Engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical concepts to real-world situations. Naturally, you will need to take at least some math courses as you study to become an engineer and use some of the math theory you have learned in your future career. However, is a career in engineering even an option for you if you don’t like math or are not especially good at math?
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Core Math Courses in Engineering Degree Programs
What math courses, specifically, will you need to take to earn an engineering degree? While the major you choose and the engineering school you attend will have some influence on this answer, there are many types of math concepts that you are likely to study in some respect as you pursue any kind of engineering degree. Linear analysis, calculus and geometry are among the most important types of math for aspiring engineers, according to Forbes. Trigonometry and statistics may also be required fields of study, The Houston Chronicle reported. Many engineering programs, like agricultural engineering and biomedical engineering, require students to study differential equations. Students should also be prepared to take science courses that include an emphasis on formulas and equations, including physics.
Engineering focuses largely on designing and developing solutions to problems. One way all aspiring engineers must be able to use math is for analyzing their own designs.
How Do Engineers Use Math?
Engineers must be competent at math. They often have to do equations and calculations as part of the process of developing, building and testing their designs. A mathematical mistake could cause a significant problem when working in any discipline of engineering.
However, engineers focus primarily on the practical applications of mathematical concepts. If you don’t enjoy abstract mathematics work and feel frustrated at having to solve math problems for the sheer sake of answering abstract questions, you may still be a successful engineer. In the field of engineering, the focus is on math with a practical purpose.
Some colleges offer specific mathematics courses intended for engineering students, such as linear algebra for engineers or advanced mathematics for engineers.
Options for Aspiring Engineers Who Don’t Like Math
If you’re thinking about a career in engineering but you don’t like math, you have a tough decision to make. On one hand, you simply can’t become an engineer without taking math classes. On the other hand, you don’t want to abandon your dream career just because you might have to take a few classes that you would rather skip. Your decision might come down to the question of which desire or motivation is stronger – to become an engineer or to avoid taking math classes. There are success stories of students who achieved their dreams of becoming engineers despite being bad at math.
One piece of information that may help you in this choice is considering realistically what amount of math you need to know to work as an engineer. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, engineering teachers have identified the top five most important math skills for engineering students as evaluating solutions and checking their work, becoming familiar with units and dimension, understanding how to create and interpret graphs, performing algebraic manipulations and being able to convey and interpret engineering relationships through mathematical expressions. Surprisingly, the top three skills don’t require a lot of complex advanced mathematics knowledge.
Of course, even if you can get by in an engineering career without using complex mathematics concepts and formulas on a daily basis, you still need to pass the core math courses you need to graduate. If you really want to be an engineer, you might have to change the way you study math so that you can succeed. This may mean taking fewer courses at a time or working less during your education so that you can devote extra time to studying for your math classes. Be vigilant about your understanding of material in the classes that you find difficult, and start taking action as soon as you notice that you are struggling. Talk to your instructor about questions that you have or concepts that aren’t making sense to you, and consider hiring a tutor who can help you understand the material better.
If you are still in high school, taking as many math courses as you can right now – even if you don’t like the classes – may help you have an easier time with advanced math courses when you get to college.