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Old 12-12-2012, 02:42 PM
27 posts, read 102,340 times
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I'll be finishing my mechanical engineering degree in December 2013 and I really want to relocate to Colorado. I have family in Colorado Springs and Boulder, I've visited the state numerous times, and as far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to live here to be around people who share similar interests and hobbies as myself. My main concern, as it should be, is being able to find an entry level engineering position. Currently, I have a 3.9 GPA and I'll be working an engineering internship this summer, so I'll have some experience when I arrive. I'd be really appreciative if anyone could give me some advice on job prospects for an entry level engineer in Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas.

As a side note, I'm considering applying to CU for a masters in mechanical engineering in order to get myself in Colorado and to utilize the career resources provided by the university. It seems to me that most employers fill entry level positions through the various university career centers and my school in Texas doesn't have any Colorado employers advertising jobs. Does that assumption seem accurate to you all?

Once again, I'd sincerely appreciate any advice you all have that could help me bring this dream to fruition. Thanks.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:55 PM
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Your doing the right stuff. Intern this summer and then apply to a graduate school for your masters. Utilize the career center to get a job in CO. Should be pretty straightforward. When I was a hiring manager we often looked to the local schools for our newly minted engineers. Also having a masters will give you a leg up to the better jobs. If you can snag another internship between undergraduate and graduate school you will be that much more marketable.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:19 PM
Location: Saint Louis, MO
1,898 posts, read 4,007,016 times
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A 3.9 GPA + internship experience should help get you noticed. While it's true that lots of companies focus on relationships with local schools, I had some luck getting internship opportunities in cities across the country just through submission of my resume online. You might look to network with your university's Denver-based alumni on LinkedIn, as well.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:25 PM
20,917 posts, read 39,213,491 times
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The Feds are good for hiring a lot of summer interns, all over the country; a great place to get your foot in the door and get known.

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) is a great place to start, they're involved in all sorts of programs, like the Locks and Dams, Inland Waterways, Intra-Coastal Waterways, Wetlands, bridges, highways and more. My old Army agency managed both the Highways for National Defense, and the Strategic Rail Network (STRACTNET) as well as roads on Army bases. All military services and many other Federal agencies hire engineers. Not to mention all the state and county highway depts. Start here.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:03 PM
95 posts, read 160,093 times
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Check out longmont, lots of high tech companies there. There is a lot of money involved in government contracting for NASA. It's a multi-billion dollar welfare industry that is pretty big here.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:56 PM
27 posts, read 102,340 times
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Thanks for the insight everyone. I'll stick to my plan of applying for graduate school in Colorado and moving up to use the career center.

It's good to hear that you used to hire from the local schools for new engineers. I really just want to start working after my bachelors but I'll apply to graduate school just to get myself up there. Staying in school another year or two is a small price to pay as far as I'm concerned. As far as internships, I'll do my best to get one every summer from here on out. I hear that after the first internship, they're not as hard to get since you have some experience at that point. Hopefully, that's the case and I can finish my masters with two or three internships under my belt. One question: as a hiring manager, did you prefer masters students that did a thesis or did it not matter? I've heard different opinions on the matter.

Thanks for the advice. I'll do some searching online for jobs and try to get in touch with some Colorado-based alumni, as well. I've been looking lately and I don't see many entry-level jobs posted online. That's what led me to the assumption that most entry-level jobs must be filled through universities. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. I'll step it up.

Mike from back east,
Thanks for that link. I'll browse through the site and see what I can come up with. All the projects you mentioned sound interesting. I have heard that Colorado has a lot of government-based work. I'd have no problem with working in that capacity if it meant getting up there.

