What Kind of Engineer Should I Be?
College applications are fast approaching and many SWENexters are trying to decide what schools to apply to and what majors to choose. Deciding what kind of engineer you want to be can be an overwhelming choice, but have no fear because SWEet Wisdom is here!
Before I answer this month’s question, I want to say hello and introduce myself! My name is Isabel, and I recently graduated with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Robotics Engineering from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). During college I was SWE section president for two years. Over the summer, I worked as a mentor for an engineering intern and as a technical writer for the Sustainability Lab at UCSC. Now I live in sunny southern California and am applying to graduate school. I love all things engineering, reading (especially SciFi and Fantasy) and hanging out at the beach. I am so excited to be sharing some advice from myself and some amazing engineers in SWE!
Now on to this month’s question!
My Journey to Engineering
I knew I wanted to do engineering in high school because I loved my science and math classes. I had a fantastic physics teacher my senior year, and I particularly enjoyed learning about electricity and magnetism. Still, I was not sure exactly what kind of engineer I wanted to be. I even debated being a literature major my first year! So, don’t worry if you aren’t sure right away what the right path is for you. I settled on electrical engineering after I had a wonderful experience with an internship at a semiconductor company. As I took more classes I discovered that I was most excited about the robotics classes and decided to add another major. It was so fun to work on interdisciplinary projects and learn how to do system level design. Plus, robots are just so cool!
Finding the Field for You
Here are some simple tips to figuring out what field of engineering is right for you.
- Discover your options: Learn about the many fields of engineering you can choose from. Engineer Girl’s website is a great place to get started. You can even try on a career for yourself to see what skills you have fit best with each career.
- Explore your interests: Take as many science and math classes as you can and see what you enjoy. Consider starting a SWENext club if you don’t have one at your school. Learn more at SWENext Clubs Check out Engineer Girl’s competitions and more from the International Society for Technology in Education. Try some coding or engineering projects on your own or with some fellow SWENexters. Made with Code and Make magazine both have some great project ideas. You won’t know if you like something until you try it!
- Ask questions: Reach out to local mentors through SWENext or these other resources. If you have specific questions about engineering, feel free to ask a question on the SWENexters Facebook group. I have learned so much about engineering and finding my own path from my SWE mentors. You can also talk to counselors at your school, or reach out to the colleges you are applying to. You may even be able to connect with the SWE section at that university.
- Have fun! Exploring engineering should be an exciting process. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll have the SWE community to help guide you.
Have a question for SWEet Wisdom? Post your question on the SWENext Facebook page, or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next time!