When I was a student in school, there were only three professions worth pursuing in the eyes of Indian parents. You could be either a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. The cultural reinforcement was so strong that if you wanted to study anything else, everyone thought it was because you didn’t have good enough grades to pursue these top tier professions. That kind of narrow-minded thinking has evolved and these days, it has become more acceptable to pursue a career in fashion design, tourism or writing. However, there was a reason that those three career paths were pushed so hard – they guaranteed you a high-paying job and a profession that would make sure you were always employable. This still holds true today and I’d like to share why pursuing a career in engineering is worth the stress and sweat and what does it take to get accepted into a top engineering college.
I knew I wanted to be an engineer from early on as I used to construct elaborate mini cities from my Lego sets and wanted to understand how the world around me worked. I had excellent teachers for Physics and Chemistry and they encouraged me to go beyond just completing the home work assignments and start thinking creatively about science and its application. This lead me to build my own music speaker using magnets, wire and paper that revealed to me how sound is fundamentally pulsating air. This early science project lay the groundwork that lead to me designing parts of a mini race car during my engineering studies at Purdue University and then lead to my role as a product designer on Motorola’s first smartphones. If you have a knack for solving problems and want to be involved in creating solutions to a variety of challenges, then a career in engineering is right for you.
To get your dream job, you’re going to need an engineering degree from a top university. Besides high quality teaching methods and opportunities to work on interesting projects, a top university attracts the best engineering companies to recruit on campus.
In choosing which university to apply to, you should know that not every university is strong in every field of engineering. Of course, MIT tops the list in most fields but a top 10 or even a top 20 engineering university in your chosen field should be good enough to land a job at a top company.
An undergraduate (bachelors) degree in engineering is usually four years long. The first year is filled with general engineering courses and advanced maths and pure science courses. In the second year, you start taking courses more specific to your particular field. So, this gives you a chance to change your engineering major between your first and second year, in case you realize that electrical engineering isn’t really for you and instead you’re excited by biomedical engineering. But after your second year, switching majors will add more years to your degree. In your third year is when you usually take the heaviest workload of courses and lab work. The fourth and usually final year is mainly focused on your senior project work and this is when you can decide whether to pursue a higher degree such as a masters or PhD or get straight into the industry.
Studying for an engineering degree is hard work. No bones about it. But it’s just as hard as studying for anything else that you’re interested in. The admissions officer going through your application will be looking for signs that demonstrate your ability to put in the hard work needed to succeed in an engineering degree. Just getting good grades isn’t enough; it’s of course very important, along with high SAT/ACT scores, but they will be looking to see whether you did anything extraordinary during your schooling.
To make your application stand out and make the admissions officer exclaim, “Woah, this kid is an over-achiever!” I recommend high-school students to pursue a project that makes a tangible impact in your community or on a wider scale. This could be solving a problem regarding waste, maybe installing solar panels in a village or creating a mobile app that serves an un-met need. These kind of extra-curricular projects will give your admissions essay a fantastic story that demonstrates your ability to tackle a problem and see a project through to its completion.
FutureWorks Consulting has the expertise and knowledge to guide you in choosing a project, executing it, and then helping you write about it in a manner that will make your application stand out. I recommend students to take on a mentor from Futureworks in Grade 9 or 10 so that we can devise a long-term project that can have a real-world impact.
The future is full of exciting problems to solve, in fields ranging from robotics to climate change to telecommunications. A degree in engineering can take that brilliant idea lurking in your brain and transform it into reality. Get in touch and see how FutureWorks can guide you in the first step of getting in to the engineering university of your choice.
by Jay Kannaiyan, FutureWorks Consultant
Jay received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and then received a masters in the same field from Texas A&M University. He landed a full-time position with Motorola in Chicago where he started as a Quality Engineer. Then, Jay moved to the product design side where he used 3D CAD software (Pro/Engineer) to model the various internal components of a mobile phone and ensure parts were manufactured within cost and to spec. This was the period when the first generation of Android smartphones were coming out and Jay was heavily involved in testing the new software and hardware configurations.
In addition to his career in engineering, Jay pursued a distance Master of Science in Sustainable Development from SOAS (UK), while taking time off to travel on a motorcycle through South America and Africa. His research on gender and agricultural water management in Kenya earned him a distinction and lead to his current position as a development researcher in New Delhi for an NGO called Pragya.
About the author
Team Futureworks works for Kavita Singh. Kavita is an MBA graduate of Columbia Business School and holds a BA (Hons) from Oxford University. She has over 13 years of experience working in the U.S. and India and is the CEO of FutureWorks Consulting, an admissions consulting firm. To learn more about our Admissions Consulting Services click here. You can also call us at 9910097553 (9:30-6:30 Mon to Fri). If you have any other queries, you may also contact us on Facebook
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