[I] never chose my major from some eureka moment. As a child, I was always taking things apart to see how they worked. If my parents gave me something that moved or had a battery, odds are I would end up taking it apart within a month. If I wasn’t taking something apart, I was watching a documentary about how things were put together. As I made my way to the end of my middle school days, I started building model houses out of cardboard boxes and just about anything else I could find around the house. It was a small hobby to start, but soon I started putting a lot of detail and design into the houses. I knew then that I loved building and problem solving.
As soon as I entered high school, I started taking engineering courses. My school offered “Project Lead The Way” courses, which were specialized engineering classes. Those courses were always the classes I most looked forward to. The program introduced me to programming, circuitry, the design process, 3D modeling, and more. My passion for engineering led my team to build the top project of my capstone class. The judge was very impressed with our work; he came to us after the competition and asked to get a picture of our project (a stinkbug vacuum that eliminated the smell of stinkbugs)
When I entered high school, not only did my schooling become more engineering-oriented, but also my model house hobby blossomed into a full-scale engineering passion. In 9th grade, I took apart an old electric scooter I had. Using the motor and batteries from that scooter, and old pieces of wood lying around the house, I built a sort of remote controlled car (figure 1). I continued to work on and improve the car throughout my high school career. The first run of my RC car that was successful was the proudest moment of my life.
So how did I choose my major? I simply chose what I loved to do. That’s not to say, however, I haven’t faced obstacles so far.
Everything I had built up to the beginning of college was built using trial and error. The RC car and model houses didn’t require me to do any calculations of any kind. I just tested designs until I got one right. Unfortunately, that approach isn’t how actual engineers do things. Engineers use mathematics. As it turns out, I have no special knack for math. In fact, I have to work very hard to understand math concepts. This problem is my Achilles Heel. My lack of natural mathematic talent is no deterrent from being an engineer, though. There’s nothing a determined aspiring engineer cannot do!
A degree in mechanical engineering opens doors for me to have a career doing what I’ve always loved. Going to work everyday and building something that has never been made, whether it is a new bomb defusing robot that saves a life or a rover that will travel across the stars to distant planets, sounds fantastic in every way.
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