View Full Version : When did you decide to pursue engineering?

Amanda Morrison
11-20-2002, 01:46 PM
Personally, I have no technical ability. When I joined FIRST, it was not for my interests in a technical career but instead because of my love of people and my enthusiasm in this program. I am interested to see your answers...feel free to give me some commentary.

11-20-2002, 02:24 PM
Every since I was a little kid I wanted to be a computer engineer....

Okay, so maybe that was a hokey childhood dream, but it's true. I loved computers. I wanted to learn how they worked. How to build those little pieces that make them work.

FIRST made me make my final decision to be an EE. Morely the economy. I had a tough decision between Computer science, computer engineering, or electrical engineering. CS is useless unless you have extraordinary amounts of company experience these days.

Joel J
11-20-2002, 05:06 PM
From a young age I excelled in Math and Science courses, and was average in everything else. My family members are known to be 'accountants' and nothing less was expected of me. I, for a short period of time, toyed with the idea of becoming an accountant, but decided it was not the career for me.

Time went by and I found a new interest, flying. Flying aeroplanes (yeah, I am from a country colonized by the British), in my opinion, is one of the coolest things to do. I would daydream about becoming an airline pilot, soaring above the clouds, and not having a care in the world. Then, I joined RAGE.

To be perfectly honest, I was originally attracted to the RAGE Robotics team because it presented me with the opportunity to drive a cool-looking robot around. I always liked to drive things--Aeroplane, Go Kart, RC Cars, etc--and had no problem adding a robot to the list. I practiced driving the robot for quite some time before I was able to do it properly.

During my second season with RAGE, things began to change. I enrolled in a C++ course offered at my school, and was exposed to the programming language used to make the robot "go" for the first time. I found programming to be an excellent pass time activity and I was able to do it without extensive studying/practicing. I was hooked.

At the end of my second season with RAGE, I had to start thinking about college. I knew I liked to drive 'things'; I knew I liked to program; and I also knew that non [math/science] fields were not my forte. So which would I choose: To become a programmer, or an airline pilot? I was stumped.

My third season with RAGE began and I was still stumped as to which road I would travel. I was finally selected to be one of the robot operators for the upcoming competitions and therefore refocused my attention to the game. After the competitions were over, our robot, overall, did well. The exact competition results are inconsequential.

The summer months came. I HAD to decide then what I wanted to do with my life: fly high, or make robots go. I reflected on my third season with RAGE. I had alot of fun driving the robot during competitions, but saw it a useless career. I realized that I would rather write computer programs, and things along those lines, than to pilot an aircraft, or any other machine for that matter. The choice that at one point had me stumped became an easy one to make. I would pursue a career in 'programming.'

Next year, I will attend whichever college accepts me, and major in Computer Engineering. I will still find time to "drive stuff around," but will treat it like I would a hobby.

Rich Wong
11-20-2002, 05:42 PM
When I was in elementary school,
I would take all my toys apart with a
screw driver.

I needed to know how everything
works. Sometimes I was not able
to reassemble the toys. Was I in trouble.

That was the start of my engineering


11-20-2002, 05:46 PM
When I was young I would take everything apart I could get my hands on. I couldn't get it back together back then but now in most cases its a piece of cake. I am a car guy so I mod my truck and have learned a great deal about engines and vehicle dynamics from it

11-20-2002, 08:13 PM
I am still just a freshman, but here is what I have to say...

I stink @ math, I always have... always will. I have been tested and they say I have issues with recalling patterns. I am surprised I understand computers so well.

But anyway, I love to create stuff and then say "Hey, Look what I built! It can do this this and this!"

There is nothing better for me than that, I love to watch people when they see what I have made and they enjoy it and want to get involved too.

Brandon Martus
11-20-2002, 08:17 PM
Its not really about engineering -- but I'm gonna tell my story anyway :)

All through high school, I was set on majoring in Architectural Drafting. The only problem was that I wasn't too good at drawing by hand. Give me AutoCAD, and I could do some crazy stuff, pretty fast.

I started teaching myself AutoLISP, and programming my own little macros and shortcuts, and even my own menus. I also began tinkering with websites a little bit. Then my senior year, I took Pascal. I had no idea what the class was, I just knew it involved math and computers. Turned out, it was an intro to programming, with Turbo Pascal.

