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Very intimidated getting into engineering.

amartinez94993amartinez94993 Registered User Posts: 53 Junior Member
I'm starting out at 22. I've been in the military and have had some real world experience. Engineering is something that I've always wanted to do but never thought I was smart enough even though I got fantastic grades in high school. I was usually the smart one in my classes but most of the engineers I have met make me feel inferior. I hear dozens of stories about people weeding out and the attrition rate being of the highest out of all college majors, Normal to feel this way? My grandfather was a software engineer for boeing. He did it for 20 years and he keeps telling me it is all in your head and he knows I have the intelligence for it. I just feel like I have been out of eduction for too long now. I'm ready to give it all I got but I just can't help but think this is a pipe dream.

Replies to: Very intimidated getting into engineering.

  • NeoDymiumNeoDymium Registered User Posts: 2,304 Senior Member
    edited July 2015
    Most engineers are of average intelligence and like to delude themselves into thinking that they are something special because social perceptions of the field make people think it is so hard. Might take a lot more effort than most, but it's more tedium than real intellectual difficulties (i.e. the kind of problems that only "smart" people can solve).

    In short: your grandfather is 100% correct. It doesn't take too long to get back into the educational mindset, as long as the money is there and your family (parents or spouse and kids) are supportive.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 36,042 Super Moderator
    My husband dropped out of college his first go-round as a senior, because he decided he didn't want to be a teacher after all. He wandered around the country for a few years, then went back to engineering school at the age of 28. I met him in graduate school when I was 22 and he was 30. We have our own business and enjoy working together. I am thankful he followed his heart and went back to school! You can do it, too!
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 6,280 Senior Member
    You've already been in the military and you think engineering is hard?

    Seriously, you probably already have a lot of the self-discipline that most students lack. If you were a good student and decide you want this to be your profession, just dedicate yourself to excellence learn how to develop good study skills, and go for it. It really is a fun profession!

    Thank you for your service.
  • LakeWashingtonLakeWashington Registered User Posts: 9,298 Senior Member
    Let me recommend that you investigate South Dakota School of Mines & Technology a rigorous STEM school with a great reputation. SDSM&T has a special office that assists veterans whom enroll. SDSM&T has been designated as "Military Friendly."
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,529 Forum Champion
    I completely agree with @ClassicRockerDad. I have found that students who have come form the military are well prepared for the kind of studying that is required for an engineering degree. Success in most any STEM program is more about getting the work done than being "brilliant".
  • lululemonxxlululemonxx Registered User Posts: 193 Junior Member
    @NeoDymium do you really think so? i'm really interested in switching majors to go into engineering. and i'm assuming the same thing--that it's probably just "hard work" vs. something that is impossible to study-- but i don't know for sure...

    do you know this from experience?
  • NeoDymiumNeoDymium Registered User Posts: 2,304 Senior Member
    @lululemonxx Yes, of course. It really is just a test of endurance. The kinds of people who talk about how hard it is are generally of the middling variety - the best generally complete their degree with little to no fanfare, with excellent marks. Don't listen to the chorus of people who exaggerate its difficulty.
  • ucsb82ucsb82 Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    edited September 2015
    @NeoDynim I do not share your view.
    Average intelligence is an IQ of 100.
    Please share the basis for your assertion.
    This has not been my experience.
  • jjwinklejjwinkle Registered User Posts: 484 Member
    edited September 2015
    amartinez,

    I am impressed, as you are, about the "word out there" on the difficulty of engineering (http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/engineering-majors/418002-fail-rates-in-engineering-courses.html).

    There is also the belief that engineering schools vary in difficulty (http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/engineering-majors/81427-top-10-most-difficult-engineering-schools.html).

    As you also are aware, people can lose their mental edge if they have been out of school for awhile.

    I didn't know when I pursued a degree in chemistry at a University of California campus 13 years after high school graduation, with just brief episodes at community colleges in the intervening time, whether I would succeed at it. I found the difficulty at the UC far exceeded that of any academic work I'd previously done. While this was not engineering, it did involve the same math courses as engineering majors take. During most of my first two years I spent 11 hours a day and 25 hours each weekend (I wrote my times down) doing math problems in the textbook chapters being covered and from tests of previous years. I've become aware how odd this appears to traditional students who have high ability and unbroken continuum in their studies, however the avoidance of oddity was not the objective; seeing what I could accomplish if I went to the VERY LIMIT of my ability and resources was.

    I think you will find engineering very hard. I do not know if you will succeed. I do, however, believe you can catch up (as I did) with students of inherently similar ability who have not had a lapse in education by spending unusually extended time working problems.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 71,095 Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    You may want to check this web site: http://www.math.buffalo.edu/rur_index.html

    Try the "are you ready for calculus 1?" quizzes. If you are ready for calculus 1, you are more likely to be ready to dive right into an engineering degree program.

    If you took calculus AB or BC in high school, try the "are you ready for calculus 2?" quizzes as well. If you took calculus BC in high school, try the "are you ready for calculus 3?" quizzes as well. If you have a high enough AP score, you may have the option of starting in a math course more advanced than calculus 1, but you should try the college's old final exams for the courses that can be skipped before deciding whether to skip them.

    If not, you may want to review your high school math until you can easily handle all of the precalculus questions.

    Other schools' math placement tests that you can try:
    http://math.tntech.edu/e-math/placement/index.html
    https://math.berkeley.edu/courses/choosing/placement-exam

    It is true that engineering curricula tend to be somewhat higher workload than most other majors, due to a high volume of requirements (often slightly more credits than the usual needed to graduate) and the time consuming lab and design courses.
  • NeoDymiumNeoDymium Registered User Posts: 2,304 Senior Member
    I do not share your view.
    Average intelligence is an IQ of 100.
    Please share the basis for your assertion.
    This has not been my experience.
    My assertion comes from experience, and a realization that engineering students really don't have more intelligence than any other student taking a rigorous major with strict requirements (as opposed to majors with 2 years of general classes, 2 years of "do whatever you want and we'll call it a degree" requirements). Engineers tend to have at least moderately good quantitative skills, but only a very simplistic understanding of how to use math; most engineers are just number crunchers who memorized formulas in the same way you would memorize facts for an exam. A substantial fraction of engineers are beyond terrible when it comes to writing, and I was surprised to see how many are inept technical writers.

    There are of course brilliant engineering majors, along with brilliant science majors, economics majors, etc. The middle of the pack, however, is no more impressive in engineering than in others I have seen. Engineers do have a more tedious curriculum though.
  • albert69albert69 Registered User Posts: 3,247 Senior Member
    It is hard, but it's hardest (and sometimes impossible) for the people that start at a level for which they are inadequately prepared. Find out where your ability is in math especially, and don't overload yourself. I don't know your financial constraints, but try to take a minimum of 15 credit hours, 12 or fewer preferably. If you haven't gone to school in several years, break yourself in gently if at all possible. Don't take Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, etc., all in one semester right off.

    Thank you for your service. My uncle was in the Air Force, entered with an associates degree in art. (It was during Vietnam, so he'd been trying to avoid the draft and was then like "screw it, if I can't beat it, I'll join up so I have a little more control over where I go than a draftee would.") He ended up becoming an electrical engineer after several years as an enlisted airman. He wasn't any genius with academics, it took a lot of hard work and study. But he did it.
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