My Major: Mechanical Engineering

Samantha Kaplan-2015 Viterbi Class Leave a Comment

Coming into college, I knew for certain I wanted to be an Engineer.  For a lot of students, it’s hard to decide which discipline within Engineering they would most like to study.  For me, this was not the case.  Since I grew up with a dad who is a Mechanical Engineer, I’ve grown up looking at his work and thinking, “I want to do that!”  Beyond his influence, I chose Mechanical Engineering because it is a very broad discipline.  I am not exactly sure what I want to do after school, and Mechanical Engineering provides a wide range of opportunities because it does not narrow down into a specific line of work.

Mechanical Engineering is broad because it deals with anything with a moving part.  At a fundamental level, it requires an understanding of how to apply math and physics to design and build a final product.  People who design roller coasters, engines, robots, cars, and anything of the like are Mechanical Engineers.  Additionally, the problem-solving skills used by Mechanical Engineers make them good candidates for medicine, law, or even business.  I was attracted to the wide range of choices I will have after I earn my degree.

My first semester as a Mechanical Engineer, I took AME101, Freshmen Academy, Math 226, Chem 105a, and Jewish History (GE Cat 1).  AME 101 was an introductory course to Mechanical Engineering.  We went over abbreviated versions of the subjects we would be learning for the rest of our time at USC.  It was in that course that I realized I made the right decision in choosing my major.  My favorite part of that fall semester was the design lab component of AME101.  I got to use a program called SolidWorks, which is a 3D drafting software.  I loved this program because I am a very visual person.  After I graduate, I’d like to get a job that requires me to use SolidWorks.  Below is a photograph of the first part I ever designed!

My second semester, I took AME150, Physics 151, Exploring Culture Through Film (GE Cat 2), Intro to Cinema, and Intro to Special Effects in Cinema.  That Spring, I focused on getting classes out of the way for my minor in Cinematic Arts.  My AME150 class was Computational Methods, in which I learned a program called MatLab.

Currently, my schedule looks like this:

I am taking Physics 152, Materials Science 310, AME201, Knowledge Reality and the Cosmos (GE Cat 4), and The Holocaust in Literature and Film (GE Cat 5).  As you can see, it is possible not to have Friday class as an Engineer!  My AME201, Statics, class is my favorite this semester.  Statics is the physics behind understanding why objects are stationary.  I like this subject because it is another form of visual problem solving like my SolidWorks lab.  The problems make sense to me, and my professor, Dr. Safadi, is great!

Next semester, my schedule is not yet complete.  So far, it looks like this:

My schedule will change to include Writing instead of AME310, but everything else will remain the same.  This means I will be taking AME204, Physics 153, GE Cat 6 (I haven’t decided which class yet), Writing, and Motion Picture Camera.  AME204 is a Strength of Materials class.  I am most looking forward to that class and my Motion Picture Camera class, which counts towards my minor.

So far, I have been very pleased with the classes I have taken here.  My professors have all been knowledgeable, not only about their research but about the subjects they teach, and extremely approachable. It took me a little while to realize that going to Office Hours is okay, but once I learned that, I found that my performance in class improved.  Originally I was kind of scared by the idea of going, but my professors have all been really nice and helpful, chatting with me about anything from their research to the subject matter to my plans for the future.  My courses have been interesting and engaging, and they have each provided insight into what a future in Mechanical Engineering looks like.  They are challenging courses, but they are worth the effort because the subject matter is interesting to me.  Outside of my Engineering classes, I have been able to fit in not only General Education classes, but also additional classes for my minor.  I definitely made the right decision with my major, and I can’t wait to explore it further in the coming semesters!

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