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What are the most difficult classes that engineering students are required to take?

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I hear that the required classes for an engineering degree are rigorous. I have a calculus class right now, and I am doing fine, but how much harder are the classes in college compared to high school? And, what advice should I take with me prior to going to college in order to pursue an engineering degree? #engineering #engineer #mechanical-engineering #civil-engineering #electrical-engineering #chemical-engineering #industrial-engineering

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DAVID’s Answer

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most difficult=chemistry,physics,calculus
classes are large most not use to 500 kids in one class room
good preparation to succeed=take all the advance HS courses in chemistry, physics, calculus
good exposure in HS reduces the shock and you actually find you are prepared since the info repeats and you can do it
colleges use the first year as weed out time, but as I told my daughter dig your heals in, go the the help sessions, work with other students and guess what she passed with super grades and did not give up
remember the goal is to pass not to get all A's, the fun engineering courses come your last two years
because your taking calculus in HS you will do fine
advise=don't give up early in the game, all the students are in the same boat

Good to know. Thanks Mr. Weber! Allison H. Translate
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Peter’s Answer

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For me, the prerequisite calculus courses were the hardest part of the degree path. Some of the introductory engineering courses - structural, electrical - may also be challenging. But hang in there. Your upper division courses should be more satisfying and fun.


Good luck, Pete Sturtevant

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Edward’s Answer

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Depends on your major, but like others have said Calculus, Physics and Chemistry. Make yourself as familiar as you can with these subjects, since they may be similar to those you will face in college, college level Calculus, Physics and Chem are more intense. Don't be intimidated, and always ask questions! Calculus, Physics and Chemistry classes are the building blocks of 3rd and 4th year engineering classes. These 3rd and 4th year courses are generally applications of Calc, Physics and Chemistry. Good luck!

Your answer is great Edward, thanks so much for sharing your expertise! At this moment there are more than 800 unanswered questions so I wanted to encourage you to keep going! So many students will benefit tremendously from hearing from you. Keep up the great work! Jordan Rivera COACH Translate
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G. Mark’s Answer

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You'll likely be getting answers like, "Multivariate Calculus" or "Chemistry", but I'll tell you the fact. The fact is that the most difficult classes will likely be other than those you get all excited about and charged up. You'll find those classes intriguing and fun regardless of how much work they require. So my advice to you is to pay close attention to those classes. You'll want to steer your career into doing those sorts of things as much as possible. The reason is what I tell my students -- you'll enjoy what you're good at and you'll be good at what you enjoy. And that's a win-win for everybody involved.

Now if you want the general answer for everyday folks about engineering, they'd say that the most difficult classes for engineering students are engineering courses, and on average, the easiest tend to be non-engineering courses. But then, that's not why people become engineers. They do it because they'd rather be working hard at that than pretty much anything else.

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Davina’s Answer

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The most difficult classes at undergraduate level are mathematics, mathematical physics and physics. I would recommend taking as many mathematical and physics courses at school as possible. Calculus is an extremely good one to take, as it is used in engineering classes. Linear Algebra and statistics are two other courses you should focus on.

Davina recommends the following next steps:

  • Research a local university on-line to see what courses they include in their engineering degree. Investigate what their entrance requirements are for their engineering degree.
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Matthew’s Answer

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For me, Calculus 1 and 2 were definitely the hardest as they were wake up calls from high school math and required me to use logical steps to solve the problems instead of memorizing solutions like in high school Algebra. My science classes can be hard, but my interest in science and labs keep me motivated to study and make the classes seem much less chore-like.
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Mike’s Answer

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The classes required for Engineering school can be quite rigorous. Always keep in mind as you transition to college you also take on personal life tasks such as budgeting, time management, etc. So while you may be focusing on preparing academically don't forget to focus on being prepared for life outside of school as well.
I found that the toughest classes I took in my Undergraduate degree were the 300 level classes. At that point you are taking the fundamentals and applying them to the broadest skillset that you will in your studies. 400 level classes tend to be more specialized and allow you to focus on a much narrower scope. Make sure to put in effort you need in 100 and 200 levels to have a good foundation.
I was lucky in that my high school prepared me well for Engineering School. I'd put some of my classes my Jr and Sr year on par with my 100 and 200 level courses in college. For your high school preparation I'd suggest focusing on taking mid to upper level Science and Math courses while not over-extending into the other areas. Taking multiple AP level classes sounds great until they spread you too thin. It was my experience that those that took AP courses in English, Literature, History, etc sometimes ended up taking harder courses in high school than they would have been in college. But, if you find 1 or 2 that you really want to take that can forego taking into courses in college and you can focus on your Engineering workload. I haven't taken history since I was a Junior in high school.
Also look and see if any universities near you offer "New College" or other programs that allow you to take college courses as a dual enrolled High School Junior/Senior. This may allow you to take one course for credit in both high school and college. Good luck!
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Christine’s Answer

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Interesting question! Please remember everyone has their strengths & weaknesses. I graduated many years ago in 1991. My high school strengths included doing well in math & science AND enjoying it. My teachers encouraged me to major in engineering in college, so I took that path. The math was fine, since I enjoyed it even at college level.