I'd love to work for NASA or on contract work for NASA. Aerospace or aeronautics would most certainly be my ideal industry. I'm open to living in any part of Colorado so I'll check out the Longmont area for available positions. I've also heard Boulder has a lot of tech but I'd imagine the competition there is more fierce.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I really appreciate it. I hope I can make this happen. I'll definitely be posting again once I make it up there. Snowy mountains and epic mountain bike trails, here I come.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:30 PM
50 posts, read 101,824 times
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You won't be able to work directly FOR NASA here in Colorado. I left NASA to move to Colorado - I had almost 15 years with the agency and could not find a way to stay employed by NASA while living in Colorado. There are a handful of people who work for NASA in Colorado (and I do mean a handful), but they are generally very senior employees (like the NASA-Air Force Liason), or are on a developmental rotation with the expectation that they will return to their home center afterwards. This is temporary duty only territory. Also, when budgets are tight (which is most of the time), NASA only hires graduates who worked for them as college students anyway - it's a very lean agency. If you want to work for NASA, you should stay in Texas. But it sounds like your bigger dream is to live in Colorado.
That said, there are several NASA/Aerospace contractors in the area. Try Lockheed, ULA, Sierra Nevada, Raytheon, Ball, and... I'm forgetting who else. Yes, there are a couple in the Longmont area. You could also try Air Force Space Command type work. Keep in mind that if Sequestration is implemented, NASA and the military will certainly have programs cut. There are a lot of frightened aerospace engineers in this area and morale is on the low side right now - although things may improve after the deadline. I think a lot of companies are delaying hiring decisions until next year, so you may see more jobs posted if you wait a couple of months. I would recommend looking for a company that has a commercial product line in additon to government work, but I understand the desire to do what you love rather than look for something practical. Leaving NASA was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The consolation is that Colorado was mostly worth it!
Good luck!
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:20 PM
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Sent you a DM with some additional info.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:16 AM
27 posts, read 102,340 times
Reputation: 32
Thanks for the info. spacadet.

Working for NASA would be amazing but you're right when you say that my bigger dream is living in Colorado. In fact, I considered studying aerospace engineering as that's where my true passion lies in the engineering industry. However, like you mentioned, I understood that many aerospace engineers were employed in the defense industry or through contract work with the government. I also understood that this kind of work was heavily affected by the political landscape at the time, including budget cuts and spending. I didn't want to take the risk of having my livelihood subject to the decisions of politicians thousands of miles away. This made me feel very uneasy about pursuing that field. Since I had read that mechanical engineers can potentially work in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, I chose to go the mechanical route.

That's incredible that you worked with NASA for so long. I'm sure you were involved in a ton of high-tech projects that would leave most engineers salivating. I've heard of all those companies you mentioned and I've seen a variety of job postings from them online. The vast majority of postings I see from there are for highly-experienced engineers with 5 to 10 to 15+ years experience. I will keep a look out though for entry level spots. It would be amazing to work for any of them but I hear the competition for those jobs is intense.

One question for you: would you recommend staying out of the aerospace field if I wanted to live, work, and remain in Colorado long term? I've heard that once you start specializing in a particular engineering industry (i.e. aersoapce, HVAC, oil/gas/energy) that it's hard to break out into a new sector. Does that sound accurate to you?

Thanks again for the help.
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:31 PM
95 posts, read 160,093 times
Reputation: 97
A mechanical engineer is a mechanical engineer, period. A pump is a pump, a motor is a motor, and a robotic arm is an arm, so matter whether it's on mars or in an oil well.

What you actually need, if I'm not mistaken, is some real world experience using the various autodesk and simulation/FEA software packages like ProE, solidworks, etc. etc. blah blah. I'm not a mechanical engineer but I'm an engineer so i generally know the language.

Like mentioned above even a small startup company involved in product design would need simulation and mech. design help.

I would stay far away from aerospace as it's mostly a grey-haired environment with too many unemployed 40+ year olds competing for jobs right now. Where you want to be is is in the private sector (the REAL private sector that is market-based and not gov't contract based).

Last edited by filmsequal; 12-14-2012 at 03:41 PM..
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