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Am I cut out for engineering?

  1. Nov 6, 2011 #1
    Hello, I wanted to know what people's opinions are on if you need to have a brain that was meant for engineering to get through the classes. To clarify, I am good at math (getting an A right now in 2nd semester calculus), but I am not very good at physics. I don't plan on being an actual engineer, I just want to get the degree so I can get into patent law. My question is, is the math/physics involved in becoming an engineer so over the top that unless you are naturally smart, you can never get a degree? Or can someone who is not the best physicist in the world (such as myself) get through the courses necessary through A LOT of hard work and perseverance? Is an engineering degree something that requires a special brain that only those born with it could ever get, or can you work your way to one if you try really hard?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2011 #2
    You can certainly learn the fundamentals and the details of specializations also. If somehow you find that you don't have that natural engineering talent (which remains to be seen in my opinion, despite your own feelings), that is a different issue and one that should not impact your goal to work in patent law. Being good at math will work very well in your favor either way.
  4. Nov 6, 2011 #3


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    To be an engineer, you don't have to be a genius
    You can work your way to one if you try really hard at Physics and really really hard at the engineering courses. Doing well in math/calculus does not necessarily mean you can do well in engineering courses.
  5. Nov 7, 2011 #4
    Engineering isn't a natural talent and it's only fundamentally about maths and physics, there are a world of possibilites within.

    I doubt you aren't cut out for it, i'm a second year student and i'm by no means natural, i just work hard.
  6. Nov 8, 2011 #5
    You'll probably be fine, one thing I would recommend is possibly not taking physics before taking the math you need.

    Many U.S. programs have you take physics and calculus courses concurrently like if they have a 3 semester university physics, there will be a 3 semester calculus sequence too and then a mechanics course you take 4th semester along with differential equations and linear algebra. *every university has their own sequence but this is just an example*

    Since you say you're not the strongest at physics but have a good grasp on the math stuff you've been exposed to so far, I'd recommend (assuming you can get away with this ... meaning you won't have to necessarily put off your engineering courses due to delaying physics by a semester or two):

    Try and take your calculus 1, calculus 2, and linear algebra before starting your physics ... I'd imagine having the full background of all the math and being very familiar with it before applying it to physics will help a lot if you say you're not as good with it. You'll probably then be in a differential equations and multiple variable calculus class during the time you're doing your intro physics sequence, and you'll have already been exposed to all the requisite mathematics by the time you get to the harder E&M math and then into a sophomore/junior level mechanics class that will be heavy on differential equations.

    Just my advice, but bottom line: you don't have to be super bright to do well in engineering, hard work and adequate preparation will more than get you through an engineering degree and onto what you really want to be doing.
  7. Nov 8, 2011 #6
    At my school, it goes calculus 1, 2, 3 (multivariable), and then linear algebra/differential equations. The physics sequence is mechanics 1st semester, and then 2nd/3rd semester is your choice, either electromagnetism or optics/modern physics. Right now i'm taking physics for biology majors (that was my original major), so I'm thinking that I will atleast be more prepared since I have some previous exposure before walking into calculus based physics. next semester i'll be in multivariable calculus, so I figured I would be fine as far as the math involved in the 1st semester mechanics course, which only has a corequisite of 1st semester calculus.
  8. Nov 9, 2011 #7
    If you dont like engineering how did you decide you want to work in patent law??
  9. Nov 9, 2011 #8
    patent law is a lot more of working as a lawyer than as an engineer. All I need to know is how the products work on a technical level so that I can make the patents, it's not like I'm going to be designing the products or circuitry for electronics
  10. Nov 9, 2011 #9
    Im an engineer, and a dumb one.
    Im neither good at math nor good at physics
    i make lots of mistakes and i always correct them if i can.
    but I almost never do the same mistake twice.
    (I'm not so smart so sometimes i forget)

    You cant say you are good at math and not good at physics.
    you can say you have not try physics yet.
    If you are good at math you will sooner or later like and be good at physics.

    its like learning to play guitar notes and not learning to play a song.
  11. Nov 9, 2011 #10
    Furthermore, doing well in Physics does not generally mean you will do well in Engineering.
  12. Nov 13, 2011 #11
    Before I started my engineering degree I was terrible at physics. Now, after a couple of years, I get good grades in my physics-related papers. It just takes practice
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