Mechanical engineering combines mathematics principles and engineering physics with materials science to create, design, and maintain mechanical systems. We will discuss the difficulty of a mechanical engineering degree to help you decide whether you should pursue it or not.
Is Mechanical Engineering Hard?
Mechanical engineering is very hard. In fact, mechanical engineering is known to be one of the toughest degrees because you need to take many difficult math and science courses, advanced technical classes, multiple lab sessions, and study a wide range of topics.
Tough Quantitiative Classes
The first couple of years for engineering degrees is quite similar regardless of the discipline. You will be exposed to the fundamentals of science, math, and engineering during this time.
During the first two years you will typically study the following core courses:
- Calculus I
- Calculus II
- Calculus III
- General Chemistry I
- University Physics I
- University Physics II
- Differential Equations
- Linear Algebra
- Technical Communication/English Composition
- Intorduction to Engineering
- Introduction to Computing
- Kinematics and Dynamics
- Introduction to Materials Science
- Computer-Aided Engineering
Many of these courses are known as “weed out” classes for a reason. You can expect complicated concepts, huge workloads, and difficult exams during these courses. You may find your peers quitting engineering after taking courses like Calculus II.
If you get accepted into an engineering program at your university it means you most likely have the intelligence and competence to pursue a STEM degree. Most students drop STEM subjects not from the lack of ability, but due to the unwillingness to study harder than what they were accustomed to in high school.
Difficult Technical Classes
After completing your core courses you will be able to more advanced technical classes which will be specific to mechanical engineering.
The broadness of a mechanical engineering degree will provide you with the option of choosing your technical classes from a plethora of courses. However, you can expect technical mechanical engineering courses to be universally difficult; albeit some more than others
These technical courses will require you to be proficient in several skills. Some courses will call for in-depth theoretical knowledge while others may demand you to apply your knowledge in more practical situations.
Finally, a few courses may ask you to submit detailed projects to show your understanding and implementation of the underlying principles. The different types of skills professor test drastically increase the difficulty of mechanical engineering.
Mastering Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Sills
Engineers strive to solve problems and improve the lives of others. Mechanical engineers are taught from the very start to improvise and adapt.
In a controlled lab session, you can come up with a solution without facing many difficulties. However, in the real world, you will need to take into account several external factors before reaching a conclusion
Mechanical engineers have to be innovative since many of the problems they face may be completely new and have no answer online or in their textbooks.
For instance, a company may demand a machine that has a lower carbon footprint on the atmosphere. Lowering the carbon footprint may lead to an inefficient machine. This is where mechanical engineers need to step in and come up with a unique device that is efficient but has low carbon emissions at the same time.
A good college will teach you to critically analyse a problem and then come up with various solutions to tackle it. Your attempts at solving the problem may not be perfect but they will certainly help you improve your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Working on these skills in college will make your work life much easier. Developing your critical thinking and problem-solving skills is difficult but what else can you expect from a mechanical engineering degree.
What is the Hardest Year of Mechanical Engineering?
Mechanical engineering is amongst the most difficult degrees to pursue. The junior year of college is considered the hardest year of a mechanical engineering degree because you take the bulk of your technical courses and learn the toughest concepts during the third year.
The first year of mechanical engineering is more like an introduction to engineering. You will get a chance to explore the different branches of engineering. However, most of your courses will be maths or science courses.
The main focus of your sophomore year is improving your math and engineering concepts and preparing you for the more advanced courses. This is your last real chance to change your engineering discipline. After this, you will have to repeat several courses if you want to transfer to a different engineering department.
The junior year of college is when you will take the majority of your specialized engineering courses. The junior year will be the biggest test of your theoretical and practical abilities. The courses will be very intricate and in-depth.
During your senior year, you will have to submit multiple projects. These projects will be built on the principles and knowledge you learnt during the first three years of your major. The other courses you take in your senior year should be based on your interests and career goals.
Overall the junior year is considered the most challenging and hardest year of a mechanical engineering degree.
Is Mechanical Engineering More Difficult than Electrical Engineering?
Mechanical engineering is slightly more difficult than electrical engineering because it is a broader engineering discipline. Electrical engineering is the most mathematically rigorous engineering discipline but it is not as wide-ranging as mechanical engineering. ‘
Electrical engineering is very math intensive. Most of the technical courses in electrical engineering are also very mathematical in nature. However, it is very focused.
On the other hand, mechanical engineering is the most comprehensive engineering discipline. You will study many different topics in college to prepare yourself for working across various fields. This is the main reason mechanical engineering is considered the hardest engineering discipline.
Can I be a Mechanical Engineer If I am bad at Math?
You can not be a mechanical engineer if you are bad at math. This is because mechanical engineering is one of the most math-intensive fields. Most engineering courses require you to be good at math. If you want to pursue mechanical engineering you must improve your math abilities.
Math is a very abstract subject especially when you progress into more advanced courses. Even the best of students find themselves struggling to fulfil the math requirements of an engineering degree.
Mechanical engineers work with challenging concepts and complex formulae. Mechanical engineering is mathematically rigorous and you must have a sound understanding of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus to succeed in this field.
There are numerous resources you can use to improve your math skills. However, if you are unable to do well in maths you should look into other careers that are not as math intensive as mechanical engineering.
Is Mechanical Engineering Stressful?
Mechanical engineering is very stressful. As a mechanical engineer, you will be expected to pursue a challenging degree, work long hours, take few breaks, launch projects, multitask, and do everything perfectly. These factors together make mechanical engineering a stressful and anxiety-ridden field.
Mechanical engineering is stressful because you need to do everything perfectly. The smallest of mistakes could lead to disastrous results. Every calculation must be immaculate. You will need to test your prototype in every imaginable way possible.
Mechanical engineers are well compensated for the stress and difficulties they endure at work. In fact, mechanical engineers have some of the highest starting salaries upon graduation.
Mechanical engineers are often required to do unpaid overtime. This can be in the form of taking projects home or addressing clients concerns after work hours. Mechanical engineers have to constantly upgrade their skill set to remain in demand.
Although their work is stressful, mechanical engineers have to worry less about other things like not being able to pay their bills or being evicted. This is because they have above-average salaries due to the stressful nature of their job.
How Smart are Mechanical Engineers?
Mechanical engineers are very smart individuals. Most mechanical engineers have technical mindsets, above-average IQs, and strong mathematical abilities. These factors allow mechanical engineers to take some of the most difficult courses and work in a stressful and competitive environment.
Mechanical engineers need to be smart people otherwise they would not be able to survive in such a demanding field. Mechanical engineers need to use their critical thinking skills, improvisation abilities, and advanced formulae to devise a solution to the unique problem at hand.
Not all mechanical engineers are smart individuals. If you are not very intelligent but are willing to work hard you can definitely become a mechanical engineer.
Undoubtedly it is very difficult to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. However, if you have a strong passion for the subject and are willing to work very hard, you should definitely go for it.