help! astro/aero engineering and physics

(108 Posts)
Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 08:39:38

I am an airy fairy arts person with ds wanting to do physics and then aero/astro engineering.

Any advice on the best universities for this? England/abroad? Obviously we are looking ourselves, but all advice/thoughts very welcome.

I did aero engineering about 10 years ago, so my perspective may be a bit out of date now, but my suggestions would be:
- Imperial
- Kingston
- Bristol
- Southampton

Cambridge/Oxford you would have to do two years of general engineering before specialising, whereas I think the Unis above are all specialist courses from the start.

Yay for your DS wanting to do engineering grin

rightsaidfrederick Wed 19-Jun-13 08:56:54

Manchester is meant to be very good, though they now ask for A*A*A - A*AA. You can do physics with astrophysics there too.

rightsaidfrederick Wed 19-Jun-13 08:57:11

^For physics

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 09:04:36

Thanks, he wants to do physics as a first degree and then a masters in engineering, does that change things?

glaurung Wed 19-Jun-13 09:30:59

Oxford and Imperial are probably the most highly regarded universities for physics (you can't do straight physics at Cambridge).

lapucelle Wed 19-Jun-13 09:56:52

In Cambridge you do Nat Sci and specialise in physics from the second year onwards. Cambridge physics is generally more highly regarded than Imperial physics and most people who did Nat Sci (Physics) would consider the first year spent doing chemistry, geology etc to have been worthwhile.

I'm not sure why one would do a first degree in physics followed by a specialised masters in aero/astro engineering. The physics degree would not be the best preparation for the engineering masters and it might be difficult to get into a competitive masters with that background. Oxford and Cambridge engineering is quite theoretical and has a strong physics component, so would be a good preparation for aero/astro engineering while including some physics. Also, as I understand it, while you can enrol on aero/astro engineering courses right from the beginning at other places, many of the modules are still shared with mechanical engineering, electro engineering etc and students have the option to transfer up to the end of the first year or so.

In terms of grades most of the places mentioned are going to be looking for A*AA+.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:00:36

Would it not be better to do physics to keep options open?

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:01:00

It might just be me thinking that, ds is fairly determined on what he wants to do.

NewFerry Wed 19-Jun-13 10:16:02

When DS1 was choosing between maths and engineering degrees, a uni professor summed up the difference as maths is theoretical and elegant.
Engineers take the theories and make them work in the real world.

I suspect that maths and physics degrees both share that elegance, engineering is about using it to create something new and previously undreamed of.
Which does your DS prefer the sound of?

nohalfmeasures Wed 19-Jun-13 10:17:53

?Glasgow if you want flexibility. In Scotland degrees are 4 years but in the first year other subjects are studied to give a broader scope. you then specialise after that. You can skip first year if A levels are really good

Does he prefer the theoretical side of physics or the more practical / applied aspects for engineering? They are going to be quite different I think (whilst allowing for some courses being slightly different, e.g. the Oxbridge engineering courses can be quite theoretical)

If he does a first degree in Physics, I can see it being possible to then do a Masters in Applied Physics maybe, but I think engineering is too much of a leap at that point (ridiculous as that may sound) - engineering degrees nowadays are usually undergraduate masters courses (4 years) as a three year course is generally accepted as insufficient to cover the subject.

How old is he now? Could he get some work experience with a company who works in that area? Might be worth getting in touch with the relevant institute (Royal Aeronautical Society / Institute of Physics? If that is the right name) for some advice perhaps.

Does he have any idea what he wants to do as a job at the end of it? I certainly wouldn't think doing engineering instead of physics would be limiting one's options.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:31:33

That is interesting, thanks. He's definitely more interested in the practical application I think. Maybe engineering then, after all. I suppose it makes sense if you really know what you want to do?!

rubyanddiamond Wed 19-Jun-13 10:34:38

As a 6th former I wanted to study physics, but then changed my mind and applied for engineering as I thought it sounded more practical and grounded in the real world. Also, when I looked into it properly, the Engineering degree was more like what I was studying for A-level physics than the physics degree (although, I might also be out of date on this). Agree with NewFairy's summary, physics is about the theory and engineering is about creating things. So even if you study the same things, the underlying philosophy is a bit different.