My most difficult classes before I actually got into taking ALL engineering classes after basic required college classes and electives included:
Calculus-based Physics! Going into every test, I understood the homework and lecture material but still struggled.
The issue: At University of Maryland, College Park, they try to "weed out" the students not so serious about succeeding and I was fortunate to make it to my 3rd year in engineering school. Was actually "easy" from there with all engineering classes.

My suggestion:
Focus on establishing a very solid understanding of both calculus and physics, as they are the building blocks to use to be successful before even getting into your engineering curriculum.

Good luck on your path!
Christine


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Jonathan’s Answer

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It depends what kind of engineering field you are pursuing. In my experience as a Mechanical Engineering Student, the hardest classes were the ones taken in Junior year of University. This is because these classes are fundamental Engineering classes that combine all the calculus, physics, and chemistry that you have learned to teach you new material. By the time you become a senior it is a little bit easier because you choose the area that you want to focus on (upper division electives) and you can learn only what you are interested on. Upper division electives basically use the fundamentals that you learned Junior year in order to learn the concepts in the area that you want to focus on.
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Emily’s Answer

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Hi Allison,

For reference, I studied chemical engineering. I agree with the above posts that taking calculus and other college level math and science courses is the best way to prepare you for college. For me, the easiest classes were the first few years worth of prereqs and the chemical engineering classes especially thermodynamics and kinetics were difficult. The class that is most difficult for you is going to depend on yourself, the college you attend and the professor you have. In college there was a professor that was notoriously difficult and whatever class you had with him was the most difficult. Be prepared to do a lot of homework and exam preparation, but if you like the problem solving aspect of engineering the homework while challenging will be interesting as well.

Good luck!
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Andrew’s Answer

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Check out "Physical Chemistry" aka PChem.

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Mike’s Answer

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The classes required for Engineering school can be quite rigorous. Always keep in mind as you transition to college you also take on personal life tasks such as budgeting, time management, etc. So while you may be focusing on preparing academically don't forget to focus on being prepared for life outside of school as well.
I found that the toughest classes I took in my Undergraduate degree were the 300 level classes. At that point you are taking the fundamentals and applying them to the broadest skillset that you will in your studies. 400 level classes tend to be more specialized and allow you to focus on a much narrower scope. Make sure to put in effort you need in 100 and 200 levels to have a good foundation.
I was lucky in that my high school prepared me well for Engineering School. I'd put some of my classes my Jr and Sr year on par with my 100 and 200 level courses in college. For your high school preparation I'd suggest focusing on taking mid to upper level Science and Math courses while not over-extending into the other areas. Taking multiple AP level classes sounds great until they spread you too thin. It was my experience that those that took AP courses in English, Literature, History, etc sometimes ended up taking harder courses in high school than they would have been in college. But, if you find 1 or 2 that you really want to take that can forego taking into courses in college and you can focus on your Engineering workload. I haven't taken history since I was a Junior in high school.
Also look and see if any universities near you offer "New College" or other programs that allow you to take college courses as a dual enrolled High School Junior/Senior. This may allow you to take one course for credit in both high school and college. Good luck!
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Ruth’s Answer

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After Calculus III, you will take Differential Equations. This is a very difficult class that engineering students must take.
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Haitham’s Answer

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It depends on what field of engineering you are seeking. I know mechanical
For Mechanical it is in this order; vibrations, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, some specialized courses like turbo machinery or Internal combustion engine, I enjoyed but others found difficult.
Calculus 3, differential equations and partial differential equation, the higher you go, the harder it get. But, not that hard. Chemistry and physics are piece of cake. Mechanical machine desgin could also be a challenge. Statics is easy, but not dynamics. The latter is not hard but tricky, if you dont pass the first time, i would say your brain is not wired for engineering.
Some courses like engineering economics and statistics are not fun, lengthly and boring.

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Justin’s Answer

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Hi Allison,

Most of engineering theory courses will be considered difficult because it requires rigorous thinking processes to solve problems. And their difficult level can be more depth than calculus which is general requirement of engineering students to take.

But beyond the engineering courses, I think the most difficult courses engineer students encounter but very often ignore is English composition classes.

Majority of the time, engineers spend 50% of time writing emails and reports from their daily tasks. If your English writing is lack, your career will not get further. And the most difficult of English composition course is that engineer students don’t contribute enough time to study and learn compares their engineering courses.

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