I have the option to study mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois. What is this field like and what things should I know before I choose whether or not to enroll?
I don't work in the field, but I am an engineering student. Not sure if I'm going for chemical or nuclear, but my school axed it's nuclear program for an "Applied Math and Physics" program. I suspect internal fuckery was responsible as I seriously doubt that the cause was "insufficient funding for such a niche degree".
That said, it's a lot of math. Lots of chemistry and physics. I'm not that big on mechanical engineering, but I know that some people really like it.
I took mechatronics engineering - half of my papers were mechanical papers and quite a few had a focus on design (mechanisms and overall design), which I enjoyed. Mechanics of materials (strength and analysis) was a real pain though, but that's only because I had a shitty bunch of lecturers for that course.
I go to UIC and they have a great engineering program too, esp. ME. I am studying bioengineering at UIC and would hate to go to UIUC because there's literally nothing to do there but drink. Chicago is an amazing city.
More math than YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR. Do your homework twice or you won't have the math ability to pass.
Engineering boils down to design and a good career is high paying but long stressful hours crunching deadlines.
Get some industry experience if the opportunity arises during your course. Jump on it.
>Lots of chemistry and physics.
Lots of physics, yes. Chemistry, no. even ChemEs are basically done with chemistry after Orgo II + an elective, max. Usually.
I did a year and half of ChemE and I fucking hated it. Dropped out.
It's very tedious work, OP. It sounds like you haven't put much thought into this and that's not a good sign, but Illinois (UC or C, really) has OK programs in other fields so you won't be as fucked as I was (at what was effectively an all-STEM school) if you change your mind.
Are you paying in-state tuition?
it's boring as hell, you will look a lot thermodynamics, strenght of material, reading technical drawings with autocad, a lot of math like differentials equations and probabilty, and later machine parts, like springs, gears and ow to calculate them, motors, etc, all that boring shit for get a job as the person who overwatch the cost of the machines and the maintenance.
If you love machinery do it, if not don't waste your time, really.
If you enjoy and/or are good at applied math you'll be fine. If you think you might like it, go for it, you can change majors later if you really don't enjoy the work. If in addition to that you have a decent work ethic, can manage your time reasonably well, and have excellent attention to detail you'll sail through the degree. Do try to get an internship or co-op so you can get some exposure to industry before graduation.