Were You Born Into A Creative Engineer or Do You Learn Creativity in School?

I am going to be a senior next year, and I am also a international student. I have been seriously thinking about engineering this major. My math and science are pretty good, compared to most Americans (I am not trying to be mean here. It just I had learned math and science many years before I came to U.S.) Yet, I don't think I am very creative. I would say that because I never good at art. I am not a genius at math and science either, but I think I enjoy them. However, I do not know should I choose to pursue this major? Do I need to know anything before even go to the college? I am very confused. Every video of engineering I saw was stunning. They're all so smart and creative. Can I be like that one day too? Where did they learn all that skills anyway? Do they born to be engineers or do they learn the engineering stuff in college? Thank you all so much! I appreciate it....
posted by Yolanda, Bangor, Maine on March 29, 2012

Answer 1 by Ms Susan Cischke

It's hard to pinpoint the key criteria for what makes a good engineer -- having strong math and science skills are important but do you like to solve problems? I think problem solving skills and the inquisitive nature to find how things work and how they can be made better is important. I'm not so sure you have to worry about creativity as measured by art experience but rather are you curious, do you like to make things better? It is a great career and we need more people to consider it, especially those with strong math and science skills. When I started my engineering classes, I wasn't sure either but I did like math and problem solving. I was concerned that others may be more suited, that more of the guys in my class were confident and knew what they wanted but I soon discovered that didn't matter. I had great advice from a counselor to take the introduction to engineering course and that helped me decide. I would encourage you to keep up your math and science classes and seriously consider engineering as a major - after a few classes you will know if it fits or not and the courses you have taken usually count as science electives. I would encourage you to go for it -- good luck!!

Answer 2 by Dr Nandika D'Souza

Wow….this is the essence of what most women engineers feel and have to be convinced to join engineering. Here is a story I will relate to you from an undergraduate advisor. She said there are some new students who arrive and will timidly approach her with course requests indicating that they are not too sure they can make it. Then she will glance at their prior math and science performance and find they are doing well. Then there are others who walk in with a strut and sit down and announce the courses and she will find that they don’t have an amazing record. The moral of this story is this: Don’t be fooled by the apparent glibness or amazement portrayed in any recruiting videos or by colleagues (it does not really indicate whether or not you are as good or not) The older you get question any limit that you or others impose on you (knowingly or unconsciously). Go for it. There is something certain to spark your interest and you will be excited and feel totally confident. Programs typically offer so much variety that during the senior years (and these comprise most of the videographers stories) students take electives in areas that get them soooo excited that it comes across. The important thing A LOT of women engineers around campus will offer in word or deed or example is that you transition from the kid who appears diffident who thinks they are not as good to the graduate who speaks confidently and realizes they are as good or better than most in some area or the other. That transition will happen. Just let it. Hope this helps. Nandika D’Souza