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I'm doing petroleum engineering (undergrad) but I have lost passion for it. Now I like rocketry.

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RocketEnthusiast101

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Hi. I'm currently doing a petroleum engineering program, (undergrad) student. The thing is when I joined this program, I was in for the money however as years progressed, I became more interested in the aeronautical related stuff because I find it cool and it thrills me and just imagining me making rockets, planes that fly alone hype me a lot. Therefore, my motivation for joining this program was gone.

Now the issue is that this happened while I was already in the program. So it's like now I'm in a very weird position myself. Like both fields i.e. petroleum and aeronautical are so far away. But I mean, there is still a lot of stuff that is common such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, the strength of materials, statics and dynamics, C programming, Solidworks etcetera.

Because of this, I have this tiny bit of hope that I might be able to make it in there. The issue is that I haven't found anyone online or even in my circle of my friend's circle who has made this kind of jump. And that's why I'm asking here because all of you here are professional engineers and you would know more about the nitty-gritty stuff that will be involved.

Below is my skill level just so you guys can help me out in a better way.

Rating criteria is as follows: Noob (0-1) - Bad (2-4) - Average (5) - Good (6-8) - Awesome (9 - 10)

- C programming (Extreme noob, logic sucks)

- Solidworks (Bad, can't find the time to practice it cause involved in my typical studies).

- Strength of materials (Average, need more practice)

- Statics and Dynamics (Bad)

- Fluid Mechanics (Bad)

- Thermodynamics (Bad)

- Arduino (Extreme Noob, because haven't done anything related to Arduino so expected to be this)

- Matlab (Extreme Noob, don't have the time to learn it).

- Eagle (or anything related to circuit boards, I'm an extreme noob in them also, cause no time to practice them)

Hmm. Besides this, I can't think of anything technical related.

So based on my skill level and the position of it in. What can I do to land myself a job as a rocket engineer?

Also, any of your friends who made a bizarre jump like this either in this same way that I want to make or like let's say from electrical to petroleum, or mechatronic to business, etcetera. What did they have to do to make the jump successful? Like in general.

I would be very appreciative of your help.
 

Pariah Zero

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I can only offer this observations:

• You will typically spend your days working with broken crap. It’s the engineer’s curse. Working stuff is for customers.
• Probably half of the Engineers I’ve ever worked with do not work in the field they studied. They’re usually extremely good.
• There is a lot of crossover between disciplines; it’s more or less impossible to design a product in only one field.
• Troubleshooting is not a discipline of Engineering, but it’s one of the most important things to learn.

All four are related to each other: you get people working outside their degree/discipline because making things work is hard.

It always requires a lot of troubleshooting.

For example, an EE will get pulled into a “Mechanical Engineering” problem to “answer a few questions,” about a shared system. The EE will be helpful enough, he’ll find he’s are asked again in the future.

Next thing you know, management moves the EE over because his mechanical skills have become “good enough” and they need him there.

At the same time, the mechanical engineers learn electrical things in the same process of troubleshooting.

So the only real advice I have: be flexible, teachable, and learn.
 

Fattbank64

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I have a petroleum engineering degree and do not work in the petroleum industry. Go figure. I suggest switching to mechanical engineering because it encompasses many industries (translation: more opportunities). Keep your options open.
 

Funkworks

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I’ve worked in private R&D and taught university physics and what I would say is complete the petroleum degree and start talking to people who do aircraft engines, Lycoming, Pratt, RR, etc. That sector. (ending up with a lesser known brand is perfectly fine).

Also, consider doing a Master’s degree. Talk to aeronautics professors. Surely some of your skills can be useful for a crossover.

Also, I’ve seen much greater jumps than from one engineering field to another. Some successful and others less so. Keeping some kind of familiar comfort zone is important, be it in the field or as a hobby (if you play soccer, keep playing soccer).
 
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Steve Shannon

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Hi. I'm currently doing a petroleum engineering program, (undergrad) student. The thing is when I joined this program, I was in for the money however as years progressed, I became more interested in the aeronautical related stuff because I find it cool and it thrills me and just imagining me making rockets, planes that fly alone hype me a lot. Therefore, my motivation for joining this program was gone.

Now the issue is that this happened while I was already in the program. So it's like now I'm in a very weird position myself. Like both fields i.e. petroleum and aeronautical are so far away. But I mean, there is still a lot of stuff that is common such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, the strength of materials, statics and dynamics, C programming, Solidworks etcetera.

Because of this, I have this tiny bit of hope that I might be able to make it in there. The issue is that I haven't found anyone online or even in my circle of my friend's circle who has made this kind of jump. And that's why I'm asking here because all of you here are professional engineers and you would know more about the nitty-gritty stuff that will be involved.

Below is my skill level just so you guys can help me out in a better way.

Rating criteria is as follows: Noob (0-1) - Bad (2-4) - Average (5) - Good (6-8) - Awesome (9 - 10)

- C programming (Extreme noob, logic sucks)

- Solidworks (Bad, can't find the time to practice it cause involved in my typical studies).

- Strength of materials (Average, need more practice)

- Statics and Dynamics (Bad)

- Fluid Mechanics (Bad)

- Thermodynamics (Bad)

- Arduino (Extreme Noob, because haven't done anything related to Arduino so expected to be this)

- Matlab (Extreme Noob, don't have the time to learn it).

- Eagle (or anything related to circuit boards, I'm an extreme noob in them also, cause no time to practice them)

Hmm. Besides this, I can't think of anything technical related.

So based on my skill level and the position of it in. What can I do to land myself a job as a rocket engineer?

Also, any of your friends who made a bizarre jump like this either in this same way that I want to make or like let's say from electrical to petroleum, or mechatronic to business, etcetera. What did they have to do to make the jump successful? Like in general.

I would be very appreciative of your help.
My undergraduate degree was in Engineering Science with Systems Engineering as the specialty. My MS was Engineering Science. My P.E. was in electrical.
Over 24 years I did very little of any of those, but I needed to understand how things work. Instead, I wrote software, designed databases and GIS systems, did project management and people management, prepared budgets, and worked on-call. And I troubleshot and fixed lots of things.
As a person with an engineering degree you’ll be able to morph yourself to do many things related to different types of engineering.
You didn’t say how far you are in your undergrad studies. Nearly everything you learn before the end of your second year is helpful for any other engineering degree.
One thing, petroleum engineers are much more in demand than aerospace engineers. You can probably get a job in aerospace with a petroleum degree easier than vice versa.
 

boatgeek

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If you are transferring or looking at a grad program, you might also look at materials science if you like the chemistry side of petroleum engineering. There is a great deal of work going on in composites right now, and there is a lot of demand in aerospace (and other fields) for people with composites experience.
 

manixFan

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My son works for SpaceX at the McGregor testing facility. He is currently working on the Raptor engine. He says there are a number of engineers that worked in oil and gas before SpaceX (not sure if they are petroleum engineers). As he put it "a lot of overlap with fluids and pressures and valves", at least when working with the engines. Maybe not what you are thinking of as aerospace, but he has been there over 5 years working on the engines and enjoys it. He did graduate with an aerospace engineering degree but says there are lots of other engineering degrees represented at that site.

When you say you are bad at the topics listed above, does that mean grade-wise? I can tell you that most aerospace companies are very selective in that regard.

Just FYI.


Tony

(edited to add not sure if petroleum engineering degrees, but that they had worked in the oil and gas industry)
 
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Sooner Boomer

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What sort of work do YOU want to do? Forget about the title, or the "name" of the degree, what do you find interesting?

