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Engineers: What year is the hardest?

chriscollegechriscollege Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
To all the current or recent Engineers out there from Illinois..what year was your hardest year academically? Freshman year due to the adjustment to college life? Or did classes get progressively harder as your years went on? I guess the question is sort of ..if you survive freshman year without too much difficulty will you be ok for the rest of the time at UIUC engineering or are sophomore,junior and senior years that much harder?
Post edited by chriscollege on

Replies to: Engineers: What year is the hardest?

  • avigohpavigohp Posts: 28Registered User New Member
    ^ would be nice to know that
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,498Registered User Senior Member
    Junior year was the hardest for me as far as course load and everything went. That seemed to be the general consensus among my friends across different engineering majors as well. That is where you first hit the real meat of your curriculum and where you have to adjust to the classes actually being relevant to your degree.
  • chriscollegechriscollege Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks boneh3ad. That helps. Just one more quick question...did you take a lot of hours junior year? Does it help to take classes over the summer to lighten your load of classes or is it just the reality that the classes are hard because you are into the "meat" of your major?
    BTW...what engineering degree did you get? Are some majors perceived as easier than others?
    Thanks!!
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,498Registered User Senior Member
    I was mechanical engineering.

    I took no more than 16 hours in a semester from Junior year on. My heaviest semester as far as hours goes was my first semester of sophomore year because I overloaded myself with 20 hours. Big mistake. That was my worst semester GPA-wise and it was solely because I had a hard time doing all that work at once. It was a mistake I learned the hard way. Learn from my mistake. Don't do it.

    I wouldn't suggest worrying about summer classes too much. I never took them and still graduated in 4 years. Much more valuable is getting internships/co-ops. If you have to take an extra semester to finish because you did an internship instead of a summer class, then do it, because it is 1000% worth it.

    My junior year was the hardest because it was the first time we had all seen the courses within our major and had to train ourselves to think like mechanical engineers. Before that, it was all math/physics/statics/dynamics, which don't really require you to think a certain way to be most effective, you just have to do the work and put in the time. For ME's, junior year is when you saw thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, materials and several other core classes where were had to teach ourselves to think like mechanical engineers. That was probably what made those classes harder than some of the earlier ones, and they got easier as the course schedule progressed and we started thinking that way naturally.

    By the time my senior year rolled around, I took a lot of classes that were technically harder than those junior year classes (viscous flow, intermediate heat transfer, etc) but didn't have the same kind of problems because I know how to approach the classes and the problems.
  • chriscollegechriscollege Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks Boneh3ad...your insight is always appreciated!
    I heard Mechanical Engineering is one of the hardest majors...congrats on your degree and getting your Masters...
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,498Registered User Senior Member
    Haha, well I don't have my Masters... and I intend to skip it since I am working on going B.S. straight to Ph.D. down here in Texas, where I don't have to put up with that craptastic weather anymore.
  • chriscollegechriscollege Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    Well..ok then..soon we will be calling you Dr. Boneh3ad!! Are you going to teach after the Phd?

    Also, I heard that mechanical and electrical are two of the hardest majors...and that Cilvil is on of the "easier" ones. I know it is all relative but I would think that the engineers have a notion what major they think is the "hardest"! Of course they are all hard compared to other majors outside of the Engineering college!
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,498Registered User Senior Member
    It is all relative. Mechanical can be very easy if you focus on certain things and very hard if you focus on others. It is such a broad subject that it runs the gamut as far as difficulty goes. You could pretty much do electives in a little bit of everything and avoid the tough electives and make it a pretty easy major, but then you could do your electives in something tough like thermal fluid sciences or signals processing and make it harder on yourself. It just depends.

    As for which engineering itself is hardest, again, it is all relative. For me electrical would be the toughest and I bet civil would be the easiest, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an electrical engineer out there who is just a whiz at EE but can't figure out statics for his life, and therefore civil would be impossible. Still, there seems to be a general consensus that civil is among the easiest and electrical is among the hardest. I just generally try to avoid ranking them because it just causes conflict and really serves no purpose. The fact is, the easiest to an individual is going to be the one that best matches their individual aptitudes.

    As for after I finish my doctorate, I don't really care what I do as long as it involves research, so if that means I get a tenure-track position, then wonderful, but if that means I go to the Skunk Works or Blue Origin or something, also wonderful! I do think that being a professor has a slight edge as far as my preference goes, but only slight.
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