Indecisive high school Camille had a lot of trouble committing to engineering. I was concerned that I would have “ENGINEER” stamped on my soul and it would overshadow the rest of my personality. One of the perks of Tufts for me was that I didn’t have to totally commit – I could explore other interests through the liberal arts school and even the engineering school encourages interdisciplinary studies.
When approaching the subject of engineering, there are a lot of factors to think about. Because the majors are so diverse, it is easiest to split the decision into parts: Do you like engineering? What motivates you to work? Which core subject will you pursue? There’s no right way to answer these questions, so I’ll try to explain them through my personal approach to choosing engineering.
Defining engineering is not easy. It is a generalized word for approaching a problem in a quantitative, scientific manner. I found that my interest in puzzles, brain games, and doing design work were indicators that I was interested in engineering. I’m a thorough worker and I’m constantly questioning what is going on around me.
Despite being detail-oriented, I’m motivated by the big picture direction of technology, especially the transportation industry. As traffic conditions get worse, the population grows and the environmental impacts get more severe, transportation will fall under more pressure to innovate. Right now, the autonomous car, electric car and car sharing movements are converging and this is so exciting! I could rant forever (and sometimes I do). Certain industries employ certain types of engineers, so run a few google searches on articles you’re reading, or start by browsing Popular Science/ Popular Mechanics, tuning into Science Friday, or listening to TED talks.
Next, the core subjects. Different focuses in physics are spread across electrical, computer, mechanical and civil engineers. Chemistry and biology are critical in chemical, biological, biotech and biomedical engineering. Environmental studies and geology tie in with environmental engineering (shocker). Math, while it is present in all types engineering, is most relevant to computer science.
After three years, I’ve narrowed the scope of what I want to do a bit. I like product development and design and I’m very intrigued by dynamics and controls. I need some social aspect to my job, which happens naturally by collaboration with other engineers. I’m not too interested in research so I won’t go into academia, but I plan on getting a master’s degree at some point either in engineering or business. I like the structure of a large company, but the friendliness of a tight knit community.
There are plenty of personality tests so use them as an indicator but don’t let them define you! Remarkably, the Buzzfeed one actually got my major correct.
Also, I have to say this as a female engineer – don’t let the stereotypes of the gender, personality, and work environment dissuade you from looking into or choosing engineering. I’ve met people that fall under the stereotypes but especially at Tufts, I've met even more people that buck the trends. You can do it!