Woo. I liked programming, it came to me quickly, and I decided to change my major and study Computer Science when i went to University of Detroit Mercy.

So, like many college students, I changed my major from Architecture to CS, although I wasn't technically taking classes yet -- but anyway.

Thats my story.

Oh -- and because of FIRST (working on this website, actually) -- I decided I wanted to concentrate on web-based programming. By teaching myself Perl & working with HTML alot on the early forums at chiefdelphi.com, I got used to learning new languages, which helped me when I got to college & work.

11-20-2002, 09:28 PM
At my first and second years in FIRST i decided that I wanted to be a Mechanical engineer. Then this year I started helping a FIRST lego league team and that experience made me want to change form engineering to engineering education.
Well thats my short and sweet story

Jeff Rodriguez
11-20-2002, 09:41 PM
there is no 'just now' option.:D

11-20-2002, 10:00 PM
In 7th grade I started taking woodshop for the first time. One day we took a 'field trip' to the HS to view the technology program there. We got to see all the cool stuff like the CAD labs, and the machine shop. Also, sitting in the middle of a table there was a little robot, with a 3 pronged claw, clutching a ball. This was my HS's 1995 robot from the Ramp and Roll Competition. When I got to see all this cool stuff I knew I wanted to learn about it. This was when my engineering *spark* was born.

Probably saved me from being a lawyer or something... :D

It doesn't take much, just a little shove in the right direction.

11-20-2002, 10:23 PM
When I first started robotics, I wanted to be a CS major or programmer or something to do with computers. I entered robotics for the animation part of the competition. Rather than animating, I found myself sitting back and watching. I got rather bored of that and wandered around. The adults forced me to make buttons for a year :) The next year, I knew I didn't want to try animation again so I went for webpage. I, again, got to do nothing (not that I was unable to do anything...just everything I did was rejected or ignored). Made buttons for another year. (Although i did manage to wander up to the shop to help out a little bit). The year after that (which was this past year), I dove right into R&D to get a better feel for engineering. Right then, I knew I wanted to be a CS major no more. I had never really liked the idea of programming for a living...I like it more as a hobby. Engineering was incredibly interesting, though. I normally work well under pressure and can usually hit deadlines. I also like to be hands-on. If FIRST did nothing else for me, it at least did what it was meant for originally...to inspire kids in science and technology.

Josh Hambright
11-21-2002, 08:18 AM
I started playing with electronics when i was in like 4th grade...and i always knew that was something i was good at and wanted to do...computers entered my life while in preschool and i have always had a talent for those as well...

Though i would have a hard time seeing myself going into engineering...maybe a more technology based degree...like electrical engineering technology...or something like that...

12-11-2002, 07:38 PM
I guess I knew when I was in high school, although my Dad say's he could tell I was an engineer as a kid. I took everything apart, I loved science, I spell like a moron, my room growing up was covered in plastic model airplanes, I moved to RC cars, RC airplanes, and I dominated all the high school physics "games" we had in school. (My old high school STILL has no FIRST team.)

While at UofMich, I figured out that I like projects more than I like homework and tests. SOOOO - I got my masters in Design Methodology - which just means that I got to work on lots of projects, and take lots of wacky classes*.

That's my story - FIRST and I just kinda fit together.

* Wacky classes include MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System). How come I can design and build a working 2-speed transmission 0.5mm in length, but a robot transmission is "scary"?

D.J. Fluck
12-11-2002, 07:48 PM
Ive always loved to build things, take things apart, and work with computers since my dad bought our first computer back in 1989. I Took apart my parents TV when I was 10 and I tried fixing the problem with the tube connection. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had to try. I never did fix that TV, but if that were to happen now, I would have fixed it. Heck, thats the only reason there is a TV in my room today :D

The clincher was back in the summer of 2001, after my sophomore year in high school, my dad wanted me to try an engineering camp, so I went to the Milwaukee School of Engineering EE week long camp. After I came back, I knew for sure what I wanted to do. Heck, I liked the school so much, I applied there and I got on. As far as I know, that is where I will be attending school next year.

Jim Giacchi
12-11-2002, 09:12 PM
For me its really a couple of things.
First, my great-grandfather was a plumber, (still got his tools, they made stuff to last), grandfather was a tool-and-die maker (still got his tools, same initials, yes all mine), and my dad is an electrical engineer. So I've always been exposed to working with my hands, and i've always loved it.

