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How do you know if you're smart enough for engineering?

  1. Jun 15, 2016 #1
    Some background: I just finished my second year in college. Currently majoring in architecture and realizing more and more each day that this might not be what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have a love/hate relationship with the schoolwork itself, but after working for an architect, talking to architects, and just being more exposed to the profession, the job seems so boring. I'm realizing that a day at work doesn't change much between being internship, new grad, mid career, etc. It makes me depressed thinking about staring at AutoCAD and Revit for the rest of my life. So I'm trying to get a feel for other career options.

    I haven't taken any calculus since high school but I somewhat enjoyed it there. I've taken general physics 1 and 2, and structures 1 and 2 and enjoyed all of them. I was able to skate by with solid B's in all of them putting in minimal effort. I would have liked to actually study and get an A but there was just never time with something always due in studio. Now I'm very aware that any engineering classes, including engineering physics, will be significantly more difficult than any of those. But I'm no stranger to spending 90% of my time each week on schoolwork.

    I honestly wish I had taken the time freshman year to explore more career fields but I can't do anything about that now. Growing up I always loved science. Probably the main reason I didn't really consider engineering is because my dad is an engineering professor and seeing the papers and tests he grades scared me off. But I find myself jealous of people doing things like building cubesats and the racing team and other engineering and science ECs.

    So anyways, my question is how do you know if you're smart enough for engineering? And how do you know if it's for you? I'm at the point now where I don't have 3 semesters to jump around majors and decide what I want to do. If I end up switching majors, whatever I switch to really needs to be it. If I switch to something, spend a year doing it, and then crash and burn, I'm gonna be in trouble.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2016 #2
    It really isn't a question of "smart enough." Honestly, you don't have to have any form of innate super-intelligence for any field, much less engineering. All you need to have is an interest and a work ethic.
  4. Jun 15, 2016 #3


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    From the description of your current circumstances, interests and outlook, this retired electronics guy says GO FOR IT!
    (Even if you do crash-and-burn (unlikely) you can get into structural engineering in the architectural field.)
  5. Jun 15, 2016 #4


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    You do realize that engineers use AutoCAD and similar tools a lot in design and analysis, don't you? If you don't care to be doing CAD work as an architect, what makes you think doing CAD work as an engineer is going to be any different?
    I don't know what topics were covered in your Structures classes, but rest assured, the engineering version of these classes will have a heavy concentration on calculus.

    Before you switch from architecture to engineering, you should familiarize yourself with the standard engineering curriculum courses in the math and sciences.

    Not all engineering work is building cubesats or being a member of a racing team. There is plenty of tedious engineering work which is quite unglamourous but necessary.
    In many instances, you can't know this until you start doing the coursework. Some engineering students take a couple of years of studying before they realize that maybe engineering isn't really the field they want to be in. Others go all the way through engineering school and then find a career as something besides being an engineer.
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