As I start my sophomore year (on campus!), I decided now would be a good time to review what I learned during my first year as a Mechanical Engineering student. While I enjoyed all of my classes, the following five classes were some of my favorites.
1. AME-101 – Introduction to Mechanical Engineering (Fall 2020)
AME-101 is an intro class that Mechanical Engineering students are required to take. In this class, I learned more about what Mechanical Engineers can actually do. Throughout the course, we went over the fundamentals of Mechanical Engineering, including things that we will learn in future classes, such as statics and thermodynamics. Also, we had a really enjoyable lab section where we got to learn Solidworks, program an Arduino-controlled car, and create a 3D-printed bridge. I also was able to meet and connect with other people in my major.
2. WRIT-150 – Writing and Critical Reasoning–Thematic Approaches (Fall 2020)
WRIT-150 is a requirement for every freshman at USC. There are different options for themes, and I took the Human Values and Belief Systems one. We were assigned 4 main essays and weekly journals. I think this class really helped me practice communicating my ideas effectively, which is really important for engineers! I also was able to reflect on my own values and write about things in which I am interested.
3. MATH-129 – Calculus II for Engineers and Scientists (Fall 2020)
I took AP Calculus BC, which can give credit for this course, my senior year of high school. However, I found it really helpful to relearn the material, especially since it was my first time taking a college math course. This course was definitely a little bit challenging and time-consuming, but I feel like it gave me a good foundation for other calculus and STEM courses I have taken at USC.
4. ITP-168 – Introduction to MATLAB (Spring 2021)
MATLAB is a programming platform and ITP-168 is a requirement for Mechanical Engineering majors. Even though I have worked with other programming languages, this course was the first programming course I have ever taken and also my first experience with MATLAB. Before this class, I did not think of myself as someone who enjoys programming, but modeling equations, animating graphs, and manipulating data were topics in this class, and were really interesting to me. I was even able to utilize MATLAB for modeling purposes during my internship this summer. Because of this class, I definitely would like to take more ITP classes in the future.
5. ACAD-324g – The Practice of Design: Ideation to Innovation (Spring 2021)
I took ACAD-324g as my GE-A requirement. Although I am interested in design, I have never really thought of myself as a particularly artistic person. This class really pushed me out of my comfort zone as we were encouraged to engage in “rapid prototyping”, both individually and in groups. Additionally, even though this class was virtual, we were mailed a Maker Kit with supplies like paint, cardboard, clay, and hot glue, so I was able to physically create my ideas, which was super enjoyable for me. I was also able to learn more about topics I am interested in like design theories, human-centered design, and sustainability.
While I believe all the classes I took during my freshman year were useful and impactful, I think these five classes really pushed me and supplied me with foundational knowledge and skills I will need in my future coursework and career. I’m super excited to start my sophomore year and continue to learn and grow!