What sort of engineering should I specialise in?

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username2653977
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Hi,

I'm taking my A Levels next year, at (if I get in) a military engineering sixth form.

I've already elected to take maths, physics, computer science and maybe further maths. (Predicted A*'s in all at GCSE)

I really want to be an engineer, I've been on a couple of engineering courses to get a taste for it and it's really my kind of thing, the only problem is, I tell people I want to be an engineer and they go "and what sort of engineer?" and I'm left with: "ummm, just a general engineer, you know?". I've decided it's time I selected a particular engineering path, because that way I can take extracurricular work to help with this when I do eventually study it at University.

Can you lovely people of TSR help me find an area?
I'll tell you that I have very technological-based hobbies, computers, programming, cars. I know there are mechanical engineers (correct me if I'm wrong) who.. um.. not sure. But the earnings are also important to me, I've been told that the average engineer makes £63,000 pa, and I'd want to be making that if not more (excuse the arrogance, I want a Porsche), and I feel that if I took mechanical engineering would lead me to sitting in the back of a car garage replacing brake pads.

I also have no knowledge in computer/software engineers and what their work, or earnings are like?

I'd really appreciate it if someone with knowledge in these sorts of engineering could help me out
Thanks!
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Smack
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(Original post by GaryIsASloth)
Hi,

I'm taking my A Levels next year, at (if I get in) a military engineering sixth form.

I've already elected to take maths, physics, computer science and maybe further maths. (Predicted A*'s in all at GCSE)

I really want to be an engineer, I've been on a couple of engineering courses to get a taste for it and it's really my kind of thing, the only problem is, I tell people I want to be an engineer and they go "and what sort of engineer?" and I'm left with: "ummm, just a general engineer, you know?". I've decided it's time I selected a particular engineering path, because that way I can take extracurricular work to help with this when I do eventually study it at University.

Can you lovely people of TSR help me find an area?
I'll tell you that I have very technological-based hobbies, computers, programming, cars. I know there are mechanical engineers (correct me if I'm wrong) who.. um.. not sure. But the earnings are also important to me, I've been told that the average engineer makes £63,000 pa, and I'd want to be making that if not more (excuse the arrogance, I want a Porsche), and I feel that if I took mechanical engineering would lead me to sitting in the back of a car garage replacing brake pads.

I also have no knowledge in computer/software engineers and what their work, or earnings are like?

I'd really appreciate it if someone with knowledge in these sorts of engineering could help me out
Thanks!
Sounds like electrical/electronic or maybe even some sort of amalgamation with computer science would be your best bet.
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Torakonus
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that question has been crossing my mind too often these days and i thought that maybe i will choose computer science engineering as a major and maybe robotics half bachelor or something i dont remember its name honestly but yeah thats what i really like honestly u can look up the engineering courses available in major colleges
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username2653977
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(Original post by Torakonus)
that question has been crossing my mind too often these days and i thought that maybe i will choose computer science engineering as a major and maybe robotics half bachelor or something i dont remember its name honestly but yeah thats what i really like honestly u can look up the engineering courses available in major colleges
I just know that my neighbour got straight A*'s at A-Level for his subjects but didn't get into a university he was happy with because he only decided he wanted to go into AI Engineering, but left it too late and ended up just taking a bog-standard engineering course. I want something that I know I'll love and won't feel that my programming skills, or my mechanical skills will be going to waste.
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Helloworld_95
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Engineers making £63,000 per year, that's a good one. Maybe in O&G, if you're a manager, if you're an academic or work in North America then you'll make that.

Getting into a top engineering school is relatively easy as there's not much variation in quality between engineering courses once you get into the top 10-15 (20 for bigger subjects like Mech), if you can get AAB or even ABB you're pretty much set.

