What was/is your motivation in college? (specifically Engineering)

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  • Thread starter JCEdmonds
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  • #1
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It seems like most people have motivation while they're going to school, but after a forum search, it seemed like these motivations aren't explicitly stated often enough for me to find them. (That, or I stink at using the forum search.)

So, long story short, I'm 31 and have my Associates degree in Engineering (it's worth nothing, I know, but shows I have some course work done). I got a little burned out in school for a few reasons, so I found a job.

I have some opportunities to finish my EE degree (the details aren't very important for now). I find myself consistently solving little math or science problems at work out of curiosity instead of necessity. I love science, and I still find a certain elegance in physics and math.

I have the desire to finish my degree. Problem is, somewhere along the way, I lost my motivation and inspiration to finish a degree. I generally do not enjoy coursework. Some of the things that worked in the past like "I'll make more money" and "endless opportunity" don't really work anymore.

I thought perhaps hearing what motivates other people could help inspire me. So, here's my question:

If you're in college for engineering or the sciences right now, what keeps you going? If you've finished college, what kept you going through to the end?

Any honest, thoughtful answers are acceptable. Even "I'll make more money", "endless opportunity", or "because my parents are helping pay for it and they'll kill me if I don't finish", because sometimes those things are enough. :smile:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Why are you doing it if you don't want it bad enough to motivate yourself?

For me, school is like a war. I can't explain the focus and intensity I feel when I sit down for a physics exam. For me, it's a life or death situation.

If you know you're going to be in that situation, you know you better be prepared. When I'm studying and I feel tired, I think of anyone who ever disrespected me. I think of every professor who couldn't be bothered to even learn my name in a class of 8 people. I think of every time I didn't get a grade I thought I deserved. I don't want to settle for mediocrity.

When I leave an exam I want to know that I got an A. If I don't, I get enraged. Like punch a hole in the wall enraged. I'll do anything to avoid that feeling.
 
  • #3
MathematicalPhysicist
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I don't see why do you need to feel rage for not excelling in one particular exam, you are being tested for your overall perfomance, everybody has days or exams which didn't went as well as expected, in that case you can retake the course or in my case forget of the poor mark and keep on going to finish your degree.

Evntually if you want to be a researcher, this part of taking exams will cease to exist, and you'll be judged by your actuall work and the way you interact with others.

For me the motivation I get to keep on going with my degree/s is that I really want to accomplish my desire to be a professor in math and physics, though I am realistic that chances are against me.
 
  • #4
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My motivation are the people that inspired me. Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton,and Albert Einstein are the people that inspired me to try and become a physicist. They all made great discoveries about the universe and the world we live in. This is why I want to become a physicist: to make discoveries and help mankind move forward.
 
  • #5
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I dropped out of highschool when I was very young, and worked in very low-level jobs.

so I have two motivations:

1) I don't want a low-level job.

2) I want to prove to others/myself that I'm capable of better things.
 
  • #6
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My motivation stems from knowing how my physics degree is going to get me a lot of money and girls.

Uh.

Personally, it's just being in college, being in the center of such much intellectual excitement, curiosity, intensity that motivates me. It's a subtle reminder, maybe, that Einstein described as:

"...every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."
 
  • #7
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If you're in college for engineering or the sciences right now, what keeps you going? If you've finished college, what kept you going through to the end?
My motivation is just to do something meaningful with my life. I thought the best way for me to do this is to spend my time career devoted to solving the energy crisis/climate change through better technology. I of course will not one-handedly come up with all the answers but at least I can play a small part and maybe help make the world a better place for being part of it.
 
  • #8
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I'm motivated by a personal goal of doing something better for this world. I want to help contribute something to mankind. Also, just pure unadulterated curiously of radiation effects on space crafts and finding materials to protect them.

I'm a nuclear engineering student btw.
 
  • #9
Astronuc
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Engineering is more or less applied physics. I was interested in mathematics, physics, engineering and things technical since probably the 4th or 5th grade. Since 5th grade, I was interested in nuclear science/engineering. I started in university in studying physics with some math, and then switched to nuclear engineering while still retaining an interest in nuclear and astrophysics.

I really don't think about motivation, except that I enjoy what I do and have a lot of fun, and that was the case in university. I got involved in some really interesting resesarch, and that lead to an interesting professional career.

I've also enjoyed getting to know other professionals and to travel overseas on various projects.
 
  • #10
lisab
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I dropped out of highschool when I was very young, and worked in very low-level jobs.

so I have two motivations:

1) I don't want a low-level job.

2) I want to prove to others/myself that I'm capable of better things.
Your experience has a lot of similarities with mine. I dropped out for a while, then got back in. But they only allowed me to take a vocational track. I got serious about education after working in a low-level job, and realizing that was basically all I had to look forward to...decade after decade of low-level work.

I realized that the best thing to have in life is options. With my physics degree, I can go work at Starbucks - if I want to. So many people in life have to take those kind of jobs because they have to. Big difference, and a big motivator!
 
  • #11
My motivation is simple. I want to touch the stars. No bloody astronaut nonsense -- I want to be the one who helps design the propulsion system that takes mankind to Mars, or an asteroid, or to Europa. Engineering is the best profession in existence, in my humble opinion. We don't typically discover new models of nature. We conquer nature. Electrical engineers conquer a tiny little particle that can provide infinitely many avenues of advancement for society, once harnessed. Civil engineers act as the vanguard of mankind -- the first to conquer nature. Aerospace engineers conquer the Earth itself, touching the untouchable, going to the unreachable. Really, the question should be, how the hell can anyone not want to be an engineer?

Think of the courses as a necessary evil. They're there to prepare you for your own creativity, not replace it.
 
  • #12
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Yeah, I dropped out of HS when I was 15. Finished "night school" when I was 23, and now I'm in my 2nd year of ChemE. Wasted quite a few years of my life, but I did try some cool drugs lol.
 
  • #13
I think you should do what you naturally good at, well if you haven't done engineering there are still ways to tell.

If you like pulling things apart and working how things out. Do you randomly look at buildings and look for weakness or do you think you could have designed a better joint?

If you like maths and see it as a language and like to make you own theories, hypothesis and like testing the laws of physics at extremest mabe you might make a good physicist.
 

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