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How will I know if engineering is right for me?

Through resources on this webpage and other questions within this series, you can learn more about what engineers do to help you better answer this question for yourself. Understanding what an engineer is and what the profession is about is the first step in answering the question, “Is it right for me?”

If you have not done so, take the time to explore those resources to get a fundamental understanding of the engineering profession. With that understanding you can now conduct a self-assessment to see how well you align with being an engineer. Just to be clear, this is not an aptitude or vocational test. It’s about trying to understand the things you like to do in life. What is intellectually stimulating to you? What is your perspective on the world? And what are your aptitude and skill sets?

So take some time and think about the following questions. In terms of “Things you like to do” ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you like to solve problems?
  • Do you like math and science?
  • Do you like to think of new ways to do things?
  • Do you like puzzles and other mind challenging games?
  • Do you like working with computers?
  • Do you enjoy a challenge?

In terms of “Your perspective on the world” ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to make a difference in the world?
  • Do you have an interest in the challenges facing our world?
  • Do you want to help people and improve their lives?
  • Do you wonder how things work?

If you answered in the affirmative to several or more of these questions, the engineering profession might be worth exploring further, because engineers solve problems and challenges that improve the lives of people and make a difference in the world. With your “interests” and “perspectives” aligned to the engineering profession, the final part of the assessment is to ask yourself if you have the aptitude and skills to first become an engineer and then succeed in the profession.

Through your review of other resources you learned that engineers apply the principles of science and math to solve problems. The study of engineering involves completing a rigorous and intensive program that includes mathematics, the sciences and highly technical courses related to the engineering discipline that is being studied. The work is challenging, but very doable. With hard work and commitment you can make it. But you should ask yourself several questions to ensure that an engineering program is worth exploring further:

  • Do you have an aptitude for math and science? (This is more than liking these subjects. You will not need to display the skill levels of a mathematician or scientist, but you will need to demonstrate a competence and that you are comfortable applying this knowledge.)
  • When confronted with a problem, do you see things visually or in 3D?
  • Do you like to work with other people or in teams?
  • Do you like to be creative?

Before making any final decisions, the best way to find out more about what it’s like to be an engineer and if it’s the right profession for you is to reach out and communicate with an engineer. Start with your immediate family or your friends’ families to identify an engineer to contact. If there are no engineers in your immediate network, another source is to contact the faculty at a local university/college that has an engineering program. They would be glad to answer your questions and provide you with more information. Finally, reach out to the engineering professional societies. They can place you into contact with engineers who would be happy to share their knowledge and perspective. View profiles of engineers in different specialties.

In taking the time to understand what engineers do and in conducting these self-assessments you can learn more about the profession and make the determination if you want to be part of solving the challenges of tomorrow and making the world a better place. Engineering is a challenging and incredibly rewarding profession and we encourage you to explore the possibilities.

To learn more, explore the following TryEngineering resources: