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Best way to prepare over the summer for engineering school?

  1. Apr 24, 2014 #1
    I am pretty sure that I know which school I am going to for engineering so I am now in the phase of preparing for the challenges I will face there. My summer prep schedule: Two weeks reviewing chemistry - I have found the textbook used by the university and will be skimming that and taking notes from it. Two weeks reviewing physics (calculus based) - Again, I have found the textbook used by the university and... Three weeks of calculus - Again... One week programming - I already know c++ and Java, but my future school instructs in C, so it is probably best to do some stuff in this area. Anything else that I should add? I don't need to be at the school until September 7th (everything before is orientation and I can use a map) so I have an additional two weeks if needed. Should any of these subjects be emphasized more and some others less? Any other specific prep that you would recommend? Statics? Thermodynamics? Maybe linear algebra? Anything else really important come to mind? Maybe an Open Course on aerodynamics (without fluid mechanics)? I have up to 60 hours each week during summer, so I can fill it up if beneficial. Some stats to help guide your advice: SAT Scores: SAT 1: 2140 (800 CR, 740M, 600WR) SAT 2: Math 1: 750 Math 2: 750 Physics: 730 Chem: 710 I am not sure of my specialty yet, but am leaning towards mechanical because I am risk averse and don't want to be stuck in something highly specialized. So gear any advice towards that.

    My first year courses:
    Mechanics Electricity and magnetism
    Chemistry 1 for Engineers
    Chemistry 2 for engineers
    Calculus 1
    Calculus 2
    Engineering Graphics (how can I prep for this?)
    Engineering and the Earth (Not sure what exactly this is, either ethics and therefore a joke course or geology/biology. Website won't say.)
    Computer Programming for Engineers (C language)
    Linear Algebra Engineering Skills (Full year)
    (Matlab, Excel and PowerPoint ). Can you recommend a good book on Matlab? Any good book recommendations for anything else? Thanks for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2014 #2


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    As far as your prep, I am sure you will be more than fine. If you already know c++ and java the programming classes will be very easy for you. If you already took calc/physics/chem you should not have a hard time in those intro level classes. Don't forget that these classes are designed for people who have no background in those topics. Not everyone gets exposure to calc, physics, or programming in high school.

    My biggest challenge in my first year was keeping myself entertained. I had exposure to calc, physics, and programming in high school so my first semester was VERY easy. I slacked off due to the fact that i could get away with not paying attention. Then material that was new to me came and i did not stop slacking off. as a result my grades suffered in my first year. Don't make the same mistake I did.

    engineering graphics: Im assuming this is an intro level course. therefore i'm going to guess that it is a drawing/diagram class. you may look into topics such as CAD, hand drawing, and flow chart?

    For matlab you really don't need a book. Matlab has EXCELLENT support and in program help options.
    Mathworks' website has a lot of great information.
  4. Apr 24, 2014 #3
    I was never one to prep over the summer. I worked and relaxed. So take my advice with a grain of salt as we probably have two very different outlooks on academics (fyi: I received a dual bachelor's in Mechanical and Areonautical Engineering)

    Relax a bit. Review if you think you need to, it wont hurt. But don't burn yourself out before you even get to school. Wait until you see how much free time you have between and after classes before you start trying to cram things in.

    Go to orientation. It's not about finding your way around campus. Orientation is a time where you are on campus without classes so that you can learn about the resources available to you. It's also a time where you can get to know fellow students, learn about clubs, sports, and activities, explore the town a bit (if there is one), and get yourself prepped and organized for classes.

    Don't be so focused on the academics of university that you miss out on the extremely important social education.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
  5. Apr 24, 2014 #4


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    I totally agree with this. The last 2-3 weeks of a semester are exhausting enough without having any fun in between. Spending all summer studying will likely leave you burnt out by the end of the spring. Especially if you are so far ahead already paying attention isn't necessary.
  6. Apr 25, 2014 #5
    My university offered a 2 week math prep course in the summer and that was honestly the best prep I could have done for engineering. I had a leg up on everyone else when it came to math. The prep course reviewed all prerequisite math. I see that many first year engineering students lack when it comes to math.
  7. May 1, 2014 #6


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    You are going to burn yourself out really, really quickly if you do a bunch of work BEFORE the work starts. Engineering school is intense and it will take everything you've got to succeed. Would you run a 5k race right before starting a marathon?
  8. May 1, 2014 #7
    Study math if anything. Math will be used in almost every class you take, while things like chemistry and physics might only be used in a few.

    But honestly, I wouldn't put too much effort into prepping. It's not neccesarily a bad thing, but I doubt you'll get much value out of it compared to the amount of effort you put in.
  9. May 3, 2014 #8
    I was going to say this. Focus on preparing for maths over the holidays and leave everything else for when university starts.

    Pre-study is usually inefficient, especially if you try to learn everything, usually you end up learning nothing. Just focus on one thing and make sure you use your time effectively.
  10. May 3, 2014 #9
    I do not think you need any extra preparation, but if you are free in the summer than obviously anything will help you a lot. I would recommend learning mathematics or programming.

    Which engineering are you majority in?
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