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Old 03-22-2017, 04:39 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Fort Collins, CO
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Hello...Life Advice?

Hi everyone,

I've been lurking on for a good 6 months now, reading thousands of build threads in my spare time. I love this community and am always impressed by the awesome things everyone is coming up with!

Anyway, hi! I'm a 22 year old mechanical engineering student. I graduate in two months I have a lot of options, but am totally undecided on what to do with my life. You guys always have great ideas here, so I was hoping to get some input!

A little background: I'm currently building a 14' x 7' tiny house on wheels. I'm 8 months in and I'd say I'm about 80% done. It's totally designed and built by me (electrical w/ solar, propane, water plumbing, etc.), with the constraint that I'll be able to go completely off-grid for up to a week at a time (fresh water capacity being the limiting factor). I can post more info/pics if requested, but I'll stay on topic for now. A couple months into the build, I discovered the idea of a skoolie, and, well, you know how it goes. I'm still having a great time building my tiny house, but I dream about building a skoolie these days.

So, here's my current situation. I'm going to graduate first in my class at a high-ranked ABET engineering school. I've applied to and been accepted to 6 pretty very good graduate schools for a MS in mechanical engineering, but I'm not sure that's what I want to do. I have competitive job offers at a couple aerospace companies. And.....all I want to do is convert a school bus I love the idea of living in a school bus, especially not tied down to one particular geographic place. I guess the dream would be if I could just do cool engineering work (like designing and converting buses!) while on the road. I really dread the idea of just getting stuck in a 9-5 job for the rest of my life. Sure, making a lot of money is great, but that doesn't sound like happiness to me.

So anyway, what did you do? How did it work out? Any regrets? Should I buy a school bus and convert it now? What if I could finagle that as a graduate school thesis project? Would I be dumb to not just take a good job offer? Are there any realistic options for working while traveling for an engineer (i.e. not writing a blog or freelance writing).

Disclaimer: I realize I have a ton of great things going for me, and I'm sorry if I come off as extremely ignorant and spoiled. Just looking to get some advice from those who have been around a little longer than me.

Thanks in advance =)
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:11 PM   #2
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start a racing team! live mobile - build ****! maybe a wall or a pipeline


a degree from mines will get you pretty far!

do you have to pass an engineering board for a stamp? that's a handy thing to have.

if i had to pay for school, i'd get a job, if there was scholarship stuff, stay in school. my 2 cents
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:46 PM   #3
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My shorty bus is about 14x7 behind the driver area. Easy transition?
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:50 PM   #4
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That's really cool that you're on track all the way through college. Most people would have your question answered already solely due to their college loans. I'm sure it's obvious to you that you need to get your feet on the ground financially at least for a while by getting that good paying job. You're also establishing relationships in that career field that will help you through your life.
That is unless you're fabulously wealthy already. In that case I'd buy the bus and go fishing.

Has anyone advised you not to get married? That can put you in a cubical.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:56 PM   #5
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I'm not qualified to give you the kind of advice you're looking for.
Ask me about buses or something.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:19 PM   #6
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As far life advice goes... If I could talk to 20 year old me, to say that I wish I had done this twenty years ago. Men were not built to sit in a cubicle. You will never build your dreams while working for someone else. The American dream is mostly a lie, the life society encourages you to live is one of submission and busy work to keep you quit until you die. Hearts are more important than minds. If you don't make your life great, nobody will do it for you.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:29 PM   #7
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So you have some great credentials now, congrats with that. And you have youth, ambition, options to decide on. Life changes, you got the tools to do anything you want. Now is the time to learn what they didn't teach you in school.
Do you understand finance, money creation, banking etc? If not, you are an economic slave to the state.
Learn to become a sovereign person and you'll be fine.
Can you work with your hands, your mind, under pressure, etc. Say it was your job to shut down a nuclear reactor being a mechanical engineer? Could you do it asap if problems developed? Engineers aren't well paid either, just keeps you in the school system longer.
Do you understand you'll still need income even if you sat idle, that's the way life is. But how much do you really, need or want in the moment. Live for today. If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life.
How exciting will the mechanical engineering field be? You won't start at the top likely and not able to live where you want to be.

