My degree is in mechanical engineering.  More precisely, in Engineering Sciences with a mechanical concentration, because Smith College is insane.  It makes them happy.

I’m not entirely sure how much input I had into that decision.  My mother occasionally berates herself for pushing me into engineering, but I doubt that’s fair.  I loved the majority of my classes, after all.  And I had a couple older friends who were engineers and also really cool people, and they influenced me as well.

Mind you, there was some pushing going on.  I was…well, I admit it looked like laziness, but I think in retrospect that it was probably mostly anxiety.  Either way, it was kind of a problem.

And yes, I might have been happier in a lower-pressure situation (though I don’t think that bothered me much) that was closer to home (though our reasons for me going out-of-state were good ones.)  And I might have been happier in a writing or art program, but I did enjoy my engineering classes.  (And the anxiety was cropping up again: I didn’t think I was good enough at writing or art to do either professionally.  I suspect I was wrong, but I didn’t know.)

The thing is, although I liked my classes, I did not like my classmates.  They were too…engineer-y, really.  Overly serious.  Performance-oriented, detail oriented, boring.  And several of them treated me like a slug whenever our paths crossed.  With one or two exceptions, I pretty much avoided them as much as I could.

This was highlighted today when I learned that one of them is currently in hospice care.  Somebody sent out a mass email about it.  I almost didn’t leave a message for her family because I just don’t want to be connected to any of those people.  (I did leave a message, in the end.  Anonymously.  We were never in the same group or anything, so I doubt she remembers me any better than I remember her, which isn’t very well.)

It’s just an odd place to be in.  I loved what I learned so much, but I couldn’t connect with the others who were learning it.  They seemed to think it was all just numbers.

One of the girls in the class above me once told me that she chose her major because engineering is philosophically sexy.  No idea what that means, but it rings true.

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2 Responses to Engineer

  1. CosetTheTable says:

    I think you might have fit in better in one of the other STEM majors, so that you would have had enough elective classes to do other things too. I loved my math colleagues, but also loved that I had enough time to do 4 different theatre design classes— enough that I saw serious progress in my ability to draw and watercolor even though that wasn’t the point of any of the classes. And because most of the other math people I was with ALSO had other interests, it made our math time kinda special.

    There aren’t many things I would really change about the experience I had, other than I would NOT have taken Ancient Inventions. But if I had another couple years, I would be spending a bunch of it doing theatre design for shows, and bellydance, and kayaking. Maybe swimming.

    • yeah, one physics or astronomy would have been a good choice, but I remember feeling like switching to one of those would be failing or copping out or otherwise indicating I couldn’t “handle” engineering. Stupid of me, but such is life. Brains are funny things.

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