Engineers come in.

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Pajamas
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Pajamas »

If it's a good engineering school he shouldn't be able to breeze through any of his core classes. Maybe some elective like French 101 if he took years of french in high school, but not the math and science classes. He might find that he "gets" some subjects more easily than others, but university-level science courses should require time and effort and engineering school in particular has that reputation. Some majors are also more demanding than others.
Last edited by Pajamas on Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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FlyAF
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by FlyAF »

Having to hold down a job definitely makes things harder. Wife worked full time to put herself through and is a big reason she just barely made it. I was lucky and didn't have to work. I could get on campus early and do some reading/studying to prepare for the lecture/lab that I was about to attend. I could stay after and review with peers if need be. I could participate in office hours for the classes that were difficult to me. I could go to the math lab to help with issues. I could get a good nights sleep and go to class with my mind well rested and ready to engage. Etc....etc....etc.....if I was having to work full time and deal with all of what that entails on top of making it to class, it would've been infinitely more difficult for me personally and I know it was for my wife who is smarter than I am by a good margin.
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

Phineas J. Whoopee wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:49 am You see, it was in Calculus class where I learned to distinguish valid reasoning from invalid reasoning.
+1 And that is a very important lesson to learn!

I also appreciated learning dimensional analysis in chemistry class. The formalism has proven helpful my entire life. A skill NASA engineers have had difficulties with.... :oops:

The other was what we called the "Reasonableness Test". You can save yourself a lot of pain and suffering by taking the time to determine if a solution is reasonable or not. One of my instructors would always say, "Stop. Is that a reasonable solution? Does it make sense?"
david99
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by david99 »

I worked hard in my engineering classes and most of the other students that I knew did as well. I didn't know anyone that cruised through it. Some classes were harder than others but I had to study a lot for all of them.
alfaspider
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by alfaspider »

It's true that there is a certain minimal aptitude in any field. If you don't have it, you will fail even with maximal effort. But there's only a small minority in any field who are talented enough that they could be successful with very minimal work. However, those who actually do waltz through with minimal work are selling themselves short. If they are truly that talented, they are missing out on the potential to be great but are settling at merely acceptable.

A great engineer who does not need to study to do well in math classes should be using their extra time on either mastering higher-level math than is typically taught in the curriculum or working on side engineering projects outside of class that they could later develop into noteworthy or profitable enterprises.
splendiferous
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by splendiferous »

I graduated last year with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. I wasn't the top of my class, but I was top 10% for the most part.

Even the most gifted students studied their butts off, while working a job, getting married, having kids, being stupid college students, doing extracurricular activities, etc. Engineering is NOT easy for anyone. We had a joke in my college:

The limit of Engineering Student as GPA goes to 0 equals Business Student.
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

david99 wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:23 am I worked hard in my engineering classes and most of the other students that I knew did as well. I didn't know anyone that cruised through it. Some classes were harder than others but I had to study a lot for all of them.
The rule of thumb we used was three hours of study for each hour of lecture. Microwave was the exception that almost killed me. It required about five hours.
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

splendiferous wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:32 am The limit of Engineering Student as GPA goes to 0 equals Business Student.
I took Calculus with a good friend that wanted to be an M.E./Aeronautical Engineer. I don't remember what class did it, but he decided he would be better Economics material.... His bonus is larger than my salary....
regularguy455
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by regularguy455 »

Did my BS in Civil Engineering from large State U. The core curriculum for the first 2-2.5 years is the same across CE/ME/AE (not sure about EE). It was a heavy focus on Calculus, Physics, Differential Equations, Thermodynamics, etc. I recall getting through Calculus 3 and thinking I made it through the hard part and now can learn engineering. I laugh about it now.

Engineering is hard, even for smart people. The material is difficult and they often design weed out courses to cull the weak. In Civil Engineering, it was Statics and Geotechnical Engineering. Nearly half the class achieved below a C+ average and was required to retake it or drop. Two failures and you were kicked out of the program. The exams are designed in a way such that you either know how to solve the problem or you don't. There often wasn't much time to think.

In more senior level classes, it eased up a bit, but there were still difficult classes to get through. I am proud that I could get through it with reasonably good grades and passing the FE. But once you graduate an get into industry, there is little relief. By becoming an engineer, the expectation is that you can learn and master difficult concepts on your own with little oversight. If you can't do that, you'll be a lousy engineer.

For the record, I still have nightmares about the experience. Typically it's that I forgot about a non-engineering class I never attended and failed so I can't graduate.
roamin survivor
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by roamin survivor »

From the ME/AE viewpoint, it's definitely logic and some math. If you're doing R&D, then yes, the more advanced math is required and that's pretty much what a university does. It's not so much wired as it is interest I think. I dropped out of my MSAE because I did not want to be doing nothing but CFD analysis as a career. Still love and keep track of aerospace and fluids.