Might as well find a chick that digs this lifestyle and build buses.
And you'll live happily ever after.

Will be interesting to learn of your choices.

Best of luck
Question everything!
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:32 PM   #8
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Wowowow this is so cool! EastCoastCB, Robin, and turf, you guys are like celebrities! I've read through each of your build threads probably more than once

To clarify, due to some super-responsible parents and decent scholarships, I'm graduating from undergrad debt-free and with a solid ~$30,000 in cash that I've saved over the years. Oh and a tiny house so I can live in that =) Also, between athletic and academic scholarships, I can go to grad school with tuition fully covered I know, I've got a pretty sweet deal. Sorry if I sound like an asshole here.

@turf What kind of racing did you have in mind? Car racing? Bike racing? Motor-bike racing? Or my favorite, people racing? =D Mines is actually one of the schools I got into! Interestingly enough, I'm on my way to Colorado right now.....I'll be in Golden and Fort Collins if you're near any of those...would love to see a skoolie first-hand!!! What's a "stamp"? Like a PE (professional engineer) license?

@brokedown Certainly looks that way! Although, to be fair, I haven't actually lived in my tiny house yet. Soon, but still finishing up the build.

@Robin I'm definitely in a good place financially (see above), but not good enough that I can just blow off life to go sightseeing/fishing And anyway, I like doing engineering work! I just don't like cubicles. I have a serious girlfriend, but she's pretty awesome and might actually consider bus life (we've talked about it a lot.....OK I've told her about it a lot lol).

@EastCoastCB Ask you about buses, eh? Here are a few questions to start you off:
1. I'm leaning towards a rear-engine flat-nose school bus (not transit or coach). Does that style only come in 40-ft lengths? Or could I find, say, a 30' RE pusher?
2. I'd like to live around and explore the mountains of Colorado. Is it hopeless to get a bus that can handle that and also have decent highway speed like 65 mph? It seems like the gearing on your drivetrain kinda gives you one or the other.
3. If I get a skoolie, I want to go full-time, so I'm thinking either ~30' or full-size 40'. How much different is it handling, finding parking spots (planning on lots of boondocking), navigating, etc. in a 30' vs. 40' bus? Or should I just go for the bigger size?

@brokedown Sounds like you've had your fair share of cubicle life. I 100% like living with some heart instead of cranking through busy work for 45 years, but I also want to practical here - I need a plan to pay the bills. I'm hoping to find some compromise that allows me to do meaningful and interesting work without a soul-crushing, boring job.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:39 PM   #9
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@BlackJohn Those are some good hard questions you brought up. I like to think that I have a pretty versatile education and skillset. My education has been largely about solving problems that are unfamiliar, with only a secondary emphasis on learning a lot of technical material. I've taken on a good amount of projects that were well outside of my comfort zone. I usually work it out alright, and always learn some new things.

Yes, I understand that I need money to just sit in a bus in the woods. I've lived on my own for a few summers. It's not quite the real world, but I know what food, gas, rent, etc. cost for myself. I know there will be health insurance, car insurance (or bus hopefully ), unforeseen costs....and that stuff all adds up. I don't know a lot about financials, but I feel confident that I could learn as needed. My dad has an MBA and started his own business 10 years ago and is now quite successful, so I have his knowledge as a valuable resource to draw on.

I have a chick that I dig, that would help me build buses occasionally does that help? And do you mean build buses for a living? I found a thread on here that totally tore apart the idea of making any money from doing that.
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:47 PM   #10
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There is a saying that goes like this;

"The Universe has three answers; yes, not yet, and "I have something better planned" "

I spent nearly 40 years in the desert, trying to figure things out. Trying to make good decisions. I was mostly a disaster. Now I ask the Universe what it wants for me and have yet to be disappointed.

My uncle once told me if he has any major decisions, he sleeps on it.

Good luck to you.
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