Is Engineering the Right Career For Me?

Currently I am a High School Senior, and I took an engineering course for a college. I was working really, really hard,but I still struggled. My question is as follows, do you think that anyone who struggles in an Into to Engineering class should reconsider if that is the major they should aim for?
posted by Karina, California on March 28, 2012

Answer 1 by Dr. Kim Linder

That's a great question. And has multiple facets. I would first address why the struggle occurred? What was the basis of the struggle? Was it difficult math? Difficult science? Do you feel you had the knowledge from background classes? I would classify these as a struggle with the information required for the class. In this case, you can always take remedial classes to make sure you have the necessary background. When I was in a freshman electrical engineering class, the professor had made assumptions that everyone in the class had tinkered with electronics and had some basic background or other experience - which I did not have. Initially I felt like I should not be there, that I didn't have what it took. When I addressed this with the professor, he clearly wondered why I would have chosen electrical engineering if I did not play with electronics in HS; but I noted that it was not a prerequesite and this assumption was making it difficult for me. He acknowledged this and changed his style of lecture. Starting with a show of hands of how many other people had any type of background in electronics at the beginning of his next lecture. I would estimate only 20% of the class raised their hands. Did you work in teams and this was a problem? Was it managing a project that was a problem? Did you understand what was expected? Was it just too much work? I would classify all these as issues that could appear in ANY class, regardless of the area of study. Sometimes you can spin your wheels working on problems that aren't really what is asked, if you don't understand expectations. When you get a problem, try to outline what you believe is expected and how you are planning on approaching finding the solution. Step back and see if it makes sense or is too much work, or if you are over emphasizing any particular area. Run it by the instructor first chance you get, rather than wasting time running down the wrong path. Good luck! Kim Dalton Linder, Ph.D.

Answer 2 by Sandra Begay-Campbell

The engineering curriculum is very hard. Many people struggle through most classes even the introduction classes. I wasn't ready for calculus so I took additional courses in beginning chemistry, trigonometry and algebra to re-assure myself and to hone my skills before diving into college level courses. I would keep struggling; no one should tell you it will be easy. Any goal worth achieving will take hard work and a lot of personal energy. After 20 years past completing my undergraduate degree and when I'm under pressure, I still have nightmares about struggling in college. So, please stick with your engineering major; I / we need you as a colleague. --Sandra