Lego has quite a presence in the toy industry these days, complete with a variety of movies, video games, artwork and amusement parks. There is even a Legoland in Somerville with monthly adult nights! No doubt Legos are cool. Often they indicate a budding engineer and now I can see why; the same skills that you use building a mock Eiffel tower are also the special skills that you use on a statics and dynamics problem set, a computer aided design assembly in Solidworks or a mechanical engineering product design challenge. If you played with Legos as a kid, then engineering projects are just more convoluted and numerical Lego projects.
That being said, I was definitely not a lego kid. I couldn’t be bothered by them. I helped my brother sometimes with his projects, but their tiny pieces and misleading pictures did not interest me. If I were to define my childhood, I would say I was a puzzle kid. I did red sox puzzles and Su Doku, I love mystery books, and I used my restricted screen time to print out logic puzzles. Even when I got bored with the puzzles, I was stubborn and had to finish them. I get almost obsessive about puzzles in a weird pleasure/ pain kind of way. This makes sense now! My stubbornness (or determination) got me pretty far in doing my homework in high school, and I go through the same methodical processes on my homework in college too.
When I got to high school, I worked hard in all my classes but I really started gravitating towards science and math. I would always do my math homework first. My parents noticed this and encouraged me to look at engineering schools. It wasn’t until senior year of high school that I got to try out some real engineering. We made a Rube Goldberg machine and modeled it on ProEngineer. I would get super into the ideation period of the product design, and I was engrossed by the TED talks we watched in class. Still, I was scared of the big commitment and I knew that I enjoyed other subjects too, which was one reason I was so drawn to Tufts’ interdisciplinary focus and ability to study at an academically rigorous engineering school that has a liberal artsy vibe.
Even though I wasn’t that kid that took apart clocks or read Popular Mechanics like some of my MechE peers, I really enjoy product design and learning about how things work. I eventually made it to the right major for me, even though it took me a little longer to figure that out. This is understandable because the engineering majors are very diverse, and they are often not represented in high schools.
To all the high school juniors who are trying to figure out what schools to look at – give engineering a shot! You don’t have to be a puzzle kid or a Lego kid to enjoy engineering. Do your research online and talk to any engineers in your hometown. Just remember, you don’t have to have any engineering experience before college to be a successful engineer. If the technology world excites you, then it is worth some attention.