College was always full of hard work and long hours, especially all those late night labs. It was good though since it build camaraderie between all of us and helping each other, especially when the huge class gets widdled down to a baker's dozen in your senior year.
TallBoy29er
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by TallBoy29er »

AlohaJoe wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:44 am
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:32 am He was under the impression that if he was wired to be an engineer then hopping from lecture to lecture without any effort back home on his part would work fine.
What a ridiculous thing to believe.
He needs to reset expectations. This may be the case for some (none that I knew, though). But most of us had to work hard, or even harder, to become an engineer.
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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Phineas J. Whoopee »

sreynard wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:33 am ...
The rule of thumb we used was three hours of study for each hour of lecture. Microwave was the exception that almost killed me. It required about five hours.
That's a pretty commonly-used rule of thumb. A three semester-hour undergraduate course takes about nine to twelve hours per week.

I've been to grad school twice, years apart, in different subjects at different universities, and finished both times. The second was a terminal degree.

In some ways I found being a grad student easier than being an undergrad. The courses are more intellectually challenging, and move much faster, and twelve becomes fifteen or twenty hours a week, but a full-time load is around nine to twelve semester hours, not the fifteen to eighteen common among undergrads. There may be some areas of study one is only peripherally interested in, and wouldn't undertake if not for degree requirements, but for the most part one is focusing on a topic they are intensely interested in, including conducting original research for a thesis or dissertation. That doesn't mean the life of a grad student is all peaches and roses. Sorry for the mixed metaphor. One I knew badly broke his hand punching his adviser's office wall. At least he didn't punch the adviser.

My standard advice is not to go to grad school unless there is something you're intensely interested in, and you can get into a good program focusing on it.

I won't endorse the upthread comment about the value of business degrees, but I have observed, at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional level, that many, not by any means all, but many business students are not intensely interested in the topic. They're intensely interested in money, and more power to them, we need that, but it does not make for exceptional academic progress.

I remember, I think I posted this once before, being admonished by a colleague for having completed a graduate degree with the words A students make grades. C students make money.

PJW
itsgot8
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by itsgot8 »

If he's ME, he definitely needs to put in the effort to learn calc, as all the classes build upon each other. Integrals are used during the strength of materials classes where you're calculating shaft bending. And no, this stuff is not supposed to come easy.

I also suggest he takes the time to read through the book and the current lesson. In the beginning, I would only focus on studying from the lecture notes and homework examples. Later on, I started reading the textbook prior to attempting homework problems and even sometimes in advance of the lecture. I found this to be worth the time as it helped me learn the material better.

Also, if your friend is working full time and going to school, he's probably going to miss out on a lot of group work sessions. There's a large benefit to working on homework, labs and reports as a group. It can be rough going at it as a lone wolf and things can get very frustrating. If anything, it's nice having one or two people suffering along with you at 1am when you're scratching your head over a homework problem. That way, you don't feel isolated in your frustrations.
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AAA
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by AAA »

When I was a teaching assistant for a technical course, I emphasized to the students that they should spend a significant amount of time reading the text and that it was not like reading a novel. You need to know A before proceeding to B, you need to know B before proceeding to C, etc. The OP's friend seems to have the wrong approach for a technical field. If he's "wired" to be an engineer, then he might have a quicker and deeper understanding of the material, but he would still need to put the time in to learn it.
jminv
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by jminv »

A calculus course is not an engineering course. He does of course need to have a firm grounding in it for ME. He could also switch to another engineering degree if calc isn’t his favorite thing. It seems that he is just starting his university adventure and is taking the pre-reqs for later courses in his program. Under his theory, he wouldn’t know whether he was born to be an engineer until he started taking actual engineering courses. Even then, I found statics (first real engineering course besides an intro to engineering course) to be very dull. I stayed with it and had a blast once we moved onto the courses in the two majors I took. The worst thing you can do is quit early, lots of people do this, sadly.

Being an engineer, I have to say school was not all that difficult looking back on it. For courses within my specialties and in the general engineering core, I did normally go to class, do my homework, spend a lot of time on projects, and cram for exams but I also did have enough free time as well. I didn’t try too hard in the math courses and other pre-reqs but got by fine. I also went to an all science school so if it ended up that didn’t like engineering or sciences you had to transfer. I passed the FE with zero studying, same with the PE years later. Your friend is right, there are natural engineers out there. He just might not be one of them. Time will tell.

There are also plenty of people who graduate from engineering programs that weren’t ‘naturals’. Most go on to lead successful engineering careers. Then there are some of them are people who really shouldn’t have graduated let alone found a job. There’s one person I know who should have flunked out but ended up getting out of the program and finding a job but I would never, ever want to work with him on a project or use anything that he designed or oversaw.
EHEngineer
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by EHEngineer »

Changing out of ME can be a good thing. I have friends from undergrand who thrived after switching out. Some earn substantially more than I do. If your friend is thinking of changing his major in the first semester, it is likely the right thing for him.
Or, you can ... decline to let me, a stranger on the Internet, egg you on to an exercise in time-wasting, and you could say "I'm probably OK and I don't care about it that much." -Nisiprius
investingdad
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by investingdad »

As noted, lone wolfing it is hard. I know.

That's what I did because in group study I never felt like I was learning the material. Group projects were fine... in hindsight I should have partnered with female more than male classmates.

The best project was in my final semester with two girls that were friends of mine. The dynamic was much more relaxed and my confidence in what we were doing was higher as a result.

Our final grade reflected that as well.
RudyS
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by RudyS »

barnaclebob wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:37 am I only got an A in one math class in my engineering degree. The math and other courses get much harder than calc 1 so he needs to be prepared to put in some time if calc 1 was a challenge.
Amen! Second class got a B. Third a C. Luckily, it was only a four semester sequence! But never actually used calculus after that.
regularguy455
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by regularguy455 »

jminv wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:55 pm A calculus course is not an engineering course. He does of course need to have a firm grounding in it for ME. He could also switch to another engineering degree if calc isn’t his favorite thing. It seems that he is just starting his university adventure and is taking the pre-reqs for later courses in his program. Under his theory, he wouldn’t know whether he was born to be an engineer until he started taking actual engineering courses. Even then, I found statics (first real engineering course besides an intro to engineering course) to be very dull. I stayed with it and had a blast once we moved onto the courses in the two majors I took. The worst thing you can do is quit early, lots of people do this, sadly.

Being an engineer, I have to say school was not all that difficult looking back on it. For courses within my specialties and in the general engineering core, I did normally go to class, do my homework, spend a lot of time on projects, and cram for exams but I also did have enough free time as well. I didn’t try too hard in the math courses and other pre-reqs but got by fine. I also went to an all science school so if it ended up that didn’t like engineering or sciences you had to transfer. I passed the FE with zero studying, same with the PE years later. Your friend is right, there are natural engineers out there. He just might not be one of them. Time will tell.

There are also plenty of people who graduate from engineering programs that weren’t ‘naturals’. Most go on to lead successful engineering careers. Then there are some of them are people who really shouldn’t have graduated let alone found a job. There’s one person I know who should have flunked out but ended up getting out of the program and finding a job but I would never, ever want to work with him on a project or use anything that he designed or oversaw.
This is the kind of humble brag attitude that is pervasive in engineering. Makes me glad I'm no longer an engineer 8-)
splendiferous
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by splendiferous »

sreynard wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:43 am
I took Calculus with a good friend that wanted to be an M.E./Aeronautical Engineer. I don't remember what class did it, but he decided he would be better Economics material.... His bonus is larger than my salary....
Aye, there is the irony...all that hard work... :-) As Phineas mentioned, priorities/interests are a big motivator in this decision. I've even advised friends to NOT do mechanical engineering, as I didn't feel it didn't fit them, and they would be more successful in something else.
Last edited by splendiferous on Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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beyou
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by beyou »

splendiferous wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:32 am The limit of Engineering Student as GPA goes to 0 equals Business Student.
Classic, but true... comments from others

Current generation student at Penn Eng told me "we take electives at Wharton for easy A's".

Friend/BE Mech Eng who went on for an MBA.
He thought he did something wrong when he completed an MBA exam fully his first semester, in far less than the alotted time.
Where is the rest of the test ? What did I do wrong. He had time to do the test twice to check his work. Finally accepted that
maybe it really was that easy ;-) Sorry MBA grads...it's true.
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Keepcalm
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Keepcalm »

Any advice for a 30 year old bachelor who has a dog and lives about 30 minutes from campus and commutes?

Someone of this nature may not be able to stay on campus after lectures as long as maybe a younger student who lives in an apartment right out in town or better yet lives on campus.

This case...theres a dog being let out every 8 hours, still giving it a quality of life...etc etc.
The Wizard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by The Wizard »

Dude2 wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:45 am The attrition rate is massive. ME and EE are almost all math.
Actually, there's a fair amount of physics in there, too...
Attempted new signature...
T4REngineer
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by T4REngineer »

Keepcalm,

I think what your friend has experienced is perfectly normal, there are people who are exceptionally blessed/skilled and can take the advanced mathematics and engineering classes with nothing but lecture and a bit of homework but those are few and far between.

*Make sure he/she knows Calc. 1 is the fundamentals and it only builds from there.

*Does he know what field/area he would like to go into once graduated? That really helps answer the question of how much math vs. logic gets used but at a high-level an above average ability in both is required to make an good engineer (IMHO the logic and problem solving ability is far more important then the math but you have to grasp the principles/fundamentals)

*Being 30min from campus with a dog is an excuse, yes its a hassle and it may prevent some group meetings etc. but arrangements can be made if one prioritizes school work. I think drastic steps such as giving up ownership of the dog and/or moving closer would not be my "go to" but if they are unable to balance priorities its an option. Keep this limitation in mind when scheduling classes, maybe try to cluster classes either in one group or one morning one afternoon to allow a lunch time trip home, at least when I was in school it was not 8hrs a day of class, in-fact much less as the expectation was home work , reading , projects and study would be more time then class time. This allows flexibility!
investingdad
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by investingdad »

I also have an MBA. Part time, other working students like me when I did it.

It was a joke compared to the ChE degree.

I recall one class where the prof put an equation on the board for a class where we were pricing assets using time value.

There was a redundant variable that she had on both sides of the equation. I pointed this out and suggested we simplify the equation. She looked at it for a moment before agreeing we could do that.

One guy next to me was amazed that I "figured that out".

Then there was the forensic accounting class I took. I was acing the class but there was one occasion we got to a topic I had to ask a few remedial questions. Prof answered and reminded me that it was covered in depth in the prerequisite course. I told him I hadn't taken that course yet. He was surprised and said I wasn't supposed to be in this class if that was true. I told him I didn't know that. He seemed really annoyed I hadn't taken the prerequisite and then asked what my exam grades were. I told him I got As on both.

Then he asked me if it didn't seem strange that there were all these concepts that I hadn't seen before (this was in the middle of lecture, mind you). I laughed and told him that was how my entire undergraduate engineering degree was...being confused in class and then figuring it out afterwards.

He sorta smiled and told me I could finish the course but I was to take prerequsite immediately after.

And yes... there was an accountant in the class sitting next to me that asked if I was serious when I said I got As on both exams because he didn't. That was funny.

And I'll be honest, I felt pretty smug after that. :)
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

blevine wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:43 pm
splendiferous wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:32 am The limit of Engineering Student as GPA goes to 0 equals Business Student.
Classic, but true... comments from others

Current generation student at Penn Eng told me "we take electives at Wharton for easy A's".

Friend/BE Mech Eng who went on for an MBA.
He thought he did something wrong when he completed an MBA exam fully his first semester, in far less than the alotted time.
Where is the rest of the test ? What did I do wrong. He had time to do the test twice to check his work. Finally accepted that
maybe it really was that easy ;-) Sorry MBA grads...it's true.
Had the same experience. I took micro and macro economics as GE classes. Apparently they were weeder classes for the business majors. One day standing outside waiting for the previous class to get done, some of the guys were complaining about how hard it was. I was shocked! I told them it was my relax and take it easy class! I told them it was easy, just read the textbook. It had everything he wanted you to know. The exams and homework were trivially easy. Liked it so much I later took Engineering Economics as an elective. Had some fun projects in that class. I still like studying economics to this day.

Had the exact opposite experience in Engineering Chemistry. We would be frantically writing for 90 minutes hoping to get done. The last 10 minutes the instructor would pick up a blank exam and his red pin and proceed to take the exam himself. He would then post the result in the glass cases in the hallway so we could see the correct answers. Absolutely brilliant guy. Worked on the team at Berkeley that first refined plutonium. He designed and built the microscopic scale they used to weigh the samples they produced. Like all of his colleagues, he died of an unusual disease or cancer....

In the more advanced engineering classes we used to joke that when an instructor had a problem they themselves couldn't figure out, they would put it on an exam. In textbooks they would famously write, "We leave this as an exercise for the student...." Translation: We don't have a good solution, maybe one of our students will figure it out. :wink: One of the instructors finally admitted to doing just that! :shock: Kind of cool getting your name in the Acknowledgments section of the next edition, I guess.... We weren't all that thrilled at the time.... :annoyed
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

T4REngineer wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:16 pm *Does he know what field/area he would like to go into once graduated? That really helps answer the question of how much math vs. logic gets used but at a high-level an above average ability in both is required to make an good engineer (IMHO the logic and problem solving ability is far more important then the math but you have to grasp the principles/fundamentals)
Disagree. Very seldom have I ever worked doing what I thought I wanted to do as an undergraduate. As my advisor recommended, be a generalist as an undergraduate. There is plenty of time to specialize later once you figure out what you are interested in. He may find that what he thought he wanted to do isn't all that fun and he likes another area better. In industry, the needs of the company may dominate....
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GoldStar
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by GoldStar »

NCPE wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:33 am
maineminder wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:16 am
"Look to you left, look to your right. If you make it through the program they won't".
Just retired after a 35+ year career as a PE, from my experience years ago getting my BS in Mechanical Engineering this is spot on. Engineering is a tough curriculum and if he seriously intends to pursue a degree in Engineering he needs to change his study ethic ASAP, the courses will not get any easier when he hits the sophomore / junior years.
We started calling 1st semester Engineering "pre-business" at my university because so many students were flunking calculus and/or physics and transferring to business :)
jminv
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by jminv »

regularguy455 wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:35 pm
jminv wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:55 pm A calculus course is not an engineering course. He does of course need to have a firm grounding in it for ME. He could also switch to another engineering degree if calc isn’t his favorite thing. It seems that he is just starting his university adventure and is taking the pre-reqs for later courses in his program. Under his theory, he wouldn’t know whether he was born to be an engineer until he started taking actual engineering courses. Even then, I found statics (first real engineering course besides an intro to engineering course) to be very dull. I stayed with it and had a blast once we moved onto the courses in the two majors I took. The worst thing you can do is quit early, lots of people do this, sadly.

Being an engineer, I have to say school was not all that difficult looking back on it. For courses within my specialties and in the general engineering core, I did normally go to class, do my homework, spend a lot of time on projects, and cram for exams but I also did have enough free time as well. I didn’t try too hard in the math courses and other pre-reqs but got by fine. I also went to an all science school so if it ended up that didn’t like engineering or sciences you had to transfer. I passed the FE with zero studying, same with the PE years later. Your friend is right, there are natural engineers out there. He just might not be one of them. Time will tell.

