I want to be an Engineer.

  • Engineering
  • Thread starter Trooper332
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  • #1
I am currently a State Trooper that is working at becoming a crash reconstructionist (I love the technical side to this stuff!). I want to, in the next 10 years, retire from the State Patrol and pursue a career in mechanical engineering. I am only 28 years old now but I am deathly afraid of the math that is required. I made it to Algebra 2 and that was the extent of my math. I never really applied myself but I do find math somewhat easy. I am looking at online/on-campus mechanical engineering program at one of the local colleges and I look at Calculus 3 and wonder how in the world I can prepare for something like that before I go. I currently have my pilots license and feel ok in the physics but struggle with chemistry. I want the engineering background to either become an expert witness or to go to work in the automotive safety industry.

Am I embarking on a rewarding journey or am I should I re-think my career path?

Thanks in advance and please be blunt with me!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
dav2008
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I can help you on one of your questions: to prepare for Calculus 3 you must learn Calculus 1 and 2 ;)
 
  • #3
fss
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The math really isn't that difficult, it's the application that takes a while to get the hang of.
 
  • #4
FlexGunship
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I currently have my pilots license and feel ok in the physics but struggle with chemistry. I want the engineering background to either become an expert witness or to go to work in the automotive safety industry.

Firstly, it sounds like you're strongly driven to a specific goal. This weighs heavily in your favor. I'm sure we've all noticed that its easier to do things we want to do than things we don't.

Secondly, you probably shouldn't look at the finish-line of the marathon before you take the first few steps. Its not encouraging its discouraging.

Lastly, engineering is a very competitive field. Engineering is fundamentally the application of physical theory (chemistry, physics, etc.) to design theory. You will meet people who have specific names for all the different types of Lego pieces, people who know which proteins break down in a medium rare steak that don't break down in a rare steak, and people who get an almost perverse pleasure from understanding the specifics of their daily lives.

The reason that these people (sorry for the stereotype... I'm an engineer, too folks!) gravitate towards the field is because of the nature of it. Even once you have the full toolbox of math, science, and design theory you will still have to find ways to implement those tools and engineer something...

...and each time you do this, the math gets more intuitive.

Remember the first time someone gave you the keys to a car? You were overwhelmed by the new tools at your disposal. But as you integrated each one into your driving their use became intuitive; you no longer have to think about when to signal, how hard to press the gas pedal, or how to feather a clutch.

Likewise, someone will hand you the keys to advanced mathematics and science. You'll struggle the first few times, hit the brakes at the wrong moments, stop short, forget to signal when your lane ends, do 45 in a 35, and you might even be involved in a tiny fender-bender. But when you're done, you're left with powerful new tools that you can call upon at anytime to help you solve problems.
 
  • #5
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I want the engineering background to either become an expert witness or to go to work in the automotive safety industry.

In order to be an expert witness it is absolutely essential that you earn a PE credential. Make sure you take the FE [Fundamentals of Engineering] exam http://www.ncees.org/exams/fe_exam.php as a student, and then see what the requirements are for professional registration.
 
  • #6
jbunniii
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I am currently a State Trooper that is working at becoming a crash reconstructionist (I love the technical side to this stuff!). I want to, in the next 10 years, retire from the State Patrol and pursue a career in mechanical engineering. I am only 28 years old now but I am deathly afraid of the math that is required. I made it to Algebra 2 and that was the extent of my math. I never really applied myself but I do find math somewhat easy. I am looking at online/on-campus mechanical engineering program at one of the local colleges and I look at Calculus 3 and wonder how in the world I can prepare for something like that before I go. I currently have my pilots license and feel ok in the physics but struggle with chemistry. I want the engineering background to either become an expert witness or to go to work in the automotive safety industry.

Am I embarking on a rewarding journey or am I should I re-think my career path?

Thanks in advance and please be blunt with me!

There is no reason to expect that you should make the jump directly from algebra 2 to calculus 3! In fact, most engineering undergraduates don't start with calculus 3; many (maybe even the majority) take calculus 1 and 2 their first year.

You will certainly want to fill in the gaps between algebra 2 and calculus 1 before applying, though. Pretty much any community college should have course offerings that will bring you up to speed. Same with basic (more or less high school level, and a bit beyond) chemistry and physics. Typically you can just sign up for such classes without having to apply for any sort of degree program. Take these and do well in them and you should be no worse positioned than any other applicant to a four-year engineering program. Oh, and learn some computer programming before you start, if you haven't already.
 

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