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Question for Mechanical Engineering students

  1. Jul 24, 2008 #1
    Hey guys, I am a freshman at a local community college, I am just about to finish up my summer semester of calculus2 and engineering graphics. I will more than likely receive an A in both of the courses.

    I've yet to take any physics course, or any real math-intensive engineering course, and I am very intimidated. My question for those that have more experience under their belt is, what courses are the most difficult ones? And what is it about them that makes them so difficult?

    I have heard others say that calculus 2 was one of the most difficult courses, I opted to take it over the summer where I could invest more time in it. I have something like a 97 test average in there now with one test left. I realize that this question may seem silly and insignificant, but what I have learned is that if I know what I am facing, then I don't have problems and I don't panic.

    For calculus 2 I have spent about 6 hours outside of class for every hour that I was in class. How many other courses are this demanding?

    Next semester I plan on taking:
    Physics with calculus 1
    Introduction to Electrical Engineering
    Engineering Statics
    Vector Calculus (calc3)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2008 #2

    Mech_Engineer

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    Different people will have different opinions of which classes were most difficult for them. Overall, I found Differential Equations to be somewhat difficult, but I think that had more to do with the teacher and less to do with the material. I truly feel that the right teacher makes a 100% difference in the difficulty in the class.
     
  4. Jul 24, 2008 #3

    russ_watters

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    Differential equations is often considered the toughest of the math courses - but maybe that's just because it is the last pure math course for engineers.

    One of the things that makes engineering difficult, though, is for full time students, the time commitment is huge. A typical engineering semester is 18-21 credits, so if you are spending 6 hours studying for every hour of class, that's a total of 140 hours a week of school work. Considering there are only 168 hours in a week, that level of commitment won't be possible if you go full time.
     
  5. Jul 24, 2008 #4

    Mech_Engineer

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    21 credits per semester is A LOT. I tried to stay at 16 credits or under for most of my semesters, and found that I was able to give the most time and gain the most understanding of classes at around 14 credits. Everyone has a different total course load they are comfortable with, I would recommend trying to find it to help find an optimum for your academics.

    Spreading yourself too thin can get you in the end. Not only in terms of lost sleep; even if you graduate in 4 years instead of 5, if your grades suffer in the process you've done a disservice to your overall education IMO.
     
  6. Jul 25, 2008 #5
    Well that's a good thing to hear, because with me taking courses over the summer, I pretty much am at the point where I can't take more than 14 hours because of the pre-reqs, and if I did add an extra course, I would be making the next semester 11 hours.

    I think that I just need a week vacation to destress. Calc2 has been tough, and I think I may take yalls insight on the diff eq, and take it summer 09 instead of spring 09
     
  7. Jul 25, 2008 #6

    russ_watters

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    There's a reason they call it a "4 year degree", though. Sure, it's nice if you can spread it out, but it also costs more and takes longer if you do and the classes may not align correctly.

    That said, it's a big part of the reason I washed-out of the Aerospace program at the Naval Academy. The program is the way it is and you can't deviate from that 18-21 credits(senior year is slightly lighter), but IIRC, an Aero degree at USNA is 146 credits. That averages to 18.25 a term.
     
  8. Jul 26, 2008 #7

    FredGarvin

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    14 hours in a summer semester is a lot of classes. Why the huge course load? If your program is like most others out there, you should be able to complete your program with an average number of credit hours and the occasional summer class. The few college programs I looked at had example class progressions from freshman to graduation. See if you can find anything like that at you perspective school. The only time I had 17 credits was when my school was on trimesters.

    You don't have to worry about any math intensive engineering courses just yet. You'll get plenty of pure math before you get to any hard core engineering classes. By then you won't care.

    Like ME mentioned, there are a lot of factors that are going to go into why you think a class is easy or hard. Diff Eq was tough for me because it's a tough class, plus I worked, plus it was in the middle of hockey season. Your situation will dictate. Just remember that you can not afford to not ask questions. If you don't understand, don't get 4 weeks into the class before asking for help. That is the worst thing you can do. You will get behind and catching up is very difficult. Ask ask ask ask ask ask ask...
     
  9. Jul 26, 2008 #8
    :surprised I have 32 credits per semester, on an average, 5 theory, 5 practical. talk about alot, uhh:zzz:
     
  10. Jul 26, 2008 #9
    If you can take some classes over the summer to take some load of the spring and fall it is usually a good idea. Another good idea as junior or senior is to see if you can work 10-20 hours at one of the research labs. Some schools are better then others in allowing this but it beats working at Blockbuster, and you interact with graduate students and are exposed to research.
     
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