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Engineering I like math but I haven't learned it. Help -- Long Question

  1. Jun 30, 2016 #1
    A lot of people say "I hate math but I like engineering". For me, it's the opposite. I like math & I love learning. I like science & I love astronomy. I'm an 18 year old senior, so I have to choose my path. I'm thinking about going to school for mechanical engineering. I have a passion for cars & learning how stuff works. The problem is the math. I dropped my math class years back, but now I regret it. I've been skimming over some algebra 1 stuff & it looks pretty simple. It's not rocket science :) but I need to learn the basics of it & algebra 2. I'll also have to learn some calculus before school. How should I take this on guys? What would you do? Would you use your summer to learn algebra 1 & 2 and dedicate your life for engineering? Or would you choose another path, especially straight out of high school? If I don't major in mechanical, its gonna be either the coast guard or real estate / entrepreneurship. Also, how would you relearn math again quick? Would you use books, if so which ones? I've heard of khan academy, & I enjoy their videos but the content is kind of sporadic. The courses seem to be scattered around.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2016 #2
    Find a cheap used "college algebra" text. The type that non-science majors have to take as a class at university. That should be at about the level you need.

    Also, some "popular math" books do a bit of teaching at your level.

    Ian Stewart's book Concepts of Modern Mathematics makes a pretty good "roadmap" for learning more math beyond high school level algebra.
  4. Jun 30, 2016 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Do you mean you were a (high school) senior and have just graduated, or you're going to be a senior in the fall?
  5. Jun 30, 2016 #4
    It looks like Beecher, Penna, and Bittinger's Algebra and Trigonometry (4th Edition) is easy to get used at a reasonable price, should be at a level of sophistication you can understand, and contains what you'll need to go further later. That is, it should prepare you for linear algebra, calculus, and abstract algebra if you decide to learn them.
  6. Jun 30, 2016 #5
    Just graduated high school
  7. Jun 30, 2016 #6
    Alright thank you!
  8. Jul 1, 2016 #7
    Others know better than me which textbooks you should learn from, so I won't suggest books. One ressource that really helped me when I was learning math in high school (in my case, multivariable calculus) was Khanacademy. Although it's an interactive learning website, it covers pretty much everything you need at your level and it has exercises so that you can check your understanding. Sal is a good teacher and he goes through the material with extreme care and details which is great for someone who hasn't had any exposure to basic subjects like elementary algebra. That being said, if you think his lectures are too slow, go through your textbook of choice and use Khanacademy for exercises. It also has a pretty nice interface which lets you see how far into the course you are: This will help you a lot to stay motivated.

    As for your initial question, I definitely think you should pursue Mechanical Engineering as a career if that's what you really want and you're disciplined enough to work hard to achieve it.
    As for Calculus, you can learn it in university. I don't think you should worry too much about it for now. Be systematic in your learning, at least until you're well into your undergraduate studies.
    If that can help, I was initially a philosophy major in high school (we have majors/specializations in high school in Switzerland), and in one year I learnt enough to go from basic algebra to Spivak's Calculus, so it definitely is possible, but you need to be disciplined, as I said before.
    Good luck and work hard!

  9. Jul 1, 2016 #8
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