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Can I become a Computer Engineer?

  1. Mar 4, 2013 #1
    Hello, and thank you for reading my post. I know there are probably millions of these posts everywhere, but I haven't seen one that rally answers my question. Things about me:
    I'm currently a junior, I like math and science, but the highest level of math I'm taking is pre calculus next year (senior year) and honors physics. I've always pulled A's and B's in all my classes without studying, and I know I can pull straight A's when I study. I like math/science, and I feel I understand many of the concepts. I also have loved computers for a long time, and I would enjoy learning how to program. Next year (senior year) I'm taking AP java/computer science. Throughout my high school career, I've taken AP English language and composition and Psychology (both with an A) and next year, I'm taking AP English literature, AP government, AP economics, pre calc, physics, and AP java.
    Anyway, so you think I can survive the brutal engineering program? I know I'm behind on my math/science classes, and that's why I'm not sure if I can keep up with the others who take AP calc AB/BC or Ap physics. I feel that I can learn at any pace and I have high work ethic. So what do you guys think? Should I continue with my plans for engineering? I can answer any questions if needed.
    Sorry for the long post :p
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2013 #2
    First, engineering is something you learn hands-on as well as in school. If you overlook the hands-on aspect, you will be doing yourself and your future employer/clients a disservice.

    Second, all engineering curricula have some "wash-out" courses. They're difficult, but not impossible. Ask most electrical engineers what courses the sweated the most, and you'll likely get a response of Circuits and Signals was awful. Others might respond with "Fluid Dynamics was a killer." or "Semiconductor Physics was awful"... Every curriculum has such courses in it. One thing I will emphasize: You will not be able to skate through these courses without study. Nobody does.

    With reasonable motivation and study, you'll get past these courses. You are not "behind" by much. Most colleges expect you to learn calculus and differential equations when you get there.

    However, real engineers actually build things. If Software engineering is what you're after, then I suggest playing with the very PC you used to write this. Open Source Operating systems are available for the cost of a download and a flash drive.

    If you're thinking more toward an embedded design of hardware and software, then I suggest purchasing an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi. Both are inexpensive and easy to work with. But above all, BUILD SOMETHING.
  4. Mar 4, 2013 #3
    I'd wonder a little why you didn't take AP Calculus in high school, given that you want to be an engineer and claim you are generally doing well in your courses. But you could certainly become a computer engineer without taking calculus in high school. There is a reason that colleges offer these courses and don't just expect them as prerequisites!
  5. Mar 4, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    It sounds like you should do fine. I would recommend that you develop good study habits now, though, so you are used to studying and carrying a fairly heavy academic load by the time you start college.

    I graduated 2nd in my high school class basically without studying, and got my behind handed to me the first quarter at college because I didn't have good study habits. I turned that around and did great for the rest of college, but it was a real eye-opener when I first started college.

    (BTW, I'd recommend breaking your posts up into good paragraph form, with blank lines between paragraphs. Makes it much easier for folks to read and reply to your posts. :smile: )
  6. Mar 4, 2013 #5
    To be honest, I was really lazy my freshman/sophomore years of high school. I just started trying/studying this year (junior year) and my GPA currently is 3.7 unweighted and 4.2 weighted. I know that I am capable of learning calculus now, but my school requires pre calc before calc.
  7. Mar 4, 2013 #6
    Probably would have been a good idea to take calculus in high school-maybe take precalc online in the summer and do calc senior year? You shouldn't have too much of a problem getting into universities, as long as you keep your grades up, I guess.
  8. Mar 5, 2013 #7
    I highly recommend these suggestions too. I'm a junior in EE right now and the classes that suck up the most time are lab-based classes. Embedded systems, circuits labs, programming labs, etc. I've lost hours for not flipping a bit in a register to read/write mode because I didn't have the experience needed.

    I have always struggled more in an EE class than a math or physics class. I came in to college very prepared for the math and physics classes because I thought they were going to be the hardest and I was dead-wrong. I should have spent my time writing code, debugging circuits, and hacking an Arduino. Although, I would now recommend buying a Raspberry Pi because the ARM and Linux experience.
  9. Mar 5, 2013 #8
    Drumming's right-especially in the case where building something, like for a science fair or robotics competition and such can win you prize money or scholarships, plus the college recognition for such efforts.
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