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Industrial Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering?

I have a passion for Mechanical Engineering but I'm worried about keeping that passion as I progress through my career. I have heard that Industrial has even better pay and more demand nowadays. Thoughts?


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Marcia’s Answer

Hi Brian,
Industrial and Mechanical Engineering are both great careers. You are not 'stuck' in one or the other if a job opportunity presents itself. Most of the same basics apply. Industrial, in general terms, implies a factory setting. Getting a product built efficiently and with good quality. Think cars, food production, medical equipment, computers.

Mechanical mostly looks at machines, how they work and how to design them. Think gears, fluids, springs, pipes, components, materials. Both imply design, creativity and imagination. I would say that if you like to 'tinker' and see how things work, go for mechanical first. Once you've worked on the design side and you want to stand back and get your gadgets produced, get more involved in the process. Taking courses to stay informed is always good through your career. Many companies pay for their engineers' advanced training.
Don't think about whether you will earn more or less money. Any engineering field is likely to be in demand. Start by looking at places and do things where you want to be and do. But don't skip an opportunity that is not "perfect". All experience will be of value. I recommend a "co-op" program where you can work a semester and study a semester. Many colleges help place you in jobs in your field. Best wishes, Marcia


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Simon’s Answer

Hi Brian, When you get your degree you can choose elective classes in both mechanical and industrial specialties. I'm a mechanical engineer and have done many project that would be considered industrial engineering work. I have modified and designed the layouts of factories/plants, made lighting/ventilation improvements, improved traffic and material flows, and improved ergonomics to mention a few. The nice thing about engineering is you can migrated to areas of interest. Mechanical and industrial engineering are both fine careers but I believe mechanical engineering is a little more desirable and pays more than than industrial or civil engineering. That being said, follow your interest. You can live well on either salary. Good luck.


Hello Mr Robson. Do you mind sharing your email or linkedIn contact for mentoring purposes. I believe I can learn a lot from you. I am an Industrial Engineering graduate in need of career advice. Baboloki Phuthego

Sorry I got a response that we cannot post emails. I am on LinkedIn. Simon Robson

Hey there Baboloki and Simon. I'm Jordan, Community Manager here at CareerVillage.org. Simon thank you for posting this response! Glad to hear that Students are looking to you for guidance, you've given excellent advice. Baboloki, Simon's right that there is a rule for student safety that says Pros can't arrange off-site communications with students. But there's nothing wrong with a student finding the public profile of a Pro on some other platform (like LinkedIn.com for example) and reaching out there. That happens sometimes, and when it does, it's up to the Professionals to decide whether / when they might want to accept a request to connect. Baboloki, follow-up questions in the comments here on CareerVillage.org are always welcome! Jordan Rivera COACH

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Anup’s Answer

This is an easy question. If you'd like to get a deeper understanding of mechanical systems (virtually everything except chemicals, bridges/buildings, electrical components as another ME put it) and you enjoy working with/learning about the physical world, go ME.


If you're intrigued by data analysis, predictive modeling, finance/business, choose IE. If you're especially interested in "big data", IE is a no-brainer. With growing demands from industry for "data scientists", many institutions like Northwestern (alma mater) are catering their undergrad programs to equip students with these skills (you could choose to focus on these topics as an undergrad even when I went to a lesser extent).


If you're really lost on what you want to do longer-term, IE is not a bad choice since so IE opens up so many career opportunities (finance, consulting, tech etc.). FWIW, I'm working as a firmware engineer now but my IE skills come in very handy whenever I need to do data analysis on experimental data gathered from our hardware.


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Ken’s Answer

Hi Brian!


You asked a very important question.


The final choice is what is most rewarding for you and feels most comfortable to you. So, talk to the head of alumni relations at you school to arrange to meet and talk with graduates of you school who are working in these fields to see what they are doing, how they got there, and how you feel about what they are doing. Also, talk to you school counselor about becoming involved in coop, intern, shadowing, and volunteer programs that will help you to learn about the inside of these career areas. Also, talk to the reference librarian at your local library to locate professional organizations to which these people might belong so that you can attend a meeting to mix and mingle.


Best of luck!


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