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Would my intellectual profile be able to cope with being an engineer?

  1. Aug 12, 2009 #1
    Hi, I'm 19. I graduated when I was 17, I worked as an apprentice for 18 months, before getting pulled into my companies estimating division, where I have been for the last three months. Anyways, I am bored as hell, and was thinking about going back to school for engineering, but I have some fears I wont be able to handle that kind of job.

    I did well in school, I finished with like a 3.8 if I remember correctly, but am unsure if that means anything, as I went to a poor school and never took anything past Algebra 2.

    I went and purchased a common freshmen physics book "Principles of Physics: A calculus based text" by Raymond A. Serway. Over the past three months I have been going over it maybe 5 hours a week or so, and have just finished chapter 21's end of questions. I mainly have focused only on the Challenging rated problems, and so far have been able to complete around 65% of them, I am hoping to raise that percentage once I get a real Calculus book (Dumbass me started with the calculus based physics book), as all I know of calculus is based on short 15 minute tutorials I looked up on the web.

    Is it a good sign so far? Or are those levels of problems suppose to be obvious to a freshmen? Cause I have spent over half an hour on alot of them.

    Another thing that concerns me, is I am not gifted with an agile mind, even if I know something, it doesn't come to me right away, and usually takes a few minutes. Would this be a huge problem for an engineer, are they expected to just be able to rattle off on stuff off of the top of their head?

    Well, thats it for now, thanks for any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2009 #2
    Oh, btw I would probably start out going for an EE, if that makes a difference. I don't really know much theory yet, just random stuff I have picked up reading Nuts & Volts.

    My brother says go for it, but I would like to research this a little first, as I got a few lucky breaks, and was able to impress my current employer. Would hate to lose this job if nothing comes of this.
  4. Aug 13, 2009 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Check out the book "The Art of Electonics" by Horowitz and Hill. It's a good book for self-study, and will give you a good intro to basic EE circuit concepts, as well as show you some practical stuff. You might be able to get used copies at Amazon, or check out your local technical library to see if they have a copy you can read through.

    It should help you start to see if EE is a path that interests you. Best of luck!
  5. Aug 13, 2009 #4
    If you are thinking of doing electrical engineering then do not have the misconception that electrical engineers only deal with electronics. Some/Many don't even deal with such abstractions at all.

    Universities should offer bridging courses if you do not yet meet the pre requisites. And I would say from what you have described that being able to learn independently is something most engineers who are the very best in their respective fields often do.
  6. Aug 21, 2009 #5


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    Science Advisor
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    Looking into engineering schools shouldn't compromise your job at all. It is only if/when you decide to start school that it should effect your job. Note that most engineering schools do not require you to formally declare a major until a year or two into the program; when you apply you likely state a nominal major but I don't know of any school that will hold you to that. So once you start school you can explore mechanical, electrical, computer, etc., and figure out what is the best fit. I didn't have to declare until the end of my 2nd year. If you are curious as to what the different engineers do, I would start looking around online. Department web sites often have useful links, talk about professor research topics, student projects and project teams, etc. Some job listings online are also useful. Finally, searching and posting to the engineering forums here may help.

    The main thing is this: do you really want to go to school and become an engineer? If yes, then you should do it. You are clearly self-motivated and able to teach yourself, and must have some self-discipline if you work through that much of a physics book on your own.

    Locate the schools you are interested in, and find out what they teach and what they assume you already know before you show up. I am not familiar with the syllabus of "algebra 2", but if it is basically the course before calculus then I would say you are ready (your physics background is already better than mine was when I started!). Almost all engineering programs assume you start with Calculus I the first semester.

    Finally, Whitay is of course right the electrical engineering covers a huge range of areas. Some examples include circuits, control systems, power systems, signal and image processing, communications, computer engineering, information theory, electromagnetics (propagation, scattering, antenna engineering), microwave engineering, VLSI, semiconductor physics, lasers and optics, plasma physics, etc.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

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