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My Journey to Becoming an Engineer - Intro

Hi! I'm Nikki and I am a freshman at Cal Poly SLO Majoring in Mechanical Engineering (emphasis in Mechatronics) and Minoring in Biology. I dream of working at a company designing ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and submarines to explore the deep sea, and one day want to be the first woman to visit the bottom of the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean). I also have a strong desire to spread the joy that I have found in all things STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), which was my basis for starting this website and book series!

Join me as I share what I learn along my journey in my new blog "My Journey to Becoming an Engineer". My blog will be a short Q&A format to allow readers to join in my experience through this amazing adventure. Please send me your questions about college and STEAM and I'll try to answer each of them in my upcoming blog(s).

So...let's not wait...let's get started!

Session 1 - Introduction

Q1: Why did you decide to major in Mechanical Engineering (ME)?

Nikki A1: I have always loved being hands on and building things and after joining robotics in high school, my love for engineering flourished!

Q2: What classes are you taking this quarter?

Nikki A2: I am currently taking four classes (two major classes and two support classes):

​ > Calculus II (1 hour Lectures - MTWF) - support class

> Calculus Workshop II (1.5 hour Labs - TR)

This is a math class that teaches how to find the surface area and volume of complex objects. Memorizing the equations can be quite boring, but doing the math itself is actually fun!

> General Physics IA (1 hour Lectures - MTWR) - support class

> General Physics Study Session IA (1 hour Labs - MW)

This is a science class that teaches how the universe works. We learn about gravity, light, magnets and more. My teacher is a lot of fun and makes you never want to miss a class!

> Introduction to Mechanical Engineering I (3 hour Lab - W) - major class

This is such a fun class! It is an introduction mechanical engineering class where we design, analyze, test and dissect mechanical engineering systems, from simple machines (drills and lawn mowers) to more complicated systems. It also introduces engineering graphic communication, HVAC&R, Manufacturing (machining) and Mechatronics (robotics) concentrations.

> Manufacturing Processes: Material Removal (1 hour Lecture - T and 3 hour Lab - R) -

major class

Another favorite class of mine! This is a introduction to machining lab where we learn how to use machines to remove material from a solid form (mostly pieces of metal) and turn it into an object (screw driver). I have found that my high school metal machining classes and experience has taught me most of the information in this class already.

*T=Tuesday and R=Thursday

On a side note:

There are 5 different types of classes that I will be required to take during my time at Cal Poly. I like to think of them as a sandwich lunch.

1. General Education (GE) Classes - The Bread. Classes that everyone at Cal Poly must take to graduate. These include writing, speech, arts, humanities, and society to name a few. Most colleges have you complete all of these during your first 2 years.

2. Major Classes - The Meat. Engineering classes that I am required to take to get my ME degree. Most colleges don't have you start taking your major classes until you have finished your GE classes and have been accepted into the degree program after your 2nd year of college.

3. Support Classes - The Condiments. Math, science, and other classes that support my engineering classes that are also required to get my ME degree.

4. Concentration Classes - The Specialty Meat - I prefer prosciutto. Mechatronic (robotics) classes that I will take in my 3-4 years to allow me to specialize in mechatronics. Everyone must choose a concentration.

5. Minor Classes - The Salad - I decided to have one but it's not necessary to have a full meal or college experience. These are biology classes that are required for my minor in biology. I do not need to take specific classes, just a certain number of biology classes at different levels.

Q3: Are there many girls in your engineering classes?

Nikki A3: There are about as many as I expected, which is to say - not as many as there could be. My Calculus and Physics classes both have a good number making it close to 50:50 but my major specific classes are much less. My Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering classes both have 4-6 girls besides myself in 40 person classes (about 12.5% of the class). 12.5% is actually pretty good given the national percentage of women in Mechanical Engineering is around 8%.

While these numbers may seem really small they're growing more and more with every passing year and I'm proud to be part of the change!

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog! I'll be back in a couple of weeks after taking my first set of finals. Wish me luck and I'll let you know how they go!

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