SWEet Wisdom October 2020

This month we asked a few of our professional SWE members what are the major reasons students leave engineering prematurely and how can we overcome these problems.

Hi everyone! As it says, “Today’s engineering graduates will solve tomorrow’s problems in a world that are advancing faster and facing more critical challenges than ever before”.

This situation creates significant demand for engineering education to evolve to effectively prepare a diverse community of engineers for these challenges.

To prepare for this diverse community of engineers, young minds should prepare for positives and negatives while perusing engineering. Let’s hear what our SWEet Professional Members Answer this question:

“What are the major reasons why students leave prematurely when they are perusing engineering? How do we overcome those problems?”


Nicole TravisSWEet Wisdom-Nicole

Pursuing B.S in Chemical Engineer,

University of Colorado Boulder

I think one of the major reasons students might leave engineering is not fully understanding what it is when entering. It can be difficult to enter a path that is varying in the ambiguity of difficulty levels, and then having to face the fact that you might struggle for a while before things make sense. I know I didn’t know if it was what I wanted to do originally, so I didn’t even join any groups like SWE, because I didn’t want to be “stuck” if I didn’t like it. I think phrasing it as something difficult and challenging, in a male-dominated field can be off-putting. However, relabeling it as a place to solve problems, innovate, and help others along their path towards success can be very rewarding. Knowing that just because you’re not the best when you first start or even get further into the major doesn’t mean that you are not or will not be a good engineer. It simply means you have to reshape the way you’re going about things, which is what engineering is all about.


Amanda WagnerSWEet Wisdom- Amanda

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Bradley University   

Continuous Improvement Engineering, MacLean-Fogg

From what I’ve seen and personal experience, the first classes people take hard. These include physics, chemistry, math, etc. People think if they are struggling in those classes, then they will most definitely struggle in more major-related coursework. For me, the opposite was true. My grades greatly improved when I started my major courses. While part of this was due to better studying habits, I think it was because I was more interested in the material. In reality, a lot of the material you need from math and science classes is re-taught, and not used at all to the extent it is in those classes. I think if you’re passionate about engineering, you need to do whatever it takes to get through those early classes such as seek tutoring, go to professor’s office hours, join a study group, etc. Also, DO NOT LET SOMEONE TELL YOU THAT YOU CANNOT DO IT. If you are not doing well in a class and an advisor/professor tells you to switch majors or drop the class, do not let them dictate your future. If this career path is what you truly want, work harder, and prove them wrong.


Prarthana M JSWEet Wisdom- Prarthana

B.E. in Computer Science Engineering, Visvesvaraya Technological University

AI Consultant for Supply Chain Solutions, IBM

I think the major problems which I have seen are the social mindsets where most of them are married at a very early age and there is very little support towards education. The girls usually fall under pressure and would have to listen to their parents as they can’t let down their parents in front of society. One more is the income which most of us face. The majority of them just try going to work at a very early age to support their family. There might be other cases like lack of interest, the pressure of persevering the field of parent’s choice, etc. Therefore, my perception is from the girls who are interested in engineering but couldn’t go after their dreams. To overcome identifying those specific cases and providing immediate support/counseling for parents as well as for students during their high school would help the girls to continue their education.


Do you have a question for our women engineers at SWE? We’d love to hear from you! Send your questions to swenext@swe.org. We’ll answer you directly, or your question may become a future SWEet Wisdom column!


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