his BSME in 4 years (at Virginia Tech)) I focused on robotics (CHARLI and RAPHaEL were my pet projects) but had alot of friends who loved cars). I work at SpaceX on rocket stuff now.

    Also, you should probably know, the job you get might not be exactly what you planned for or learned the most about in school, but engineering, like life, is an adventure, so stick it out and you'll be sure to have fun.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      That is what I did. I got a BS in ME and then after I got a job I enrolled in an online Software Engineering program at FSU. I took it easy only taking 2 classes a semester since I was working full time. It took 3 years to get enough credits to graduate with the degree. I'm thinking about doing it again in EE if I can find an all online school. It was actually fun since I would watch lecture and do the homework instead of zoning out in front of the TV. Also at that pace you won't burn yourself out.

  • Since you mentioned biodiesel..
  • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:50PM (#37297436)

    It really depends on what you want to do with yourself. Do you want to manage a group of engineers or an entire plant? Do you want to be a researcher studying cutting edge technology? Do you want to be more on the technical side and spend time actually building things? I spent two years as a dual major in mathematics and computer engineering, before I decided I would rather just do mathematics since you have plenty of opportunities to work in most areas of research as long as you have programming skills.

    As a mechanical engineer, you will have plenty of opportunities for material science classes, physics classes, mechanics classes, etc. So, my best recommendation to you to ensure you can get a job is to take programming courses. By this I mean, take enough to be able to program an application or scientific computation software comfortably in Unix. This should be in addition to any second major you would choose. From there its really up to you.

    If you plan to be on the plant management side of things, statistics and/or operations research is a major plus. This is achievable through many math programs. If you want to manage a business or people, economics/finance or an MBA is always a plus, though generally engineers and scientists can take courses on these topics geared more towards their discipline. If you plan to be on the more research side, I would recommend either mathematics or physics. If you plan to actually build things, I would recommend sticking to just engineering disciplines and taking as many courses in it as possible rather than waste extra credits on a second major in the sciences. Even mechanical engineers have to specialize in something, and if you don't worry about a second major it leaves more time to work on a second specialization. For example, there are mechanical engineers that specialize in thermodynamics, and some that specialize in material science. You could have time to do both by not taking a second major.

    I am a PhD student in computational mathematics. I have my MS in Applied Math, with a specialty in mostly computational topics as well as optimization. I was an engineering student for awhile, but I absolutely love mathematics and typically sacrificed an engineering class for a mathematics class I didn't even need to graduate. Ultimately I got some good advice and just pursued mathematics full time.

  • I don't believe that CS majors typically learn a lot of controls and automation in their core curriculum . . . that's typically something that EE's see more of. And for that matter I ask, why Mechanical Engineering? If you want to design cars, ME might make sense, but in most alternative energy technologies you will likely be part of a multidisciplinary team . . . with material scientists (solar energy, automobiles, fuel cells), chemical engineers (fuel cells, combustion engineering), aerospace engineers (w

  • by the_macman (874383) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:55PM (#37297478)

    You and I are very similar. I currently have a B.S in Information Technology.

    Next Spring, I graduate with an B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I'm also an automotive engineer working for Mercedes at the moment.

    I also founded my school's first Society of Automotive Engineers chapter, and we're working on finishing the school's first Formula SAE Car.

    I do not recommend a CS degree. That was my first degree before I switched it to IT. IMO CS will give you an unnecessary study into in depth facets of CS that you won't utilize as an ME. If you want to combine technology with engineering then pursue a degree in IT. It will be easier, give you more practical programming experience, teach you about databases, and allow the flexibility of taking several electives (which can be CS related courses).

    You will also be subject to programming and controls classes during your ME studies. Your IT experience will give you a leg up against your peers.

    You will amaze your ME friends when you can create a programming solution to an engineering problem on the computer.

  • Mixology. At least you'll be the hit of the frat parties - and in a few years you can develop a keg tap that'll pour beer at a 10 meter distance.
  • by sneakyimp (1161443)

    Given the prevalance of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies these days, I would imagine that Electrical Engineering would be very helpful. Comp Sci. would be helpful for understanding how the microprocessors work in terms of software, but EE would help you understand the flow of current in these new electrical propulsion systems that you mentioned.

