Does trouble with physics mean I shouldn't be an engineer?

Hey, my name is Jessica and I'm in the first year of engineering. For the first time I had a bad graded on my physics quiz. So I started asking myself "do I have what it takes to be an engineer?? Am I in the right major?" I've always been told that I could be a very good engineer because I've been always good at math, but right away I notice that being good a math won't take me anywhere in physics class. I'm the only girl in my class so right away I felt and huge pressure to be good, to be excellent. But maybe be physics is not for me I don't know :(. All I know is that I'm confused I don't know if I can be an engineer and have difficulties at physics:(


Sincerely,
A confused engineering student
posted by Jessica, Houston on September 9, 2014

Answer 1 by Cindy Sheu

Hi Jessica,
Physics could be very different from math, but at the same time it is something I am sure you can overcome. Keep on trying, don't give up after the first quiz. You might just find yourself liking the class after you get into it a little more. Best of luck to you. 

Answer 2 by Jamie Krakover

Hi Jessica,
I wanted to add some advice to this. First, sorry to hear about your bad grade. I know that can be tough sometimes. If it's any consolation, I got a D as a final grade in a class when I was studying for my engineering degree and I'm still an engineer today. I know it's hard when you get that bad grade but take it as a note that guides you on what you need to improve upon. 

Engineering is tough and we can't be good at every aspect of it right away. It's sort of like riding a bike or learning to swim. You didn't just hop on a bike the first time and automatically know how to ride it. You had to work hard at it and learn how. Engineering is very much the same way. 

It's also important to note there is a distinction between physics and engineering. Engineering is applied physics, which is a kind of physics used for a specific engineering or technological application. This is why there are so many kinds of engineers. There's a lot of different kinds of things we can apply these concepts to. So while physics class can help you gain a good foundation toward engineering and it is important, it's not the end all be all of engineering. Depending on which kind of engineering you go into you may need different aspects of things you learn in physics but not others, or in some cases you may not need physics hardly at all (one example is chemical engineering).

While a bad grade can be heart breaking, it won't ruin your career as an engineer. It will just tell you where to start on your learning journey and where you might need to ask for some help to learn the material better. Studying engineering is a lot about learning how to learn the things that will help you as engineer. It's not always about getting it right the first time.

I wish you luck as you continue to pursue engineering. Hang in there!
Jamie