The turning point to becoming an engineer was probably when i walked for the first time through the doors at Rutgers and saw the 98 competition. I was amazed and knew thats what i wanted to do. I joined my high-school team when i got into highschool, and now I'm a senior and hopefully(know by the 15th) :crossing fingers: whether i get in to college for ME.

12-11-2002, 09:18 PM
There's also no 'FIRST made me realize that I needed something more than engineering' option, either ;)

Ryan Foley
12-12-2002, 08:20 PM
I've actually been interested in ME since about 6th grade or so. Joining FIRST made me want to be an ME even more.

I have enjoyed building things since i was either 4 or 5 years old when i got my first Lego set. Fomr then on all i ever wanted for b-days or xmas was Legos, and i just kept building all the time. In 8th grade i started taking toys, small cheap electronic items and the sort apart, so i could figure out how they worked. Then freshmen year i joined FIRST. Since then my greatest passion has been building robots and ME (and some EE).

so i hope to go to WPI for ME (since WPI sponsors a team, i might still be able to do FIRST, that and they have a good music dept.)

12-18-2002, 06:45 PM
Well, I had always wanted to be a doctor. I used to have one of those little play hospital kits, and one of my halloween costumes was a doctor. Then I saw the TLC and the Discovery Channel. Yuck. Turns out, my stomach was NOT fit to become a doc, so I decided to be a lawyer...

This "Lawyering" dream didn't last long. I have NO idea what swayed me away from it. OH! Wait, I remember, all those years of law school. I had forgotten that I hated school. At the time, I didn't know that college was NOT school...

That's when I decided to become an Electronics Engineer. That's all I knew. Then I came into school one day, and saw this "machine" in my classroom. Heck, I didn't know what it was, it looked "mechanical", and it said "Golightly Robomasters". I guessed it was a robot. Then, later that day, a crazy looking man in his work uniform turned on this crazy looking piece of "machinery". He told his story,a nd I was hesitant at first, but after that, I was hooked. I put my name on the sign up list, and that's when I joined Team #519. I love FIRST.

12-19-2002, 03:02 AM
FIRST made me realize that every normal, legal field is stressful and involves hard work. I would like to be retired. If I have to choose a career though, it would involve either mechanical engineering or project management, although I'll probably change my mind frequently. Maybe I'll be president... that sounds fun.

I really have no clue.

01-10-2003, 01:04 PM
I've wanted to be an engineer since 8th grade, when I participated in a math competition. I discovered which area of engineering to study this summer. I spent three weeks at Rose-Hulman modifying a remote-controlled car to be autonomous. My group, despite a bit of idiocy, was able to make ours run around in a rectangle, find an object, and return to its starting point.

I'm hooked.

02-08-2003, 11:18 AM
Lez see, I more or less always thought about being in some kind of technical career, aerospace being my highest ambition. Um... I'm juggling between a career in 3d animation and a career in engineering. I've got inexpensive access to a great 3d animation class, so I'll go ahead and take that, but then I may attend either Purdue University in Indiana or Oklahoma State University here in Oklahoma. I'm the oddball in the group because 1. I had blue hair, and 2. I'm the only one patient enough to use 3d max. I think that FIRST was the biggest influence on my career choice because I would've never even thought about 3d animation as a possible career choice because I am not in the least bit an artistic person, but I am a wiz with computers, so it balances out as I've found this year putting together an animation in 2 weeks. I look forward to talking to anyone with simliar ambitions and hopefully I'll get the chance to meet a few people like me at the competitions comin up! I can't wait til the action starts, I'm a senior! woot!:yikes:

Richard Wallace
02-08-2003, 12:48 PM
I guess I decided when I realized that I liked being a geek.

I attended high school in the late stone-age, before microwave ovens, cordless phones, personal computers, the internet, cheap power semiconductor devices, or high-energy permanent magnet materials were available. I was one of the geeks in the back room of the library keeping my school's 16mm movie projectors working, maintaining the air conditioning system, and fishing coaxial cable through the walls so each classroom could have a TV connection. None of this had anything to do with what was being taught in classes so I thought of it as play.

