Ask an Engineer

This is the place where you can ask those questions you still have about engineering careers.  You can read profiles of practicing engineers in the I'm An Engineer section and ask them a question directly, or you can submit a question here to have EngineerGirl staff try to find the right person to answer you.

Since other people may have already asked the question on your mind, please take time to search through the questions and answers to see what others have already said about your topic. You may also find the list of FAQs about Engineering helpful.  These answers were not provided directly by engineers in the directory, but they will give you a basic understanding of what you need to know about an engineering career.

If your question is for the EngineerGirl Team please first take time to review the Resource FAQs that cover the basics of what we can provide for you from EngineerGirl.

Also, since we cannot give you actual engineering advice, if you need help designing that booster rocket for your own spacecraft or other project, you may find a resource on this list of other Engineering Q&A sites, and we encourage you to seek the services of a professional engineer for any engineering advice you may require. 

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  • William, Los Angeles asked Jenny Boothby, PhD student at UT Dallas

    Added Friday, October 23, 2015 at 5:32 PM

    Why did you choose engineering as your profession?
    Answers 2
    Answered 5 days AGO
    This is a great question, and it has lots of different answers depending on who you ask. Try searching through the "I'm an Engineer" section to find answers to this question from hundreds of different engineers.
    Jenny Boothby, PhD student at UT Dallas
    Answered Friday, October 23, 2015 at 5:32 PM
    I chose to be an engineer because I thought it would be a lot of fun! Engineering is the field that solves the most impactful of our problems in the world, like creating clean energy or detecting cancer. As engineers, we are constantly changing the world ...
  • Barbara Liskov, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Answered 8 days AGO

    I had already finished college (where I majored in math) when I got into computer science. So I was a bit older. But as soon as I knew there was such a thing as computer science, I was hooked and I've been interested in it ever since.

  • Barbara Liskov, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Answered 8 days AGO

    I don't think much about this and anyway I believe that I'm not the first. However I do think that I was very fortunate to get into computer science when it was a such a young field.

  • Meiry Ayad

    Added Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 5:11 PM

    I heard that it’s one of the hardest majors ever. Also how long will it me take to find a job after graduating?
    Answers 1
    Janelle Leafblad, WoodWorks - Wood Products Council
    Answered 12 days AGO
    Hi Meiry,
    I didn't think an architectural engineering major was hard - but then, I liked it! I took a few business classes as part of my degree and thought they were hard although many of my fellow students considered them "easy" classes. Easy and hard ...
  • Bobby

    Added Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    I'm in my second year of chemical engineering and when I look at my peers in engineering, they all seem to be outgoing people who grab concepts and problem solve much faster than I can and I feel like since I'm not able to do that, maybe engineering is not for me.
    Answers 1
    Kristin Malosh, Vallourec Star
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Hi Bobby,
    You certainly don't have to be outgoing to be an engineer! The speed of problem solving or grasping concepts isn't nearly as important as being able to logic through the problem and find solutions. So, I would say if you love solving problems ...
  • NORA

    Added Friday, February 9, 2018 at 1:53 PM

    Answers 1
    Kristin Malosh, Vallourec Star
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Hi Nora,
    That's a lofty goal- to become a CEO! That isn't the job title that one gets fresh out of college. It takes hard work and time to develop the skillset and business knowledge required to be a Chief Executive Officer. Certainly a faster path is ...
  • Kristin Malosh, Vallourec Star
    Answered 13 days AGO
    Hi Kim. I'm not sure you "need" a Masters in Environmental Engineering- I guess it depends on the type of job you are interesting in pursuing. I don't have much familiarity with online MS degrees, so I'm probably not the right one to answer that ...
  • Stressed Engineering Major

    Added Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 12:58 PM

    I'm currently in college for Mechanical Engineering and am searching for an internship. I have a relatively robust resume; I play a musical instrument and was heavily involved in quizzing, etc prior to college. However, the companies interviewing me lately have been asking about engineering hobbies I have. What hobbies could I get into that would build knowledge in my field, sound good to tell a company about and still be fun?
    Answers 1
    Katelyn Lichte, DuPont Pioneer
    Answered Friday, March 2, 2018 at 9:47 AM
    This is a great question, and one that falls closely to my heart.  There are several ways to get involved in engineering hobbies.  A great way to start is to join a student group that is working on a technical project.  This would allow you to just ...
  • Added Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 2:59 PM

