The Hardest Part of Being an Engineering Student

"This for me is the true bogeyman under the bed of this field. Engineering school is a wide field, far wider than any I’ve seen."

Engineering has long been riddled as the ‘black sheep’ among the roster of degrees an adolescent may take. This comes with no surprise, having the most number of dropouts usually among universities throughout the year. A lot of factors can be attributed to this fallout, as one may try to sink into its depths to unearth the Atlantis underneath. But among these reasons however, what can be argued as the one standing among the rest in terms of severity?

From his very first year into the field, a student is already bombarded one after another by Mathematics courses. He is expected to master the very craft, since computation skills are nowhere short of a grave importance to the engineer. As he plunges deeper, he also meets courses in Physics which serve as primers to his respective field. Throughout these preliminary courses, he never runs out of equations, speeds, or even voltages to find. And as if these weren’t enough, he has to juggle language courses along the way.

Most may argue that the first two years of engineering school are the hardest due to these conditions. The constant struggle to solve and find numbers, indeed you are never free from the shackles of equations. After finishing my second year I assumed that I was done with the worst, not knowing that there was something far more sinister lurking ahead.

The end of an era marks the dawn of another, as I greeted the sunrise of my major courses. To my surprise and horror, classes became less like classes. Gone were professors that spoon-fed every bit of information. Instead, it became a norm for teachers to list on the board titles of books for required reading along with dates for the quizzes. Notebooks became a thing of the past as everything had to be accessed instead in PPTs.

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I found myself in a cacophony of discord as the usual practices of school were no more. It never grew better as I went further. Professors expected us to be already aware of technologies that were completely foreign to us. Nothing was being taught anymore. Instead, design after design projects kept rushing out of the once luscious fountain of knowledge. And all throughout the ordeal, I missed the taste of yesterday’s waters.

I often see the path of engineering school as a bird’s nest. From being hatched into the world, we as hatchlings are only made aware of the circular borders of the nest. We may come to know every straw that makes up this nest, spending so much time inside it. Eventually though, we must leave our nest in search of food elsewhere. Suddenly, the vast universe becomes our nest. Gone are the straw borders as we are tossed onto a ground of infinite possibilities. And who is there to accompany us in our travels? No one but ourselves.

This for me is the true bogeyman under the bed of this field. Engineering school is a wide field, far wider than any I’ve seen. And more often, we are only given a gist of what we need, the rest we must fetch for ourselves. Personally, I had to learn by myself skills that my professor didn’t even bother to mention during orientation such as programming and circuit-building. It is this uncertainty, this vastness that makes this nest so daunting, so terrifying.

And so, jumping from the nest that is engineering school offered me two fates, soar or plummet to my death. And there was no way in hell I’d choose the latter.

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Written by guest writer Francis Bautista

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The Hardest Part of Being an Engineering Student

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