My school did not teach calculus so I went to the local college at night. No one at my school knew much about electronics, so the other geeks and I just figured stuff out as we went along, usually destroying school property in the process. We also played a lot of chess and spent way too much effort finding ways to avoid going to class.

After high school I went to a small college that had good departments of chemistry, art, and religion. It also had a small department of computer science where all the top students were geeks, but no physics or engineering. After a year there, I transferred to Georgia Tech, and that changed my life for good.

At Tech, I found out that the world is actually full of geeks, that there are almost always logical reasons why things work or don't, that the library is full of books and you can almost always find the answer you are looking for in there somewhere, and that geeks who are willing to play hard enough can get paid to play for the rest of their lives.

I stayed at Tech for about a dozen years (minus time spent at co-op jobs in the Southern California aerospace industry) and left with a PhD in electrical engineering. After that I got a job teaching and researching at the University of Missouri, where I stayed for four years. There I started a solar racing team that is still competing. I left that job nine years ago, and since then I have been developing new electronically controlled motors at Emerson.

I am 44 years old and science and technology still seem like play to me. I play FIRST because I still like teaching and I still like the company of other geeks.

02-26-2003, 08:44 AM
Before I became a part of FIRST, I wanted to become a Manufacturing Engineer. After joining FIRST, however, I realized that there's more to science, math, and technology than just engineering. When I joined the Golightly CTC Robomasters team two years ago, I was performing tasks outside of engineering. I work on our team's website, help write the Chairman's Award, and I'm the Head of Finance for our team. I enjoy performing these tasks very much. The career field that I found to be related to this is Technical Communications. While I still would want to be an engineer someday, I enjoy the field of communications the most now. I learned that FIRST allows you to explore all of your options in every aspect of science and technology. You definitely don't have to limit yourself.

Erin Rapacki
02-26-2003, 09:26 AM
I joined FIRST my junior year of high school because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I had always been good in science, math, and other subjects; but my choices varied from engineering, to being a pilot, business, architecture, interior design... whatever! I knew I'd be happy in any of these professions... but which one!?! Well... at the end of my rookie year I decided that I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. I gave the following year, my senior year on Buzz, all I had. Now, this year, I am a freshman engineering student at Northeastern University. I am still involved with FIRST as a mentor on team #125, the NU-TRONS.

I know that I'm not too technically inclined, but what robotics has also taught me is that I'm good with people. I'm using my experience with #125 as a chance to develope my management skills. Most people I talk to think I'll be a good manager or representative... they say that's just in my personality. I'm just easy to talk to!

well... gtg to class!



P.S. Catch me in Manchester if you have questions about NEU... I want to recruit more FIRST'rs like myself so that we can make the NU-TRONS the powerhouse team that they could be.

02-27-2003, 05:58 PM
Hi Jasti...

FIRST actually HELPED me decide WHY I wanted to be an engineer. At the time, I didn't know what an engineer did, why they did it, when they did it, and how they did it. I now see that they use tools such as:

1. Pencil
2. Paper
3. Eraser
4. AutoCAD
5. Their BRAINS

Pretty easy job, if you ask me. I think it's something I will heavily enjoy doing. Being a member of FIRST, this may also lead me to be a helping engineer on Team 3350 or something like that. I hope that FIRST grows huge...I would not hesitate to even THINK about it later in the future...

David Lantz
02-27-2003, 06:54 PM
I decided to become an Engineer well before I had ever even heard of FIRST. But since then the idea has continually been reinforced. I now have a general Idea of what I want to go into (Aerospace) and am continually learning new and interesting things each day.

03-05-2003, 10:33 AM
What can I say? F.I.R.S.T got me involved. I love staying afterschol for LONG hours and getting my hands dirty. :D

03-11-2003, 09:31 AM
From my experience in FIRST I learned what Mechanical Engineering is all about, and I liked it so much more than computer science -- which I had been intending to major in since the 4th grade -- that I switched majors to mechanical.

