10 ADVICE FOR GETTING THROUGH ENGINEERING SCHOOL If you haven’t heard, engineering school is very challenging.
Everyone has heard of the Look to your left rule. Look to your right right now. The lecture you hear before you enter college—they won’t be here in two years—holds true in engineering school.
Therefore, I’ve put together this list to provide you the essentials for making it through engineering school so that you’re the guy or girl in the middle and not on either side. Good fortune!
1. Overcome your own ego I know that seems incredibly harsh, but please bear with me.
It’s likely that if you were accepted into an engineering program, you did well academically in high school and had an easy time of it. Although you might have needed to invest some time in it occasionally, the principles weren’t particularly difficult to understand, and it was more like boring busy work than anything that made your brain melt.
Those times have passed.
Engineering school will be significantly more challenging than anything you have ever experienced in school, and if you breezed through high school, this can be quite the blow to your ego.
If you’re anything like me, it can be difficult to ask for help because you can typically do most tasks on your own. If you want to make it through engineering school, you must positively overcome that. When you don’t grasp something, you should ask your professors, teaching assistants, and fellow students for help.
It will be quite difficult for you to catch up if you fall behind in engineering school. It will be vitally necessary for your survival, so be modest and ask for assistance.
2. THIS JOB IS FULL TIME. Attending engineering school requires a significant time commitment. At some point throughout your college career, you’ll probably be told that for every hour you spend in class, plan on spending at least two to three hours outside of class working on schoolwork.
Therefore, assuming a 15-hour course load (which is typical for a full-time student), it equates to a weekly commitment to school of at least 45 hours and maybe as much as 60 hours.
Although not all classes are created equal, this will be unquestionably true for the majority of your engineering courses.
With that in mind, if you want to get good results, you need to create a timetable that enables you to invest that type of time and effort. Once you have a full load of engineering courses, you will have a minimum of four hours of homework per night.
Let’s avoid discussing how your weekends might be.
3. CHOOSE A SPACE Knowing that engineering school requires a full-time commitment, it’s critical to locate an environment in which you thrive.
You must locate a calm, remote area if you are easily distracted. On a college campus packed of students, you should have little trouble finding noise and overall turmoil if you need it.
To properly concentrate on my homework, I needed a place that was quiet and remote. In addition, I wanted a means to unwind and gather my thoughts when a homework issue was overwhelming me.
My area was on the ninth floor of the library book stacks using those two necessities.
There weren’t many people up there, there were lots of individual desks, and my desk had a window with a spectacular view of the city. It was therefore helpful to be able to gaze to my right and see for a very long distance when I became bogged down by the vibrations issue and was about to rip the book to pieces. You gain perspective from it.
4. IMPROVE YOUR ABILITY TO WORK WITHOUT A CALCULATOR Applied mathematics is essentially what engineering school is. You’ll try to create a mathematical equation that you can use to address a real-world situation.
It will be quite tempting to always reach for the calculator because the math will be so difficult. Sometimes a calculator is a necessity.
However, you should practice completing math by hand whenever you can.
And by difficult material, I don’t just mean calculus or differential equations.
I mention this because I can guarantee that several times during a test, your professor will inform you that calculators are not permitted and that you will be in serious trouble if you have been relying on the calculator crutch.
5. CONDUCT HOMEWORK You may initially assume, “No duh” (or insert whatever catchy phrase is going around right now). But allow me to elaborate.
Again, assuming you have a strong math background if you are enrolling in engineering school, you should be able to mentally calculate percentages without too much difficulty.
Each homework assignment is worth 0.2% of your final mark if you have 50 to complete during the course of the semester and homework counts for 10% of your grade (I know, you didnt need my help).
The problem about college is that your pals are going to be playing beach volleyball this afternoon, followed by a cookout with hamburgers and brats. Additionally, the task you have to complete this afternoon only accounts for 0.2 percent of your final mark.
It isn’t about that 0.2 percent, so finish your homework now. Even though you are correct that it is insignificant, the sixteen stage compressor, turbine, and heat exchanger problem was only included in that particular homework assignment and will not be repeated on your subsequent exam.
You will make mistakes on the exam, which is now worth a third of your grade, if you didn’t make them on the homework issue.
In addition, the person you fancy wants to date someone who has free time, and you don’t have a lot of that.
Locate a study group. Recalling my initial point, finding some peers to collaborate with could be the difference between passing with flying colors and barely passing, or even worse.
Before I continue, let me set the record straight: cheating is wrong, it will get you expelled from school, and even if you manage to get away with it, your career will be a complete failure.
Errors by engineers result in fatalities.
Don’t steal, then.
However, please organize a study group. Some of the things you learn in school may immediately make sense to you, while others will appear to come from another planet. There’s a good chance that certain members of your group will comprehend some topics better than others, and vice versa.
Then you can assist one another by clarifying concepts in a way that is perhaps friendlier than a professor who has been instructing the same Mechanics of Materials class for twenty years and really just wants to get back to completing his or her research.
7. ENSURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS TEACHED IN YOUR MATH CLASS. Engineering is just applied mathematics, as I indicated earlier. When doing Calculus III, it can be easy to lose sight of that, but try not to.
The issue is that while learning calculus and differential equations is required before you can advance in engineering school, it can be challenging to see why you would need to know any of this information while you are actually taking the lectures.
That can seriously sap motivation, but you must persevere.
Therefore, to assist you, differential equations will be essential to surviving vibrations and controls, and calculus will be employed in almost every engineering course.
Please make sure you fully comprehend these topics before beginning the lessons where they will be required.
8. APPRECIATE YOUR OPTIONS Many engineering students were complaining loudly about having to take electives.
I cherished electives.
Compared to Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Political Science 201 was a piece of cake. Additionally, electives allow you the chance to explore new interests and broaden your horizons. In addition to figuring out how to break beams on paper, I also studied karate, which gave me the opportunity to break beams literally.
if you like, applied solid mechanics
9. PARTICIPATE IN SCHOOL ENGINEERING ORGANIZATIONS Student engineering clubs are excellent places to put the knowledge you gain in the classroom to use.
Building race cars and participating in time trial-style contests are the main goals of Formula SAE and Baja SAE. There are clubs for autonomous vehicles, rocket design, alternative energy race cars, robotics, autonomous planes (named Aerial Robotics where I went to school), and all the many discipline-based societies (ASME, ASCE, IEEE, etc .)
There are literally dozens of chances for you to put what you are studying into practice and get to know your fellow students.
When it comes time to graduate and find a job and you have these kinds of activities on your CV, they also put you ahead of the pack.
10. SEEK OUT CO-OPS AND INTERNSHIPS The last one is also the most significant.
After graduating from engineering school, you’ll probably wish to work as an engineer.
But at the same time as you are entering the employment market, tens of thousands other engineering students from all across the nation and the world are doing the same.
You must locate a co-op or internship to demonstrate to prospective employers that
You proactively sought out an internship or co-op, and now you have references who can vouch for your skills. Many businesses also favor hiring graduates who have done a co-op or an internship there for their entry-level roles. After your freshman year, I wouldn’t recommend pursuing an internship, but by the end of your sophomore year, you should absolutely look at co-ops and internships.
This list should provide you with some advice to assist you get through the four to five challenging but ultimately highly rewarding years ahead.
For additional posts with an engineering focus, check back frequently!
Senior Engineer at Tesla Motors is Eric. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering and a minor in design studies from North Carolina State University in 2008. He has worked in the consumer goods and automotive industries for more than seven years developing products.