There are also plenty of people who graduate from engineering programs that weren’t ‘naturals’. Most go on to lead successful engineering careers. Then there are some of them are people who really shouldn’t have graduated let alone found a job. There’s one person I know who should have flunked out but ended up getting out of the program and finding a job but I would never, ever want to work with him on a project or use anything that he designed or oversaw.
This is the kind of humble brag attitude that is pervasive in engineering. Makes me glad I'm no longer an engineer 8-)
I actually find most engineers to be fairly humble people, more or less. Maybe not to non-engineers though when describing how easy engineering really is :D

I thought about the OP's situation some more and I would say that it's a problem if the student is having trouble with Calc 1. I had no problem with Calc 1 in high school but I did find Calc 2 to be more difficult but also had a appallingly bad TA for a 'professor'. Most of my classmates also found Calc 2 more challanging, even with different professors and it seems on here as well. Calc 3 was easier as were later math courses. If the student is having trouble with Calc 1 then they really need to put in some more effort and get some help. Lot of math departments have tutoring or extra study sessions. I've not used this, but it did seem to help some people. He's also looking at one online site for learning calculus but for exams should try to get a large collection of solved exams from other calc 1 courses past and present at his university and at others (they're posted by professors for study aids, very common) and work them to make sure he can solve all of the problems with some ease. I found this to be better than some of the different math help sites out there and yes I graduated recently enough that they were available on the internet then too. Keep in mind: many engineering students had trouble with Calculus and have no interest in it but have gone on to have successful engineering careers. You just have to get through it since they're pre-reqs for later courses.

Part of this is learning how to be an effective student in an engineering program. It's hard to stay motivated taking pre-reqs that are not in the major so hopefully the student can move beyond that quickly and get into engineering courses. The worst thing the student can do is give up and quit. If they persevere, they will get through it. Once you get into the upper level courses and the senior projects (if he has that), it really does become interesting.

If it doesn't work out, there's always business :wink: In all seriousness, though, retention is a serious problem in the average engineering program. Part of the problem is that our system is setup to reward research -not teaching - skills, there are many easier alternative programs available that a student can easily switch into, there are a large number of general education courses which prolonges the misery in the student's eyes (which isn't the case in the programs in other countries which cuts the degrees to 3 years), and the social scene on some engineering campuses is not ideal.
adam1712
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by adam1712 »

This brings back memories from college of the games people play when saying how much they study. I knew people who seemed on a mission to convince you how much they studied. And the opposite who viewed letting you know that they studied as a sign of weakness. I would not trust any of it, whether in person or in this thread.

The only thing that matters is you and whether you are getting the results for how much work you're willing to put in. As an engineering student, reading and "studying" were almost worthless for me. But that's not to say it didn't take work. For me, it was all about being locked into lectures and then doing and really understanding the assigned and example problems. And finding and doing more problems if I didn't feel like I had a good handle on things.

The nice thing about engineering is there's nearly always a single, correct answer. Your friend should be able to determine if he is making progress and understanding the material. As long as he can do that and it doesn't feel hopeless, I wouldn't worry about it.
T4REngineer
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by T4REngineer »

sreynard wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:07 pm
T4REngineer wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:16 pm *Does he know what field/area he would like to go into once graduated? That really helps answer the question of how much math vs. logic gets used but at a high-level an above average ability in both is required to make an good engineer (IMHO the logic and problem solving ability is far more important then the math but you have to grasp the principles/fundamentals)
Disagree. Very seldom have I ever worked doing what I thought I wanted to do as an undergraduate. As my advisor recommended, be a generalist as an undergraduate. There is plenty of time to specialize later once you figure out what you are interested in. He may find that what he thought he wanted to do isn't all that fun and he likes another area better. In industry, the needs of the company may dominate....
I am not sure what you are disagreeing with. I thought an undergraduate by definition was a generalist, I was given very few electives to take and taking 1 class in a certain area such as biofuels by no means made me an expert in biofuels or limited me in career options. I was simply stating if he knows what area he wants to go into that may effect how much of an impact the daily use of math skills vs. logic. A 30year old is likely to have a better idea of this then a 20year old and once you get internships under your belt is really helps. A maintenance engineer at a chemical company is very different then a design engineer at NASA - yet both can require MEs and if he wanted to be a design engineer for NASA but didn't grasp Cal 1 I would be more concerned however 1 data point is not much to go on.
jharkin
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by jharkin »

I remember when I went through undergrad I struggled with all the basic theory courses... calc 1&2, differential equations, linear algebra, etc.


The applied courses made more sense to me, and actually helped me master the math. I.e...
I struggled in calc but it made sense when I got to thermo and fluids.
I struggled in diffeq, but aced heat transfer.
I struggled with Laplace transforms until I got to control systems.

Etc.

Tell him not to take success for granted, but don’t give up. Some of the best practical engineers are not the ones who where the best at basic theory...
Mjar
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Mjar »

Engineering takes hard work regardless if you are wired for it or not. Where I went to school, engineering required 4.5 years of taking a normal college load and that was if you didn't have to repeat any classes, while other degrees were all designed for 4 years or less. my senior year I had all engineering classes both semesters and practically lived in the engineering buildings be it in lecture, lab or working projects or studying or working thru problems with classmates. I was in a different field and one one of my teachers pushed me into engineering (I am forever indebted to him, he has no idea how much it has impacted my life) which he thought I was wired for, but it took a lot of hard work. I wanted to be an engineer but not for my whole career so I went into BSIE which as allowed me to transition into Engineering business management type of roll. My brother has a BSEE had to put in hard work to get thru his degree as well as my cousin BSME and we are all wired for engineering and have the ability to think logically/practically form a engineering/mathematical perspective when doing things in our day to day lives even though our wives openly make fun of us for it.

