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 even bother going into engineering?

  1. Nov 26, 2015 #1
    So I'm a senior in high school and so far I've had pretty average grades. Taken Algebra 1, Geometry, Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Precalculus, AP Calculus AB and gotten mostly B's with some A's and some C's. I'm not proud of my grades, but I just wasn't able to grasp the concept too well. Ive also taken Honors Biology, Honors Chemistry, Honors Physics, Anatomy, and AP Biology.

    I like calculus a lot, but I'm not doing that well this year. I have a low B, so I'm going to end up getting a B this semester. I've stopped putting in effort, due to a severe case of senioritis and I'm starting to get a huge reality check now.

    I am interested in the concept of engineering. I would love to be able to create tangible items, and help build the future of technology. I am most interested in industrial and Computer Engineering. I am scared about the work and math/science.

    I'm not a very technically minded person but I really like the idea so I was going to major in finance and minor in electrical engineering. Is this a better idea? Do you think I'd have more success?

    My ultimate goal would be to create items and sell them and open up my own business and work as an entrepreneur. Really interested in both business and engineering and I love working with people. I have a list of ideas and I primarily just want to go into engineering to get a good basis for problem solving and for mostly just being able to create my products.

    I'm also really, really interested in neurology and I'd love to go intothat field later on in my life and do research.

    What do you think I should do? Engineering or finance with a minor in Comp sci and engineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2015 #2
    I think you should do engineering as you like it...go for it...
  4. Nov 27, 2015 #3
    If you look at what I've posted elsewhere, you may come across postings where I've repeated my mentor's advice: If you need more than a plain scientific calculator to get a working answer, you're probably doing something wrong. It is rare for an engineer to be deriving new mathematical relationships to solve an engineering problem. Your ability to do that in a math class is almost irrelevant to your abilities as an engineer.

    That said, while math is important to understanding the engineering concepts, the way it is usually taught leaves much to be desired. Keep in mind that mathematics curricula are written by professors of mathematics, not engineering. They chose a format and an exposure to the subject that makes sense to them. An engineering student has to cherry pick through all this to find subject matter that is relevant to the future studies. For example, my math classes mentioned Euler's formula only in passing, and yet that concept is practically central to most of the Electrical Engineering curriculum. Likewise, courses on Matrix Algebra were introduced AFTER the classes where I needed them.

    That's why I feel that although you may not have excellent grades in mathematics, it doesn't imply much about your proficiency as an engineer. If you really must know, I flunked a course on calculus once. And yet, here I am.
  5. Dec 3, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Jake has offered excellent advice both here and in other posts, you might consider following him (ie using the boards follow feature, not necessarily actually following him!). :smile:

    However, you have kind of indicated you have other interests too. By all means, declare a major, but take academically general courses your first year of college at the highest level you can maintain ie don't take algebra if you can handle calculus. Take chemistry, not political science, ie load up on technical type classes that will help you graduate if you stay in engineering and can become electives for other programs if you don't. If you take an algebra class to puff up your GPA (when you could take calculus or improve yourself with precalc), that is nice.... but that doesn't help you as an engineering student.

    As you do NOT yet have a clear path chosen, keep all paths open for as long as you can. That will require work. If you find the other fields you have listed seem to be more interesting your accumulated engineering course work won't hold you back.

    I have never met a finance major with a minor in EE. Not many engineering programs offer a minor either, but you can certainly be the first and blaze a new path.
  6. Dec 10, 2015 #5
    I say go for it, hopefully you will know if you cut out for it by the end of your first year. In high school I had a couple of friends that were not very good at math or physics that went in as mechanical engineers, they ended up dropping after the first year because they just could not handle the math and physics portions. That being said, I majored in physics and minored in engineering and am in a grad program for engineering currently. At least in UG, despite having stringer skills in math and physics then my classmates, I struggled in some of my engineering courses because I was trained to look at problems from a theory perspective and tried too get to fancy with the math and overthought things, so sometimes having a good working knowledge of math, and not necessarily a strong theoretical understanding is not a bad thing. I will also tell you that in undergrad engineering students have a very demanding curriculum, physics was demanding but I felt that my engineering friends had more requirements, projects, and homework. The other thing I really liked about engineering is a strong sense of community, you all struggle together which makes things more bearable. Also Calcnerd is right there is not a lot of engineering minors, I did all my engineering work in Chemical and Biological Engineering and that was my major for a while, when I decided to go with physics I used all my CBE classes to get a minor in Biomedical Engineering because a CBE minor did not exist.
  7. Dec 10, 2015 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A good reason to go into field 1 rather than field 2 would be if you were getting higher grades in 1 than 2, but you're getting B's across the board.

    You seem interested in making things. Majoring in finance doesn't seem like it would allow you to do what you're interested in.

    It's very hard to interpret what a B means in a high school class. For one calculus teacher at one school, a B could mean that you're incompetent at basic math like fractions. For another calc teacher at another school, a B could mean that although you're extremely competent in calculus, the tests are long, and you just don't calculate fast enough to finish the whole thing in a 50-minute class period.

    Unfortunately engineering is a major that requires a lot of units, so you don't have the luxury of exploring various options for your first couple of years of college and then declaring an engineering major.
  8. Dec 17, 2015 #7
    There are two different worlds: making and selling. The dirty little secret is that selling is the more important of the two and CEOs usually (but not always!) come from the marketing and sales side of things as a result.

    I think you should ask yourself what part of your goal most attracts you... having your own company and calling the shots, or the actual making and creation of products. The former should lead you into business/marketing/sales, the latter to engineering.

    Just be aware that if you want to do research in most fields of science, you will eventually need a Ph.D.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook