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Old 12-09-07, 03:30 PM   #1
nmt6789
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This is the story of my life...

I'm in my first year of engineering at college and I am having a tough time with math. I go for tutoring constantly and It doesn't seem to help. I am not an idiot (4.0 first quarter without a math class.) But I can't be happy without doing well. Its really starting to bother me that I just can't be happy without doing well.

I have thought about changing my major but I don't want to give up because I really want to be an engineer. I don't want to change my major just because of one thing.

I don't know what to do..................
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Old 12-09-07, 03:39 PM   #2
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What is giving you trouble with the math? Let's see if we can help you out! There are quite a few math nerds on the board, and we don't generally mind helping out. We won't do it for you, but we'll help you figure out what's going on with the problem
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Old 12-09-07, 04:10 PM   #3
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nmt6789:

1) In what area of engineering are you most interested, and why do you want so badly to be an engineer?

2) Don't expect perfection. But you can seek excellence in the way that you study.

3) Being a successful student in any discipline requires a willingness to master the material. In engineering/math/science, this requires producing homework solutions that are written out, by you and in your words (not just "equations and formulas" but your own narrative as means of explaining what you are doing, and why, from step by step), in the manner of the examples in the textbook. When you can do this, meaning when you can write out a solution that could be an explanation for someone else, then you are starting to achieve mastery. Talk with your professors about this, and ask them for advice and guidance in achieving this.

Some rather insightful quotes:

To teach is to learn.
--Japanese proverb

I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.
--Chinese Proverb
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Old 12-09-07, 04:16 PM   #4
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I've had some phenomenal math teachers that made me want to learn as much as I can. I've had the worst teachers that I couldn't stand even being around. The teacher can make a huge difference (I was a math major myself (theoretical, not applied).

What courses vexes thee? Sometimes the first few classes are annoying since they are covering groundwork - but once you really get into the material it's much more interesting. Now if you don't find math interesting you may have a deeper problem since engineering is all math for the most part. Do you enjoy the subject but just having trouble with it now? If not then you may have a long few years and career ahead of you.
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Old 12-09-07, 04:33 PM   #5
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"If you want to live life with perfection all the time, you will be disappointed all the time. Only one was perfect and it's not you.

Mom"

These words were sent to me in a card from my Mom when I was having trouble in one of my classes and I was looking to change majors. They hit home and I finally learned to let things happen as they will do and not dwell on them. Sometimes it just take a different instructor to show you a different way to learn.
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Old 12-09-07, 05:14 PM   #6
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Find some study buddies. 2 min. 4 max. and help each other out. Just make sure it doesn't turn into a BS get together. Engineering is not that hard once you are out of college. But, you must work very hard to get through it, grasshopper. Don't look at something that has you stumped for more than 20 min without at least a 5 min. break.
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Old 12-09-07, 08:36 PM   #7
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FWIW, I dropped a physics major at the end of my freshman year. My grades weren't an issue, I just lost interest in the math courses and found other courses more exciting. I wouldn't have put in these exact terms back then, but what was bothering me was the thought of spending the rest of my life working equations and the like. Initially I was disappointed in myself for abandoning a goal but I made the right decision.

Higher education in our culture is set up so that students commit themselves to a career fresh out of high school. But in truth it's ridiculous to think that every (or any) 18 year old knows exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life. Yet, once you've accumulated a six-figure debt, it's hard to say no to that career.

All I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't feel bad about switching directions at this point in your life.
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Old 12-09-07, 08:39 PM   #8
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Do what Billy Madison did.
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Old 12-09-07, 08:39 PM   #9
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Oh and i second what VV said about Teaching is learning.
Half of what i've learned in the technology world i did by teaching other people.
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Old 12-09-07, 11:02 PM   #10
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I started my engineering educational career by hating my first math class out of the gate. I realized that being an engineer meant doing math every day for the rest of my career. I switched majors after my first semester.
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Old 12-10-07, 09:00 AM   #11
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At graduation everyone receives the same diploma. Having some influence on the hiring from time to time, I will take a B, or C student that can relate to people and customers then an A student that can't. I know a lot very smart people that can not relate to real word situations in my industry.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:06 AM   #12
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Dont give up hope. There is a lot that defines an engineer than just math. What kinda engineer do you want to become? That will have a say on how much math you have to deal with on a daily basis. What topics are you having trouble with?
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Old 12-10-07, 10:10 AM   #13
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Does your school have an Engineering for Artists track?
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Old 12-10-07, 10:45 AM   #14
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I'll give you two VERY IMPORTANT pieces of advice. Please, SERIOUSLY take these both to heart as they are big factors in mathematical success.

