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Intuitiveness of EE/ME versus SE

  1. Jun 13, 2013 #1
    "intuitiveness" of EE/ME versus SE

    I am trying to figure out whether I possess the mental prowess to become an engineer of any sort. This spring I attempted to take a Java programming class at my community college and had to drop after the first week because I was so lost. I was previously an English student but I am bored with writing and I would love to work for a company like SpaceX one day, in what capacity i have no idea.

    I feel like, looking at a diagram of a circuit I can understand the signal flow on some intuitive level. Or an engine, same thing. It is somewhat clear where things start and where they go from there, at least in the beginning. But the relativistic nature of the syntax of different programming languages makes me feel completely stupid from the very start. It just feels completely impenetrable, and I worry that once I get deeper into either EE or ME I will begin to run into things that are just as unintuitive to me as programming is and then I will fail. I have never taken any engineering or physics classes, but programming already feels so just, wrong on some deep visceral level and I worry it is a sign of trouble to come.

    This is apparently an example of good, clean code:

    "leadersGames" seems to move around a whole hell of a lot depending on the line it's on. Also " wins the set " must have spaces between the parentheses and the words for some reason. God forbid you type "wins the set" and you'll get a syntax error and the whole thing will crash. I know there are very good reasons for this in the world of programming. I accept that I am woefully ignorant of the nuances of the language, honestly. But I just can't help it. This just looks like a mess to me. Why is nothing lined up? What's with the arbitrary number of spaces present/not present between characters? It offends me, almost.

    Okay so here's a circuit diagram:

    This looks absolutely beautiful to me. Complex, yes. May take me a minute to wrap my head around it, but there is a clear logic to it's layout, at least to my layman eyes.

    What is it about SE? Is it just me? Are my struggles with programming a sign of a deeper problem with my intellect? I just worry at some point, after community college as a junior or senior no matter what field of engineering I pursue eventually I'm going to hit a wall, because something will come along like programming that is just so alien and counterintuitive to the way my brain works I'm just going to pull my hair out and eat my hat.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2013 #2


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    What did you learn to read first? A children's book or Herman Melville or James Joyce? Didn't it take you a while before reading a book became easier because you weren't sounding out unfamiliar words, or looking up definitions? As time passed, your vocabulary built and you had the mechanics of reading down so you could comprehend what you were reading. It is the same with reading a program.

    The program example included in the OP was probably written by a skilled and experienced programmer, and it appears to have a fairly complex purpose, moreso, for example, than a beginner's attempt at composing a program to write 'Hello, World' to the computer screen. Like reading literature, it takes skill and practice to decipher a complex text, whether it is a computer program or a novel.

    You dropped your Java class after one week, but did you have any previous programming experience at all? Did your classmates come into the course completely inexperience in any sort of programming exposure, or were they all complete novices?

    I can't speculate on an 'intuitive' approach to a complex field like engineering, but certainly intuition can play a role in solving problems of a scientific or mathematical nature. In my experience, one stumbling block for engineering students is that their mathematical skills may be lacking. Not being able to handle complex math will make it difficult, if not impossible, for an engineering student to be successful in passing engineering courses.
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