Swimming with the big fish… How to thrive in engineering school

It’s a new academic year, and there’s no better time for great advice from those who’ve been there. Take note! It’s time to get up, get noticed and get ahead.

Start early

Hayden Bauschka studies mechanical engineering at Purdue and says, “Don’t only take afternoon classes; every minute you sleep in is lost time for school and free time to help balance your life. I highly recommend taking a block of morning classes to wake you up and get you moving.”


Speak up

University of Colorado Boulder business major Colby Jimenez says, “Don’t be scared to talk to new people. The more people you meet at college, the better. This will help make long-lasting relationships, networking, and connecting with people you wouldn’t normally meet.”

That goes for the people standing in the front of the room, too. “Introduce yourself to your professors and talk to them often,” says Mason Blanke, electrical engineering and physics major at the University of Alabama. “In big lectures, it is easy to slide by without ever even meeting them or making yourself known. Ask them about research opportunities that are available and do the extra credit and optional homework.”


Accept no limits

Matthew Culver, computer science and history major at the University of Alabama, says, “Diversify! Don’t stay within your discipline. If you’re mechanical, learn a bit about electrical or chemical. Don’t limit yourself to one area of expertise.”

Florida International University Mechanical Engineering Major Steven Castano says, sometimes more is better, “If you’re feeling like you are not doing a lot of meaningful work, ask other engineers if they need help and expand your commitments.”


Stay calm and study on

Areef Chaudary studies mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut and says, “At times during your engineering courses, you will get lost and won’t understand how what you’re learning is applicable. You probably won’t even know what is expected of you at future jobs and how to apply what you’ve learned. Trust me and just stick with it. As long as you are passing your courses and have a good work ethic, you will be ready for a job in the industry.”

And remember, what got you here may not get you there. Rochester Institute of Technology Computing Security major Thomas Coburn says, “Develop good study habits and time management skills your first semester. Experiment with different methods and find out what works for you.”

Paige Smith, a senior Biomedical Engineering major at Miami University, agrees, “Keep a calendar or planner of assignments and events… Get to know your classmates and form study and support groups.”


Have a little fun

It’s about balance. Jessica Brewer is part of the information security policy and management graduate program at Carnegie Mellon University and offers this advice: “Do your best to maintain a healthy balance of social activities, studies, and recreational outlets (e.g., yoga, running, hiking, etc.). Getting into a healthy routine early can profoundly impact your college career.”


Change the world

Darren Bruner, aerospace engineering student at the University of Colorado Boulder, says, “Study something you are passionate about and that you feel will have a meaningful impact on the world. Don’t focus on the paycheck, but rather the purpose; how will you leave the world a better place than you found it with your career? You don’t need to be a global politician or world-renowned scientist to make a difference.”

What are you waiting for? It’s time to get out there and do great things. Best of luck as you go back to school!

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