There's a good variety of disciplines which fit what you're looking for once you get down to the individual modules that different universities offer. Mechanical, Electromechanical, Aerospace, Systems, Mechatronics, Robotics. You could also do General Engineering although that will be a difficult course, especially for 'catch up' type courses where you take a mix of disciplines in first and second year then specialise fully in third and fourth year, taking the same modules as someone who has done that discipline from the start, i.e. you have to catch up for the content you weren't taught.
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tanyapotter
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Mechanical engineers don't fix cars!! Biggest misconception - it's one of the most diverse and lucrative fields in engineering there is, so you should seriously consider it (not that I'm biased at all). But it depends what interests you most - do you like mechanics problems? Or electricity? Or aerodynamics, or structures and statics? Also, what recent innovations in engineering capture your interest the most - robots? High-speed trains? Superfast fibre optics? You're spoilt for choice with engineering so just do your research and find out what you think will inspire and engage you the most.
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Jawwad_Adel
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I had this exact same question when I applied for university. I ended up choosing electronic engineering in some unis, aeronautical in others and mechatronic where offered. Finally I chose Aeronautical as my firm offer and electronic as my insurance.
The reason to go with these choices being that in aeronautical engineering you learn a mix of disciplines in mechanical, electronic and software fields. After you graduate, the can be flexible with the knowledge you have gained and even if you wanted to work in Aero the pay is great.
On the other hand, electrical and electronic engineering opens up alot of options for you in today's digital age so there's always different types of jobs you can end up doing and the pay isn't bad either. Electrical engineers are always in demand.
And for mechatronic, well the name already suggests it's a mix of mechanical and electronic.
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username2653977
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(Original post by Jawwad_Adel)
I had this exact same question when I applied for university. I ended up choosing electronic engineering in some unis, aeronautical in others and mechatronic where offered. Finally I chose Aeronautical as my firm offer and electronic as my insurance.
The reason to go with these choices being that in aeronautical engineering you learn a mix of disciplines in mechanical, electronic and software fields. After you graduate, the can be flexible with the knowledge you have gained and even if you wanted to work in Aero the pay is great.
On the other hand, electrical and electronic engineering opens up alot of options for you in today's digital age so there's always different types of jobs you can end up doing and the pay isn't bad either. Electrical engineers are always in demand.
And for mechatronic, well the name already suggests it's a mix of mechanical and electronic.
I'm thinking mechatronic is for me. The name sounds cool enough
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The Joker ~
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Just like me... Social engineering~
:3
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username738914
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(Original post by GaryIsASloth)
Hi,

I'm taking my A Levels next year, at (if I get in) a military engineering sixth form.

I've already elected to take maths, physics, computer science and maybe further maths. (Predicted A*'s in all at GCSE)

I really want to be an engineer, I've been on a couple of engineering courses to get a taste for it and it's really my kind of thing, the only problem is, I tell people I want to be an engineer and they go "and what sort of engineer?" and I'm left with: "ummm, just a general engineer, you know?". I've decided it's time I selected a particular engineering path, because that way I can take extracurricular work to help with this when I do eventually study it at University.

Can you lovely people of TSR help me find an area?
I'll tell you that I have very technological-based hobbies, computers, programming, cars. I know there are mechanical engineers (correct me if I'm wrong) who.. um.. not sure. But the earnings are also important to me, I've been told that the average engineer makes £63,000 pa, and I'd want to be making that if not more (excuse the arrogance, I want a Porsche), and I feel that if I took mechanical engineering would lead me to sitting in the back of a car garage replacing brake pads.

I also have no knowledge in computer/software engineers and what their work, or earnings are like?

I'd really appreciate it if someone with knowledge in these sorts of engineering could help me out
Thanks!
Smash your a-levels

Apply to the best universities you possibly can

Do computer science, kickass during your degree (do hackathons, build side software projects, get top grades etc..)

Aim for internships at real tech companies (i.e. Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc or banks/finance related firms, or quant hedge/prop funds (i.e. D.E. Shaw, Jane Street etc)); this requires having a solid CV, being smart, and knowing how to grapple with algorithms and data structures.

Do well enough to convert that internship or apply to grad roles

Land a grad offer

????

Profit.

Top end software engineers at the above types of companies (top tech, banking, quant finance), can make £40-50k+ starting straight out of uni in London with rapid upwards progression and sizeable bonuses (banking, finance) or equity grants (top tech). You could even move to say, the US, after a few years working here and net even more in compensation.



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tanyapotter
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(Original post by Princepieman)
Smash your a-levels

Apply to the best universities you possibly can

Do computer science, kickass during your degree (do hackathons, build side software projects, get top grades etc..)

Aim for internships at real tech companies (i.e. Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc or banks/finance related firms, or quant hedge/prop funds (i.e. D.E. Shaw, Jane Street etc)); this requires having a solid CV, being smart, and knowing how to grapple with algorithms and data structures.

