Can I Be an Engineer if I Struggle with Physics?

Hi! I'm currently a junior in High School, and it's just about that time where I'm starting to look into colleges. I've always loved biology and math, and am looking at a potential major as bioengineering. However, my physics is a little weak, and when it comes to solving physics problems, I'm not always the best, and I struggle. My question was, will my weakness in physics/problem solving hinder me in succeeding at engineering? I really want to be able to make a difference in the world somehow, and bioengineering seems like a good option. I just don't want to make the wrong decision and regret it later! Additionally, if you knew the answer to this, I was wondering what the difference was between applied biology and bioengineering. Thank you so much for your time and advice!!!!
posted by Sravanti, Ohio on March 30, 2012

Answer by Susan Su

Hi Sravanti, I'm glad to hear that you take an interest in bioengineering. It's really a very broad field, ranging from strict engineering practices to strictly biological studies, based on your eventual job/research focus. While being weak at physics may put you at a disadvantage, particularly during your college days, you really shouldn't get discouraged. I can tell you that I was only good with the mechanics portion of physics and struggled quite a bit with the electromagnetics portion. Interesting enough, a number of my friends have greater aptitude for understanding electromagnetics than mechanics. Additionally, you may also come to realize that your teacher's teaching method may be the reason that you're good or bad at something. So don't let one semester of physics scare you and give yourself another couple of semesters to figure out your academic strengths and weaknesses. I don't really know the difference between applied biology and bioengineering (it's also commonly known as biomedical engineering). I think applied biology (likely to be in the biology department) puts you in a curriculum much more focused on biology whereas bioengineering (in the engineering department) would require you to take advanced engineering courses with only 4 or 5 basic biology courses. Most colleges allow their students to easily transfer between majors, particularly since everyone in science or engineering would need to take biology/chemistry, physics, math, and a bunch of liberal arts courses during the first year. So even after you enter college, you can continue to learn about your interests and make adjustments. And it doesn't end there. After your bachelor's degree, you can also go for a master's or doctorate degree to become more specialized in a field. Go with your heart and know that there's no wrong decision because at least you can find out what you don't enjoy. Once you find out what you really like, you'll excel at it very quickly. Good luck!