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What basic knowledge do you need in order to pursue a future in engineering?

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I am a senior in high school and I took numerous AP classes in my junior and senior years. During my senior year, I took AP Calc BC, AP Physics, and AP Computer Science. Were these classes enough to get me started in being an engineer? Also, what should I take in college to further help me reach my goal? Thank you!
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Andrew’s Answer

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Hi! I am a master's student in an engineering field (computer science) and my undergrad is in Industrial Engineering. A lot of my friends are in engineering as well (mechanical, electrical, etc.) When I was in high school, I pretty much took the exact same classes as you: AP Calc, AP Physics, and other APs in STEM. These classes are very challenging and more than enough to get you started in high school.

In college, you'll likely take very similar classes: more calculus, linear algebra, physics, statistics, and introductory classes in the engineering fields themselves (such as introduction to computer science or introduction to circuits and electrical engineering). You can find exactly what classes you need to take by going to the college or department website: there are usually required classes you need to take to get a degree in the major. Best of luck reaching your goal!

Andrew recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out a college website and see what classes you need to major in a field. For example, google "X University Mechanical Engineering Required Classes"
  • Bring your high school notes to college!
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Laura’s Answer

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Hi Rachel! You are already on the right track to pursue a future in engineering! Many of the classes you’ll need to take in college will be similar to your AP classes. If you know your major, I would suggest looking at the curriculum for that major and seeing what classes you’ll be taking in the future. That will allow you to see what subjects you need for your freshmen year and beyond. If you are unsure of your major, I would suggest looking at the different majors you’re interested in. Some classes will overlap between majors and you can take those classes, allowing you to transfer into either major easily. Other than that, I think you already have the basics to pursue a career in engineering! Good luck!
Rachel Laura's advice is perfect Adele Suttle Translate
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Douglas’s Answer

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Hi,

The short answer to your question is Yes, the classes that you have taken in high school should make you well prepared to enter a college engineering program. As to what classes you take in college to reach your goal of becoming and engineer depends on what type of engineer you wish to become. If you Google Engineer you will find that there are many types of engineer (mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, etc.). If you read a description of each one, you may find the work associated with one area to be especially appealing to you. That should greatly help you in deciding which type of engineering to study in college. Plus, there are several "types" of jobs that engineers do: design, manufacturing, R&D, construction, sales, application.

As you become more familial with the type of engineering that is most interesting to you, there will be specific classes that are required for your major plus elective classes that will become obvious to you as you interact with the other students, professionals in your chosen field and the professors in your major who will help you to choose elective classes to meet your goals .

One last comment, the classes that you will take in your first two years (regardless of engineering major) are pretty much the same, which means that as you progress through your first 2 years and decide to change engineering majors, you should be able to do so quite easily.

Good Luck, hope this helps.

Doug
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John’s Answer

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Nearly every industry relies on forward-thinking engineers to turn tomorrow’s dreams into today’s realities Rachel.

ENGINEERING QUALIFICATIONS

Engineering is one of the fastest growing and most exciting fields today, offering new college graduates significant earning potential, job stability, and plenty of personal satisfaction. There are many different jobs available for engineers. Not everyone can be an engineer, however, as the demands in terms of skills and knowledge are intense. Bachelor of Science programs are available in a variety of disciplines, but all typically include the education and training needed to perform general engineering practices in the field of your choice. Programs typically include a combination of math and science courses, along with coursework specific to the area of study.

There are several different branches of engineering, each with distinct technical skill sets. Within a given field, credentials and expectations may vary significantly among these various fields of engineering. The skills required of an engineer differ by discipline, but, in general, engineers design, test, or build materials, equipment, or systems. Soft skills are those which require interpersonal adaptability among different kinds of people, problems, and situations. For example, leadership and communication are interpersonal skills that successful engineers employ on a regular basis. These soft skills complement “hard” skills, such as programming or a working knowledge of chemistry.

ENGINEERING REQUIREMENTS & SKILLS

COMMUNICATION –Engineering is very technical and relies on concise and accurate communication between colleagues. But you will also have to communicate with people outside of the field, such as clients and sometimes the general public, who do not have a technical background. It's important that you are able to translate your specialized knowledge into terms that those within and outside your department can understand. Due to the highly technical demands, communication often proves one of the most challenging soft skills for engineers.

TEAMWORK – Engineers almost never work alone; you'll work with a wide range of employees, both fellow engineers and people outside your department, to bring your projects to fruition. You need to be able to work collaboratively with different types of people at every level, applying skills as varied as verbal communication and appropriate body language to goal-setting and prioritizing problems. You need the character and integrity that will induce other people to trust you and rely on you as you all work together.

CREATIVITY – Engineering is fundamentally about problem solving and multi-tasking, and that means finding new ways to apply existing knowledge—a truly creative process. Computer modeling is the creation and maintaining of computer models which become simulations of complex systems. While modeling is not unique to engineering, it has become a critical component in many fields where engineering is vital.

ATTENTION TO DETAILS – Projects in engineering are extraordinarily complex. They involve dozens, if not hundreds, of people. A small mistake at any point during planning, development, or construction can result in failure. A failed project not only loses money but could also injure or even kill people. In fact, since computers can only follow instructions, engineers must first figure out how to solve numeric problems on their own before they can tell a computer what to do.

Hope this was Helpful Rachel
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Akihiko’s Answer

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Hi,

I would try to answer your question as "what" are needed from my experience and perspective.
You have been learning a lot about various area of engineering in high school with your best interest, and assuming you would decide your major along this. This is right move and you would be able to continue enhance your knowledge of the engineering through the curriculums.
Generally speaking, recent and future technologies, especially communication/computing world, are complicated and deeply interacting. Implication for future engineers is that there are lots of opportunity to learn beside her/his major, and it is quite essential. How to enable this? My answer is not to limit area of your interest through your college classes, and do exchange ideas with others who has different engineering interest. I believe this would help your engineering knowledge enhancement, and achieve your dream come true.
Hope this help some. Good luck.
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Douglas’s Answer

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Hi,

The short answer to your question is Yes, the classes that you have taken in high school should make you well prepared to enter a college engineering program. As to what classes you take in college to reach your goal of becoming and engineer depends on what type of engineer you wish to become. If you Google Engineer you will find that there are many types of engineer (mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, etc.). If you read a description of each one, you may find the work associated with one area to be especially appealing to you. That should greatly help you in deciding which type of engineering to study in college. As you become more familial with the type of engineering that is most interesting to you, the specific classes that are required plus the elective classes in your chosen field will become obvious as you interact with the other students and the professors in your area of interest.

One last comment, the classes that you will take in your first two years (regardless of engineering major) are pretty much the same, which means that as you progress through your first 2 years and decide to change engineering majors, you should be able to do so quite easily.

Good Luck,
Doug
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Taylor’s Answer

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Those classes are all a great start to pursue a future in engineering! Many engineering disciplines have a programming component so having that background before you begin college is great. It will definitely help in learning other programming languages.

Although there are many disciplines within engineering, there are core classes that engineering students are required to complete. Those classes include and not limited to Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Physics I and II, and Chemistry.

If you choose to study engineering my advice would be to become involved in campus organizations, take classes outside your major, and study abroad. Look into doing undergraduate research for a professor in your department. Seek internship experience with companies. All engineers are trained to solve problems and there are so many career possibilities. All of these opportunities will help guide you while you're in school.



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