First, be good at the basics. Engineering requires you to be good at several things. You need to be good at math and physics (math is just a way to describe how physics occurs). You need to be good at communications, both verbal and written - sometimes under-emphasized areas (but probably no singing...). Leadership - at some point it's going to be your butt on the line, and you need to be able to convince people of your ideas (see points one and two). You need to find a way to make your interests (and hopefully your abilities) into marketable assets and something that will set you apart from everyone else. Most Colleges will allow a bit of interdisciplinary exchange between schools. That is, if you're really, really interested in electronics, but you're in Pet. Engr., there are probably courses that cross over between the two schools. Your advisor could probably provide the best info at your University.

I've worked at the Univ. on-and-off for the last 30 years. THAT'S where my interest lies; teaching and research. There's always something new to try out or play with. Always someone new to teach something to. New folks, new faces, new ideas, and new food!
 

boatgeek

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One more thought. Your list above is mainly things that you aren't good at. Make a list of what you are good at/what you like to do. That is a lot more helpful for how you get to where you want to go.
 

Rob702Martinez

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Where are you located? I might be wrong but I dont think a lot of people here are experts in any of the things you listed. But we make some impressive projects and have great success.
 

SDramstad

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You do know that SpaceX will be setting up a methane plant on Mars. A petroleum engineer may be someone they will need.
 

Steve Shannon

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Statics, Dynamics, Thermo, Fluid Dynamics, and Strengths of Materials are the basic foundational classes for a Junior in almost any engineering curriculum. You simply must do well at those if you wish to be able to be selective when seeking a job, especially outside of your major. They’re also especially important for anyone hoping to be a professional rocket scientist. My advice would be to redouble your efforts on those core courses.
 

djs

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Over 24 years I did very little of any of those, but I needed to understand how things work. Instead, I wrote software, designed databases and GIS systems, did project management and people management, prepared budgets, and worked on-call. And I troubleshot and fixed lots of things.

I'm in IS (business analysis- large ERP systems)- many of the people we hire have an engineering degree and aren't computer people "by education". Obviously there's a base knowledge that needs to be there, but I more look for things like troubleshooting skills, desire to tackle a problem- even if you don't know the answer up front, etc.

Also, even though my job is highly technical, don't undervalue people skills. I don't mean "HI! HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE GAME LAST NIGHT?' high energy sales people. More on how to work with people with different personalities than yours.
 

lakeroadster

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I'm a retired ME.

Honestly.. the degree itself just get's you in the door at your first gig. After that experience and references are the keys to success and getting you where you ultimately want to end up.

For me, the key to happiness in the workplace was avoiding any management positions. This allows me to do R&D, design and build, you know being hands on.... rather than worry about John/Jane and their bad work habits and tardiness.

With each new twist / turn / change in your career, ask yourself if the change makes you more marketable. If the answer is no, then re-evaluate. That's why I choose Mech. Engineering and didn't specialize in any one field. It gave me the flexibility to go wherever I wanted and let my experience and references do the talking for me.

Good luck!
 

Antares JS

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I graduated with an aerospace engineering degree ten years ago and have worked in engineering ever since, so here's my advice.

-Redouble your efforts with the basics as Steve Shannon says above. Those things are applicable to almost any kind of engineering.

-Stick with your current major, especially if you're a junior or a senior. As some others have pointed out, plenty of what you'll learn is useful for any kind of engineering, and petroleum engineering specialties can apply to liquid rocket systems. You don't want to delay graduation another year to switch majors. Another year of college is costly in terms of tuition and it's also another year where you aren't working and earning income, so there's opportunity cost as well.

-Employers value experience over head knowledge. Don't be overly selective about your first job after you graduate unless you're some kind of elite grad with multiple offers. I graduated in aerospace engineering with a pretty average GPA, and my first job after college was working as a mechanical engineer for a company near my hometown that made equipment for dairy farms. Despite it having nothing to do with rockets, I learned and practiced a lot there that was useful later on. I kept learning as I went and changing jobs to get closer and closer to rockets. My current job is my fourth since I graduated ten years ago, and, well, just look at my avatar picture. It took me some time, but I made it to where I wanted to be. If you get lucky right out of college, good for you, but don't expect everything you want to come to you right away.
 