Do well enough to convert that internship or apply to grad roles

Land a grad offer

????

Profit.

Top end software engineers at the above types of companies (top tech, banking, quant finance), can make £40-50k+ starting straight out of uni in London with rapid upwards progression and sizeable bonuses (banking, finance) or equity grants (top tech). You could even move to say, the US, after a few years working here and net even more in compensation.



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^
But Imperial is the only good London uni for engineering - UCL doesn't even compare, so I would advise against applying to both if you want to study in London; go for Imperial (even though UCL is a target, all of its engineering departments, bar electrical, have a really bad repuation).
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Elivercury
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I think you should really reevaluate your earning expectations for being an engineer - I'm curious where you got that number from.

It's a spectrum, but typically engineers are pretty undervalued in this country. Have a look at engineering jobs and many of them are wanting someone with a degree, chartered engineer status and 5-10 years experience and are offering an absolutely ridiculous salary of like 25k annual salary.

£63,000 is definitely at the upper end of the scale, not the average, and you're talking minimum 10 years experience (probably more like 20) and likely have to be working in a profitable/niche field with high demand and little competition.

Also Oil and Gas has landed on its arse at the moment, which was typically where you want for cash.

Granted if you leave the country it can be very profitable (particularly if you're willing to put up with the middle east), but that's something not everyone is willing to do.

So yeah, don't go into it for the money, go into finance or something. If you're still interested then I would suggest something like mechanical or electronics as they have the most applications. Other disciplines such as structures, chemical and aeronautical are a bit more specialised, which will limit your options and also where you can live (as you'll need to be near an industry hub).
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Joinedup
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(Original post by Elivercury)
I think you should really reevaluate your earning expectations for being an engineer - I'm curious where you got that number from.

It's a spectrum, but typically engineers are pretty undervalued in this country. Have a look at engineering jobs and many of them are wanting someone with a degree, chartered engineer status and 5-10 years experience and are offering an absolutely ridiculous salary of like 25k annual salary.

£63,000 is definitely at the upper end of the scale, not the average, and you're talking minimum 10 years experience (probably more like 20) and likely have to be working in a profitable/niche field with high demand and little competition.

Also Oil and Gas has landed on its arse at the moment, which was typically where you want for cash.

Granted if you leave the country it can be very profitable (particularly if you're willing to put up with the middle east), but that's something not everyone is willing to do.

So yeah, don't go into it for the money, go into finance or something. If you're still interested then I would suggest something like mechanical or electronics as they have the most applications. Other disciplines such as structures, chemical and aeronautical are a bit more specialised, which will limit your options and also where you can live (as you'll need to be near an industry hub).
yep people on TSR are still frothing about O&G based afaict on some old 'top ten salary' clickbait link from a few years ago that didn't even look like it was based on UK salary...or very methodologically reliable tbh.

BP is reducing it's headcount over the next year http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35289771 and that's pretty much what's happening across the sector atm.

course O&G could be recovering strongly in 4 or 5 years when current A level students are looking for their first job - there's really no way to predict exactly what'll happen.. but the nature of that industry is that it's totally dependent on a volatile commodity price. high salaries often come at the 'cost' of job insecurity - in some ways working for a regulated utility on a lower salary is better because it's not ever likely to be forced to wildly see-saw it's staff numbers by the volatile price of a commodity.
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Elivercury
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(Original post by Joinedup)
yep people on TSR are still frothing about O&G based afaict on some old 'top ten salary' clickbait link from a few years ago that didn't even look like it was based on UK salary...or very methodologically reliable tbh.

BP is reducing it's headcount over the next year http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35289771 and that's pretty much what's happening across the sector atm.

course O&G could be recovering strongly in 4 or 5 years when current A level students are looking for their first job - there's really no way to predict exactly what'll happen.. but the nature of that industry is that it's totally dependent on a volatile commodity price. high salaries often come at the 'cost' of job insecurity - in some ways working for a regulated utility on a lower salary is better because it's not ever likely to be forced to wildly see-saw it's staff numbers by the volatile price of a commodity.
Yup BP have also already axed thousands of jobs, this is just the latest wave. Aberdeen's population has reduced by 15% in a single year.

Likewise, higher salaries tend to come with a lot of expectation of "ownership" by the company. Checking phone/emails outside of work hours, at weekends, working unpaid overtime, etc.

