Contemplating on switching my comp sci major to something specifically related to the automotive industry...
October 18, 2010 11:50 PM   Subscribe

Switching from comp sci to automotive. Is it worth it? Also, work ethics and discipline dilemmas are abound.

So I know that it's a bit shameful to be a fourth year student at a community college, but I'm not stupid or anything. I just lack a lot of discipline and drive.

About half a year ago, I had an internship at a small startup company, and my boss kept asking me "Do you REALLY want to be a programmer?" That question still echoes in my head. Apparently I lack a lot of focus in what I do in general.

I have a stronger interest in the automotive industry. If I had a choice between a programming book and an automotive magazine, I'll pick up the latter with no hesitation. I do enjoy programming in a classroom environment, but very seldom do I ever program on my own. So my dedication to becoming a better programmer is questionable, but my passion for automotive technology has always been there.

But as I've said before, I'm taking way too long to transfer out of community college. Switching my major will most likely result in prolonging the transfer. My parents told me that I'll probably have to move out if I had to spend more than four years to transfer to a different college.

That might be a good thing though. Perhaps I could use the time to work a blue collar job and live on my own for a while to appreciate the opportunities a white collar job could hold for me.

If I were to change my major to automotive technology, are there any specific degrees that I can pursue? Or do I just have to work from a generic mechanical engineering degree?
posted by RaDeuX to Work & Money (6 answers total)
If you want to work on automotive technology, yeah, you pretty much have to pursue an engineering degree. MechEng is the most common for automotive, you'd do a mecheng degree and pick your advanced electives and independent projects to be car related. Of course there are also electrical engineers working in the car industry (and programmers) but if you're really into cars then mechanical engineering is the way to go.

You say you enjoy reading automotive magazines, but those are usually a little fluffy. Do you enjoy reading technical books as well? Maybe some of the things on this page would give you a bit of flavour of what being an automotive engineer is like.
posted by atrazine at 1:26 AM on October 19, 2010

What got you into comp sci in the first place? I am wondering if actually fixing computers is your thing.

There are associates and bachelors degrees in fixing computers.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:15 AM on October 19, 2010

Let me tell you this right up front, if you are not passionate about computer science then do not pursue it. In my experience, and my background from college is IT, if you do not have a deep interest in it, you'll never achieve your maximum potential.
If you love cars then gosh darnit go be a mechanic, or whatever career in that field you would love.
Consider this, cars have become so much more complex than in the 80's or 90s. There are millions of lines of computer code in a single new car. This requires mechanics/technicians that are able to understand a lot more than just how to change the oil. That's why technicians for premium cars (BMW, Mercedes, etc) in the U.S. get paid close to, and often above, $100K (using a friend as an example, he went to a particular school for one of the premiums and became certified, but lives in a major city where salaries are higher than small town america).

I will say that the absolute WRONG way to look at it is to say: "Perhaps I could use the time to work a blue collar job and live on my own for a while to appreciate the opportunities a white collar job could hold for me."

You have to change this way of thinking and change it right now. There are plenty of blue collar jobs that provide a good living. If you love it, you will find ways to maximize it.
posted by Yunani at 5:19 AM on October 19, 2010

@majortom1981: I was a computer repair technician at Fry's for half a year, and I enjoyed the job. What I disliked a lot was dealing with the customers...

@Yunani: It'd be awesome to be able to work on premium cars such as the ones that you mentioned. I don't know a lot about the automotive job industry, so I'm not sure where to start on that (e.g. which degree to pursue, etc).
posted by RaDeuX at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2010

If you want to work on cars, you would typically start by going to a technical school, not getting a bachelor's degree. Look and see if your county has an automotive tech program in a technical school. Failing that, look into manufacturer schools.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:40 PM on October 19, 2010

Look and see if your community college offers a certificate in automotive technology.
posted by jvilter at 7:44 PM on October 19, 2010

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