Looks like he got humbled from the math class, which is all the early engineering prerequisite like Calc/Physics classes are weed out classes, it only gets harder. Regardless if he is wired for it or not, is this something he wants to do after college? Else he will be miserable.
MrBeaver
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by MrBeaver »

It doesn't matter how hard the coursework is. He can finish it if he wants to. What's more important is that in many industries, engineers are there to encounter problems they don't know how to solve, and figure out solutions. For many, this is energizing. For most, this can get discouraging at times (burnout, impostor syndrome, etc.). Show me a successful engineer and I almost guarantee they went through some period where they realized they couldn't do something, worked through it, and enjoyed the process even if parts of it were grueling. I hit the beginnings of that in school when I took Differential Equations, as it was the first math course I simultaneously loved and was really hard for me. Prior to that, anything I liked seemed easy because my raw interest carried me through what was necessary to understand and become proficient at it.

In other words, I wouldn't be concerned that he learns math well. I'd want him to recognize that problem solving as a career will include countless challenges like this, and he needs to learn how to work those challenges to find solutions. But that is hard. Most don't learn this lesson until after they are in their careers. I'm still learning it myself.

If he finds that he doesn't enjoy 'attacking problems', then other careers might be better for his future emotional health, regardless of whether he's 'good at math'.
sreynard
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by sreynard »

T4REngineer wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:01 pm
sreynard wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:07 pm
T4REngineer wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:16 pm *Does he know what field/area he would like to go into once graduated? That really helps answer the question of how much math vs. logic gets used but at a high-level an above average ability in both is required to make an good engineer (IMHO the logic and problem solving ability is far more important then the math but you have to grasp the principles/fundamentals)
Disagree. Very seldom have I ever worked doing what I thought I wanted to do as an undergraduate. As my advisor recommended, be a generalist as an undergraduate. There is plenty of time to specialize later once you figure out what you are interested in. He may find that what he thought he wanted to do isn't all that fun and he likes another area better. In industry, the needs of the company may dominate....
I am not sure what you are disagreeing with. I thought an undergraduate by definition was a generalist, I was given very few electives to take and taking 1 class in a certain area such as biofuels by no means made me an expert in biofuels or limited me in career options. I was simply stating if he knows what area he wants to go into that may effect how much of an impact the daily use of math skills vs. logic. A 30year old is likely to have a better idea of this then a 20year old and once you get internships under your belt is really helps. A maintenance engineer at a chemical company is very different then a design engineer at NASA - yet both can require MEs and if he wanted to be a design engineer for NASA but didn't grasp Cal 1 I would be more concerned however 1 data point is not much to go on.
I'm disagreeing that knowing what field/area he would like to go into now helps answer the question of how much math he will need in the future. What he wants to do now probably has little relation to what he will be doing 5, 10, or 15 years from now. Obviously, he can turn down work, but from my experience, engineers that do that tend to be on the short list for unemployment during downturns.

Most engineers I know, have done a wide variety of different engineering jobs over their careers, regardless of what their major was. Programming being by far the most common.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by jabberwockOG »

I was a very lazy student, and flunked Algebra II in HS and had to retake. Later in college I took the three class 5 hour engineering level calculus series. Doing well (for me) in these classes required attending every lecture, doing every homework problem and then some more of the hardest looking problems to confirm I had it down, reviewing and reworking the previous exam before any new exam, going to the 2 hour evening test prep session offered before each exam, and usually spending a couple of hours per week with my math professor's office if I could not master that week's work. So for me it did not come easy, but I earned the second highest A in the first class, and highest A in the last two classes, worked like a dog to do so. More than a few much brighter folks in these classes could have easily surpassed my exam results if they had put a little more effort than the crazy amount of work that I put into each class.

For me that specific effort (and result) made a lasting difference in my confidence level going forward. I understood that I had developed the skill set and work ethic to achieve at the highest level in school or career if I wanted it bad enough.

After a 40 year career, much of those years in management, I was on the look out for folks that cruised thru school and now career and avoided them like the plague.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
investingdad
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by investingdad »

Hard work beats talent if talent is lazy.

This much has always been true.
KyleAAA
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by KyleAAA »

I had a hard time with some of the math, particularly the more esoteric CS theory classes. I don't know anybody who cruised through their CS degree without any difficulty, although Calculus isn't what tripped most people up.
tch_usa
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by tch_usa »

Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:32 am So my question for engineers out there, are those who are "wired" for this field just suppose to be able to cruise through it like he thinks he needs to or does being confused, needing to study, and having trouble all part of the curve?
Addressing this specific question from the opening post: As an engineer, the engineers (in an academic setting) who seem the most "wired" for this field are the ones able to cruise through. However, they are SO wired that instead of cruising they spend a lot of time either challenging themselves with difficult coursework or spending a lot of their free time tinkering with engineering side projects. Though there are some very talented engineers who will work their 40 or 50 hours a week and then go home and enjoy their life without everything being engineering related jokes.

