Happy President’s Day weekend everyone, and hope your semester is going great so far. We’re six weeks in over here, and things have started to pick up; I certainly have more homework to take care of, meetings to go to, and projects to keep my busy. All in all it’s not too bad, but it’s definitely more work than I’ve had before, which is to be expected as the semesters go by. Recently, however, I just finished my first batch of midterms, and I came to the realization of how much everything I’m learning is complimentary.
In high school, all my classes were pretty independent of one another, but in my college coursework everything is building upon itself, as I’m truly becoming an engineer. Studying for physics has helped me understand materials science a lot better, just as my thermo knowledge has bled quite a bit into my separations class. Even my philosophy course has mentioned quantum mechanics a few times. Everything is mutualistic; the more you learn one subject, the better you can understand and apply it to all the others, too.
Now, this isn’t some new realization I just had, nor a late-night revelation as I was studying before an exam (we’ve all been there). It was more of a gradual awareness of the fact that the distinctions between courses are getting blurrier and blurrier. While this can put on a bit of pressure – you can’t really forget anything anymore; all your classes will come back in some form or another – it also opens the doors for being able to do so much more with your knowledge. I never thought that by my sophomore year I’d be designing chemical refineries for homework, or knowing how to analyze pipelines on an industrial level. Even outside of class, I’m putting together with a group a design challenge for underclassmen to get their hands dirty and design a small-scale chemical engineering process – in this case, in the form of a coffee machine. In short, it’s exciting that I’m starting to be able to do things an actual engineer would do. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re studying for your exams, but at the end of the day, you realize that not only do you understand more than you think, but by combining it all, you can do more than you ever expected.