Every time I meet someone new and tell them I studied engineering the automatic sounds of “oooo” and the words “wow” are said. Then a second after the person assumes I am so smart. But to tell you the truth and I do say this all the time, “I for the life of me can’t do simple math calculations on the spot.” I need to have a calculator on me every time I go shopping to see how much everything will come up to after x amount of sale applied. I will give the taxi driver a certain amount of cash and will need to consult my calculator to know exactly how much the driver will give back to me. Yes it is sad. Yes I can’t do math in situations like this. But you know what? There are so many other people who have made it through engineering without being able to multiply 52 by 82 in a matter of minutes in their head. The good news is that you do not have to be a genius in mathematics to succeed in an engineering program. I say this with confidence. But you do need to have a set of characteristics and skills to succeed.
If you are thinking of pursuing an education in engineering, consider the tips below. Do you have what is required to succeed? And if you don’t that doesn’t mean you just give up. In fact, you prove me wrong. If you want to do something, you go and do it and don’t let anyone stop you. But the tips listed below will help you determine if whether or not you can easily adjust to an engineering student’s lifestyle.
1. You are curious.
If you are the type of person that looks at something interesting and not only admires it but wants to know how it works, then engineering is your calling. The engineering curriculum is designed to make you think. It is designed to make you question all possibilities. If you are curious you are already thinking from different perspectives and that is what engineering requires. Engineering classes require you to consider a problem from various angles. You need to be curious to do well in engineering.
2. Challenges excite you.
Tough problems on an exam or midterm are death. I know there is nothing fun about hard problem sets in a pressurised environment. But when you aren’t under pressure or are just sitting in a lecture, you want the professor to solve a complex problem step by step. You like seeing tough problems unravel layer by layer. And you feel like if you solve the hard ones the entire concept is easy-peasy. That’s why you love challenges. Because it excites and motivates you. You don’t need to be a genius. You just need to have the will to understand problem sets.
3. You like thinking outside of the box.
This phrase is said so often but what the heck does this even mean? Thinking outside of the box simply means looking at a problem set and being creative with your solution. If you are strictly following a routine it isn’t creative. Majority of the classes in engineering are not computational logic thinking. Meaning there is no such thing as a yes or no answer. But at the same time don’t think engineering is a philosophy. Engineering is creative thinking. Meaning how to achieve best and safest results while being cost effective.
Engineering is about analysing all the various solutions and seeing which one is best proving it with facts. Does that make sense?
4. You don’t have an ego.
Let me tell you, in first year every student proudly says they’re studying engineering. There are people who like to bring it up on purpose and highlight it in a conversation with non engineering students. Or they like to aggressively showcase their enrolment in a STEM related program. Sure it’s impressive but if not asked it’s honestly cocky. And if one is cocky they won’t get success anywhere – no matter what their studying. If you want to study engineering because maybe it’s a status thing in your household/family or if you are doing it primarily for the reasons of making more money after graduation – you will find it really hard to adjust in engineering school.
Studying anything requires a little bit of passion. If you like to build, code, design, think outside of the box, solve problems, strive to create something better than before then engineering is your calling. But if you want to pursue this field based on other reasons that have no connection to engineering you will hate it. Pursuing an education and hating it while doing it is just a lot of money and time wasted. So be wise and pursue your field of study if you have an interest in it.
5. You don’t give up easily.
Engineering is downright stressful. I had days where I sat in the shower and cried because of a bad mark, failing a course or not being prepared enough. It happens. That doesn’t mean you let yourself get kicked to the ground and call it quits. See these events as opportunities in your academic careers. Learn from them. I’m not saying embrace your failures but rather reflect upon them. It is devastating seeing your first D in a course. It is even worse seeing that you failed an exam. I’ve had those feelings all during my 4 years, but I did it. And you can too.
Have the strength to keep going. Finish what you start. And near the finish line is when you will realise the stress and pain was worth it.