Steve Shannon

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I'm in IS (business analysis- large ERP systems)- many of the people we hire have an engineering degree and aren't computer people "by education". Obviously there's a base knowledge that needs to be there, but I more look for things like troubleshooting skills, desire to tackle a problem- even if you don't know the answer up front, etc.

Also, even though my job is highly technical, don't undervalue people skills. I don't mean "HI! HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE GAME LAST NIGHT?' high energy sales people. More on how to work with people with different personalities than yours.
Very good post.
And included in the people skills is the ability to communicate with people on their level. The classes which I used more than any other during my career were Tech writing and logic (symbolic, from the philosophy curriculum, not digital - although that followed logically [emoji57]) courses. Tech writing was brutal at the time I took it, but turned out to really help me.
 

manixFan

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To add in what my son has told me about his experience so far at SpaceX, his written communications abilities have earned him far more kudos than his engineering endeavors. Everyone expects engineers to be good at engineering, especially at a company that can recruit top-tier students. Apparently what's a lot harder to find is someone who is good at engineering and writing. He would never have guessed it was his writing skills that would help him standout.

To follow on the post by DJS, a good friend of mine works in a large energy company. He says the upper ranks are filled with engineers who have strong written and interpersonal skills. They haven't 'engineered' anything in a long while, but it gives them credibility when dealing with the ranks of engineers they oversee. So in addition to all your hard coursework, perhaps start reading books or taking seminars on salesmanship. To a degree, we are all selling ourselves constantly throughout our work life. Even reading a book as corny as Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is a good start. I took a Carnegie sales course very soon after graduating college, followed by a Zig Ziglar class. I feel they were instrumental to the success I had in my business career.


Tony
 

boatgeek

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To add in what my son has told me about his experience so far at SpaceX, his written communications abilities have earned him far more kudos than his engineering endeavors. Everyone expects engineers to be good at engineering, especially at a company that can recruit top-tier students. Apparently what's a lot harder to find is someone who is good at engineering and writing. He would never have guessed it was his writing skills that would help him standout.

To follow on the post by DJS, a good friend of mine works in a large energy company. He says the upper ranks are filled with engineers who have strong written and interpersonal skills. They haven't 'engineered' anything in a long while, but it gives them credibility when dealing with the ranks of engineers they oversee. So in addition to all your hard coursework, perhaps start reading books or taking seminars on salesmanship. To a degree, we are all selling ourselves constantly throughout our work life. Even reading a book as corny as Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is a good start. I took a Carnegie sales course very soon after graduating college, followed by a Zig Ziglar class. I feel they were instrumental to the success I had in my business career.


Tony
+1000 At my prior job, about a quarter of an engineer's day was communicating, whether internally or to customers. that's a little less at my current job, but still a significant fraction of my day.
 

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I will admit, that I have "procedural writing" as a skill set on my resume.. not many people can write a procedure to change a tire..

I'm constantly telling a few of the project leaders and a few of the other designers (engineers) how to word their e-mails so I don't have to come back and ask "what do you mean? What do you want me to do?" One project leader comes to me with each & every ECO he writes, to get my approval, that it makes sense. (Also, English isn't his first language, so he appreciates teh help with his 2nd language!)

(but that being said, I am constantly having my spelling corrected! :D - purposely left one it the text above! :D :D )
 

dr wogz

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To put a lot of the above into context:

Next time your'e buying a roast chicken at Costco (or Sam's or BJ's or Meijers, or...) know that the oven they were cooked in, and the hot case they were sitting in, were designed / the design validated by an aerospace engineer.. ( I know, 'cuze he's my supervisor!! :D )
 

djs

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He says the upper ranks are filled with engineers who have strong written and interpersonal skills. They haven't 'engineered' anything in a long while, but it gives them credibility when dealing with the ranks of engineers they oversee.
There's a stereotype in the computer industry of the hacker with unreal technical skills but looks down on other people and has atrocious hygiene. Truth is- no one wants to work with an asshole, no matter how good they are.
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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If you're Jr or better don't switch it up, too high a cost. You haven't mentioned how you intend to pay for the extra schooling.
Forgot to mention my financial ability but consider me an average joe when it comes to this aspect. So for me to start another engineering degree is not gonna be real cause I won't be able to afford it.
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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I have a petroleum engineering degree and do not work in the petroleum industry. Go figure. I suggest switching to mechanical engineering because it encompasses many industries (translation: more opportunities). Keep your options open.
Hmmm. Will doing masters in ME be beneficial? Cause petro is related to ME and CE. So this is also something that I'm thinking about.
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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I’ve worked in private R&D and taught university physics and what I would say is complete the petroleum degree and start talking to people who do aircraft engines, Lycoming, Pratt, RR, etc. That sector. (ending up with a lesser known brand is perfectly fine).

Also, consider doing a Master’s degree. Talk to aeronautics professors. Surely some of your skills can be useful for a crossover.

Also, I’ve seen much greater jumps than from one engineering field to another. Some successful and others less so. Keeping some kind of familiar comfort zone is important, be it in the field or as a hobby (if you play soccer, keep playing soccer).
I am already connected to people who are into rocketry and aerospace here in my country. Besides this, I'm thinking of doing masters in ME (however my uni don't have AE degree, so there is that).
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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My undergraduate degree was in Engineering Science with Systems Engineering as the specialty. My MS was Engineering Science. My P.E. was in electrical.
Over 24 years I did very little of any of those, but I needed to understand how things work. Instead, I wrote software, designed databases and GIS systems, did project management and people management, prepared budgets, and worked on-call. And I troubleshot and fixed lots of things.
As a person with an engineering degree you’ll be able to morph yourself to do many things related to different types of engineering.
You didn’t say how far you are in your undergrad studies. Nearly everything you learn before the end of your second year is helpful for any other engineering degree.
One thing, petroleum engineers are much more in demand than aerospace engineers. You can probably get a job in aerospace with a petroleum degree easier than vice versa.
I would say that I'm closer to graduation at this point. And I didn't expect that it would be easier for me to get a job in AE company as a PE undergrad rather than AE undergrad lol. That's very interesting. I will have to look into it.
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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If you are transferring or looking at a grad program, you might also look at materials science if you like the chemistry side of petroleum engineering. There is a great deal of work going on in composites right now, and there is a lot of demand in aerospace (and other fields) for people with composites experience.
The chemistry side I don't like atm but maybe as time progress. I might become interested in it a lot.
 

RocketEnthusiast101

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My son works for SpaceX at the McGregor testing facility. He is currently working on the Raptor engine. He says there are a number of engineers that worked in oil and gas before SpaceX (not sure if they are petroleum engineers). As he put it "a lot of overlap with fluids and pressures and valves", at least when working with the engines. Maybe not what you are thinking of as aerospace, but he has been there over 5 years working on the engines and enjoys it. He did graduate with an aerospace engineering degree but says there are lots of other engineering degrees represented at that site.

When you say you are bad at the topics listed above, does that mean grade-wise? I can tell you that most aerospace companies are very selective in that regard.

Just FYI.


Tony

(edited to add not sure if petroleum engineering degrees, but that they had worked in the oil and gas industry)
I'm bad in the skills and subjects I mentioned, can say, experience-wise. Basically, just need to put a lot of time into them but then again, just doing one of them, let's say Solidworks, would require me to have a lot of strict daily time tables and then the whole learning curve thing associated with each skill and subject. So this thing will definitely take time. I don't know how much until I try.
 
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