Do you have advice for someone starting in ______ engineering?
The only things that we can really recommend for someone looking to get into engineering is to take all the science and math classes you can if you are still in high school. Research all the areas and consider what you might like to do whether it’s building electronics, programs, machines, or buildings, etc.
Also check out your school’s STEM programs. Stem stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There are many high school stem programs as well so ask a science or math teacher about them and they should be able to direct you to a few different programs your school might offer. FIRST Robotics is one of these programs a great way to learn about physics, mechanical, and electrical engineering while still in high school.
If you are in college and not in an engineering major and thinking about switching majors talk to other students and professors in the engineering department. Again take as much math and science as possible.
If you are thinking about going back to school for engineering the same information applies.
Definitely get a tour of a close college engineering department and talk to a professor about enrolling. They work with many students and should be able to answer your questions or direct you to someone else who can.
Apply for scholarships. School is expensive and while engineering pays well, you do not want a massive amount of student loans to pay off when you graduate. If you are able to get multiple scholarships, any extra over the tuition will go directly to you.
Some cannot get into a large university so they start out in a community college. If you have to take this route, take the time to make sure all or most of the classes you plan to take will transfer with the university. Go to its website or talk to someone with the school to double check.
Types of Engineering:
Deciding your major doesn’t have to be done before you start, most engineering disciplines have extremely similar first year curriculums that introduce you to a variety of fields. From there you can decide which area you enjoy most.
On that topic, we would suggest avoiding the trap of choosing a discipline based on job opportunities and pursue the field that you enjoy most. While a well paying job is nice, money will not make you like a job that you do not enjoy.
Engineering - Wikipedia and List of Engineering Branches
note: there are many subbranches of engineering and many overlap between two fields.
If you have made into an engineering program you are not stupid. There will always will be someone smarter than you. Do not try to outperform them and beat yourself up. Try your hardest but don’t try to match someone else’s performance.
Just embrace it early that you will lose most of your social life when getting into engineering. It is possible to balance both school and friends but school will rule much of your life.
You will want to quit many times while getting your degree, just keep working. Early classes are meant to weed out the ones who do not want to put in the work. You will have multiple tests the same day, loads of homework,and projects that turn into all-nighters regularly. Just prepare to make caffeine your friend and work with your classmates.
Develop study habits. You should work with friends as much as possible, and talk to the professor or a teaching assistant if you have a question.
Do the homework ASAP so that you can ask for help when you need it. Also reading textbooks is a time sink, but they can be extremely helpful if your professor does not speak english as a first language.
Attend class even if you do not understand the material or the professor. Take notes. Boring material is often a lead-up to a big logical jump that may catch you by surprise.
Pick up a graphing calculator like a ti-89 and a regular scientific calculator, because a graphing calculator on some exams are considered cheating.
At any level, you should be working on as many teams and projects as you can. These are great for learning more teamwork, leadership, new information and skills. Also they look great on resumes. Here are a few of the most popular engineering societies. Each of them have projects and competitions you can help with.
Engineering Organizations: AIAA, ACM, AIEE, AICE, ASCE, ASME, IEEE, EWB, SAE, and SWE
Do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Get into the lab and get a feel for what is going on. You will have lots of labs during classes and these help you apply the theory you learn in class to the real world. Be sure to put in plenty of work on outside projects. The bare minimum will let you get by but diving in and seriously helping will help both you and the other students in both grades, friendship, and the reward of a successful project.
Talk to professors about research opportunities (where you conduct remedial aspects of research for them) and internships. Look online or at career fairs for internships. Make sure to be doing something engineering-related during the summer before your final year.
Keep a portfolio of projects and papers. An engineering portfolio is a collection of your projects and papers either in a nice hardcopy or a simple powerpoint type file where you can show photos of your work along with technical details including who, what, where, when, and why you did this thing. The portfolio can also include your awards, certificates, and grades as well. Anything that might help you show your skills and accomplishments should go in this. This makes applying for other projects, internships, and eventually jobs a whole lot easier.
In the spring before summer break while in college you should get in contact with your colleges career services office and try to get a summer internship or co-op in your major. This also applies in high school as some companies with engineering departments have high school internships to introduce teens to the field.
Definitely get your resume on monster, careerbuilder, and indeed. Also check out glassdoor to see what other employs think about the company and its atmosphere.
Watch for your school’s career fair and maybe even your engineering department’s fair. Plan ahead and print our your resume and be prepared to talk to a lot of representatives of nearby companies that are looking to hire new engineers.
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