In the first year, there's quite a lot of overlap between the subjects, then they start to diverge. Your DS could take a look at the syllabus for the two degrees and see what modules most appeal. If he is also keen to do a masters, then take a look at the syllabus and perhaps get someone who knows the field to give advice on whether the masters will follow naturally from the undergrad degree.

I don't think that physics necessarily is better for keeping your options open, but I think your DS's strategy of a more general undergrad followed by a specialist masters is a great idea.

Owllady Wed 19-Jun-13 10:35:41

My husband has worked as an engineer in aerospace and lots of people go into engineering with physics degrees, it's quite common.

My husband did the apprenticeship route, hnc, hnd, degree in engineering, msc in something or other (can't remember now)

He has worked for Imperial as well on space probe design, so erm, if you are a good engineer with a good background it really doesn't matter what your background was/is, it's not all old school anymore.

Owllady Wed 19-Jun-13 10:36:54

I agree with ruby though, engineering is creative. Has he done any of the psycho babble tests to see what kind of personality he has (oh dear my HR side is coming out now)

PointlessPost Wed 19-Jun-13 10:44:03

How old is he?
Have you looked at the HEADSTART courses. They are fantastic. My DD went on a five day residential course at the end of year 12 and it really helped her firm up exactly what she wanted to study at Uni. I am sure it also helped in her interviews.
Lots of Uni's have their own programes such as Imperial. You could look at whatever Unis are closest to you. There are lots of these type of courses going on, you just have to hunt them down.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:50:17

He did the Morrisby one, which said he has an exceptional level of reasoning ability and of general practical. All the mechanical stuff is off the page and round the corner. Top two career suggestions are mechanical and aerospace engineering. I'd forgotten all that. Hmmm.

What about Jane Austen? <weeps>

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:50:58

He's done a smallpeice one and will apply for a headstart. I'll get him to look at the Imperial too.

lapucelle Wed 19-Jun-13 10:51:21

I work in maths/physics and disagree slightly with the characterization given above.

Nowadays about 2/3 of the research done in most maths departments is not pure mathematics - it is statistics, operational research and "applied mathematics" which ranges from theoretical engineering to physics to mathematical biology. A good fraction of research income comes from industrial grants and some research is even done to order. Similar research in physics ranges from blue skies theoretical work on the origin of the Universe to developing next generation computer chips. In most universities there are considerable overlaps between maths, physics and engineering departments and there are frequently cross-departmental research teams.

What is taught at undergraduate in 3rd year and for MMath/MPhys/MEng strongly reflects the research profile of a given university. That means that in some places the MEng can be pretty theoretical while in other places the MPhys can include a lot of applied physics (nearer to materials science, chemistry or engineering).

For the OP I would think that talking to universities and checking out particular courses would be a good idea. Choosing a program that is flexible is generally recommended as very few students know enough about the subject to be completely sure that they want to do e.g. aero engineering right from the beginning. The latter includes quite a lot of applied maths, fluid dynamics, which students have not met at school so they can't be completely sure that they will enjoy it and be good at it.

bruffin Wed 19-Jun-13 10:56:07

Also look at Arkwright scholarship for 6th form for budding engineers. My ds's Headstart next month at Imperial is being paid for by part of his scholarship. Application for Arkwright is in yr 11. Also get lots of connections through it.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:57:33

He's applied bruffin and had an i/v. Waiting to hear if successful!

AnneEyhtMeyer Wed 19-Jun-13 11:09:15

DH is in aero engineering. He did a physics degree at Imperial.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 12:02:53

Thanks all for contributions.

Not entirely sure I have a definite conclusion but still.

zamantha Wed 19-Jun-13 16:56:11

I'm interested in this thread as my DS also wants to do Aeronautical engineering at mo and is off to do his Headstart course next month and did Smallpiece last year.

I don't know if this is MN world or a scary over competitive world but why are only Imperial /Oxbridge seriously discussed? Surely other successful grads from different uni's are also around!!

I'm also arty, successful and did not go to above!!

We are particularly interested in Surrey, maybe Souhhampton but the A* are scary and we have the thought of Brighton and Sussex if things don't go to plan. Sure Imperial would be perfect but life includes many more than those lucky few.

NewFerry Wed 19-Jun-13 17:48:43

Hi Zam, my DS is at southampton which he chose over Bristol & Bath after visiting all 3. Surrey was his insurance.
Surrey are amazingly efficient and seem to be doing brilliantly in the league tables, and have been in the top 10 for engineering for a fair while.

I agree re the A* offers, I think it would be interesting to know how many applicants actually reach that grade in the summer though.

glaurung Wed 19-Jun-13 17:57:29

Surrey has an excellent reputation for engineering zamantha and with a year work experience built into the course graduates are very employable too. I mentioned oxbridge/imperial up the thread because they have the reputation that may be needed if making the switch from physics undergrad to engineering masters. It's quite probably possible from other places too, but it's not an easy jump to make, so if thats the path you want it's best to give yourself all the advantages you can.

bruffin Wed 19-Jun-13 18:43:01

Good luck to young Hullygrin


Ds is looking at Leeds,Durham,Nottingham,Southampton and Imperial.He wants to do mechanical engineering.

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 19-Jun-13 18:46:50

Isn't Brunel meant to be good for this?

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 19-Jun-13 18:49:04

My DD has moved away from engineering and wants to do physics. Her top choice prob Imperial. At the mo that is.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 19:58:16

The course at Southampton looks really good.

Ds v keen on Imperial as wants London, but put off by the comment on the student room that there are NO your dd will be besieged, Pistey!

NewFerry Wed 19-Jun-13 20:10:59

Hullygully, if your DS has any questions on the southampton aerospace course, please pm me and I will get DS to answer them. (Once he comes down to earth as he's spending this this week flying round southampton doing experiments, as part of the course)

CabbageLooking Wed 19-Jun-13 20:13:11

My DH went to University of Hertfordshire and says that the aerospace industry is full of graduates from there (I KNOW it doesn't sound very impressive but it is apparently very good). Also Southampton and Loughborough.

CabbageLooking Wed 19-Jun-13 20:14:44

Oooh and apparently, for the Astro side of things, Hertfordshire has it's own observatory as well.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 21:22:16

Thanks, newferry!

Does he love it?

NewFerry Wed 19-Jun-13 22:08:03

Totally! grin

Lazyjaney Wed 19-Jun-13 23:10:41

Aero Engineering is the most Maths heavy of the Engineering degrees, check this out for best Universities, I've sorted it by entry score (ie marks needed)

Worth checking with a few re conversion from Physics but I'd think it may be quite difficult.

trixymalixy Wed 19-Jun-13 23:15:17

I did aero eng at Glasgow many years ago. It was well thought of at the time, not sure now.

My BIL works as an aero engineer, he studied mech eng at Sheffield.

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 08:58:57

very interesting, lazyjaney, thanks for that!

MrsHoarder Thu 20-Jun-13 09:08:16

I did maths and am just finishing a more vocational masters degree. The problem with doing a conversion masters is he won't see as much of the engineering and there is no scheme to pay for it. So it has to be paid for up front and with loans from banks if savings won't cover it.

As for universities, have a look at Loughborough.

MrsHoarder Thu 20-Jun-13 09:15:37

Oh and I went to Imperial. There are girls, although not as many as men. There's also a very strong "geek" culture which I haven't seen at my masters university.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 20-Jun-13 09:25:56

Doing engineering would leave the same "general" graduate jobs open as physics would, if he changed his mind.

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 09:32:02

Would it? I keep hearing it wouldn't. <grumble>

Yes, I wonder about Imperial, I wonder if it might be better to go somewhere where it isn't ALL science re the geek thing

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 09:32:32

Where are yo doing your masters mrshoarder?

Dragonwoman Thu 20-Jun-13 09:34:06

Engineering is one of the few degrees where it is still possible to get funding from employers. Has he looked into an apprenticeship from Airbus? They take people with A levels and put them through the degree part time. No fees to pay and a wage. Not easy to get an apprenticeship tho. Look on the EADS website.

MrsMillions Thu 20-Jun-13 09:36:53

Picking up one of the points you've mentioned...

I graduated from Bath 10 years ago. Not an engineer but the engineering faculty was huge, am sure it still is. As your DS has found about Imperial, very few women on the engineering course, but my male engineer friends never had any problems on that score wink - other faculties evened the gender balance out. So whilst not suggesting your DS selects his university on gender ratios, if he is concerned by ratios on specific courses do highlight the presence of students studying other things.

None of said friends are actually working as engineers now, which is sad in many ways, but all doing very well for themselves. My theory was always that the project nature of a lot of their uni work provided great material for grad scheme interview questions.

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 09:49:27

thanks, dragon, I'll get him to look at that.

Dragonwoman Thu 20-Jun-13 10:01:59

That's the one I was thinking of. Closed for this year, but they will soon be recruiting for 2014. You get a degree at the end of it.

RatherBeOnThePiste Thu 20-Jun-13 10:04:11

My DD is doing some work experience at Astrium next week, hopefully it will be interesting, have told her not to touch anything as even the screwdrivers cost ££££££££+++++ grin

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 10:05:37

Wow, she's lucky, Pistey.

RatherBeOnThePiste Thu 20-Jun-13 10:29:53

That she is, glad we asked them, she can't wait, tis going to be a big old journey though, we are SW London and they are Stevenage.

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 10:44:12

Is she going to commute?

How did you know about them?? I don't know about anything...

MrsHoarder Thu 20-Jun-13 11:00:34

I found the all science geek thing very positive: lots of shared interests, its a small university (you'd start talking to someone in the bar and know them through 3 different people) and was generally good for my social confidence which was very valuable.

My masters is at Cardiff University but its not in engineering. Its just when looking for a post-grad masters course I got very familiar with the funding problem. An undergraduate masters course is covered by the student loans company like a bachelors, a post grad masters isn't.

RatherBeOnThePiste Thu 20-Jun-13 11:18:38

Hully, I know absolutely nothing, tis all alien to me, I was more history, geography, she is wired all differently. But, DH works in tech and mapping, so knew who to try. I stopped being able to help her with maths by about Y5, and she's (hopefully) doing two maths A levels. Listening to her and DH talking, I'm like this ---> confused grin confused sad confused wine

Yes, she is commuting, had hoped to do a trial run but GCSEs got in the way, so am going with her on Monday morning, it will take 2 hours. Was just this mo looking at cheapo traveldodgy hotels, maybe thinking going to stay over one night with her. See the sights and sounds of central Stevenage. Smashing!

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 11:30:01

The things we do...

zamantha Thu 20-Jun-13 16:36:38

Finding this thread very useful as don't have a clue about Eng.

Glad to hear that aero-engineering is most Maths type as My Ds loves his Maths and is doing two Maths A levels - he seems to know though that thi stype of engineering is mor eup his street than say Electronics.

Hopefully Headstart course will give good guidance.

Interesting about Southampton maybe not insisting on A*

MABS Thu 20-Jun-13 17:19:40

my DH is an engineering training manager with a big airline, they have a fantastic work experience and also apprentice scheme. He instructs many types of aeronautical engineering (that was his degree) but specifically does physics and maths amongst other things. PM me if there is anything I can ask him re this stuff. Me??!! I know nothing and dd wants to go into the police!

MABS Thu 20-Jun-13 17:20:22

my DH is an engineering training manager with a big airline, they have a fantastic work experience and also apprentice scheme. He instructs many types of aeronautical engineering (that was his degree) but specifically does physics and maths amongst other things. PM me if there is anything I can ask him re this stuff. Me??!! I know nothing and dd wants to go into the police!

NewFerry Thu 20-Jun-13 17:30:26

Mabs- both you and your DH are stars smile

MABS Thu 20-Jun-13 17:34:52

not sure about that Newferry! but thanks

NewFerry Thu 20-Jun-13 17:37:16

It's also worth checking out whether doing f/maths can help with offers. Eg, at Bristol, the standard mech engineering offer of A*AA is dropped to AAA with f/maths, maths and physics as your A2s.

Zamantha, or any other posters, you're welcome to pm me with soton aero eng qs, and there's at least one other poster with as DS taking eng at southampton.

Hullygully Thu 20-Jun-13 18:33:05

ds is going to do maths, f maths, physics, philosophy and (hopefully) art.

somebloke123 Fri 21-Jun-13 14:06:08

If he was keen to study in London there's also UCL, which I don't think anyone has mentioned. As a University within London it's right up there with Imperial and LSE but unlike them covers the whole academic range: science, engineering, maths, humanities, medicine, the lot - and slap bang in the middle of Bloomsbury/ Fitzrovia. I know the physics dept is top-notch. I have no direct knowledge about the engineering but I'm pretty sure that is too. And what is more (the real clincher) they have the preserved and stuffed body of Jeremy Bentham on display in a glass case in the foyer. What more could anyone want?

I did physics at University - many many moons ago - so I am biased, but I do think it's a great choice for someone who wants to follow a career in science/ technology but is presently a bit vague about precisely what. And especially if you did a course where you started of with a broader range of scientific disciplines. The prime example here would be Natural Sciences at Cambridge. Much of a physics degree would be directly relevant to engineering and I would have thought that there shouldn't be a major problem in doing physics as a first degree followed by an engineering masters.

With engineering in many cases you have to make decisions very early one - e.g. between different machanical, aeronautical, electrical, chemical etc. Absolutely fine of course if you know what direction you want to go in.

I think it's very important too to go and have a look at various places before applying, whether on official open days or other times. Some people would be attracted by a college structure (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, Durham), others by a self-contained campus (East Anglia, Sussex) or sizeable town/ city. I think whether you generally like the "feel" of a place is more important than whether its 2 or 3 percentage points higher lower in the league tables.

Our son, by the way, is doing Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Sheffield and really likes it. A highly regarded department in a big - but not too big - city with a proud engineering history. First year in a really nice student village.

Hullygully Fri 21-Jun-13 14:49:46

It's all so serious these days.

When I went I chose five random unis from the ucca book the night before I had to hand the form or whatever it was in. Mind you I ended up going miles away and nearly had a heart attack. But no visits, no parental involvement nada.

I'm trying to help ds do it the right way!

somebloke123 Fri 21-Jun-13 15:02:01

Also now, after you have received your provisional offers, but before you actually sit the A levels, you have to cut down your choices to 2, and put them in order of preference. Also you have to do one of these bloody pointless "personal statements", supposedly written by the applicant but in reality typically not. It is indeed grim these days.

In the old days if you got the grades for all 5 of your choices you could leave the decision open right up to the last minute.

RatherBeOnThePiste Fri 21-Jun-13 16:13:28

It all feels much more serious, I hadn't started thinking about degree courses at this point, DD only finished her GCSEs on Wed. I had a vague idea that I might go to university at her age, she is much further on.

Hully tis good to see that he is doing a broader range of subjects, DD is doing maths, f maths, chem and physics. She did toy with French instead of chem for a while, which I felt was a good thing somehow, but it is not to be.

