A bit lost in the science/engineering fields

  • Thread starter bentrinh
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  • #1
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When I first started high school, I was pretty dead set on being an engineer. Now, it's college apps time, and I'm more clueless than when I started.

Why? Over the years I've become more and more tired of math. Geometry was fun - but starting from Algebra I've felt like a human calculator, to be fed a formula, pull out the steps I've memorized, and then feed the formula through those steps and write down the answer. The same happened with trig, to some extent (most of it was doable if it weren't for the formulas I had to memorize). I dread the idea of having to do what I do with my math book for a job the rest of my life. As a side note, however, judging about what I hear from stats, it sounds easy (to me).

I have one skill: I have an ability to take a mess of information and find patterns or answers from it. I've found this one skill is responsible for everything I'm good at.

As such, the labs in my science classes are usually easy, with Biology being the strongest fit. "This happened. What does it mean?" or "How does it relate to other things?".

I can easily take apart electronics or machines without prior documentation, look at the parts to understand the design, and then reassemble them the same or better than before (think: MacGyver). After that I also figure out all the weaknesses of the design (locks for example... or perhaps a computer network).

It also makes me a good troubleshooter (I learn a lot by trial and error). I've ended up as the local computer genius and that kid that would give the school IT a headache.

So now, I ask of you, if you have any idea which field I'm suited in, please, tell me.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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So now, I ask of you, if you have any idea which field I'm suited in, please, tell me.
You're best suited for the field you want to be a part of most.

P.S. the answer if 42.
 
  • #3
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I know what you mean about high school math - it can feel very repetitive and memorized - however, I would say that in my experience, university math (or the math required for engineering, at least) is a lot less formulaic and routine. From what I've seen in my math courses, the students who approach them with the formulaic, repetitive strategy do passably while the students who don't - the students who want to really understand the topic - take a far less formulaic, more abstract approach. The nice thing about university that I didn't see so much in high school, was that if you're interested in going beyond plugging numbers and letters into methods, the resources are there. Many math courses teach the proofs (and the ones that don't usually include them in the textbook) so you can see why you're doing something and it allows you to have some independent thought. I hope that makes sense.

I can only speak for engineering (and, as an even narrower scope, my experiences in engineering), but to me, it's all about understanding and making connections. There's tons of room for independent thought in engineering. I have never found the field itself to be formulaic, and we're always being told to experiment and prove things for ourselves (not to just take at face value what the textbook says).

That being said, if you no longer like math, engineering may be a bad idea, just because of the sheer volume of maths you'd be required to take. I've always seen math just as a tool to be used in my field (EE) which helps put things in perspective since I feel like I'm just broadening my skillset, but if you really don't like math, engineering would be a long haul.
 
  • #4
fss
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Maybe less so with biology, but if you go into any of the other sciences or engineering fields you're going to have to take more math.

Why don't you look into going somewhere that doesn't require you to declare a major right away? That way you can search around to see what you like.
 
  • #5
I hated high school math. It seemed as though the primary point of it was memorize lots of formulas, regurgitate them, and possibly recognize that a set of words mapped to certain variables; rarely was real thought required.

However, once I got past my Universities Calc sequence, I discovered that math had absolutely nothing to do with that, and was in fact something you "do." It's not passive, and rarely involves any real level of memorization, apart from a couple of major definitions and theorems (you almost never see math students studying from flashcards), and allows you to understand some very deep problems.

I wouldn't necessarily count out math, or math related fields just because you don't like what they call math in high school. I'd echo what fss said about going somewhere where you can start undeclared, or at least in a place where its very easy to switch between science/engineering/math.
 

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