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What are your thoughts on what it takes to be an Engineer?

  1. Oct 3, 2012 #1
    I am 18 years old and really wanting to become a engineer, But I feel I may not have the mathematical aptitude for it.

    In your experiences can anyone become a good engineer, as long as they put in the time required?

    I believe that I am creative, hard working and quite enthusiastic about learning, I am also interested in art, that is design and illustration.

    I am aware you don't know how intelligent I actually am, so If I can do calc 3 would that be a good indicator that I can get a b.s in engineering? I am currently doing khan academy and planning on just getting my math up to calc 3 before I register for a b.s.

    I would enjoy hearing what you guys think about this.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2012 #2
    I think being an engineer is more a question of hard work and attention to detail than mathematical aptitude. In a day-to-day engineering job, you'd probably be surprised how *little* math is actually used!

    That said, you *do* have to finish a degree, which typically means getting through three semesters of calculus, a semester of linear algebra, and a semester of differential equations. I'd worry a bit if I was just barely squeaking by in calc 3, but other than that, you should be OK.

    If you really want to be an engineer and don't have any *major* problems with math, hard work will probably be enough to make that happen.
  4. Oct 3, 2012 #3


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    "Engineer" is very wide job description. Within the company I work for, there are engineers who use grad-school-level math every working day, and others whose most challenging math task is probably getting the hours on their weekly timesheet to add up.

    Both sorts are equally valuable for doing different types of work, and they probably get equally well paid if they are good at what they do.

    On the other hand, you need to be comfortable with math the get a degree in any engineering discipline, and without a degree you won't get anywhere, except by extreme good luck or having some very influential family members.
  5. Oct 3, 2012 #4


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    It depends on what one does while 'putting in the time required'. Proficiency in mathematics and analysis is important,,as is diligence. Knowledge is another factor.

    One could be a designer or draftsperson, e.g., industrial designer, which is not the same as engineering.

    Engineering is more or less applied physics. There are many analytical tools (software) that make engineering easier, and one could be an analyst and simply enter data, process the results, and write reports. But there is usually more than that. One could perform studies, but that requires some understanding of the system and components that go beyond data entry and analysis.

    Top engineers push the edge on technology and innovate, and other engineers develop the theory in order to enable new things or develop better methods and process. Engineering in this sense is more like applied physics. The challenge is always to do better and push the envelope.
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