Hullygully Fri 21-Jun-13 16:18:20

Ds isn't keen on chem and I was JOLLY keen on an arts subject...

bruffin Fri 21-Jun-13 16:36:40

Ds is doing maths, further maths, physics and philosophy as well Hully. He also doing another engineering qualification but not sure what it is.

Hullygully Fri 21-Jun-13 16:42:00

They don't do anything like that at ds's school sadly. I wonder if he could do something somewhere else...<can't face yet more research>

bruffin Fri 21-Jun-13 17:13:33

Ds is doing it at school but not in a class. He is doing it in spare time with no set classes but can go and see the DT teacher for help if he needs. He is doing it instead of the independent project thingy they do in 6th form.

bruffin Fri 21-Jun-13 17:15:09

Its come to me

zamantha Fri 21-Jun-13 17:20:16

This is news to me - whittling down offers to top 2 choices - do you need to play it safe?

DrDolittle Fri 21-Jun-13 17:26:27

Any Russell Group will be fine at physics, as will some of the 1994 group universities. Try to avoid ex-poly's and regional universities (e.g Salford, Kent, Herts).

Hullygully Fri 21-Jun-13 17:48:37

I thought the EPQ was the extended project qualification they do in 6 form?

bruffin Fri 21-Jun-13 18:20:56

Apologies I am being confusing.
DS is doing the engineering qualification instead of the EPQ

Hullygully Fri 21-Jun-13 18:26:15

aha! <gnashes teeth at yet more stuff to find out about>

2rebecca Sat 22-Jun-13 09:11:46

Strathclyde do an aeromechanical engineering MEng and are highly thought of in Scotland, it's not RG though so the pro RG lemmings won't look at it.

zamantha you have to choose your "firm" and "insurance" offers.
Then if you don't get the grades for your first choice you can accept the insurance place or go to clearing.
piste I love your description, it fits my experience exactly. DS wants to do MMaths and he lives and breathes Maths. Thankfully DH speaks the same language and can listen to hours of Mathspeak without glazing over. He left me behind around year 6. It looks as though DS2 is going the same way. My input is limited to researching stuff on MN and booking open days.

Musicaltheatremum Sun 23-Jun-13 16:59:30

My brother did aero engineering at Hatfield Poly which became uni of Hertfordshire in his last year. He's worked for 20 years and now very. High up in flight ops deciding if your planes can land safely. I also went to a none Russell group uni and have a successful career. In fact it's still not a Russell Group but is one of the best universities in the country and the forefront in its field for some of the science universities so don't ignore ex polytechnic s and None Russell groups

Musicaltheatremum Sun 23-Jun-13 17:00:31

Science courses not universities and ignore stupid full stops in the wrong place

zamantha Sun 23-Jun-13 18:57:33

Thank you everyone - a mine of information for someone not remotely interested in Science/Maths/Engineering but so wanting to support my DS and His passion. I followed mine!

Out of interest in a laypersons speak - what sort of jobs are there out there in Engineering for graduates. Forget the recession, I know about that - but on a good day!

bruffin Sun 23-Jun-13 19:37:15

There is a shortage of engineers and it's getting worse. In 10 years time due to retirements. This is why money is being poured into it through try the likes of Arkwright and Headstart.
We were at Leeds open day yesterday and the whole message was about employability and the industry based experience they can give them. The p Rte ojects they do in 3rd year come from companies wanting solutions.

NewFerry Mon 24-Jun-13 07:33:05

DS was telling us its very similar at Southampton, the students select 3/4 options from a list of 60+ based on research that's happening at the uni. Then they are assigned to a project for their third year.
His is something to do with wind drag confused and he need to learn a new computer program over the summer - that's if he ever comes home. This week he is helping to build the car they will be using in the formula student competition next month.

bruffin Mon 24-Jun-13 09:02:49

From what i can gather NewFerry, industry is desperate for engineers, but what they need is engineers that don't just understand the theories but can jump right in at the deep end and understand the practicallities of the job.
My dh became a professional engineer the old fashioned way, through leaving school at 16 (being an august baby he was actually 15) and getting an apprenticeship. He said you could tell the engineers that went through the degree route, they could tell you how an oscilloscope worked, but wouldn't know how to turn it on.

