5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Engineer

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If I had to go back in time and choose civil engineering all over again, would I? ABSOLUTELY! I love it so much! But when I started the program here at Cal Poly Pomona I wish I had known a few key things to survive…

1] You will NOT have a life. There is a breed of students in engineering that can never attend class and read the book at home, roll up to class and ace a midterm. I am not one of those individuals and most aren’t. You have to be so dedicated and put in tons of hours to get this degree. I honestly think that once I graduate people will never understand what it took to get this degree except for other engineers.

2] Find out what teachers to take regardless of the time schedule. Seriously, taking a class 8-10pm really isn’t that amazing but taking it with a great professor who’s going to give you real world experience and teach well is worth it. Find a website that grades the professors (like this one for my school: gradecalpoly.com ) and try to find challenging ones who will help you to learn to apply the class to real life. Those are the best professors.

3] Make lots of engineering friends! Keep your other friends too, but friends in your classes with textbooks, past notes for a class or even old study guides are priceless. Having the ability to call someone up at 3am knowing they’re awake doing the same homework as you and needed help is always nice. Make sure to form good study groups with these people! Key word there “good”. If you get study groups with slackers who you have to end up teaching them the whole quarter in a night you’ll hate yourself. Find people who are great to bounce ideas off of and keep a good study session going.

4] Keep a very good planner. Keep your schedule on your computer, in your backpack and on your fridge even. Don’t miss a due date!! This is something I am very serious about. In the real world you can’t be late for a bid, why would you turn in homework late? Or show up to class late? I had a professor that would shred the students who showed up late or just fail students for not turning in one assignment. Stay on top of you homework, internships, classes and office hours. Plan ahead for everything!

5] Never give up. I don’t give up anyways, but so many student just give up because statics or physics was hard. Keep pushing. If this degree was easy everyone would have one. This program is meant to chew you up and see what your made of, not baby you and hold your hand. Keep short term goals along the way to graduation so it doesn’t seem so daunting in the middle of the quarter when you’re starting to get burnt out from your course load, midterms and life. Engineering isn’t hard for those who get it, it’s hard until you get it. As one of my favorite quotes of Yoda says “Do or do not. There is not try.” Same is true for life after school. If my building falls, it doesn’t matter that the guys’ next to mine fell first, mine still fell.

Engineering is not a joke it’s tough. Only the tough and pressing students survive. I’m going on a limb and saying this, but this degree is harder for me than fighting cancer. The day I walk across that stage and get my diploma that says Civil Engineering on it is the day I know I can do anything in life. No matter what it is, I know if I work hard enough, I can do it.

Study time!

You Can’t Spell “Studying” Without “Student” and “Dying”

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Finals time is now here. For engineers this is a very interesting part of life. It mainly includes many students getting together at school to panic and talk about their hatred for specific classes, group projects, professors and how the air conditioner is not run in our building on the weekends. I currently have a few finals to study for and 1 project left. I was one of five students in my Technical Communications class to have an ‘A’ and not have to take the final. The only girl I might add :]

I am moving along slowly but feeling confident that I will not only pass all of my classes but score high marks in them! I do have one presentation to give on my group analysis of soils and a footing design which I am NOT looking forward too and it is taking up all of my time. Ugh.

On a lighter note this past week I went on my very first construction site! I got to wear a hard hat and all of the protective gear and see different parts of the job in progress.

Cal Poly Pomona is building a new business development with three buildings to house offices, classrooms and lecture halls. Below are some pictures of the foundations and rebar going in for the footings. Some compaction devices are shown as well. The length of proposed footing is large as well as being about 20 ft deep. The site lies directly North of the San Jose Fault. It’s interesting because when designing buildings the fault can change so much on a site including groundwater table and soil layers. A building should always be on either side of the fault and not cross it perpendicular due to shifts in the plates on either side of the fault. Check out the pictures below while i get back to studying! There is a fun one of my group and I and the end too! GO TEAM BLUE! :]]

-Diane  ❤

Engineering Summer School

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My 2010 summer vacation preview:

As inferred from above I registered for what almost every engineers does, SUMMER SCHOOL! dun dun dunnnn! So long story short I registered but the Cal State system will only let me register for 13 units during registration! Now on a typical engineering flowchart at Cal Poly Pomona civil engineers are required to take 18 units a quarter to graduate in 4 years, ha! As I can do math, hopefully since I passed 5 calculus classes, if I need to be taking 18 units and I can only register for 13 I have a huge problem on my hands. I do not want to be stuck trying to take hydrology, water supply, water treatment, structures testing lab and a tech elective all in the same quarter because I can’t take enough classes right now! Engineering suicide! Shown below is my flow chart of classes to get my so coveted civil engineering degree just to give you a glimpse of what my life is like (click for full view). Not to mention working or internships and life on top of school.

Well I have a Fluids midterm Wednesday that I need to keep studying for! Keepin it real.

-Diane