Is ME Right for Me?

Andrew Radbel Aerospace and Mechanical, Andrew 0 Comments

Hi all you beautiful people,


Today I’m here to talk to you about the one thing I like talking about most: ME. Okay, fine, also Mechanical Engineering. Here’s the deal: I didn’t even know I wanted to do any sort of engineering at all until my senior year of high school. Up until then, I thought biology was the field for me – but after having built some robots and saying “Hey, these robot things are actually kind of cool,” I decided that maybe the life sciences weren’t quite the right place for me. Besides, I was really starting to like my physics classes, and my biology reading, while still interesting, just didn’t quite capture my attention as much. I had been converted.

My first "real" robot - it delivered pizza when it wasn't busy breaking down.

My first “real” robot – it delivered pizza when it wasn’t busy breaking down.

For me, choosing Mechanical Engineering was a natural follow-through from the interests I discovered in high school. I liked to build things (like robots), and Mechanical Engineering is really the general “build things” major. If you’ve ever sat there and imagined building something cool – a new car, or maybe a giant robot (okay – Pacific Rim may have been pretty silly, but fighting dragon-lizard things with giant robots is basically my idea of a dream job), then Mechanical Engineering is the path that gives you the tools to realize those ideas in real life creations. And if weird alien Loch Ness monster things do ever invade and we need to build giant robots to punch them, I know I’ll be sending in my application. On a more serious note though, as a child, I liked to get my hands dirty and just build things; whether I was in my room building the biggest spaceship I could out of Legos or trying my best to build a wooden go-kart in a woodworking class, I could truly be enthralled by the process of creating actual, physical, things. Mechanical Engineering? It’s just an extension of that. It’s super advanced go-kart building, this time with steel instead of wood. It’s coming up with a design and seeing it through until it’s something you can point to and say, “I built that.” To me, it’s a way of getting both the technical skills and the engineering mindset to keep building bigger and better things.

At the end of the day, though, it’s a bit of a crazy idea to expect someone just reaching the end of high school to know exactly what they want to do with their life. Hopefully, then, it comes as a relief to hear that the decision of a major is a completely different thing than deciding exactly what you want to do with your life. First of all, it’s super easy to change majors around Viterbi (I know plenty of people who have done it, and they’re happy to have found their home in their new majors). Beyond that, though, choosing any engineering major unlocks many, many opportunities, and just because you picked one and not another doesn’t change that. Your major doesn’t set your path for life; there’s plenty of examples of people who majored in one kind of engineering and are doing something entirely unrelated to their major nowadays. When it comes down to it, studying engineering gives you a new analytical and creative perspective to solving problems, and that can be applied anywhere. No matter what you choose, you’ll end up somewhere that makes you happy – just trust the process.

Andrew Radbel

Andrew Radbel

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