Hullygully Mon 24-Jun-13 09:22:54


glaurung Mon 24-Jun-13 10:20:12

Nowadays bruffin, do you have a feel for what the differences in career opportunities are likely to be for someone entering engineering with a degree as opposed to someone going the apprenticeship route?

Owllady Mon 24-Jun-13 11:40:52

bruffin, my husband would completely agree with your grin he says they leave university not even able to use a soldering iron! He is an old school type engineer though (the best sort he would say...)

HullyGully, they are doing apprenticeships at my dh's place, would like me to PM you the name? I don't know where you live though confused

I think Bae do apprenticeships now though too

Hullygully Mon 24-Jun-13 11:43:10

yes please owl

AnneEyhtMeyer Mon 24-Jun-13 12:23:09

I think there may be some crossover here in people's perceptions of an engineer. It is quite a far-ranging term. My father and husband are both engineers - both studied physics at university but both in massively differing fields, neither needing to use a soldering iron.

The word engineer covers jobs from manual labour on the shop floor through to people who sit in offices never seeing a moving part.

2rebecca Mon 24-Jun-13 12:37:03

I agree with Anne, not all engineers work on "the shop floor" and my son who wants to be a mechanical engineer doesn't want to be a mechanic.
Having said that many engineers start on getting your hands dirty work and progress to more legislative/ design/ management roles.
My son can use a soldering iron but would see chartered engineers as designing stuff for others to solder, not soldering it themselves.
If you have no interest in the getting your hands dirty/ building stuff aspect you're probably looking at the wrong job though.

rubyanddiamond Mon 24-Jun-13 12:50:00

I probably fall into the category of engineers who can't turn on an oscilloscope, but I probably earn more than many of those who can ;) I can use a soldering iron though. Agree with Anne about it being a really wide field - the practical, organisational and analytical skills you acquire doing Engineering (or Physics) really will stand you in good stead for almost any career.

I came across this article recently, it is about non-science careers for academic scientists, but I think many of the things it says and the jobs it suggests are great options for Engineers:

Owllady Mon 24-Jun-13 13:22:37

oh how rude wink my husband is a highly skilled design engineer and subject matter expert shock but yes, he likes to still 'get stuck in' and would be the first to admit that, he went into to it because he was good at maths/reasoning and was creative

Owllady Mon 24-Jun-13 13:26:19

am i the only person on this thread who has an oscilloscope in their hall...confused and a room full of binders. A room you do not want to enter without sunglasses because of the blue glare that shines through <sigh>

bruffin Mon 24-Jun-13 13:27:09

DH does get his hands dirty but done design and worked his way to management. As i said above he learned on the job, but would need a require a degree now for his professional membership.
DH was talking about the engineers that came in to do the same work as him. This was many years ago when he was in his first job which made clean rooms and the machines that made electronic chips.
He has managed to cross over to marine generators and electric systems for boats,and now works in the test rooms for the pharmaceutical.

bruffin Mon 24-Jun-13 13:30:04

"am i the only person on this thread who has an oscilloscope in their hall."

Bet you havent gone to bed to find dh there playing with a circuit board wink

rubyanddiamond Mon 24-Jun-13 14:04:59

I realised after I posted that probably sounded ruder than I meant! I just think that sometimes the old-school view of hands-dirty engineering puts a lot of people (especially girls) off studying what is a really interesting subject that can open loads of doors smile

No oscilloscopes here, but I do a fair amount of computer programming in bed!

Owllady Mon 24-Jun-13 14:45:31

oh i was pulling your leg about the rude thing, i think i most probably came across as just as rude grin . I think that's the problem with things written down v's speaking and body language

I think it's great that there are more women going into engineering. Dh has a lady on his team who does the PCB layouts and designs and he never has a bad word to say about her, she is his reliable iykwim.

bruffin Mon 24-Jun-13 14:52:21

I noticed that the girls at the mechanical engineering open daSaturday urdayseemed to be doing the biomedical mechanical engineering.

Dd 15 seems to be swinging from wanting to be an SEN teacher and an astrophysics at the moment. But we will send her on the Inspire girls day when she is yr 11.

2rebecca Mon 24-Jun-13 15:28:11

I went on a girls engineering course when I was 16 and it put me off. I think that was mainly because the engineering was divided into days for the different disciplines and that particulat uni just did specific disciplines from the start.
Had I realised some colleges start with a year or 2 of broad based engineering I might have been more interested as although I liked the concept of engineering I just didn't get excited by car engines, concrete or really complex circuits.

zamantha Tue 25-Jun-13 13:43:23

I feel chuffed my son wants to pursue Engineering - after hearing your work stories as he's very Mathsy but also loves building/designing things and being outdoors.

He thinks Engineering will be creative which to a Drama/English graduate sound strange! smile

I also like the team work aspects of the uni specs I read which I think is less relevant on a Maths degree course. My DS is very sociable

Thank you so much for all your posts - had no idea so many people actually liked/talked about Engineering - I come from and work in a different world! grin

zamantha Tue 25-Jun-13 13:44:51

Whoops! should read : sounds strange smile

Owllady Tue 25-Jun-13 17:18:11

lol grin

have you never met an engineer? all they talk about is engineering!

I think though engineering (esp high level) is generally not given the recognition it deserves as people (in general) do not appreciate how much knowledge and skill these professionals posses. That's what i have found anyway. I once had some describe my dh as a manual worker and this person came to this conclusion because her dh worked in an office so wore a suit! err what?! It makes me feel really defensive

(and I am an arty farty textiles graduate so it's all over my head anyway, the code is a different language for example wink)

bruffin Tue 25-Jun-13 18:27:56

I think a lot of engineers are very creative, just not in a flowery way (not sure if that is the best way to put it) FWIW DH and DS (and DD for that matter) are very good photographers and DS can produce to lovely posters on the pc etc, just wouldnt be able to draw or paint them. Its just a different type of creativity.

NewFairy Tue 25-Jun-13 19:32:32

Article here in the Telegraph about the lack of engineers in the UK, and the issue of giving the term engineer protected status.

Hullygully Tue 25-Jun-13 20:41:35

That's interesting bruffin, ds is really into photography (with great-grandfather's old cameras), and music composition on the computer and I think it's the combination of technology and creativity that appeals.

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 26-Jun-13 09:08:56

DD is being inspired this week, loving everything, space debris harpoon testing range yesterday, I have an image in my mind which is possibly way off reality grin She got a really close look at a satellite heading for mercury and one that aims to disprove dark matter. She is though now questioning giving up French as lots of the younger people there are European. Things to think on. Her mentor for the week is a French guy who did a physics degree at Imperial then specialised in astro physics later.

Commuting is bonkers, but so worth it.

glaurung Wed 26-Jun-13 09:24:06

That sounds fantastic RBOTP, what is it she's doing?

somebloke123 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:18:58

Interesting link NewFairy thanks.

But what a depressing set of readers' comments! The consensus seems to be that engineering is just not valued in this country, compared with more enlightened places.

Typical comment:

"My advice to Engineering Undergraduates: Get your degree, get Chartered, get on a plane to Australia, NZ, Canada or the Middle East, leaving your student debt behind. There are far better lifestyles to be had outwith the UK."

As the parent of a current engineering undergraduate I find this very sad.

I like the French word for engineer: "ingénieur" - the ingenious one.

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