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If I wanted to become an engineer, what classes and/or skills would you recommend me learn to succeed in college and life after college?

I am a junior in high school and I am trying to get the most of out my high school classes and opportunities to be a successful engineer. Help me out!
#engineer #student #high-school


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Chris’s Answer

If you want to become an engineer, you'll definitely want to have a strong math and science background. That is a given.
But, engineering has many disciplines (and it is more than math and science). Are you mechanically inclined? Do you like to fix things? Are you drawn to electronics, computers or computer programming? Would you like to build a robot? Do you see yourself building bridges or soccer stadiums? Do you like chemistry? Or, would you prefer designing airplanes?
If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, look for classes and opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills in that area.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

Join an enginnering, math or other club that will further your interests.
Volunteer/intern for a engineering firm.

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Benjamin’s Answer

Broad, diverse experience and soft skills are often undervalued by engineers. My advice would be to branch out, take non-technical classes and look for ways that they integrate into your engineering interests.

Part of my job is explaining complex technical topics in a way that a non-technical customer can understand and engage with. A public speaking class would help you develop that skill.

The items or buildings you design will be used or experienced by human beings. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, and similar courses will help you understand and empathize, leading to better designs.

Many engineering design decisions come down to the value (trading among cost, schedule, and capability), so a basic understanding of economics is important.

These are the obvious ones that spring to mind, but you can find an engineering hook in almost any field of study. I treasure all of the time I spent in different courses that were not required for my degree and I have helped me be relatively well-rounded.

There are also roles that are highly specialized, and you may decide to go that route in the future. However, it is far too early for you to think about that now.

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Ross’s Answer

In high school AP math and science courses are going to give you a leg up on college applications and it's always helpful to have a few college credits going into your freshman year. College can be a big transition so having a little wiggle room to start with to take a bit of a lighter load as you get settled in can be a huge help. I would agree with the other responses the soft skills are extremely valuable. The most successful professionals are those that not only have the hard technical skills, but are also strong communicators and team players capable of working across the organization!

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Paul’s Answer

One thing I always harped on with my students when it came to college. A formal degree is very valuable, but the combination of a degree and experience is an incredibly powerful combination.

Imagine graduating college with your degree AND a couple years experience. You will be a top recruit for many companies. In fact a friend of mine was an engineering major in college. By his third year, he had a co-op with a major company, who paid for his entire education, with a guaranteed job at the end of it!

Number one choice would be a co-op program, where you go to school one or two terms, and work in the field one term. These often turn into full time jobs and a lot of other perks. Next would be any kind of job in your field - part time or summer jobs at an engineering firm of some kind.

In the meantime, take all the science and math you can in high school. That's just practical. But I love Benjamin's answer too - don't just be a computational robot, be a human being. All in all, people want to work with people they LIKE. Know your craft, but be people friendly - and be able to speak about more than just your job. That's just humanity.

Good luck!

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Steven’s Answer

Take as much algebra and trig as you can. That will help you with calculus later. Take drafting and or descriptive geometry to sharpen your visual skills. Take speech and or debate to develop your soft skills. Take a business course to learn if sales and marketing is an option for you.

Steven recommends the following next steps:

Volunteer at a local company
Look into tutoring

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Rachel’s Answer

AP calculus, chem, and physics are all excellent preparation for the engineering classes. If you have seen this information before, you will have a better chance of getting an A in the class in college.

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