What should I minor in if I major in mechanical engineering?
Great job thinking ahead. I don't have a direct answer to your question, but perhaps my general approach may be helpful for you.
I believe in delaying decisions as much as you can without detriment (for example missing a deadline or other time sensitive opportunities). In the case of declaring a minor, for most schools, I don't think you need to make a decision until your sophomore or junior year. Delaying your decision allows you to gather more information to make a better decision.
Ok... so how does this work?
I suggest that you start your college career by taking as many of your core mechanical engineering classes early on as possible. It can be tempting to jump into electives your freshman or sophomore year - many classmates will be taking cool things. But I believe you will be greatly rewarded if you can resist this temptation.
Delaying your electives to later in your college career allows you to get to know what you like (and don't like) about mechanical engineering, or whatever degree you may pursue. Once you get to your junior or senior year, you will have a better idea of the type of job you will want when you graduate. At that point, you can take electives that will be more beneficial for the job you want and better qualify you for that job.
For me, I realized the summer before my senior year that I really wanted to work in the audio industry. I had several elective openings for my senior year (while many of my classmates were stuck fulfilling their degree requirements). I looked at job descriptions at companies that I was interested in to see what skills they were looking for and aligned my classes to those skills. I ended up taking graduate level acoustics courses, 3-d modeling, and advanced CAD design to steer my mechanical engineering degree towards that specific job.
My elective decisions were not rewarded with a minor from my university... but I ended up with something far more valuable. I ended up having the skill set to get hired onto my dream company. I landed a job that made me excited for monday morning to arrive.
The excitement and passion that I had for my first job, led me to many great opportunities at that company which set me up with great skills and experiences for grad school and future jobs.
It's great to think ahead, but don't get caught up in the weeds of decisions that don't necessarily need to be made today. Minors seem like they could be important. I think that having the right skills for a job you are interested is far more important than a minor.
There is no right or wrong way to do things. I hope this perspective helps you to form your own vision of your future.
I totally agree with Brad's approach. I would also add that you can also minor in something that is totally unrelated to your career. I was a Mech E major but minored in music because it is my passion. College is such an incredible opportunity to learn about almost anything, and for me, it was great to have a music performance or history class to look forward to each semester as a balance to the fluid dynamics or structures classes I was taking. A dose of the liberal arts can be a wonderful thing for shaping your world view. I think it doesn't hurt your career prospects either - a minor in the liberal arts can teach you better writing and communication skills, as well as critical thinking from a different angle. And it can make you look more well-rounded and interesting to recruiters - my interviewers have sometimes picked up on my music minor and asked me questions about it, so it may have helped me to connect with them on a personal level, and I think it probably helped me get a couple jobs.
Hope that helps and best of luck!
I would say as an engineer that taking some writing classes would be VERY helpful. I led a number of contracts and it is the writing portion that engineers got hung up on and it ended up delaying several projects for months. If the contractor had engineers who could write then the project would have been done more on time and they could have made more money by taking on more projects. It is also very frustrating for the customer. Other than that my son studied a foreign language - also a plus due to the global nature of engineers these days - and is doing a study abroad. It is going to take him another year to graduate, but it's ok in the big scheme of things - now he has the chance for three internships before graduating.
I agree with Brad regarding taking as many courses of mechanical engineering classes early on. I would like to recommend “Finance” OR “Supply Chain Management” as your minor. Both of these will complement your mechanical engineering major.
My advice is based on my personal experience; so it may be slightly biased. I am impressed with your proactive thinking. Best of luck for everything.