I want to be a mechanical engineer, but I fear

  • #1
...that I'm not smart enough.

Yes, I know - hard work matters more than smarts. But I look at kids way younger than I am who are building things and have had a natural scientific curiosity, making physics for fun, doing differential equations since they were 8, etc. And I can't help but feel mediocre. Especially since this newly founded ambition sprouted late. Imagine if I had begun way younger.

Can hard work really beat talent? Were there any notable engineers that began later in life? As far as I know, most nurtured this interest early on in life. I would love to invent something incredible, but I think that I don't have the background for it.

tl;dr: I love engineering, began late, fear that all the hard work in the world may not be enough to triumph over people who have been doing this stuff for years.

Apologize if I sound naive, jealous, or overly conceited.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Hard work along with a measure of talent and insight can surpass both. You imagine you can do something and don't stop until you succeed. That's what wins in the end. Initially someone with talent might do better but eventually if you are persistent, consistent and insistent you will make your mark and be noticed.
  • #3
Nah. I know plenty of people who weren't always interested in science who went into engineering. I didn't become interested in science and math until junior year of high school, and now I'm doing fine as a sophomore EE major. The math sounds intimidating, but that's it. When you get down to it, solving differential equations is something that perhaps anyone can learn given an appropriate amount of interest and reason to learn it. The biggest concern is workload for me. As long as you can produce professional work, you'll be fine.
  • #4
Its basic human nature, you are in true sense what people may call , normal. You need to be selfish and think more about yourself, what you had done, what you will achieve, what you want to do , rather than what they have done, how they have done. Jealousy is normal, its not bad.
What is bad is that you are giving excuses.
I would love to invent something incredible, but I think that I don't have the background for it.
This is an excuse. You want to do something ? You do it, you don't save it just to have a sound bite. You need to have more confidence in yourself. And confidence has to be earned.
  • #5
I would love to invent something incredible, but I think that I don't have the background for it.

Most engineers never invent anything incredible.

And that's OK. There is a lot of hard work that goes into making a lot of useful products. Most engineering work isn't revolutionary, but it's still necessary.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't strive for greatness. But if you aren't great, welcome to the rest of humanity.
  • #6
Thats the fear i had,and the fear that stopped me from studying mechanical engineering ...i chose medicine instead and im not liking it,so now im in a worse position where im thinking of taking the risk to switch from medicine to mechanical engineering

If you want it at least give it a try and give your best...
  • #7
Don't let your age stop you at all. It hasn't stopped me.

I didn't graduate elementary school. You read that right, I finished 5th grade before my parents took me out of school because they were insane and insisted the world was ending. I did not get an education at all after that. I was not home schooled in any meaningful definition of the term, nor did I learn any kind of math what so ever.

I decided I wanted to go to college when I was 26 as I was tired of being a janitor. I was well read, but not educated in any formal sense. I wanted to study science, but I knew math was my greatest weakness. While I read plenty, and read plenty of science books for the lay person, I never took any kind of math above 5th grade. I bought books on algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus and got to work. After a several months of study I took my entrance exams and enrolled in college. College algebra was my first math class since I had learned long division. I am now 30 and an Electrical Engineering Junior with a 3.8 GPA.

I wasn't building robots as a kid, nor was I a math or physics prodigy. Mt childhood was spent being told by crazy people why satan was trying to trick us into thinking we are monkeys. My road has been incredibly difficult and I have spent much time banging my head against walls. But I work damn hard at it and it has paid off. If I can do it with my background, then anybody can. You just have to want it bad enough. And that is the question you need to ask yourself. Not "Am I smart or talented enough?" but "Do I want this badly enough to spend large stretches of time being frustrated, confused, and stressed?" If you want it bad enough, then you can do it.
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  • #8
Gold Member
Your best friend is Franky Fear. A fighter’s best friend is his fear; one shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It keeps you fighting till the end for survival. It is like this fire inside which you need to control; when controlled it provides heat, keeps you going; but the moment it starts controlling you, it burns you down to ashes.
- Sylvestor Stallon (as Rocky Balboa) in Rocky V

Translate that into your studies.

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

I didn't study much in grade school or high school. Went back at age 30 to learn it all....worked my tail off to do so. Leaving the construction industry was smartest thing I ever did.
Was I behind at first...yes. Did I finish behind? Absolutely not, moved towards upper part of class near graduation.
I now have P.E with a great job.

Did it matter I was behind at first? Nope.
It's not how you start, it's how you FINISH.

In general, you are correct by saying hard work trumps all.

In my opinion, the most important thing an engineering degree will teach you is this:

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