    I am a freshman in college as an engineering major. I am very interested in aerospace/aeronautical engineering and my greatest fear is spending all of this money going to college to get this high-end degree (looking to get my doctrine) and not being able to use it because I can't find a job in the real world. How available are jobs for aerospace/aeronautical engineers?
    Answers 1
    Anne Spence, Baylor University
    Answered Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 8:49 AM

    Good Aerospace Engineers are always able to get jobs. If there is a lull in AE hiring, they are still desirable in other types of engineering firms. If you are shooting for a PhD, you need to think about your end goal. There are not a lot of PhDs in AE ...

  • Nicole

    Added Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 4:14 PM

    Hello! I'm currently a sophomore in high school (15), and I've been thinking more lately about what I want to go into as a college major/career. Chemical engineering is a field that is very interesting to me, and it is something I could definitely see myself enjoying as chemistry is my favorite subject. I would like to take AP Biology or AP Physics, but I don't have room in my schedule to take both. I took a physics class last year, but I have never taken a high school biology course (I'm ...
    Answers 1
    Chris Wolfe, ANSYS
    Answered Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 11:27 AM
    Hello Nicole. I see no one answered you yet. I hope this is not too late.
    Either biology and physics will serve you will. If you think you may trend more towards biochemical engineering or environmental engineering topics, I recommend the biology ...
  • Grace McCowan asked Elizabeth Schlegel, KSN Inc.

    Added Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 10:35 PM

    I have worked at a few places, such as Mcdonalds. I have to get a job this summer and would like it to help me gain experience in the engineering field. Currently, I have been taking colleges classes throughout high school and am already finished with Calculus II and many other classes. Are there any jobs you would recommend I try to get to gain experience without any type of college degree? Also, are there internships or co-ops for someone who has no degree but will be starting towards their ...
    Answers 2
    Elizabeth Schlegel, KSN Inc.
    Answered Monday, February 26, 2018 at 4:46 PM
    Any type of office job where you fill out a timecard would be useful; I often spend a lot of an internship training someone to be an employee as much as an engineer.  Some experience working in AutoCAD or Microstation is a huge bonus; any basic drafting ...
    Marie Louis, Regis University
    Answered Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 9:21 AM

    Dear Grace,

    That is a great question. My advice will be to first narrow down the engineering discipline(s) that you would like to study if possible. The latter will assist you with knowing the firms or organizations that offer internships for high school ...

  • Jocelyn Cole, Penny Hydraulics Ltd
    Answered Monday, February 26, 2018 at 9:07 AM

    I would say that the best way to start preparing for a career in Mechanical Engineering is to encourage a love of “tinkering” and always be curious about how and why things work (and why they don’t work too!). There’s a vast range of exciting disciplines ...

  • Micah Scott

    Added Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 8:25 AM

    I’ve had a career in computer and electrical engineering, but it’s hard to see the upside in this stuff any more. Technologies can help people sure, but only within the massively inequitable system that powers our tech. How would an engineer use their skills to contribute positively to the world?
    Answers 1
    Khadijah Latiff, Chicago Transit Partners
    Answered Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 10:44 AM
    You can design and build a benevolent AI machine and let it rule humans like in the Matrix or build reusable rockets that can propel us to Mars and be used to mine asteroids. It doesn't have to be unsustainable. Living without tech is also becoming ...
  • Tom Holmes

    Added Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 2:48 PM

    I would like to go into signal/image processing, but also want a graduate degree in electrical engineering. Should I first get another bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and then go on to graduate school for it, or should I go straight into the graduate program for it. I have read that that plenty of people go into engineering graduate programs without the undergrad but am curious about your opinion on it. My grades and GRE scores are good enough to get into Columbia, and the admit ...