More troublesome about your friend is that he doesn't seem to want to work for the degree and would rather cruise through. If he is struggling with calculus AND displays little inclination to overcome that struggle, I think he will have a very hard time completing the engineering degree (though more through lack of effort than lack of ability). In particular, many of the engineering courses will involve some calculus: if your friend doesn't grasp it well, he might spend a fluids class worrying about the calculus rather than the fluids. And same thing with thermo, heat transfer, etc.
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:32 am A close friend of mine is tackling his M.E degree at age 30.
Why is he deciding to get his ME degree at this point? And what has he been doing professionally for the last 10 or 12 years?
All that said, even if your friend is not at all mathematically inclined but has 10 years of experience in something engineering related but practical, such as being a machinist, I would think combining that practical knowledge with formal engineering education could prove to be a valuable asset.
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Keepcalm
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Keepcalm »

tch_usa wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:41 pm
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:32 am So my question for engineers out there, are those who are "wired" for this field just suppose to be able to cruise through it like he thinks he needs to or does being confused, needing to study, and having trouble all part of the curve?
Addressing this specific question from the opening post: As an engineer, the engineers (in an academic setting) who seem the most "wired" for this field are the ones able to cruise through. However, they are SO wired that instead of cruising they spend a lot of time either challenging themselves with difficult coursework or spending a lot of their free time tinkering with engineering side projects. Though there are some very talented engineers who will work their 40 or 50 hours a week and then go home and enjoy their life without everything being engineering related jokes.

More troublesome about your friend is that he doesn't seem to want to work for the degree and would rather cruise through. If he is struggling with calculus AND displays little inclination to overcome that struggle, I think he will have a very hard time completing the engineering degree (though more through lack of effort than lack of ability). In particular, many of the engineering courses will involve some calculus: if your friend doesn't grasp it well, he might spend a fluids class worrying about the calculus rather than the fluids. And same thing with thermo, heat transfer, etc.
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:32 am A close friend of mine is tackling his M.E degree at age 30.
Why is he deciding to get his ME degree at this point? And what has he been doing professionally for the last 10 or 12 years?
All that said, even if your friend is not at all mathematically inclined but has 10 years of experience in something engineering related but practical, such as being a machinist, I would think combining that practical knowledge with formal engineering education could prove to be a valuable asset.
He works in a Test & Evaluation department as an Engineering Test Technician. He takes prototype components in the industry that he is in and tests them through destructive and non destructive methods. Then he reports back to the engineer who’s design it is with all kinds of test data results that he puts in large excel files for them.

That’s how he got turned onto just going to school and being an actual engineer. At 30 years old would be be better off trying to grow off of being a Test Technician as he is now instead of schooling? I think part of him feels behind times due to the fact he is 32 (not 30 sorry).
investingdad
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by investingdad »

It's never too late, and 32 isn't... if he's serious about it.
youngpleb
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by youngpleb »

I’m not an engineer per say (does software engineer count? :mrgreen: ) but I will say that I didn’t really apply myself in calc 1 because I was taking 18 credits (6 classes) and the homework was ungraded and optional. I got an A, but it was very close and I crammed like crazy for the final exam. When calc 2 started next semester, I made up my mind to do every single question on every homework assignment. I walked into that final needing to score a 40% in order to get an A in the class.

A lot of getting good at something is simply putting in the hours and practicing.
go_mets
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by go_mets »

Went back 2 years after my BSEE to get MSEE

It was very hard!


Cannot imagine doing it at 30+ .
stuffthatpig
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by stuffthatpig »

I'll comment from the non-engineer perspective. I don't think you can cruise through any of the math and engineering courses as many of them build on each other. I cruised through the first 2 calcs because I took them in high school. When I got to Calc 3 and Diff Eq, I didn't understand enough background from floating along. Many of the engineering and physics classes utilize formulas and principles you learned in lower level classes. When I got to Thermo and Fluid dynamics, I couldn't keep up regardless of study hours.

I'm also good at math so it's not like I'm just a dunce, I just didn't retain anything for the first 3 semesters. I switched to a preferred major (ecnomics, finance) and did a bunch of statistics. I'm not wired to be an engineer so he might throw this opinion away but work at it. It's hard work.
tch_usa
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by tch_usa »

While my last post was meant to be discouraging, I want this one to be encouraging. My point about those that are really "wired" to do engineering is that they do exist but a lot of engineers do struggle.
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm
He works in a Test & Evaluation department as an Engineering Test Technician. He takes prototype components in the industry that he is in and tests them through destructive and non destructive methods. Then he reports back to the engineer who’s design it is with all kinds of test data results that he puts in large excel files for them.
I actually think that's a really good reason for him to be an engineer. My feeling is that his extensive test experience, combined with an engineering education, should provide extra insight in designing better components from the beginning. As a young engineer myself who has developed working relationships with machinists with decades of experience, I've gotten used to receiving a lot of very useful feedback in designing and drawing better or cheaper parts. Plus I think having people doing the same job (say engineer designing components) with different backgrounds (traditional high school->BS in engineering->career vs. high school->practical experience->BS in engineering) allows for more possible solutions: being different is good in this case.
Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm That’s how he got turned onto just going to school and being an actual engineer. At 30 years old would be be better off trying to grow off of being a Test Technician as he is now instead of schooling? I think part of him feels behind times due to the fact he is 32 (not 30 sorry).
He might be best off talking with an engineer he's working with now, provided the working relationship is good enough. I don't think the age is an issue. Echoing what go_mets said, if he's 32, he might not have even had to solve an algebra equation in the last 15 years! He's bound to be rusty.