Work/life balance is something I'd strongly support.

Also, I work in O&G as an engineer. Currently companies are preparing to ride this out for as long as mid 2020's from as far as I can gather. This is of course completely unsubstantiated, but I certainly wouldn't be making any bets on the oil market being recovered in 4-5 years by the time I graduate.

This isn't to say there are not other industries you can work in or that being an engineer is a terrible job, however it definitely isn't something I'd recommend going into for either the salary or job security.
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Smack
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The £63,000 figure comes from a survey from the Engineering Council UK. The figure represents the median salary of a chartered engineer. However, as far as I can tell from the link, it does not specify that the chartered engineer answering the survey must be working in the UK, and said engineer could also be working in management rather than engineering. So it's also likely that this figure is skewed towards the higher end. Anecdotally, £63,000 per annum would be a high end figure, not an average or median.

But I would be very surprised if a job was advertising £25,000 for a chartered engineer, given that this is around the average salary for someone straight out of university. I think a lot of people's salary expectations are based on finance or other such jobs in London, or oil & gas.

Now, given what's happening in oil & gas, I wouldn't be surprised if engineering wages stagnate for a while or even decline slightly, as some engineers have to swap their high paid oil jobs for employment in other industries. The oil & gas industry during the latest boom, particularly for self-employed contractors, was a very well paying field to be in. Other fields a bit less so, but you'll be by no means poor working in them.
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Elivercury
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(Original post by Smack)
But I would be very surprised if a job was advertising £25,000 for a chartered engineer, given that this is around the average salary for someone straight out of university. I think a lot of people's salary expectations are based on finance or other such jobs in London, or oil & gas.
Yup, just about everyone on my course started on more than £25,000. It's an absolutely ridiculous salary for anyone with even a couple of years experience, let alone chartered status. These sort of job offers definitely exist though, just go to justengineer or any other job site and have a look. I suspect they're just chancing it and preying on those who've been made redundant and are desperate with an incredibly high turnover of staff.
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username2269391
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(Original post by GaryIsASloth)
Hi,

I'm taking my A Levels next year, at (if I get in) a military engineering sixth form.

I've already elected to take maths, physics, computer science and maybe further maths. (Predicted A*'s in all at GCSE)

I really want to be an engineer, I've been on a couple of engineering courses to get a taste for it and it's really my kind of thing, the only problem is, I tell people I want to be an engineer and they go "and what sort of engineer?" and I'm left with: "ummm, just a general engineer, you know?". I've decided it's time I selected a particular engineering path, because that way I can take extracurricular work to help with this when I do eventually study it at University.

Can you lovely people of TSR help me find an area?
I'll tell you that I have very technological-based hobbies, computers, programming, cars. I know there are mechanical engineers (correct me if I'm wrong) who.. um.. not sure. But the earnings are also important to me, I've been told that the average engineer makes £63,000 pa, and I'd want to be making that if not more (excuse the arrogance, I want a Porsche), and I feel that if I took mechanical engineering would lead me to sitting in the back of a car garage replacing brake pads.

I also have no knowledge in computer/software engineers and what their work, or earnings are like?

I'd really appreciate it if someone with knowledge in these sorts of engineering could help me out
Thanks!
Well I do Software Engineering and my A-levels weren't as good as yours I did Maths, Physics, Psychology and Chemistry so I think your very well-suited for Software Engineering and the pay is good... Starting is 20k-30k although in London you can add 10 thousand to that figure. Once you have a senior position after say, 5 years you could be on anywhere from 45k-70k, again it's more in London and if you become a managing director of an IT firm after like 10 or 15 years then the salary can be stupid-high and over 150k.

The highest-earning young Software Engineers work in the financial markets, either Retail Banking, Investment Banking or Hedge Fund Risk Management. These sort of industries employ Software Engineers far more than other kinds of engineers i.e Electrical, Mechanical, Automotive...

Another pro for doing Software Engineering is that you can make a product from ZERO materials, all you need is your brain and a crappy laptop so it's very easy to start your own business with apps, websites or anything you can think of.

But my bias aside, any area of engineering should give you a promising future if you work hard. If you like robots then I recommend Electronic Engineering, if you like Engines then go Mechanical or Automotive, if you like Flying then go for Aerospace. If you have your mind in the future then go for Energy Engineering...