    Answers 1
    Khadijah Latiff, Chicago Transit Partners
    Answered Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 10:16 AM
    Tom, congratulations on your decision to apply to graduate school! I think it is totally fine and reasonable to go into graduate program for electrical engineering with a bachelor's in applied mathematics. Talk to your advisors or professors later if ...
  • destiny jones asked Crystal Harris, Northrop Grumman

    Added Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 11:46 AM

    Answers 1
    Crystal Harris, Northrop Grumman
    Answered Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 8:47 AM
    The most interesting part of my day, currently, would be identifying the various aircraft that utilize the airport where I currently work from. They sometimes range from the familiar Cessna's and cargo military aircraft. Occasionally, I will get a treat ...
  • Dija asked Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co

    Added Monday, February 12, 2018 at 11:21 AM

    I've asked this question before and I know it may seem like a ..dumb question but it worries me a lot. I dream of the day I get to work at SpaceX and eventually NASA. I've always wanted to be an engineer but only recently honed in aerospace. Starting school at 22, pretty late and then eventually graduating at 27, will I be hindered from working my dreams? I worry because everyone I know had graduated at 23 or 24. It makes me feel very self conscious and as much as I try to instill confidence in ...
    Answers 1
    Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co
    Answered Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 10:02 AM
    Hi Dija!
    Firstly, thank you for reaching out about this issue. From my point of view, starting at a later age puts you at an advantage. I will explain. 
    In college, I found that students who were above the average age for their class were more ...
  • Kathleen asked Jennifer Polivka, Nike

    Added Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 4:38 PM

    Currently, I am a junior mechanical engineering student and am working towards finding a job/internship/co-op dealing with fashion design. I want to apply my engineering and creative design skills and I believe Nike would be a great place to pitch some of my ideas. In the past, I have taken a fashion and design class, material science class, and am currently in a material selection course which directly relate to working in this industry but I also know how to relate my thermodynamics, fluid ...
    Answers 1
    Answered Friday, February 9, 2018 at 1:54 PM
    I would say: Keep looking for those internships and co-ops!  Work experience, even if it's peripheral from the fashion design + engineering that you are talking about, is worthwhile.  The past work experiences that my peers and I have had is SUPER broad ...
  • E Taylor asked Barbara Mulkey, Mulkey Engineers & Consultants

    Added Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 5:09 PM

    I have a MS in Structural Engineering, and worked for three years with a private consulting firm in the structural (building) group after graduating. At 37, I'm now considering re-entering the workforce after spending 10 years raising my three children. I feel I'll require some investment in training and technical skills development after this break. My instinct is that a DOT career may be a good fit, as the hours should be regular and I'm hoping for a training program, as I'm considering a ...
    Answers 1
    Barbara Mulkey, Mulkey Engineers & Consultants
    Answered Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 9:06 AM

    I actually began my career with DOT and went through their training program before taking a position in Bridge Design. While it was my lowest job offer at the time, it has paid dividends throughout the rest of my career. I got some good training, but ...

  • Mary Bilstein asked Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co

    Added Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 5:46 AM

    I am an 11 year old student in Colorado, and I have been interested in building things. Since I was little I was always building things of my own. I recently took a trip to the Space Foundation Center and we learned so much about going to mars. I want to build the rocket that the astronauts into space. I am not sure what programs I could get into to help me with my engineering. Do you have any suggestions?
    Answers 1
    Tiera Fletcher (Guinn), MIT/The Boeing Co
    Answered Monday, February 5, 2018 at 1:16 PM
    Hi Mary!
    I'm so excited to hear from a future engineer such as yourself! A great program to start preparing you for an engineering career in aerospace is Space Camp at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Kids like you ...
  • Rachel Warren

    Added Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    Hi, I am 17 almost 18 years old and am applying to colleges for engineering. One pressing question I have is whether or not it is better to get a bachelors in biomedical engineering or to sidestep it and get the degree as a masters. I’ve heard people say that since the biomedical engineering curriculum is so expansive you are not specialized and as such not very Hireable. I plan on getting a masters anyways so I was wondering which would be the best route. Ultimately, I want to do research and ...
    Answers 1
    Chi-An Emhoff, Saint Mary's College of California
    Answered Friday, February 2, 2018 at 4:34 PM
    Dear Rachel, 
    If it were 10 years ago, I would definitely advise getting a bachelors degree in a traditional engineering major, but now, depending on the institution, there are some excellent bachelors programs in biomedical engineering because the ...
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