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When did you realize that you wanted to become an engineer, and how did you strive to become one?

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I am a junior in high school and I am passionate about engineering. I want to know what professionals did in order to become one! #engineering #civil-engineering #mechanical-engineering #career

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7 answers

Richard’s Answer

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That is a most excellent question!

I came from a technical family, however im the first degreed engineer in our history.

I literally broke everything i got my hands on from early age, I just had to know how everything worked.

So, to answer your question quite bluntly, everyone in my family said "that is a natural born engineer" and I just believed them.

My grandfather had a machine shop and I spend summers there -> I was in that shop every day learning welding, machining, mechanics and such very early.

I spent time in drafting and design at a tech school my Junior and Senior high school years, then went to Jr college for two years to get the physics and other pre-engineering stuff done, then transferred to University of Maryland, College Park to get my B.S.M.E.

My grades weren't that great so I had to do a bit of catch up in the basics , but physics and stuff came naturally. Chemestry not so much.

I may be an exception to the rule, but I never imagined myself as anything else but a mechanical engineer. I just did whatever had to be done to realize what was inevitable.

Thank you SO MUCH for such a great question! made me feel great to think back and I hope it enlightens you as much as it did me!

Richard "Born Identity" Wolf





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Aaron’s Answer

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I entered college as a Mechanical Engineering major but changed to Civil Engineering midway through Freshman year because of a great opportunity in the commercial construction industry. Freshman year of college is a lot of general education course work, so it offers you a little flexibility if you wish to change majors. Get as much experience as you can with internships and summer jobs in the field you think you'd like to work in.
Once you enter the workforce as an engineer, take advantage of mentoring from senior staff, any kind of company continuing education opportunities, and focus on building a professional network that can help you (and vice versa) with advice and future opportunities.
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Nicole’s Answer

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Hi Jared H.

Strength and liking math was a precursor for me. This started, for me, as I was starting high school. As I got into 10th and 11th grade, my mom used to bring home the science section of our local newspaper. Usually, it was the section that outlined different types of engineering (and potential salaries :)). As I was visiting colleges and universities, I was fully impressed with the amount of investment that many of these schools put into their engineering programs. That led me to believe that if they were investing in these programs so heavily, that investment would (and indeed did) translate to their investment in me and my ability to graduate.

I consider myself lucky in that I knew, before I started college, that I wanted to graduate with an engineering degree. What I didn't know was what type. The good news is that I didn't begin to specialize in type of engineering until the end of my second year. My freshman and sophomore year were filled with basic engineering courses like physics, statistics and lots and lots of math. I also reached out to upper classmen to understand more about their classes and, on occasion, how their new jobs were working out for them.

I do hope you find this guidance helpful. Good luck!
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Steven’s Answer

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To answer your question, put another way, when didn't I think I was going to be an engineer. It was never a question. I liked to fix things and reverse engineer things. So I would take apart a few toys and I always had an aptitude to fix things. The things I did to prepare for becoming a PE, Professional Engineer was prepare to go to college, by taking college prep classes in high school and then joining the army to get the GI bill. Then I chose a great college known for their engineering program. Shout out to Cal Poly SLO.

Steven recommends the following next steps:

  • Go to the library and check out a book on engineering careers.
  • Get a CO OP job at an engineering firm.
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Camila’s Answer

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I have always being great with math. When it was time for me to go to high school, I decided to get a technical degree along with my high school degree. I studied electronics as it was what more interested me on that moment. However, my father was a piping designer. He used to work from home sometimes and I was very interested in learning more about the projects, that's when I started to be more interested in mechanics. I wish I could have got a degree in mechatronics engineering where I could have combined both passion. It was not available in my hometown. Therefore, I studied Mechanical Engineering.
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Stephanie’s Answer

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Hi Jared,

So you can better understand what motivates me everyday with my work, from the moment I first sat in front of a computer to now, I will give you a little background information. Hopefully it sheds some more light on how passion is a huge successor in one's drive and will to succeed.

This role (Software Engineering) was never an option or opportunity I saw for myself when I was younger. It actually wasn't until last minute I decided I wanted to go to college, and even then I still wasn't sure where to go with Software Engineering - given all the many directions and fields in this area - but I knew it provided me with the most opportunities. I didn't even know what engineering was at the beginning. All I knew was what I thought I was going to be forced to live given my under-represented background. I didn't see many kids like me become anything more, or even want to become anything more, than what was displayed in our small, low poverty environment. We just didn't know any better nor have that guidance - me being my family's 1st generation college grad and an engineer at that. There were many reasons for me to give up and not many reasons to go to college, let alone go for an engineering degree. But I knew I wanted more. I knew I had potential and that I needed to strive for something more given my work ethic, I just didn't know how to apply it. I knew I was very familiar with and enjoyed problem solving and critical thinking - which all stemmed from me trying to survive as a 15 year old runaway.

I found engineering was, not only my escape from my harsh realities but, a place for me to express my experiences and challenge myself more in developing impactful work. Which led me to first developing games with Java. I saw some mini games and decided to try and replicate them. Once I did that more and realized gaming development isn't for me, I moved on to hardware-software projects like playing with a raspberry pi (a micro-computer) and tried creating projects with that. I realized I didn't fancy the hardware as much as I was enjoying the software part and decided to move more into web development and got going there. Seeing these opportunities and seeking out new technological adventures started to open a lot of doors for me. I got more involved in school clubs at my college, networked with colleagues in my classes, participated in hackathons, and started to see the differences I was making with my learning and how it could help shape the outside world. Then I realized, all this technology yet who is securing it all? And that is when my passion for cybersecurity came about.

Kudos to you already being aware of your passions and aiming to find your way. And I think you are in the right field. Because, like I expressed in my story, this field gives you the opportunity to reach for the stars in any and many directions. There's always something new to learn and always another area in this field you can dip your feet into. Then, knowing the impact you're making and help you are contributing to is so awesome and rewarding. When I get to host volunteer events to help teach kids code or about the world of STEM, especially kids that come from a minority background, it makes me so happy to know I was that face for those kids who, once like me, didn't know they had a face here.

So, to make a long story short, finding that passion is such key, which you already have. Especially in this field, that passion motivates you to be better, do better, and also help others along the way. And that is why I continue to contribute serving up my passions and experiences with software engineering.

Be curious, explore options, find what area of engineering really gets you going, and use that passion of yours to constantly motivate you.
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Steven’s Answer

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To answer your question, put another way, when didn't I think I was going to be an engineer. It was never a question. I liked to fix things and reverse engineer things. So I would take apart a few toys and I always had an aptitude to fix things. The things I did to prepare for becoming a PE, Professional Engineer was prepare to go to college, by taking college prep classes in high school and then joining the army to get the GI bill. Then I chose a great college known for their engineering program. Shout out to Cal Poly SLO.

Steven recommends the following next steps:

  • Go to the library and check out a book on engineering careers.
  • Get a CO OP job at an engineering firm.
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