Regardless of the degree you pursue, college is a difficult experience. My first-year experience as an engineering major had its ups and downs, but ultimately I’m happy with where I am and who I’ve become.
While I reflect upon the past year, you may find some similarities and differences with your own personal journey to mine!
To begin with, the curriculum was surprisingly difficult! For one, material that’s normally covered in an entire high school year was covered in under 4 months. The classroom dynamic has also changed—instead of 30 students in a class, I was in large lecture halls of 400+ students. Thus, I found it difficult to build a personal relationship with my professors. Suddenly I felt like my high school GPA and incoming college credit wasn’t enough to keep up with some of the brightest brains in the room.
As an engineering major there’s a lot of competition to say the least. According to a study by my university in 2015, there were over 1,000 incoming freshmen who declared an interest in engineering. When I graduate I will be competing for my dream job with around 1,000 applicants from my university alone!
As many know, any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) related field of study is male dominated. This fact became real for me on my first day of school when about a quarter of the 400+ students in my calculus class were female. To this day, almost every single one of my math and science professors have been male. I’m very grateful to hold an internship at an engineering firm, but the actuality of the male to female ratio still exists. My supervisor is a man, my manager is a man, and the majority of my coworkers are men. When looking at the history of the STEM field, most well-known scientists and engineers have been men. As a woman in this field I’m beating the statistics!
Despite these challenges, being an engineering major is immensely rewarding. The competition motivates me to work harder every day. This motivation has given me the confidence to take control of my future. So what if the majority of my peers are male? I hope I can be an inspiration to the younger generation of girls who dream of entering a STEM job. At the end of the day, engineers are changing the world, they built the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, and more! We’ve sent people to the moon and soon we’ll be sending them to Mars. It’s a great time to be alive, and I’m most excited to be a part of the change we will make in this world. I encourage you to look back at how far you’ve come and think about where you see yourself in another year.
Comment below what you learned your freshman year!
Alisia is a mechanical engineering student at The University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and holds an internship at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. After graduating with her bachelors, she wants to pursue her masters with a minor in environmental studies. With her degree, she hopes to develop alternative energy resources and create a sustainable environment.
Apart from her school extracurricular activities, she enjoys drawing, painting, and traveling. Within the next year, she plans to get involved with Give Volunteers, an organization that combines volunteer work and overseas travel to improve lives. Apart from helping others in developing countries obtain necessary resources, she is also passionate in helping other achieve their academic goals which is why she is so excited to be a Cengage Student Ambassador!