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Oct31-11, 11:33 PM
I thought it would be cool to see how people became engineers. What inspired you? What about it now do you "love?" Doesn't need to be nearly as lengthy as mine ;)
I remember a long time ago watching fireworks with my dad on Fourth of July. I must have been about 4 years old and saw a phenomena that didn't make sense to me at the time. I asked my dad afterward, "Why do I see the firework go off before I hear it explode?" To this my dad said, "Because light travels faster than sound." Now, at 4 years old was something heavy for me to comprehend. What did he mean? Light and sound actually travel like cars do? I remember thinking afterward that the light and sound from the fireworks were in a race with on another with me as the finish line on the ground, and sure enough light always won. This was my first exposure to a physics concept that I really spent time dwelling over understanding. Actually, I am still dwelling over it now!
Another incident also occurred with my dad, this time I was in the third grade. We were in a teaching supply store waiting for my mom to buy some stuff (she was a fourth grade teacher). While waiting I asked my dad what is favorite subject in school was. Math was his answer. Not sure how we got onto the next topic but shortly after that he told me about this magical number called pi. He explained to me that if you measure the distance around any circle and divide it by the distant across the circle you will always end up with this number pi. He then told me that this number was never ending and actually recited the first 10 or 15 numerals. This absolutely blew me away. How could a never ending number exist and represent a constant in circles? At this time I was unaware that 1/3 = 0.33333. . . but it was another concept that at a young age I had an extreme interest in. That same year for Christmas my dad bought me books on pi. He also bought me a book on root(-1) and the e the exponential (go dad!). They didn't make any sense to me at the time but I did manage to memorize the first 20 digits of pi just to impress him.
In my older years I have actually read all of those books my dad got me and found them to be one of the greatest Christmas gifts I ever received!
Entering into middle/high school I was basically only concerned with mathematics. History and geography were of no use to me, but I was always excelled in my math classes and was placed in higher classes then the rest of my friends. When I was off to college I actually started as an applied mathematics major, but this quickly grew pointless to me as it wasn't the mathematics I was curious about but the concepts that are driven by them. I was tired of just developing proofs and solving expressions that didn't have an actual application.
I then more or less blindly chose Mechanical Engineering as a new major. I knew I wanted to apply math to something I could see and an ME degree seemed to be the most logical approach. I fell in love with physics, statics, and dynamics as I saw how derivatives and integrals can actually be used in real life.
Eventually I took a Control Systems Engineering course. The course itself was something I had never seen before. Modeling dynamic systems and using this mysterious "root locus" to make systems stable was very unreal to me. I spent an entire summer just trying to make my own control systems with what I learned from class (it was a sweet summer lol). I showed such interest that I talked my Dept Chair into allowing me to teach a new Lab for the Controls course. They are now building/designing mechatronics systems with PID controls with LabVIEW and MATLAB/Simulink.
Another professor and I also were able to start a brand new course to my University. It is another Mechatronics course that is to be a pre-lab to the Controls class. This allows me to take the Controls lab further, namely into the digital realm.
I really feel my passion in engineering is in mechatronics/controls and look forward to applying for a masters degree in this field. I am currently designing a self balancing motorcycle for my senior project and find it to be a real rest of what I have learned throughout my undergraduate degree (dynamics, diff eqs, controls, programming, etc). I never regret choosing an ME degree and am very happy with the knowledge I have received.
Thanks for reading, I know that was a lot, haha. Please let me and others know what engineering means to you!
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