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BS/MEng Mechanical Engineering
Clifton Park NY

The Engineering Exploration Experience

Alissa Anderson on Wednesday, 25 August 2010. Posted in Academic Calendar, Advising & Support, Co-op, Coursework, Majors & Minors, Women at RIT

Just had a great comment posted on one of my blog entries - the question was in regards to the Engineering Exploration experience and how quickly students in this engineering option get exposed to hands-on projects and lab. In response, I thought it would be helpful if I blogged about my first year experience in engineering exploration and how I finally decided on a major. 

Senior Year: 

I attended a public high school with a fairly large technology program sponsored by Project Lead The Way (PLTW).  PLTW is a program that helps support hand-on learning in high schools; most of the courses I took ended with transferable RIT credits. 
I was never one of those kids who tinkered with electronics or took the lawn mower apart growing up... I choose technology courses in high school because I did not want to spend four more years in the school orchestra... so technology was the next best choice at the time. 
After four years of high school I was faced with the college decision... and decided that I enjoyed engineering in high school and that it would probably be a good option in the college world as well. Because I choose engineering on such a whim, I only looked at universities that offered exploration programs so I could figure out what major I wanted before getting too deep in the course work. 
Long story short I enrolled at RIT in the Engineering Exploration program. 

RIT Year 1: 

Engineering Exploration was probably one of the best decisions I made course wise. Fall quarter all the exploration students are enrolled in "engineering exploration" which is a ten-week lecture class. Each week sponsors a different engineering discipline (week 1: mechanical; week 2: electrical... etc). The head of the department speaks during the first hour about the major and job opportunities post-grad. The second hour is a Q&A with upperclassmen about their co-op experience and plans post-graduation. 
Through the intro course I narrowed my choices down to two majors: Mechanical Engineering and MicroElectronic Engineering. 

Winter quarter I enrolled in two lab courses to further investigate my options.  
Materials Processing: I spent the quarter in the Mech Lab building a hammer
Into to Micro E: I spent 10 weeks in the clean lab (reppin' the bunny suit!) building a solar cell
Both courses were really beneficial and demonstrated what I could expect to see in industry later in life. 
So with this knowledge I spent Spring quarter in mechanical courses until I officially declared Mechanical Engineering at the end of my first year. 

RIT Year 2: 

If I had to sum up my first year with one year it would be exploration. I spent the majority of the year testing out different majors and options for my RIT studies. When I officially declared my major, year two took a different path and was very information heavy in preparation for co-oping. The year was very heavy on the fundamentals of mechanical engineering (statics, mechanics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics...). Though information heavy, the courses often had a lab counterpart, or in-class demonstrations to go with the material. 
Everything came together this summer during my first co-op. All the work I completed during my first two years culminated in my first project at work. 

Needless to say, lab classes and hands-on projects are great for understanding material. But the co-op experience is invaluable and syncs everything together. As tough as courses may be, the co-op experiences show that everything has a reason and everything we are learning in the class room will eventually be used in the real world. 

Hope this answers the Engineering Exploration question! 
Here goes Year 3! 

Comments (1)

  • qing


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