1. When teachers try to show you how to do a problem. Write down this result, make a table with these numbers, etc..... Do it just like they show you. Most people think they can 'organize' the problem in a way that is 'better for them', but in reality they are screwing up the organization. Just do it like your teacher shows you to do it until you have truly mastered UNDERSTANDING the problem.

2. UNDERSTAND the problem. Most people who fail at math fail because they think its all about memorizing formulas and try to do just that. If you concentrate on UNDERSTANDING the problem, half of the formulas are obvious without memorizing and the problems become 10X easier just because you understand what's going on. Memorizing any formula should be nearly LAST on your priority list.
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Old 12-10-07, 10:49 AM   #15
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Let me ask a question - why do you want to be an engineer? Generally engineers are good at math. They really like math and like solving the problems. They often aren't terrible good at math theory, but the use of it.

If you are going into engineering because you like the money - you are setting yourself up for failure. The courses are to help you decide if you are in the right career. The fact that you don't do well at math is a very bad sign.

just my dos colones
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Old 12-10-07, 10:56 AM   #16
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If you are going into engineering because you like the money - you are setting yourself up for failure.
+1
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Old 12-10-07, 11:00 AM   #17
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Dont give up hope. There is a lot that defines an engineer than just math. What kinda engineer do you want to become? That will have a say on how much math you have to deal with on a daily basis. What topics are you having trouble with?
Almost everything an engineer does is math. Set theory (databases), programming (algebra), and then you get into electrical engineering (solving equations), mechanical engineer (pretty much all the above)

I can't thing of a single engineer who doesn't use math all day. To be a good engineer means you like math. It might not be calculas, but you are using math.
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Old 12-10-07, 11:31 AM   #18
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Almost everything an engineer does is math. Set theory (databases), programming (algebra), and then you get into electrical engineering (solving equations), mechanical engineer (pretty much all the above)

I can't thing of a single engineer who doesn't use math all day. To be a good engineer means you like math. It might not be calculas, but you are using math.
The point I was trying to make is that Engineering isnt only math. There is a design/intuition aspect that is a pretty vital part of the equation. At the same time if he OP wants to become a structural/Computaional Fluid dymnamics/Signal processing engineer, then he better have a real good understanding of the math below.

I am an Analog Circuits (EE) guy and while I do deal in math, my work is often time abstracted into concepts that don't really need you to write out detailed equations all the time. Then again you need to develop intuition and understand how the concepts relate the math (physics) that lies underneath, so you could argue that you need to be good at math to begin with. Thinking more about it the reason I feel like I dont do much math is because it probably because whatever math I do seems automatic and second nature. I guess I am trying to point out that there are job functions where the math is abstracted to a certain degree.

Sorry for the rambling post .
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Old 12-10-07, 11:39 AM   #19
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The point I was trying to make is that Engineering isnt only math. There is a design/intuition aspect that is a pretty vital part of the equation. At the same time if he OP wants to become a structural/Computaional Fluid dymnamics/Signal processing engineer, then he better have a real good understanding of the math below.

I am an Analog Circuits (EE) guy and while I do deal in math, my work is often time abstracted into concepts that don't really need you to write out detailed equations all the time. Then again you need to develop intuition and understand how the concepts relate the math that lies underneath, so you could argue that you need to be good at math to begin with. Thinking more about it the reason I feel like I dont do much math is because it probably because whatever math I do seems automatic and second nature.
+1 on all of this. Except I do ME work, mostly in consulting, and otherwise do balance-of-plant design and layout, plus HVAC. All much more conceptual and intuitive than heavily math-laden (in fact, I rarely use calculus at all). Granted, good intuition is based on having had experience, and sometimes that experience involves first working mathematically through some things in order to understand them at a fairly basic level, and thereafter working from intuition.
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Old 12-10-07, 12:20 PM   #20
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Dood, engineers need to understand math or at least have a mind that thinks in an abstract mathmethical way. That is the essence of engineering. Conquer the math or change majors.
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