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I am in 8th Grade at a private school in MA

I am in 8th Grade at a private school in MA I would like to know, how is the best way to get into aviation or mechanical (or automotive) engineering? It has been a passion very anything with an engine since I was very young and I always loved hearing and watching these vehicles on the ground or in the air.

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Michael’s Answer

Hi Steven:

While in high school, one will need to focus on science and math classes to prepare for a career in Mechanical Engineering. Physics and chemistry will be the core science courses. For math, statistics and calculus will be needed. Both concentrations will enable you to focus and refine your analytical skills; complex problem solving; investigative and innovative critical thinking; attention to detail and observation skills; etc.

Other skills that will need to be built upon center around team building, team work and communication. In any work culture, collaboration amongst team members, partner departments and clients occur on a daily basis. A college course in public speaking, communications and English will help with one's communication and writing skills since analysis reports are generated and findings are presented to colleagues and other professionals who deal with Mechanical Engineering. Another recommendation is to seek the advice from your high school guidance counselor and teachers. They can help guide your educational pathway for Mechanical Engineering.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here are the top colleges and universities to consider for Mechanical Engineering:

- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Stanford University
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
- University of California (Berkeley)
- Purdue University (West Lafayette)
- University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
- California Institute of Technology
- Carnegie Mellon University
- University of Texas (Austin)

When reviewing colleges and universities, it is best to check the following:

- In-State vs Out of State Tuition
- Internships
- Scholarships
- Career Placement upon graduation
- Course work and offered classes
- Post-Graduate Degrees - Master and Doctoral

Scholarship applications can start to be submitted during your Junior year and will continue throughout your Senior year in high school. It is best to ask your Academic Advisor/School Counselor on the timeline process as well. Scholarship applications will have specific deadlines and requirements to meet in order to be submitted for review and consideration.

You may want to start to compile your resume/portfolio since a majority of scholarship applications will require academic grade point average (GPA), academic accomplishments, school activities (clubs, sports, etc.), community involvement (volunteer, church, etc.), academic and personal recommendations, etc. There may be essay requirements on why you are a qualified candidate to receive the scholarship, what your future goals are academically and professionally and other questions centering around who you are, your beliefs, etc.

Here are a couple of links for College Scholarships:

Also, it will be best to check with the colleges and universities that you will be applying to. You can check with the School/Department of your desired major, the Campus Career Center and the Register's Office for additional information for college scholarships and grants and specific requirements for qualifications.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here are some top careers in Mechanical Engineering:

- Aerospace Engineer
- Automotive Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Business Executive
- Construction Engineer
- Entrepreneur
- Intellectual Property Attorney
- Manufacturing Engineer
- Management Consultant
- Mechanical Engineer
- Patent Lawyer
- Production Engineer
- Project Lead
- Project Manager
- Petroleum Engineer
- Process Engineer
- Product Designer
- Quality Engineer
- Sales Engineer
- Structural Engineer
- Technology Specialist
- Thermal Engineer

Hope this helps and best wishes for your education and career in Mechanical Engineering!
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Christian’s Answer

Michael's response was indeed exceptional and spot-on. However, we'd like to further enrich it with these additional suggestions:

* Consider reaching out to local engineering or aviation companies for an internship. This could be a chance for you to volunteer your time to handle phone calls or assist at the reception desk, in return for the opportunity to shadow professionals and gain deeper insights into the industry. This early exposure to a company could prove beneficial when you need connections to secure an internship before college.

* Make it a habit to continuously build your portfolio based on your interests. Embrace challenges or projects that you conceive or discover online. This opens up the possibility of showcasing your commitment and intellectual growth on platforms like YouTube or LinkedIn, through your thought processes and methodologies.

* Look into joining local robotics teams. Your high school or a nearby college might already have one.

* If it's feasible for your family, think about participating in robotics camps.

* While it may come with a hefty price tag, courses like the one linked below offer you the chance to learn the engineering process. This knowledge could help you build a robust foundation that will serve you well in the future. Prestigious institutions like MIT also offer free courses. (Link: