Michele Miller

Michele Miller

Title
Associate Professor
Organization
Michigan Technological University
Location
MI
Michele Miller
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Biography

I am a mechanical engineering professor. I work with graduate students on research projects involving the development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). We do a lot of laboratory experiments and computer analysis. I also teach classes on manufacturing topics.

  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to serve as science fair judge or other temporary volunteer at a local school.
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
Answers by Dr. Michele Miller
Hello, I just finished my first semester at college as a chemical engineering major but lately i am been putting a lot of thought about whether or not I want to stay in chem-e, or if I want to switch to Mechanical Engineering. Or, if I want to stay in Chemical but get a Mech-E minor. I was very undecided about which discipline to pick when applying to college and at Rowan, you can't just apply as engineering undecided. You have to pick a concentration when you apply. I loved chemistry in high school and I did very well in AP Chem, so I picked Chem-E. I think some of the things chem-e's do are fascinating. Now, at school, all of my Mech-E friends are building air compressors and are in the projects lab all of the time machining things and I am wondering if I picked the wrong discipline for myself. I have always been rather mechanically inclined. My go-to's are a swiss army knife, duct tape, and super glue. I used to take pens apart just to see how they worked. Growing up, I always helped my dad with random projects around the house. I learned how the entire engine worked in his old Corvair when we dropped the engine in it in middle school. Right now, I don't know if I just miss that part of my life or if it is just because I want to actually do some engineering and we can't as Chem-E's until we get through a lot more chemistry first. I also am unsure about the Chem-E field because I still am not 100% sure what a Chem-E actually does. I know that I could work in pharmaceuticals, petroleum, the food industry, etc, but I feel like once I actually figure it out for myself, it will be too late for me to change majors. I don't know if it is one of those reasons or if I really did just pick the wrong major, but if I want to stay at all on track, I have to switch majors either before the spring term or after the end of my freshman year at the latest. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.-Rachel

Rachel,

This is a great question.  There is probably no simple answer.  I love hearing about students that like to tinker and make things.  It is a great skill that will serve you well.  An interest in both mechanical and chemical is a great combination.  I'm a ME and when I collaborate with chemists or ChemE's, it is often very challenging.  We speak much different languages and our approaches to problems are often different.  Is majoring in ME and minoring in ChemE also an option?  I would recommend talking to faculty in both departments and also students that have done internships.  It sounds like you could be happy in either field, and if there was a career that combined both, that would be best. Good luck!

Michele

Since I'm a mechanical engineer, it would be great if you stayed with mechanical. On the other hand, it sounds like you need to explore environmental engineering and chemical engineering to see if you would like one of those better.  I don't know much about jobs in chem eng or env eng.  In mechanical engineering, there is a wide variety of jobs.  Many jobs involve design and manufacturing of consumer products, but there are lots of other possibilities too. You might check out some of the senior design projects in the different majors in your school.  That will give you an idea of the type of work the various types of engineers do.  If you have the time, take a chem eng or env eng class to check it out.   Good luck. 

I don't know much about Ocean Engineering. I do know that several universities offer a major in it and that the coursework has some overlap with mechanical engineering. Florida Atlantic University's website has a nice description: http://www.ome.fau.edu/ocean-engineering/what-is-ocean- engineering Good luck!

Jackie,
That's great that you are interested in mechanical engineering. I'm surprised to hear that some schools have discouraged you from pursuing a 2nd bachelor's. I would check with other schools. I know that my school would welcome you! It is possible to get a MS in mechanical engineering with your background, depending on the school. But you might need to take about 2 years of preparatory classes (perhaps some additional math and science plus sophomore/junior level ME courses like statics, dynamics, thermodynamics, fluids, heat transfer, design, vibrations) before starting on the MS classes. Good luck.

I don't have a complete answer, but here are some thoughts. You might want to look into an Ocean Engineering or Marine Engineering programs. These types of programs would include ship design. MIT has an undergraduate program in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has a program in Marine Engineering. A mechanical engineering program would also provide the right type of preparation. In that case, I'd recommend looking at a program with a strong design component in their curriculum. Some of the universities on the coasts may have strong relationships with shipbuilders that result in interesting student projects.