The most important thing he can learn from the calculus class is about himself. He should try to identify earlier on which courses, if any, he can breeze through, and which he needs to spend more time on. And then how to spend more time on it: professor or TA office hours, working problems alone, working in a group, a supplemental text, personal tutor, etc. Even if his schedule makes some of these difficult or impossible, an earnest entreaty to a professor or TA for help over email might be responded to favorably, provided he's shown that he's trying hard and just needs more support.

And if he really wants the ME degree, why does he care whether it's harder or easier for him than anyone else? If he puts in the work, learns a lot, and graduates, he did what he wanted to do. Good for him.
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triceratop
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by triceratop »

stuffthatpig wrote: Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:40 am I'll comment from the non-engineer perspective. I don't think you can cruise through any of the math and engineering courses as many of them build on each other. I cruised through the first 2 calcs because I took them in high school. When I got to Calc 3 and Diff Eq, I didn't understand enough background from floating along. Many of the engineering and physics classes utilize formulas and principles you learned in lower level classes. When I got to Thermo and Fluid dynamics, I couldn't keep up regardless of study hours.

I'm also good at math so it's not like I'm just a dunce, I just didn't retain anything for the first 3 semesters. I switched to a preferred major (ecnomics, finance) and did a bunch of statistics. I'm not wired to be an engineer so he might throw this opinion away but work at it. It's hard work.
You absolutely can cruise through the math courses required for an engineering degree. I knew people who cruised through differential equations before even entering university.

It's just that a lot of those people end up at schools which teach all of these subjects at a much higher level and with more difficult problem sets. They are challenged more, yes. Comparing Math 55ab at Harvard to Calculus 1 (even Honors level) at Flagship State U is just problematic.
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."
stuffthatpig
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by stuffthatpig »

triceratop wrote: Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:06 am It's just that a lot of those people end up at schools which teach all of these subjects at a much higher level and with more difficult problem sets. They are challenged more, yes. Comparing Math 55ab at Harvard to Calculus 1 (even Honors level) at Flagship State U is just problematic.

Ha! Definitely. Engineering and the higher level math profs assumed you understood the other stuff backwards and forwards and didn't stop for any of the foundation. I tried to take a Calc 1 MOOC from Harvard or Penn a few years ago and I realized while I learned and could DO the calculus, I never learned the theory behind it which is what they were going for.

Based on the OP's description, I'm guessing this person won't be okay trying to cruise through on sheer brain power.
macman_65
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by macman_65 »

I obtained a BSME 10 years ago as a 42 year old - this was after a 15 year hiatus from taking a college class of any kind. It can be done.

That being said...

It was a lot of work.
I was a very good math student. I got A's in all my math classes - 4 Calculus classes - including taking a Master's level vector calculus class as an elective. The freshman classes are easy - by the time you graduate the classes will have become significantly more difficult - they have advanced calculus as pre-requisites. If someone is struggling in their freshman calculus courses it may be time to re-consider.
Last edited by macman_65 on Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
go_mets
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by go_mets »

Keepcalm wrote: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:55 pm He works in a Test & Evaluation department as an Engineering Test Technician. He takes prototype components in the industry that he is in and tests them through destructive and non destructive methods. Then he reports back to the engineer who’s design it is with all kinds of test data results that he puts in large excel files for them.

That’s how he got turned onto just going to school and being an actual engineer. At 30 years old would be be better off trying to grow off of being a Test Technician as he is now instead of schooling? I think part of him feels behind times due to the fact he is 32 (not 30 sorry).
Are these prototypes more mechanical in nature than electrical?

Are the tests he runs automated or manual?
If automated, he may want to learn how to write those test programs.

Learn advanced Excel to learn how to analyze the data.
Learn statistics on what the data means.
Learn a statistics program like Minitab.


Does he have an Associates degree in Mechanical Engineering?

If not, I would suggest taking classes at the community college.
If he finishes the 2 years, he gets his Associates.
If he finds that after the 2 years he wants to go on, he can use the credits to get his BSME.


As an example: https://www.njtransfer.org/artweb/showr ... 1532440822


I have worked as hardware test engineer for the past 20 years.

.
Glockenspiel
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Re: Engineers come in.

Post by Glockenspiel »

I'm a Civil Engineer and my experience from Midwestern State U was that classes got easier once I got past Calc 2, Diff Eq, Dynamics, and University Physics II. Even my structural analysis, structural steel design, and reinforced concrete classes weren't as difficult as some of the more advanced heavy-math classes. Things just made more sense to me when the course content was based on real-world application. My freshmen year I probably had only a 2.8 GPA, but by junior and senior year I was up to about 3.7 or 3.8 every semester, and ended with like a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
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