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Engineering Which is the best? (Engineering)

  1. Jul 4, 2010 #1
    Hello all, I am new here, and would like to get your opinions/advice on which is the best engineering to get into. I was originally a mechanical, but my GPA didn't make the cut (I go to Penn State), so I'm trying to look into other options. I also was only able to pass Calculus 2 with a D twice at 2 different schools, and due to this, I can't get into the main college of engineering in general at PSU, which gives the following options: aerospace, agricultural/biological, architectural, bioengineering, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical and nuclear. Now there are other engineerings in another college (of earth and mineral sciences): energy, environmental systems, materials, mining, and petroleum and natural gas; these don't require a C or better for Calc 2, so I have that taken care of. I have been flip-flopping between environmental and petroleum, of those 5, what are your opinions? My cousin has a BS in nuclear engr from PSU, a masters in mechanical and another in Naval architecture from MIT. He said that a BS in petroleum engr and a minor in geology would be good to go for, and then get a masters in mechanical later on. Like anyone, I would like to maximize my salary options and job opportunities. Mechanical is the one that everyone goes for which is why it has restrictions, and has a lot of available jobs but a lower starting salary. Petroleum, on the other hand, doesn't have as many available jobs, but has a significant starting salary. I'm at a point right now where I should be graduating in 2011, but I have changed my major 2x now, and I still don't know what to do, and I'm getting very frustrated with myself. Some people tell me to do this and then this, and I go with it, then a few days later start wondering about it. Can anyone give me some ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2010 #2
    If you're getting D's in calculus, maybe you should rethink your career choice entirely. Kids these days seem to think that if they try hard enough, they'll succeed at anything. Personally, I think that is rarely applicable. If you're just not skilled in math, then you should avoid careers like engineering like the plague. Screwing up a calculus problem could be the difference between life and death for someone.

    If I were you, I'd sit down, grab a list of majors, and seriously look at what you're interested in, what you're good at, and what you're bad at. If you're bad at math, cross off physics, math, and engineering. If you're not interested in the humanities, then cross off history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. If you find language boring, cross off English. If you're not interested in life, cross biology off. But please, don't get the impression that you have to fit a square peg through a round hole. There are other career choices besides engineering -- ones that don't involve someone dying because you can't do higher math.
  4. Jul 5, 2010 #3
    What if one dislikes what one is good at? It's discouraging to think the hard work we put into what we want may not pay off but I'm sure these kinds of situations happen many times.
  5. Jul 5, 2010 #4
    Well, not everyone gets to be President or to win a Nobel prize. But honestly, if you are happy with a much lower level of achievement, I believe that most (but by no means all) careers *can* be obtained through focused hard work.

    In the case of the OP, I tend to agree that D's in calculus are a red flag for someone hoping to be an engineer. Something has gone wrong here, and I'm in no position to speculate what. But given that engineering programs tend to get more difficult as they go along, I think the OP needs to figure out what the problem is before going forward.

    Good luck...
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  6. Jul 6, 2010 #5
    Mechanical engineering is the best engineering discipline . I say this because this is what I chose. You will have to answer for yourself what you love to do. I can only speak for mechanical engineering. I like it because it can be applied to a wide range of fields and it is very practical. When interviewing for jobs, I spoke with a wide variety of companies including a generator service, nuclear power company, and a turbomachinery OME, which is where I ended up. I will also say that you should focus on what is most interesting before you worry about the starting salary. Any salary is a great improvement over mooching from the parents to survive at college.

    As for your struggles, maybe you should try a real school. State Penn is not conducive well, to pretty much anything. Pitt alum here so I'm obligated to throw that in.

    Good luck...
  7. Jul 6, 2010 #6
    Follow your heart.

    And as for your grades, study more, study correctly, and get some help (tutor, ask questions, study group, etc.)
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  8. Jul 6, 2010 #7


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    Gold Member

    I disagree.

    I don't know where it comes from, but the notion that math takes some special gene, which some have and others don't, is unfounded. Yes, there are people who possess a greater aptitude in the subject, but there is nothing in an engineering program that one cannot learn without some patience, tutoring (when necessary), and diligence.

    Everyone has the ability to do the following:
    • Learn rules
    • Follow rules
    • Recognize patterns
    • Reason
    • Analyze situations
    • Troubleshoot

    mknabster, I'd encourage you to exhaust all resources before giving up. Mathematics is not a subject reserved for a certain percentage of the population; it is accessable for everyone, and learning it is well within the realm of possibility for all students.
  9. Jul 6, 2010 #8
    And yet, he still made two D's in calculus. That's a very bad sign that someone can't 'Learn rules, Follow rules, Recognize patterns, Reason, Analyze situations, or Troubleshoot.' Call it what you will; either skill at math, or the ability to follow directions and commit them to memory. Whatever it is, he clearly lacks it. And I'm afraid I don't want to drive over a bridge partially designed by a man with a D in calculus. If you want to take the chance in the name of that ridiculous cliché of "You Can Do It!" then please, do it in theoretical physics where the only thing he can kill is a chalkboard.
  10. Jul 6, 2010 #9


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    Gold Member

    Nobody, including the OP, is disputing this. You seem to be suggesting that what one lacks now, one will always lack, and it is this logic with which I am in disagreement, not whether or not he's struggling with mathematics.

    I didn't advise the OP to start designing bridges without obtaining a satisfactory grade in the prerequisite mathematics courses. I think you've misread, and misunderstood, my post.
  11. Jul 6, 2010 #10
    The OP seems capable of understanding and typing American English satisfactorily so it seems (s)he is capable of following certain grammatical rules. The calculus problems the OP is experiencing may stem from weak precalculus math foundation.

    OP, I am also experiencing mathematical difficulties in the area of precalculus. My recommendation is to (re)learn the basics with whatever methods are most efficient for you. Find the problem(s) and resolve them but please do not give up if a STEM career is what you want.

    Take some inspiration from Abraham Lincoln: the gentleman failed twice in his business endeavors and lost 8 elections before becoming (arguably) our best president. Good luck!
  12. Jul 7, 2010 #11
    What's wrong with believing that if you try hard, you can achieve something? Some people aren't gifted at math and all they have is their hardwork. I really love math but i know i don't have the talent. So i substitute it with hardwork and trying until i get it. Eventually if you do it enough times, it will click.
  13. Jul 7, 2010 #12
    Perhaps he didn't try hard enough. I know a kid who took the same highschool math course twice but he never gave any effort into any of the time he did the class. He ended up with something around the 50A% agian.
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