Biochemistry major to aerospace engineer: is this possible?
May 23, 2012 7:52 AM Subscribe
Recent biochemistry graduate wants to change direction and pursue engineering, specifically aerospace (but I'd settle for mechanical) engineering. Is this possible? And if so, how the heck do I plan to get from here to there, hopefully without bankrupting myself? I'll take any advice I can get.
posted by escapist53211 to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a 26-yr-old recent graduate who, after years of indecisiveness, finally has a solid idea of what I'd like to be doing for the next 10+ years: aerospace engineering. The wrinkle, however, is that I am two years out from graduation with degrees in biochemistry (BS) and Spanish and >$40k of debt. To further complicate things, I am currently working as an EFL teacher outside the US, so I don't really have the opportunity to research and do informational interviews as I would at home.
I ended up majoring in biochemistry because I liked those classes in high school and I enjoy(ed) a good intellectual and technical challenge. But after graduation, I spent a year working in a research lab (read: master pipetter and cell culture keeper) as a technician only to realize that I'm not really excited about any of my career options as a biochemist. I did do a couple of summer research stints as an undergrad in molecular biology and materials science/nanotechnology. I enjoyed the buzz of novelty and the rush that comes with learning new information and applying it to find answers to interesting questions, but the subject material didn't capture my interest.
What does capture my interest are planes and spaceships. As a kid I loved LEGO, and pretty much the only thing I built (and still build today) were models that fly through space or the air. I started working on my private pilot's license while in high school, but I had to quit because it was too expensive of a hobby to maintain. I get really excited at the prospect of being part of a team that designs the next generation of spacecraft that will explore the solar system or that designs a viable supersonic commercial airliner.
I'm an INTP/J, and finding unique innovative solutions to problems is pretty much the way my brain works. I'm not afraid of math and enjoy mastering computation methods in order to add them to my toolbox. I did pretty well in school (3.8/4.0 GPA), so I'm not too worried that I wouldn't be able to at least pass engineering classes. (overconfident?)
The problem is that I have no idea how to get to studying/working in aerospace/mechanical engineering from where I currently am. Since I already have tons of debt from undergrad, I'm not sure that a second batchelor's is in my best financial interest. Should I be planning to grab a master's in engineering and take some of the missing prereqs on the way? I know that BU has a pretty cool LEAP program (redundant, I know) that is meant to be a bridge to engineering for those that come from non-engineering backgrounds, but it's a pretty spendy program.
Should I find a job working in a research lab at a decent engineering school and take classes part-time? Can I even do that as a biochem major? Should I aim crazy high and apply for a critical skills master's program at Sandia Nat'l Labs to get my foot in the engineering door? Am I crazy to think any of this is even possible, especially without going even deeper into debt? Any wisdom from the hive mind would be greatly appreciated.