Is biosystems engineering right for me?

Hello Kristin!

I noticed you went to Michigan State, I too am a fellow Spartan! I just started my freshmen year this past fall. Right now I'm currently a business major, but I'm seriously considering majoring in biosystems engineering just like you. However I have cold feet because I am not mathematically inclined what soever. I know if I apply myself I can get good grades in my challenging math courses, but it's just not something I am naturally good at. I'm seriously worried this could negatively impact my career as an engineer too much. However, I have a passion for the environment. I am good at every other subject, but my math skills have always been behind. I don't LOVE math, but I tolerate it and like I said I have a passion for science and the environment. Also, I was on a competitive robotics team in high school so I do enjoy learning about mechanical things. Is biosystems engineering right for me? Or should I consider just a degree in environmental science instead?
posted by Romana, Goodrich on January 11, 2015

Answer by Kristin Malosh

Hi Romana, Go Green! Nice to hear from a fellow- Spartan :-)
This isn't an easy question to answer, but I will give it my best shot! I think this all depends on why or what parts of mathematical problem solving you don't enjoy. Engineers aren't math majors, to me, math majors are the ones who truly LOVE math. Engineers are problem solvers and we use math as a tool to solve a variety of problems. I can honestly say that I enjoyed using math in statics, statistics, and thermodynamics- all engineering classes. When it came to differential equations- a true MATH course- I was just trying to make it through and not kill my GPA! With your interest in mechanical and environmental applications, Biosystems Engineering could definitely be a great path for you. I have worked with a lot of environmental science majors in my career as well as engineers. An engineering degree can be a positive factor in getting a higher salary or considerations for promotions (especially if you have a Professional Engineer certification in the long run). So, to summarize, if you truly dislike using math or its concepts to solve problems- then engineering might not be the right choice. But, if you just don't like the 'theory based' math- I say struggle through it, use study groups and office hours and celebrate your accomplishments- and go for engineering. An engineering degree can open more doors than you can imagine! 
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