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Old 07-22-2015, 11:28 AM   #1  
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Question Mechanical Engineer --> Airline Pilot?

Hey guys,

I graduated in May 2015 with my Mechanical Engineering degree from Northern Arizona University. I was a great student (my last two years I had a 3.8+ GPA and ended up with a 4.0 GPA for my last semester - my cumulative was a 3.4 GPA). My senior capstone project was SAE Aero in which we designed and built a radio controlled aircraft that had to carry a payload. We competed against teams from all over the world and finished 13th overall out of 40 teams - very good for our first time with a very limited budget. I had an internship last summer with Sundt, a general contractor, as a mechanical engineering intern. However, I have little to no interest in the construction industry. I could talk more about my experience, but at this point it doesn't matter.

I can't seem to get a job. I have probably applied to 75+ jobs (if not closer to 100). This is my 3rd month searching for a job. I have had 4 interviews so far. I had an awesome interview with Honeywell for a manufacturing position in which I would have been working with APU's and jet turbines for various platforms. I thought I had a great chance at the job until I received a call that they had to close the position due to budget issues. Bad luck.

To keep this short, I have always had a strong passion for aerospace, but I am wondering if I will be able to find any engineering job at this point. I have started to apply to just about any industry (not just aerospace). I am starting to wonder if I should pursue a career in flying, which has always been of interest to me. I know I won't make much at first, but I don't care.

If I didn't have asthma I would have pursued something with the Air Force, but that unfortunately is not an option.

At this point I am wondering if my best shot is at the local Walmart.

What are your guys' thoughts?
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:43 PM   #2  
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How much student loan debt do you have, and how much more are you willing to take on? It's a long road to the majors, and the pay is not good on the way. (plus there are no guarantees).

You might consider the guard; there are waivers for everything, and you'll never know unless you ask. Also--and this is important--do not go active duty under any circumstances.
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Old 07-22-2015, 04:40 PM   #3  
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Originally Posted by Scraggly Heron View Post
How much student loan debt do you have, and how much more are you willing to take on? It's a long road to the majors, and the pay is not good on the way. (plus there are no guarantees).

You might consider the guard; there are waivers for everything, and you'll never know unless you ask. Also--and this is important--do not go active duty under any circumstances.
I have no student debt whatsoever. Not so sure on the whole guard thing...
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Old 07-22-2015, 08:23 PM   #4  
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Go online and google engineer jobs aerospace.

Register on USA Jobs and search the categories there (government jobs).

I'm an ME too, and tried to get an engineering job when furloughed....similar experience, but I'd been out of school for 20 years, and they wanted a college grad with CADCAM experience, not an old guy with a drafting table.

There are really only two major airframe companies now (Boeing and Lockheed). Northrop Grumman is more in electronics and drones.

GA still has Cessna, Piper, and whatever Beech falls under these days.

Some of the more established homebuilt companies (Vans; Lancair) might employ a small engineering shop.

Weapons contractors like Hughes and Raytheon will have big departments for missiles.

Good luck!
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Old 07-23-2015, 03:23 AM   #5  
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I have no student debt whatsoever. Not so sure on the whole guard thing...
Having no debt should give you a lot of flexibility on the way forward for your career--if you really want to pursue flying you can start by getting your private pilot license. It's a good way to decide if it's what you want to do for a living, and if not, you at least have a really expensive hobby once you start making engineer bucks.

Good luck!
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Old 07-23-2015, 07:26 AM   #6  
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You haven't really been searching for a job for that long, you should probably find an interim job and continue the long term search for an aerospace contractor/company. Welcome to real life, it may take a few years to find such a job.

Just think about how long it takes a pilot to get to the company they want, probably an average of at least 7 years after getting ratings, maybe more like 10 even...
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:03 AM   #7  
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Originally Posted by UAL T38 Phlyer View Post
Go online and google engineer jobs aerospace.

Register on USA Jobs and search the categories there (government jobs).

I'm an ME too, and tried to get an engineering job when furloughed....similar experience, but I'd been out of school for 20 years, and they wanted a college grad with CADCAM experience, not an old guy with a drafting table.

There are really only two major airframe companies now (Boeing and Lockheed). Northrop Grumman is more in electronics and drones.

GA still has Cessna, Piper, and whatever Beech falls under these days.

Some of the more established homebuilt companies (Vans; Lancair) might employ a small engineering shop.

Weapons contractors like Hughes and Raytheon will have big departments for missiles.

Good luck!
Yea...trust me I have applied to every one of those companies that you have mentioned...although I have no targeted Vans or Lancair (real small companies).
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:03 AM   #8  
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Originally Posted by Scraggly Heron View Post
Having no debt should give you a lot of flexibility on the way forward for your career--if you really want to pursue flying you can start by getting your private pilot license. It's a good way to decide if it's what you want to do for a living, and if not, you at least have a really expensive hobby once you start making engineer bucks.

Good luck!
Yea that is an option...
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:05 AM   #9  
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Originally Posted by JamesNoBrakes View Post
You haven't really been searching for a job for that long, you should probably find an interim job and continue the long term search for an aerospace contractor/company. Welcome to real life, it may take a few years to find such a job.

Just think about how long it takes a pilot to get to the company they want, probably an average of at least 7 years after getting ratings, maybe more like 10 even...
True...the problem is...I think ANY job right now is difficult to find. You know most of my buddies already have found good engineering jobs...it should not take me years to find an engineering job...that is just ridiculous.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:24 PM   #10  
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You mentioned a couple of things which beg these questions...

First, what flying experience , if any, do you have now? If you have none, it's not a deal killer. The Army has a WOFT program (warrant officer flight training program) for rotary wing training. With an ME degree, this could be considered a good fit. A flight attendant I worked with at TransStates was a member of the NCARNG and was selected for this flight training program. She was in the band. She should be several months into training by now. Being a helicopter pilot isn't the kiss-of-death it used to be when looking for a career with an airline.

Second, you mentioned the asthma. I'm retired ARNG and don't remember if asthma was disqualifying for all military service or just flying. You could get into the NG/RES as I did in a non-aviation position, be a traditional NG member (attend drill weekends, annual training and mandatory schools) and join a military flying club as I did. A lot of retired military instructors were there and I was able to receive training from retired IPs. The problem there is mostly location...your location and what bases have military flying clubs. Several have closed over the years. With a ME degree, you might be a good candidate for an ANG civil engineering position. Establishing a good reputation in a NG unit could lead to being selected for pilot training down the road.

Good luck!
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