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What are the challenges you face in college as an engineering student?

Am an 11th grader l want to study automobile engineering when l get to college. #engineering #design-engineering

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Pete’s Answer

In college, all students face challenges. As an engineering student, you will face challenges a little more than your non-engineering major peers. For instance, there will be:

  • difficult theoretical material to digest and master

  • teachers who don't quite have a mastery of the English language.

  • your non-engineering friends who have a little more time on their hands and hence, who will try to compete for your time

  • competition from your engineering major peers in the form of grades, internships, and jobs.

  • competition against yourself to get better grades, internships, and jobs

  • Not a whole lot of time for social activities. (there will be some, but not a lot).

However, don't let any of the above sway you. Overcoming each of these challenges allows you to grow and grow stronger; much stronger, than you ever thought possible.

A side note - Assuming that you are in Suitland, MD, you are probably looking at the University of Maryland College Park. They have a great automotive engineering program, particularly with the solar-powered car, and in my opinion, there is no better school within hundreds of miles of you to get an engineering degree (it's my alma mater) especially considering the in-state tuition. A word of caution though - the automotive industry is particularly sensitive to the ebbs and flows of the economy. You might want to think about majoring in mechanical engineering with a focus on automotive engineering to give yourself some breadth to weather such volatility if and when it occurs in your career.

In the meantime, while you're still in high school, and if you haven't done so already, I encourage you to get your hands dirty on every single car you can. Take auto shop in HS, work on your own car and/or motorcycle. Work on your friends' cars. And every time you do, think as if you were already an automotive engineer and ask yourself, "is this the best way to do this? Can this be done better? What is the function of this part? How does this system work?" And so on. Being especially curious and getting grease under your fingernails will help you become a much better engineer than one who can merely recite formulas from a book. Good luck.

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Jorge’s Answer

Time management will be a big deal

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Justin’s Answer

As someone who just graduated in this past May, I will try my best to answer this question. You will have your good days and bad days as an engineering student, but you have to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Understand that getting the highest GPA possible doesn't automatically guarantee you a job. It might help when getting interviews, but if you have nothing more to show than just good grades how can an employer be sure they are hiring someone worth it? Instead, focus on getting the best possible grade YOU can without sacrificing networking or extracurricular activities.

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Nicole’s Answer

Hi jacob U. I see that you posted this question a little while ago so I hope my answer to you (or others who may read this response) is still helpful.

As an engineering student in college, in my first year, I struggled with getting a handle on my time management. For the first time in my education journey, I had the "option" of going to class....meaning, my professors didn't take attendance. It was completely up to me whether I attended, participated...but there would ALWAYS be an exam. After a run of not so good scores in Physics (which was one of my least favorite subjects as a freshman), I realized I had to do something different....like consistently go to class and concentrate on my studies even after class. I had to seek out help from teachers assistance (by the way, they can be an absolute lifeline :)).

As others have mentioned, I also had to realize that my curricula was a little more demanding than that of some of my peers which meant that sometimes I could don't do the same things, at the same time, that they could. After a while, though, you get to know the professors of your program and as you are learning more about a profession that you hope will become your own, you gain an appreciation for the information you are being taught and, in my case, I became much more engaged once I got to the "real" engineering classes.

I also agree that is important to find and/or make time for downtime. Whether you are in school or working in a profession, often times inspiration comes from places and spaces that have nothing to do with a classroom or an office. And I have found that effective engineers can find answers to the problems they are trying to solve in many unlikely places.

Best of luck to you!