  • Don't consider, disciplines, but topics. If you are interested in fuel cells (or solar) go after the curricula that allows you to learn and experience that topic. Choose to work in research group that deal with these topics. Get your hands dirty. I have had environmental science majors in my group here at MIT that work on solar PV to get experience on them. I tend to hire undergrads that shows that they are flexible in thinking rather than focus on "what's the curriculum that is provided". If you follow thi
  • by xquercus (801916) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:04PM (#37297548)
    Just stick with ME. Instead of spreading yourself thin with a double major, take advantage of other opportunities to gain experience in your field. Take part in club or engineering competitions. Find a professor who does interesting engineering research and get a position in his or her lab. There is WAY more to school than just classes and most students don't take advantage of all there is to do. These activities outside your class will get you face to face with people who will serve as future career contacts. If you really want more education, wait for grad school.
  • You can know just enough to do some real damage...

    If you want to scratch a precise itch with your mechanical research using a computer, you may be well served by yourself but chances are if you're not a real programmer, you'd be better off letting one do the job for you while you concentrate on your main interest.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:14PM (#37297620)
    Speaking from 40 years as a Physics/CS/EE, all of the clever things we've learned to do since flint was high tech have been based on having better materials to do them with.

    As in, just try to make an airplane or gas turbine engine with 19th century materials. Not happening, steampunk to the contrary.

    Same goes for anything else you're going to be doing before you hang up the CAD system for a golf cart.

  • * Business - for the obvious reasons. It goes well with everything.
    * Sociology - it turns out that people are important in most jobs. You work with them, for them (boss), and for them (customers - whether asking how they would like that or figuring out what they would like. Oh, and the mix of people in that major may present a more interesting mix than in any engineering
    * Psych - because that also goes well with everything.

  • Do what you really love to do and never stop. Stay foolish and investigate the failures. There are more failures than successes and some say more to learn from failures than successes (which are necessarily preceded by many failures).

    There are so many variations in engineering and subspecialties that it is impossible to guess where you will actually be in 10 years or train for all of them.

    Get to a college/university that REALLY trains you how to problem solve - innovate - generate inversions - do ballpark

  • One option is mechatronics, where mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, control theory, and computer science meet. Most complex mechanical systems today have some electronics in them to manage the machinery. Find a school with a good mechatronics program if you want to go that route. There aren't that many.

    Mechanism design requires the visualization skills of an artist. Some of that is genetic. You've probably heard the classic joke that a sculptor, asked how he did something, said that he ju

    • I have ME and mechatronics degrees, and the added electrical/control/programing really helps. And it only added one year of extra classes to get the 2nd degree.
  • ... I'd suggest EE instead of CS. Myself, I'm considering EE or CE to complement my CS background. I think for a ME major, an EE degree will be far more beneficial.

    Having said that, even after getting a EE, I'd suggest to continue and take some formal courses in CS, or at the very least, to put a lot of attention on software engineering. A lot of EE majors cannot write sufficiently good code for any code base of a certain size and beyond. You only get enough programming education to get your job done with

  • If you're liking the idea of some code and some controls, you can get a good foundation in both with a Computer Engineering degree. That would give you the flexibility to focus on different aspects of computing/controls systems (or one, if you find you really like a particular area) and is a perfect companion to ME. If you go all software (Computer Science), you miss out on the understanding of how the electrics/electronics work and if you go all hardware (Electrical Engineering), you miss out on the higher
  • Go into drama. You'll spend lots of time interacting directly with women, and if you get the right material, possibly fooling around with them. All for the sake of art, of course.
  • You don't need an official minor or second on Comp. Sci. You just need to be able to code well and you can learn that in your mandatory computer classes and perhaps one elective. Anything more, learn hands on or in your spare time. What would be valuable to you is a second in either Finance or Accounting, depending upon the quality of the program(s) at the school you attend. Accounting isn't just about CPA's and debit credits - there is cost accounting and managerial accounting. Finance isn't just abou

  • You could figure out where all your materials come from and study something like geology and mineralogy.

     

  • First, there are a lot of schools - real universities, not trade schools - that have an automotive engineering major. If you want to design cars, that might be something to at least investigate.

    The computerized components of cars tend to be pretty low level. CS tends to be pretty theoretical. If you want the computer knowledge for application to the automotive work, you should probably think more computer engineering or electrical engineering.

    Personally, I'm not sure it's possible to double major like that

  • If you want a good match for ME today, I would go with courses in digital electronics, rather than CS. The reasons are pretty simple: it seems to me that you are kind of aiming at control systems for your improved automobiles; digital electronics provide those control systems.

    Yes, today most control systems are ultimately governed by software; but you can pick up sufficient programming skills as you go. On the other hand, all the programming in the world will not help you build a machine if there are no
  • Instead of a double major, take a strong math minor, and consider a MS in mathematics concentrating on applied math/operations research.

    The other thing to consider is a Computer Engineering or EE Masters degree that focuses on control systems. Just about everything these days involves automated control.

    The problem with the CS degree is that I don't have that much faith you'll actually get a solid -engineering- education from a CS department. You'll either get research/theory, or you'll get trained for the

  • Our country will facilitate the off-shoring of any skill it can. Engineers in the USA are doomed to the same fate suffered by factory workers in the last 60 years. By the time the assholes in D.C. and N.Y.C. are done trading you, your hard work and expensive education won't be worth a shit.

  • Art.
    Philosophy.
    Sociology.
    English.

    Something to use the other side of your brain.

    It'll create more depth and give you a broader base of knowledge to draw from.

  • Stick with programming, and the next time some uppity EE grad says "you know, you're not a real engineer", show him your engineering ring from ME and tell him to suck it. It'll be worth it, guaranteed.
  • by blindseer (891256) <blindseer AT earthlink DOT net> on Sunday September 04, 2011 @12:13AM (#37300780)

    I believe that many people have a misconception about what computer science is really about. Computer science is about algorithms, sorting, databases, mathematics, and not so much about software development and programming.

    I studied electrical engineering and in my job interviews before and after graduation I was repeatedly told that they were looking for people with more programming experience. After being told that so many times I took a look at a degree in computer science. At my university the computer science department lives under the liberal arts college. In the liberal arts college they require all students to take X credits or foreign language, Y credits in natural science, and Z credits in social science. The core courses in both computer science and computer engineering were largely identical but the computer science degree had many requirements outside of the core that had nothing to do with computer science but were there to fulfill the requirements of the liberal arts college. The computer engineering degree overlapped quite a bit with my electrical engineering degree so the requirements in the engineering program were already met, things like physics, chemistry, mathematics, "pre-engineering" (the courses covering the basics of the engineering process), and composition/communications.

    Other schools place computer science in the same realm as engineering and so you might not have the same experience I did. I chose computer engineering over computer science since I did not feel the desire to take another foreign language course (the engineering college still had a humanities requirement and I took Spanish to fulfill that requirement, going to the liberal arts college would have meant I needed another semester of foreign language) or take a class on public speaking (all liberal arts majors had to take a public speaking course at my school).

    Depending on how you feel about things like taking a foreign language (something I recommend), studying in the social sciences (which you'll have to take in any four year program it's just a matter of quantity), and other topics in the realm outside of engineering a major in liberal arts might be something that you enjoy. It sounds to me like you really want a broader study inside engineering. Other people here have suggested electrical engineering.because of its high content in control theory. I can agree to that but control theory is emphasized in other engineering disciplines like aerospace, industrial, and biomedical engineering. Software engineering is becoming a bachelor degree track in many schools now, that is something to consider as well besides computer science and probably something more fitting to your desire to do embedded controls.

    If you want to take an emphasis in bio-energy sources then you may want to consider a degree in biomedical engineering, biological systems engineering, chemical engineering, or environmental engineering. A college education that leads to two engineering degrees will almost definitely provide room to fit in plenty of study in programming and control theory. A proper choice in majors will allow you to take some courses that may be open to only those people in certain degree programs. For example a course on control systems will almost always be open to anyone majoring in engineering but a course on microorganisms might only be open to someone majoring in biology or biological systems engineering. (I use a microorganism class as an example because if you want to work on bio-diesel or ethanol that is something you might find very interesting.)

    Where I went to school there is a program called "agricultural engineering" which has an interesting mix of mechanical and biological systems engineering. That is something that might be right up your alley. Farm machinery use a lot of interesting means to transfer power so they cover mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems. Moving and processing grain leads to some interesting courses on control theory and biology. There is also the possibility of taking course that might be of a side interest to you like erosion control, sustainable farming, and natural resources.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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