What if you got admitted into a different engineering discipline from the one you wanted?

What engineering branch you choose matters very little over the long term. If you love engineering, you will see the commonalities across all the engineering disciplines. Engineers make science practical. To do that they worry about aspects like efficiency, effectiveness, economy, reliability etc that the scientists find too lowly to care about. Whether you are a mechanical engineer or an electrical, computer or metallurgical one, the challenges are similar.

There is a difference between an engineer and a technician/mechanic. Most technicians/mechanics master the finer aspects of their trade [in a way they make engineering practical], but what the engineers can is to sit back to understand the overall complexity, connect the dots and think of the system design.

While a technician cannot easily switch trades, for an engineer it is not only easy, but very common. Because, understanding system design and figuring out the operations are what every engineer has to do — regardless of their discipline. Thus, you will find engineers engineering things like economics [plenty of economists like our beloved Rajan move from engineering], finance and politics, besides industrial systems.

Because, engineering is all about system design and control systems. Don’t believe me? Let me copy paste the description of all engineering disciplines. They are all about design, development and control of systems.

In short stop worrying about the branch you take. Start looking to understand the engineering underneath that.

Some practical advice:

  1. Use the college library and other resources to open up your mind. You are not a vacuum cleaner that is programmed to do just one thing in life. Learn about a variety of fields.
  2. If you believe you like some other engineering discipline, pick up their intro books and start understanding their concepts. Some times you might find that you don’t like the discipline that you assume you like.
  3. Once you have an initial grasp, try to find professors in your target field. Schedule an appointment and talk about your genuine interest in their field. And volunteer your time. For me, I liked mechanical and electronic engineering and spent a lot of time with their professors.

Again, you get a Bachelor of Technology/Engineering degree. Not Bachelor of Civil Technology or Bachelor of Electrical Technology. Whatever branch it is, you are an engineer and you have to deserve to be one.