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Can I be an engineer if I hate math?

  1. Mar 4, 2013 #1
    I'm going to graduate in a couple of months with a Bachelors in Bioengineering. My original goal was to go in to medical school. However after so many years of school, im not sure I want to jump directly back into school again. Not to mention there is no guarantee that I'll get into medical school (or DO school). I was hoping to get some work before that. I chose bio-engineering because of the higher favorability for med school.

    I've done generally alright in my college math classes, getting As and Bs in all of them, but I can say I hate math with a passion. Or at least how its taught at my university and how it's "teach the exam" rather than teaching how to apply it. At this point, I can say that my grades in math, despite being favorable, says very little about my ability to apply it in real life. I can solve problems given to me, as it's just a linear process. However, I'm not keen on relating a physical phenomenon to an equation.

    Don't get me wrong. I love problem solving and creation solutions. And I love tinkering and breaking things open to see how they work; its one reason why I chose engineering. But I hate doing it with integrals, and differential equations and linear algebra.

    So my question being, does an engineer have to be a math wiz to succeed?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2013 #2
    Not always, but it's unlikely. I have someone who's in a similar boat as you, but he majored in Biochemistry, not Bioengineering. He hated the math because he had problems in the higher courses, not sure which ones; however, that didn't stop him from succeeding. I'm sure the same applies to you.

    I understand that you want more of an applied approach than something along the lines of irrelevance. There are some courses that one is forced to take whether you like it, or not. You just have to make the best of it.

    I used to hate math with a flaming passion, like you, because I couldn't understand it and did poorly in it; however, several years later here I am majoring in physics with a possible minor in mathematics. Some people just can't understand the material until a later age, when their brains are more mature. That's the case for me. I love math now because I didn't see it as a death trap, but I thought about the concepts and numbers and it's clearer now. Sometimes, it just takes a lot of practice and time to fully understand something.

    So, yes, you can still succeed. :smile:
  4. Sep 13, 2013 #3
    I'm in biomed eng. too. I hope we can get jobs. I know a few people who graduated last year and still haven't found work. Good grades, they have taken classes on interviewing and interview well... They show up to interviews and there are lines sometimes to get in. I hope being in a specialty doesn't hurt too bad.
  5. Sep 13, 2013 #4
    I can only speak for EE. You don't need to be particular good in math. You need to have a good understanding of calculus I, II and III. Electromagnetics mostly explain by vector calculus ( cal III). You need to understand it and solve the problem. But in really life, you don't really use a lot of calculus. YOu use simulation programs. Math is really more important in school so you can understand the classes. Once you understand the material, you don't use calculus that often in real work.
  6. Sep 13, 2013 #5
    Computer Engineering doesnt have much math. our school stopped giving them multivariable calc. they only do single var and linear alg. but i think they added discrete maths though...not sure.

    why are you bad at math? its very logical.
  7. Sep 13, 2013 #6


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    I wouldn't worry about hating math. How much you use it depends on your specialty. I'm an EE and I have to do a bit to develop calibration algorithms and do signal modeling, but really, we have computer programs that do most of the hairy math for us.

    Like people above said, you need the math to understand engineering concepts, but most engineers aren't sitting around doing math much at all. You already are doing fine on concepts since you're graduating with good grades. I wouldn't worry about it.
  8. Sep 13, 2013 #7
    Let me try to put it in a different way. Math is the language of science, just like English is the language of everything else. If you cannot read and write English, you can not learn anything from the books and articles. You don't have to be good, just good enough to read and write. Me and my Chinese English, I can still read, I can still communicate with people even though my grammars are usually wrong.

    Math is like that, upper division books are usually written in calculus etc. Like in communication and modulations, if you don't understand Fourier Transform, Probability and statistics, it's going to hard for you to study any of those books. If you don't know vector calculus, you have no chance to understand electromagnetics. Also if you read scientific articles, a lot of them pull out math to explain. You don't have to be good, you just have to know them.

    It almost seem like it's more important to understand math, the meaning of the formulas than to solve all the problems. It's almost like if your vocabulary is not good, you run into words you don't understand in English, you can't understand the material. But you don't have to be good in writing......remember.....Chinese English!!!!
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