I seriously recommend going for your passion rather than the highest-paying industry because I've seen loads of people at my uni go on Computer Science or Software Engineering because they knew it has good prospects but then they all dropped out by the end of 2nd Year.
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username738914
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(Original post by JavaScriptMaster)
Well I do Software Engineering and my A-levels weren't as good as yours I did Maths, Physics, Psychology and Chemistry so I think your very well-suited for Software Engineering and the pay is good... Starting is 20k-30k although in London you can add 10 thousand to that figure. Once you have a senior position after say, 5 years you could be on anywhere from 45k-70k, again it's more in London and if you become a managing director of an IT firm after like 10 or 15 years then the salary can be stupid-high and over 150k.

The highest-earning young Software Engineers work in the financial markets, either [B]Retail Banking[B], Investment Banking or Hedge Fund Risk Management. These sort of industries employ Software Engineers far more than other kinds of engineers i.e Electrical, Mechanical, Automotive...

Another pro for doing Software Engineering is that you can make a product from ZERO materials, all you need is your brain and a crappy laptop so it's very easy to start your own business with apps, websites or anything you can think of.

But my bias aside, any area of engineering should give you a promising future if you work hard. If you like robots then I recommend Electronic Engineering, if you like Engines then go Mechanical or Automotive, if you like Flying then go for Aerospace. If you have your mind in the future then go for Energy Engineering...

I seriously recommend going for your passion rather than the highest-paying industry because I've seen loads of people at my uni go on Computer Science or Software Engineering because they knew it has good prospects but then they all dropped out by the end of 2nd Year.
Really? Didn't know retail banking paid well, unless you mean the corporate side of retail or like what Barclay's is doing with their digital team?

And yeah, fully agree with not chasing money. It's obviously fine to be weary about earning potential etc, but what's important is enjoying the job you end up in.


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Smack
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(Original post by Elivercury)
Yup, just about everyone on my course started on more than £25,000. It's an absolutely ridiculous salary for anyone with even a couple of years experience, let alone chartered status. These sort of job offers definitely exist though, just go to justengineer or any other job site and have a look. I suspect they're just chancing it and preying on those who've been made redundant and are desperate with an incredibly high turnover of staff.
I agree that on the usual sites, sub £30k engineering job averts aren't uncommon. However on closer inspection I have found that these jobs haven't been the types of jobs that someone with an engineering degree would be expecting to do; they have been technician type jobs, or jobs that are very manual in nature. For example, I Googled "Mechanical engineer jobs" and the first result from the website that came up first was for a "Mechanical Engineer/Fitter". Then the third result was headed as "Mechanical Engineer" but then in the job description it proceeded to say the role was a mechanical technician, and the rest of the results displayed a somewhat similar trend.

So given this, I don't think that job boards are the best places for engineering degree holders to look for the types of jobs that would typically want candidates to have a BEng or higher, and hence don't spend much time on them myself, because the SNR isn't that great. I'm not being disparaging towards technicians and the like either, because they are as important as engineers, and this also affects them too as they could get caught up looking at jobs requiring advanced degrees and experience using specialist software.
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Elivercury
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(Original post by Smack)
I agree that on the usual sites, sub £30k engineering job averts aren't uncommon. However on closer inspection I have found that these jobs haven't been the types of jobs that someone with an engineering degree would be expecting to do; they have been technician type jobs, or jobs that are very manual in nature. For example, I Googled "Mechanical engineer jobs" and the first result from the website that came up first was for a "Mechanical Engineer/Fitter". Then the third result was headed as "Mechanical Engineer" but then in the job description it proceeded to say the role was a mechanical technician, and the rest of the results displayed a somewhat similar trend.

So given this, I don't think that job boards are the best places for engineering degree holders to look for the types of jobs that would typically want candidates to have a BEng or higher, and hence don't spend much time on them myself, because the SNR isn't that great. I'm not being disparaging towards technicians and the like either, because they are as important as engineers, and this also affects them too as they could get caught up looking at jobs requiring advanced degrees and experience using specialist software.
I agree they are not great, but unfortunately the examples I was referring to were not technician roles and were ones I would consider myself applicable for with a Masters and several years experience.

It doesn't help that "engineer" isn't a protected status.

I've found the government jobseekers website to actually be a solid resource that provides jobs of all levels, typically up to about middle management level.
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