The change was difficult, in fact it is a lot more difficult for me to well in mechanical engineering classes than computer science, but the point is I am doing what I really enjoy now, and will not be writing code all my life now :-D

- Patrick

04-05-2003, 09:22 AM
Well, I have grown up with engineering all around me thanks to my mother's position in the schools of engineering at Purdue. I've met tons of engineers through her who have always tried to persuade me into engineering, even since I was little. Well, when I got into high school, I was interested in becoming a veterinarian or doing biochemistry. Unfortunately, a bad teacher experience threw vet. out the window, but I was still really interested in the sciences. I joined our FIRST team my frosh year, but I wasn't really on the technical side of things, so it really didn't impact me that much. My soph. year I took chemistry and totally loved it. I was still really interested in the sciences, and my mom was telling me a lot about biomed. engineering and all of the fun stuff they do. So that became my next area of interest. To make a long story short, by the time this year, my senior year, rolled around, I was pretty set on Chemical engineering. I took on a technical role this year, and had the best time ever in my four years on the team. Consequently, I decided that I was definitely going to go to Purdue and study chemical engineering, that way I can come back as a mentor/student advisor next year. I love this program so much that I can't imagine leaving it now. One of the people I most adore is our fearless leader, Shannon Schnepp. She's awesome, and I want to achieve as much as she has :)

Sara Jane
04-06-2003, 01:56 PM
I became interested in engineering when I joined FIRST this year. Being in FIRST combined with my growing interest in space science has prompted me to decide to pursue a career in aeronautical engineering.:cool:

Al Skierkiewicz
04-07-2003, 11:04 PM
Well this is a long story, so sit back and put your feet up...Along time ago...in a galaxy far away, oops that is another story.
My dad was mechanic and sometimes worked out of our garage or a service station (that is a gas station with a garage attached) close to the house. When I was five, he would bring carburetors home and I would disassemble them if I could get the screws loose. (I was big for my age!) Later, I picked up the piano and I liked that, it made my mom happy. I started doing all kinds of things, building models and playing with radios, fixing the neighborhood bikes and working with my dad. Somewhere in there my dad turned to me one day and told me if I ever became a mechanic he would break my fingers. (He claims he never did, but that's the way I heard it.) So I could give up mechanical, keep playing the piano and pick something else. Well, I had always been good at fixing things and like many schools, there was lot's to fix. I moved from working on instruments, projectors, an organ and copy machines to being asked to join the TV club. (I found out later that was because I knew how to solder and had access to a soldering gun.) As I searched for career ideas, a lot of people told me that my math was bad, my grades were low, I would never get into a good school, etc. But I was stubborn and didn't listen to any of them. I liked electronics and thought I would try and find something there. In 1969 there was no Internet to search, and finding anything is a library was tough. I asked the counseling office at school if there were anyway someone could help get info on electronics schools. One counselor I had not met overheard my request, gave me a test to help me decide what I liked, and told me of a new curriculum starting up called Electronic Engineering Technology at Bradley University. It sounded cool, Bradley accepted me, (even tough I had blown the ACT) and off I went to be an engineer. I worked my way through school at the TV station and when I graduated, another counselor suggested I try TV instead of manufacturing. (I had not received any offers after 60 resumes and tons of interviews.) Thanks to him, I became a Broadcast Engineer and went to work for Public TV in Chicago where I help make lot's of people happy.
So you see, it was not a single thing got me here, but a lot of little pushes, bumps really, from a variety of people. If I had not allowed myself to move in one direction or moved to far in another, I would not be here today. It just happened, I am in job I love, and I never regret a day of it.
Now you want to hear something really weird, my high school is St. Patrick of Chicago, aka Striker, Team 101. And yes, I cheer for them as much as for Wildstang, we help them when we can, and this year at Midwest they beat us once and made it into the finals as one of the captains.
Ok, moral of the story, sometimes you have to listen to a lot of bad advice before you get some good stuff. Don't listen to someone who says you can't do something, decide for yourself. It is important to find something you can be happy in because then it doesn't seem like work and someone will pay you to do it.

04-08-2003, 12:56 AM
I was obsessive about legos as a child. I used to build lots of different kinds of vehicles. I not sure if I will become an engineer or not. A year ago I thought I would be going into a music Major, now i may be leaning more towards Engineering. FIRST has changed my idea.

Kevin A
04-08-2003, 01:01 AM
i have been into mechanical things all my life. taking apart, putting back together. my go cart was awsome, but i think robotics is more worthwhile.

05-05-2003, 11:11 PM
I wanted to be a doctor until about 7th grade when i found out about engineering from my dad(the engineer). then i wanted to be a materials engineer. Now however i am looking for the best of both worlds. Biomedical Engineering.