Double Major in Music and Engineering

Hey! I'm Angela, and I'm currently a junior in high school who really wants a career in engineering. This is something I have known since I was in elementary school when my father, a programmer, took me to work with him one day and told me I could help design computers like the ones he worked on if I were to grow up to be an engineer. =P (I've always been a tinkerer by nature.) However, I am also an avid musician actively involved in the marching band and performing in multiple honor bands in the spring. Recently, in college representative meetings and the like, multiple people have told me double majoring in music and engineering is just plain impossible. If this is true, then what other options might I have where I can pursue both of my loves in life? Thanks so much!
posted by Angela on March 28, 2012

Answer by Ms Erin Fitzgerald

Hi Angela! Congratulations on all your achievements! As a former double major in music and engineering, I can tell you that it's not impossible... but it's pretty close! There are indeed some fields where you can try to combine engineering and music, such as audio engineering or architectural sound design (designing concert halls, etc.), or you can even try my field of speech recognition where if not music you can at least try to integrate acoustic features with information technology. I think in the end though, the real question here may be: can you still let music be a priority if you study engineering and NOT music? And the answer is, of course! In fact, often it can be easier! Most likely what you really plan for the future is not in reality to be at Google by day and the San Francisco Symphony at night. I found that I spread myself so thin trying to get adequate practice while keeping up with problem sets that I no longer found playing as relaxing and enjoyable as I once had. Once I made the decision to focus on engineering and reduce music to a minor, I felt I was able to be a better engineer and though I played less, found music to again be the enjoyable release it used to be. Without a formal program you do have to be more proactive to find time to practice and ensembles to play with, etc., but you may be surprised at all the options you find. And of course, when life gets really busy, I can't think of a better way to relax than to take a night off and enjoy a performance by the professionals!