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#1 jumbly  Icon User is offline

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Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 07 August 2012 - 06:29 PM

Hi guys, I'm hoping you can help me plan out my life.

I'm 3/4 of the way through a mechanical/aerospace engineering degree. I started it a long time ago, back around 911. I wanted to build missles and planes to get the bad guys.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I don't want to be involved in anything that will hurt anyone. Not to mention, the pay for mechanical and aerospace engineers isn't too great. I dropped out 4 years ago and have played online poker for a living since.

My questions are:

1) Would it be best to finish my BSME, then learn how to program? Or should I just scrap it and get started learning?

2) Should I pursue a Bachelor's, or can I teach myself? (I know this is a really newbish question, but I'm a newb)

3) One of the main reasons I'm interested in learning programming is it seems there would be lots of opportunities to go into business for yourself. Is this true?

Any other thoughts are welcomed.

Thanks for your time.

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#2 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 07 August 2012 - 06:32 PM

If it's in reach, finish your degree. It doesn't take a degree to program, so you can learn that on your own/with online resources.
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#3 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 07 August 2012 - 07:01 PM

Finish the degree. A single piece of paper like that is worth far more than you could ever imagine to most employers. Does it make you more valuable? Possibly, but to them it's a gold mine for some obscure reason.

Regardless of that, programming is a great field but you have to have some serious dedication to make it anywhere big. If you want a dead end job that will pay a ridiculous amount, go for RPG or COBOL. If you have a soul, then get into Java or .NET for OO programming which tends to be fairly popular no matter where you go.

I find that the more obscure the language and the more it takes to learn it, the more interesting a job tends to be. I've had far more fun scripting in Ruby than I ever had working with .NET. Then again, this is just one of my observations, your mileage may vary substantially.
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#4 jumbly  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 08 August 2012 - 05:17 PM

Thanks guys.

Does anyone know someone who has used a mechanical engineering degree in conjunction with programming skills to make gagillions of dollars?
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#5 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 08 August 2012 - 05:21 PM

View Postjumbly, on 08 August 2012 - 07:17 PM, said:

Thanks guys.

Does anyone know someone who has used a mechanical engineering degree in conjunction with programming skills to make gagillions of dollars?


If it's about the money you're doomed to fail.

Mediocre programmers are obsessed with money, great programmers are obsessed with challenge and novelty. That's not to say that it isn't important, just that it should never be your primary concern.

If I was paid $500,000 a year to program RPG versus a cutting edge job as a Ruby scripter for $100,000 I would take the Ruby job without a second thought. Put simply, don't sell your soul for money, it never ends well. Just look at Wall St.
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#6 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 08 August 2012 - 05:45 PM

View PostLemur, on 08 August 2012 - 08:21 PM, said:

Put simply, don't sell your soul for money, it never ends well. Just look at Wall St.

Some people do live for and enjoy that, but for the most part I agree. However, the difference in comfort between 100k and 500k is much different than say 30k and 50k. That said, as long as you're competent and passionate as an "engineer" you should be able to find stuff to do for decent pay.
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#7 AnalyticLunatic  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 10 August 2012 - 07:47 AM

View PostLemur, on 07 August 2012 - 07:01 PM, said:

I've had far more fun scripting in Ruby than I ever had working with .NET.


If I may inquire Lemur, why do you find scripting in Ruby so much more fun than working with .NET? I simply ask out of curiousness with no experience with Ruby. I'm a VB.NET code-monkey by day, Web Designer by night.
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#8 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Mechanical Engineer/Coder

Posted 10 August 2012 - 03:50 PM

View PostAnalyticLunatic, on 10 August 2012 - 09:47 AM, said:

View PostLemur, on 07 August 2012 - 07:01 PM, said:

I've had far more fun scripting in Ruby than I ever had working with .NET.


If I may inquire Lemur, why do you find scripting in Ruby so much more fun than working with .NET? I simply ask out of curiousness with no experience with Ruby. I'm a VB.NET code-monkey by day, Web Designer by night.


.NET is restrictive. I have to make classes for everything and the syntax is cramped. I use primarily scripting at $WORK so I make a point to keep it simple and clean. Making a GUI app for everything or even a C# console app is just a pain.

Spend about a week learning Ruby and you'll know what I mean: http://ruby.learncod...rdway.org/book/

I'm a polymath full-time. I do anything that catches my passing fancy for more than 5 minutes. My current fancy is enterprise integration with LDAP using Ruby, and integrating Google Maps API with Ruby.
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