I have decided to pursue a career in automation and robotic. At the moment, I am being torn between Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. I know that both of them relate to my choices of career, and at the moment, I think that I like them equally. I hope you guys can help me solve my dilemma by using your insights/experiences to assist me with the following questions:

1/ From your experiences and opinions, which of the two engineering fields is generally more crucial and challenging, especially in an automation/robotics project?
2/ Which will see an increase in demand and importance in the near future? Which of them might become outdated/obsolete or at least develop at a slower rate compare to the other?(I have a feeling that EE has a slight edge over this matter; however, I am not so sure) 3/ Which of the fields is more versatile? Which is more physical demanding (I am actually quite frail)
4/ Which is generally easier to self-study? Robotics is obviously an incredibly broad and complex field and I have prepared to step outside of my comfort zone and do lots of studying by myself to achieve my goals and passion.

I could probably come up with a few more questions; however, I am sure that you guys got the gist of my puzzle. Thank you very much and I apologize if there is any grammatical error.

  • $\begingroup$ You may want to consider the computer science aspect of robotics: its very challenging, with lots of open problems and applications and isn't physically demanding. $\endgroup$ – Paul Sep 4 '14 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ In general, "life questions" are offtopic for this site. $\endgroup$ – Ian Oct 7 '14 at 17:37

As others mentioned, you should look into CS. In the broad strokes:

ME - build physical robots, + tangible, - might be physically demanding, - can be costly (need parts)

EE - build circuits, low level control, + less physically demanding, + tangible (now you have robot that does something), - can be costly (might need whole robots)

CS - build robot's "brain", + not physically demanding, + cheap for simulation, - less tangible (you need EE/ME folks if you want to see your algorithms on the physical robot), - experiments are expensive (for the same reason).

Of course, robotics is multi-disciplinary field and all three are closely related with blurred lines between them. Try all and see what clicks.


How about make a self reflection on

a) which one you like from the heart, only yourself can answer this hard question

b) which earn more, this is easy. can check Government labor
department statistic and prediction 

c) are you able and confident in learning it, try tasting from looking at MOOC

Hope this help, welcome and best wishes

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. Here are some of my uncertain reflections: a/ I honestly like both fields. I am attracted to certain aspects of both field, so, until I got the chance to dig deeper into either field, I think it is fair for me to say I like them both equally. b/ At the moment, I do not think much about earning since typically, engineers earn quite well. c/ I am actually quite confident in my ability and perseverance. And, thanks for your advice about the MOOC courses. I did not even know they exist! I will check them out soon. $\endgroup$ – Erik Makin Aug 5 '14 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ PS: I kind of screw up on line break. I still have lots to learn about formatting. Anyway, any additional advice is greatly welcome. I just want some insights from anyone who is experienced in the field, so that I can plan ahead and approach the field as smoothly and effectively as possible. $\endgroup$ – Erik Makin Aug 5 '14 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ (a) is hard so I put b and c in grey. Choosing is personal and cannot offer solid help here, apart from some videos. How Professor Thrun choose his path, to save life, may give you some insight how choosing may be personal. Again best wishes. ted.com/talks/sebastian_thrun_google_s_driverless_car en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_%28vehicle%29 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Thrun ted.com/talks/ruth_chang_how_to_make_hard_choices $\endgroup$ – EEd Aug 5 '14 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ How a n years old determine which ice cream favor is best, actually taste it. a) READ. MIT has open all its courses, this is what you 'get' from college/university ocw.mit.edu/index.htm b)TOUCH. Buy a DIY kit, joint a local hackerspace club en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maker_culture en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackerspace c)make peer FRIEND. These gentleman need to decide which way to go, same as your. Read their post. Email them and make 'cyber friend' facebook.com/jhsrobo $\endgroup$ – EEd Aug 6 '14 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ d) INCLUDE IT/Computing along EE as your choice, as one of these gentleman did. chrisstechblog.blogspot.hk/… e) BE WARNED that Engineering in general, EE/IT/CS in particular, need life long constant learning or else your skill outdated and faded. There are tons of other life route that are 'easier'. Make sure you still like/want/can-do when age 30,40 and 50. Are you deciding for next year? Have 1 year 'tasting' time to actually try it. Again, best wishes. $\endgroup$ – EEd Aug 6 '14 at 4:42

Have a look at the research being done at your university. Stop by some professors offices, and ask them what their degree has offered in terms of robotics. Of course, a bunch of us on stackexchange are probably in favor of CS, but I can tell you from attending conferences that roboticists come in all flavors, and CS-type problems are being solved by people of all backgrounds. In fact, a lab here at my university specializes in building new types of robot actuators or chassis, and strangely all of their students are in CS as is the professor.


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