Love live engineering students!!!
Almost all engineers in the field could say they had a blast in engineering school. Despite all the stresses and aches that they went through, it left them a memory of having fun, often comparing college with a roller coaster ride. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, and the occasional uneasy feeling are all part of it. Ultimately, engineering school prepared them to face the challenges of their career and life in general.
There are tons of things to be learned in engineering school. Students have to take a grasp, if not absorb, the technical knowledge embedded in their curriculum so they could perform well in their respective fields later when they graduate. It is expected that once they finish their studies, they have the technical aptitude to work as engineers.
But apart from learning by the books, engineering school provides lessons when it comes to life experiences. It is a perfect training ground for future engineers to deal, manage, and accept the realities outside college. College is fervently involved in the process of ‘adulting’.
Listed below are ten things that engineering students should learn before they graduate. If you are already an engineer, perhaps you would agree with this. If you are an engineering student, you should take notes.
Study, sleep, or social life: these three things are believed to be the important anchors of engineering student life. They say you are only allowed to pick two to have that perfect balance. I beg to disagree. You can attain that equilibrium of the three if you only know how to maximize and prioritize time. Piles of photocopies to study for an exam? Bring it on. But I would still have the time for my friends and my precious sleep. Time management is the key.
Aiming for perfection
Nobody is born to become perfect. This applies well to engineering students who will only keep disappointed if they think that methods and processes are without glitches. It is fine to aim for perfection, but admit that it will not be entirely perfect. In one way or another, time, budget, knowledge and skills have its limits. Even in engineering design, there is that factor of safety to save us from the unforeseen imperfections of the real world.
Not one engineering student is ever friends with everyone. Engineering school is a congregation of students with varying backgrounds, and everyone should take advantage of that rather than change it. Respect the diversity. Understand that you may or may not like everyone, and that is okay.
In the future, you will deal with all kinds of people. Train yourself on how to go around with people you don’t like.
Mastering the art of problem solving
This is perhaps one of the most important things in this list. In engineering, you are not bound to know everything about your field. Instead, you are bound to figure things out while you progress as an engineer. This starts in college where you should develop how to think and not what to think. Problem solving, which is inevitable in every engineering subject, is largely about finding ways. This is only possible if you think critically and analytically.
Learning how to learn
You can only end up in two ways every after semester: you pass or you fail your subjects. In both situations, you should know that the endpoint should be learning. When you pass, make sure that you have gotten the knowledge you need. When you fail, stand up, redeem yourself from that failure, and learn your lesson.
At times when you are faced with something new, it is not bad at all to ask questions. The inquisitive mind is valued in engineering rather than the dangerously assuming one.
Do not ever think that failing is a burden. In engineering school, you will fail often. In engineering work, you will fail often too. Failure is central to engineering, in case you didn’t know. Several engineers who are now top CEOs know this very well.
Don’t beat yourself up every time you fail. Acknowledge that you don’t always yield positive results and that is normal. Look at failures as opportunities to improve yourselves, to become better.
It pays to have several people that you can contact when you need them. Build relationships. It could be with anyone in your engineering college, no matter who they are. That smile you could give to your school janitor at the corridor could mean something later, perhaps a favor. Bigger things can happen if you just share a piece of yourself with others. Your ability to network is useful in surviving engineering.
Shooting for design optimization
This is related to being perfect. In design, you are not asked for perfection but optimization. Engineering design is mostly balancing the different factors and finding the right proportions. You could go on designing the perfect engine or the tallest structure but if without cost considerations and others, they might not be feasible.
Learning when to walk away
Some things are just not worth pursuing anymore. Engineering students should find that fine line that separates from quitting, or perhaps stepping back for a while, and moving forward. There are times in college that you will yourself trapped in a situation that is of no use anymore. That’s a valid time not to push through and instead turn your back.
Taking care of yourself
You only live once, they say. That is usually taken into the context of doing the most bizarre things to make the most of life. But I say this to remind you that you should take care of yourself as you learn how to survive engineering school. Be wary about health. Eat right. Exercise. Get sleep. Find ways to reduce your stress. Perhaps even travel! There’s more to life than just your career. You are a human first before an engineer.
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