One of the best things about Viterbi is that when you’re admitted to one major, you’re admitted to all the majors so you can switch to anything you want. I never thought I’d ever take advantage of this because I was just so sure that I loved my major: mechanical engineering. In high school I did robotics and I did 3D modeling **ALL** the time (a major skill that mechanical engineers use). I just loved building things, working with my hands, and learning the ins and outs of mechanical things so I thought mechanical engineering was for me. However, college is a place where you “discover” yourself to find what you truly like and for me, this ended up being coding, causing me to switch to Viterbi’s computer science and business administration major, dubbed CSBA.
I never really knew much about what coding was apart from that it was some wizardry that made robots work and powered all the technology I love. This all changed when I took my first programming class for mechanical engineering: ITP 168 Intro to MatLab. MatLab is essentially an advanced calculator where you code in various commands chained together in a script file that can crunch numbers, make graphs, or do anything you want it to do. Because the class was mainly taken by mechanical, aerospace, and astronautical engineers, majors that don’t typically have a ton of coding experience, the class was a ground-up explanation of what algorithms were and how they utilized the staples of coding like if-else statements, switches, and loops. For me, it was all very foreign and yet exciting at the same time. We’d get interesting problems where we calculated stock prices based on daily changes, create interactive maps, and even programmed a real working poker game that could tell you which hand you had. All this got me thinking about my major.
The main reason why I wanted to be an engineer was that I like to solve problems, the root definition of engineering. Even though I loved building and working with my hands, solving problems came first for me, and computer science just seemed like a pure version of that. Plus CSBA combines business with engineering, something I always thought was super interesting. I didn’t just switch immediately, however. I talked to some of my freshman friends and upperclassmen in the major, did some internet research, and talked it over with my freshman adviser Zoey who was so encouraging and supportive. When I decided I wanted to switch, she created a new college course plan for me and everything was done in less than 20 minutes.
This isn’t to say that mechanical engineering isn’t a great major because, in reality, it is. All the projects I see the mechanical engineers work on like the Formula SAE race car and underwater autonomous robots are all amazing. I see my friends who didn’t switch their major loving every minute they spend working in their clubs and they couldn’t be happier. I just knew there was a different path for me and I just had to find it (which is kinda college in a nutshell). As I’m going throughout the year, of course I think about if I had stayed, but I think that so far, I’ve made the right decision.
And if I didn’t, I’ll be back here talking about my new major!