Nerds or geeks in Engineering? Here are some things to ponder, Jesse.
Yes, I suppose a lot of them do gravitate toward engineering. But consider all the COOL things that Engineers get to do. Design and test the next generation of passenger jets and spacecraft; build great bridges or grand tunnels to connect people; provides clean, safe drinking water to towns and cities; restore and enhance rivers and lakes to protect fish habitat and environmental protection; create software that quite literally runs the World...these and numerous other opportunities are open to us engineers. The quality of life in our modern world is due largely to the work of engineers. So how COOL is that?
Another cool thing about the engineering profession is the relatively high starting salaries that most engineering students can get coming out of college. Engineering is one of the better-paid professions.
Finally, Jesse, you can take the long-term view of things. As one moves past the age of 30 (and you inevitably will), "geekiness" tends to largely disappear as a factor in one's life. What becomes much more important is a self-sense of contribution and accomplishment. And few professions provide more opportunity for contributing to the good of Society than engineering. So how COOL is that?
Pete Sturtevant, P.E.
I think you have to ask yourself, what is a geek?
I have had some of the best outrageous fun, with engineers and technicians I have worked with. I am an engineer but also an artist who loves walking, festivals, wild swimming. And you get a lot of respect being an engineer, which being a short woman in a male dominated industry is a big deal for me.
And do you want to be an engineer more than anything else? If you do, then being called a geek, is probably a compliment.
If by "geeks/nerds" you mean those whose passion for math/science/engineering/computers leads them to dig into those things on their own, in their own free time, then no, it's definitely not a requirement. But consider: those who have such passion without getting paid for it are both better prepared for eventual coursework, internships, and employment in such fields and more likely to have the right attitude to truly succeed in such fields. A great deal of engineering comes down to problem-solving and digging through code/documentation/test results/whatever until you reach an understanding of the problem and can see how to attack it. Isn't that exactly what characterizes a lot of the geeks and nerds you've known?
That said, I've known a few engineers who came from a completely non-technical background and more who come from mixed backgrounds (such as music and engineering, or athletics and science). In fact, I think you'd be surprised at the variety and pervasiveness of non-geek activities pursued by those who have made engineering their professions. Almost every new hire's introductory email that goes around here at LinkedIn has some fascinating skill, hobby, or passion. There are almost no "pure geeks" in the real world!