Why it’s good to major in engineering.

A biologist, a engineer and mathematician vacation in Britain. They see a black sheep off in the distance.

The biologist says, “Ah! So the sheep in Britain are black!”

The engineer says, “No. At least one kind of sheep in Britain is black.”

The mathematician says, “No. There is at least one sheep in Britain that is black on one side.”

Okay, so I realize that this joke is not the funniest joke ever, but bear with me here. It’s serving a purpose. There is a happy medium between making decisions based on a generalization of an informed observation (the pure scientist) and coming to conclusions by applying nitpicky detailed theory (the mathematician). That happy medium is engineering, where the awareness of a big theoretical picture is used to guide real-word decisions. See why I had to use a joke to say that?

The reason I bring this up is because I had a test in a biology class the other day and just got my grade back. The class is dual-level in the biology department, and I’m the only engineer taking it (and why am I taking it? I’m going to med school, which is a story that I will save for another blog post). I ended up doing well on the test in comparison to my classmates, which surprised me because biology majors are terrific at memorizing facts, while engineers are… a little lacking in that area. Another handicap: I have never taken an upper-level bio class before.

So what does this have to do with why anyone should major in engineering? Well, the obvious first answer is that you get some of the coolest jobs out there (see Rachel E’s post). But what if, like me, you end up not pursuing a career in engineering? In my humble opinion, five years of engineering classes and co-op jobs will prepare an individual extremely well for a wide variety of careers, some of them not even science-based. The reason to major in engineering can be answer in two words (or three if you don’t count the hyphen): problem-solving skills. Whatever you (or I) (or Rachel E) end up doing, your education will be terrifically relevant. It does not, however, guarantee that you’ll be able to tell good jokes.


2 Responses to “Why it’s good to major in engineering.”

  1. 1 elliotjt
    May 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Ironically, your statement about engineers being “a little lacking in” memorization skills would seem to put you in the biologist category. Just something to think about.

  2. 2 Emily H
    May 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Interestingly, your pinpointing of the irony would seem to put you in the “English major” category. BURN.

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