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Entrepreneurship in Mechanical Engineering?

Hello I am a senior in high school and was interested in Mechanical Engineering, but at the entrepreneur/managing level, like making my own product and selling it someday. Does anybody know what it looks like to manage an organization or group of people who do Mechanical Engineering? Thanks. #business #engineering #mechanical-engineering

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Brad’s Answer

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Great comments so far. I'd like to throw in a little bit different of a perspective. I'm a mechanical engineer by undergrad. I spent several years working as a mechanical engineer before going back to school for an MBA/Masters of MechE. Now, I work at a start up. I manage a team of engineers to design and develop consumer products... and I also do a bit of engineering myself (as we are a small company).


My few years of experience as a mechanical engineer gives me a HUGE advantage at managing a team of engineers. I understand the product design process (and all of it's quirks) allowing me to make better decisions and improve our development process. If you truly want to manage engineers to develop products, I think the best way to do that is starting as a mechanical engineer.


I would HIGHLY encourage you to pursue your interest in mechanical engineering. While working towards your degree take some time to figure out exactly what you love and steer your career in that direction. Maybe that direction is to become an entrepreneur, or maybe something else. A lot can change in a few years as you get to know yourself better. Regardless, MechE is a great platform to build your career from.

Thank you comment icon hello friends over here....pls help me to get some idea on startup ...am an engineeering 2nd year student RUBEN
Thank you comment icon Hi Brad. I'm about to complete my mech. engineering within 2 months....I've got placed at MNC....wanna be an entrepreneur.... any advice? Nihar
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Shuvom’s Answer

Unfortunately, the higher in the management track you go, the less actual engineering you do. So if you love designing products, taking them apart and putting them together, you may not want to pursue a business degree so you can manage engineers.


Managing engineers is like managing any other team. You get their respect by knowing your stuff (knowing it cold, and backwards and forwards) and respecting others.


With the current design tools and rapid prototyping machines (both of which my company sells) this is the best time in the world to be an entrepreneur. A single ME with a good idea can iterate hundreds of times to create a world-beating product in his garage, in less time it took 20 MEs to do it 20 years ago.


Read the book "The Lean Start-up" to get some lessons on how to bring the right product to market (it's a little bit of a religion around the Boston area) and then keep thinking and trying out your ideas- its the number of iterations you go through that make it better.

Thank you comment icon This is a pretty excellent answer. Not sure I could add much here. Kudos. Engineer87
Thank you comment icon thanks for the information much needed Demaje
Thank you comment icon Hi Shuvom! Thank you so much for the amazing advice you provided to Jeremiah above! I had a few follow up questions I wanted to ask out of my own curiosity: 1. Could you talk a little bit more about your own background in mechanical engineering? What type of career path did you yourself choose to take? And what steps would you recommend to someone just beginning their journey? 2. If one wants to manage engineers, do you think a degree/background in engineering is necessary? Or is it possible to enter with a business background? Thank you so much in advance. Best, David David Ohta COACH
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David’s Answer

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Shuvom provided an excellent answer. I would add just a few things:


If you are certain that you want to be a mechanical engineer, that is great. The majority of high school seniors and many college freshmen aren't so certain, and that is fine too. If you're in this second group, I would advise going ahead with pursuing a mechanical engineering degree, but also to keep an eye open for other things that may interest you. This includes other types of engineering as well as business. Business graduates are often the ones leading entrepreneurial ventures that develop and sell products, though they often tend to be less involved in the product details. Of course, you can always supplement your engineering classes with business classes.


ASME has a couple of relevant articles that you might find interesting. One is an interview with engineering entrepreneur Steven L. Reid: From Engineer to Entrepreneur. The other is Is Entrepreneurship for You? which addresses this question with engineers in mind.

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Pedro’s Answer

Jeremiah, I will agree with many of the posts here about pursuing your technical degree. Having a strong set of technical chops and being conversant with other engineers has helped me a lot over the years. The need for mechanical engineers is extremely high and it's right now one of the best paid careers. Taking advantage of modern tools (3D CAD, simulation, and printing) the costs to create new hardware has gone down significantly from only a few years ago.


Once you find something you're very passionate about, you can make a choice to enter entrepreneurship. Being a good manager doesn't make you a good entrepreneur nor the the other way around. With entrepreneurship following your passion and applying some basic reality checks along the way will get you started, most of the things to do you'll figure out from your network of other entrepreneurs, but the best way you could successfully lead a hardware startup is to know a bit about it yourself.

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