6 answers

Do you have to be excellent at math to be an Engineer?

Asked Lakeland, Florida

6 answers

Jennifer’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

Hi Cole,

This is a great question. Most engineering majors require you to take math courses, including calculus, to earn your degree. I personally struggled with my calculus 3 class, but I found that my college offered some pretty useful tutoring resources. I will say, in my job, I do not use a lot of the math I had to learn in college. I do however use the same problem solving skills that those math classes teach you. This is definitely not true for every engineering major! Other majors use math much more frequently... it just depends on the career path you choose to follow and the day to day requirements of your job.

Grant’s Answer

Updated Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

You will learn all that you need to know and more as you go along, as well as the practical uses, I can help you with any questions that you may have and also with learning engineering maths.

Any questions please reply and I will get back to you


Hector R.’s Answer

Updated Raleigh, North Carolina

I don't believe you have to be necessarily excellent at math to be a good engineer. It depends on exactly which fields and specializations you will go into. There are fields, of course, that necessitate expertise in very advanced mathematics, but other fields only require a basic understanding of mathematical principles, being able to think logically, and just being able to design systems and algorithms. I personally loathed calculus when I earned my engineering degree and have never had any use whatsoever for any of the calculus I learned, but I do wish I had taken more statistics and accounting, which were not required for my degree at the time. That being said, most work is project-based and collaborative and you can steer your career away from quantitative work and towards work that is more creative or more people-facing. The ability to communicate, to speak and write well, to convey your ideas and to collaborate with different types of people, to spark new ideas and execute them, to lead and mentor other engineers, and to bridge the gap between engineering and customers/stakeholders, are much more important skills the further you go along in your career.

G. Mark’s Answer


I've heard this question asked before often. The first reaction from most engineers seems to be "of course -- mathematics is a big part of engineering". That's true. But consider that some great writers aren't all that good at spelling, some famous artists have found ways to "cheat". Consider Michaelangelo who was a fantastic artist and yet devised a way of using giant stencils on the Sistine Chapel to save some effort in making the figures consistent in geometry. And an engineer that has access to a mathematics analysis program will generally be silly and certainly less efficient for not using it and doing the calculations by hand. Also, teams of engineers are becoming more and more interdisciplinary in that different members have different strengths. Just as a great mathematician might be a terrible engineer, but still help tremendously with engineers who use his work, a great engineer may not be all that great at math, but still be able to make use of principles generated by math. Einstein was said to have claimed that he was terrible at arithmetic. Obviously, problems end to be complicated and are getting moreso as time goes on, so it's unlikely that an engineer will be confronted with a problem where he or she would have all the necessary skills to solve it. And if he or she has an excellent skill in an area that's not math, it would be a shame to waste it. So, yeah, math is extremely important in engineering and is the basis of much of it. But food is extremely important to people who can't cook for $*#(*$.

G. Mark’s Answer


No. Just as you don't have to be "excellent" at giving injections to be a physician. You have to be reasonably good at getting the "job" done, whatever it may be at the moment, and that includes recruiting others and other tools to get the job done. So, yes, math is very important in engineering, but as with most other human activities, it can get complicated and require more capability than any single person might have. And that's why humans, as social animals, tend to work in groups. To maximize effectiveness in spite of individual's limitations. I would, however, strongly discourage anyone from giving up on any profession without at least trying the things they appear to be lacking at. Be positive and find a way to get something done without assuming you need to do it all yourself. Projects tend to get bigger and more complicated, not smaller or less, so admit there will always be things you'll need help with.

Alejandro’s Answer

Updated Mexico City, Mexico

Hello Cole,

I studied Telecommunications Engineering, I was good at math but it is not the most important thing, for me to be curious, innovator, willing to discover new ways to do the things is even more important, for the future engineering related careers you need to develop other skills like programming, so do not consider mandatory math to study engineering is just a way you can develop structural thinking.