1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should I become an engineer?

  1. Aug 23, 2012 #1
    I, unlike most people here, grew up not knowing much about math or science. Within the last two years I've started to become more interested in engineering, and am now working towards a degree in mechanical engineering. The thing is I really, really want to become an engineer but the math is not coming as easily to me as I would like. What makes it really worse is the fact that I'm only in Precalculus!! I am willing to study and work hard but do you guys think this is all in vain? Should I quit now? Also for anyone who is a ME how much math do you use on a everyday basis?

    Thanks for any replies
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2012 #2
    So how are you getting on with the non mathematical aspects?

    If you find that these are coming easily ie you have an aptitude or 'feel' for mechanical matters then press on and pursue the maths to catch up.
    You will certainly need maths to pass exams, but how much is needed after that depends upon the area of engineering you enter and at what level you operate. Much engineering is concerned with following codes that are already worked out. However you would need to be able to understand and apply the formulae they contain.
  4. Aug 23, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The bolded section in the above quote is the most important part and will be a significant factor in your success. Keep up that attitude and you'll be fine. :smile:
  5. Aug 23, 2012 #4
    Math is never easy. I'm entering my junior year of aerospace engineering. Three years ago I was learning algebra that high school freshman learned. I struggled with it then, I struggle with it now. But though I struggle with things like vector calculus now, I no longer struggle with basic algebra or calculus. That's the beauty of math. You CAN make substantial improvement in it without even realizing it. If you're competent in it, you can succeed as an engineer. It's better to understand why the math works the way it does. If you can do that, well, there are computers for the computation stuff.
  6. Aug 25, 2012 #5
    You should be fine if you work hard. Some mechanical engineering jobs will require more math than others. It all depends on what you get into. When I worked at SAIC building equipment, we mostly used simple formulas and testing to back up our design decisions.

    Also, check out this video, http://youtu.be/cQB03yOa6so
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2012
  7. Aug 26, 2012 #6
    This is a great reply. If you're strong in math you will gravitate into design positions. If you're stronger in other aspects there are still a lot of roles you can play from applications, to test, to support and sales.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2012
  8. Aug 28, 2012 #7
    Thanks Carlgrace. You're exactly right. There are many opportunities with an ME degree besides the classic design positions.


    If you really hate math you could be a patent agent or be on your way to becoming a patent lawyer with a mechanical engineering degree. I don't recommend it unless you really like to read.

    Also, you could become a project manager if you went on to earn an MBA. They're concerned mostly with budgets, timelines and deliverables (managing a project).

    Bottom-line, Don't give up! :)
  9. Aug 29, 2012 #8
    You are in precalculus which introduces many new concepts such as functions and logarithms. The fact that you are struggling with precalculus now doesn't mean much. It may just mean that you are encountering a lot of new concepts. It is quite possible that by the time you get to calculus or linear algebra, you will feel much more confident about math and your math skills will improve. However even if math is never your strong point, you can still be a good engineer. Angry Citizen has it right. You do not need to be great at math to be a good engineer, you just need to be competent in it.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook