Most high school students, and most of the world’s population, really have no idea what it is Engineers do.  Some Engineers don’t even know what Engineers do.  As a Junior in Mechanical Engineering, I’m still trying to figure it out – and honestly, I’m okay with that.  I think Engineering is nearly impossible to describe; the things a person can do with an Engineering degree are varied and broad.  In this blog, I try to understand my major, my acquired skills, and my future.

Mechanical Engineering is quite possibly the most broad of the Engineering fields, as it essentially deals with anything that has a moving part.  Mechanical Engineers design anything and everything from roller coasters to engines to medical devices.  In my classes, I learn basic physical principles, as well as advanced math and design in order to create products that make life more convenient through applications of these principles.  Mechanical Engineers learn a little bit of everything – we learn about materials and chemistry, heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, the mechanics of systems and basic principles of design.  We learn a little bit of everything, which is great for people with a broad interest in using science to enhance the physical world.

Engineers differ from science majors because we not only learn the facts, but we learn how to apply them for practical purposes.  It is the difference between understanding why heat flows between two objects and creating a device to ease that transfer.  It is the difference between describing how air flows around an airplane wing and designing a wing that will reduce turbulence.  Engineers must first understand science, but then they go a step beyond that and use critical thinking to create practical applications of science.

Because of this, Engineering is a major that not only teaches you facts, but also really teaches you a new way of thinking.  Engineering has turned me into a better problem solver.  It has turned me into someone who questions the world, and views it with curiosity.  It has turned me into someone who can think critically when problems arise, who can create solutions on the fly, who can try a variety of solutions until I find an appropriate one.

Engineering teaches you how to think, which means that after graduation, Engineers are prepared for a variety of jobs.  While most people with Engineering degrees decide to go into the industry, it’s also common for Engineers to go into other fields, such as consulting, business, law, medicine, and even the arts.  This is what I like the most about my major: it is so broad that it truly opens doors for all kinds of opportunities after graduation.

Things that I have personally considered for post-graduation include designing rides and shows for Walt Disney Imagineering, consulting, project management, pursuing a law degree for Patent Law, creating special effects for films, television, and theatre, and Industrial Design.  I love the idea that Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering specifically, could help me on a path to achieving any and all of these goals.

Even as a Junior, I’m not quite sure exactly what I want to do with my life.  However, that doesn’t scare me.  I’ve realized that I’m in a major that is preparing me to take on the real world, regardless of what I decide to do after graduation.  I am thrilled to be at a school that not only teaches me all of the principles necessary to be a successful Engineer, but also gives me the opportunity to supplement my education with experiences that help guide me in my interests.  Viterbi has provided me with the opportunity for self discovery, and has helped me to form ideas about how to combine my major and my other passions in the future.  I know that whatever I decide to do, I will be using the skills and ideas I acquired at school here, and that makes me very glad I chose Mechanical Engineering, and specifically Mechanical Engineering at Viterbi.

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!