Dude, Where’s My Engineering Degree?

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

You know the scene. It’s 3am, and you realize that you’ve missed dinner. You’re tired. You’re anxious. Finals are in a few weeks, and you’re behind on all your course material. But you can’t worry about that now, now you worry about the project in front of you. It will work perfectly when you present it in two days to the T.A., adding a wonderful full 30% to your final mark, but right now the project is in shambles, and you have no idea how to go about fixing it. As the arteries in your head begin to throb, you remember that this is not an isolated incident. At that moment, you wonder if an engineering career is right for you. Don’t worry; you’re following in the footsteps of other engineers who aban- doned engineering for fame, fortune, and power.

Many “big name” movie stars got their start in engineering. Will Smith abandoned a MIT scholarship and Computer Science to pursue his rap career. Cindy Crawford dropped out of Chemical Engineering for a modeling career. Actor Liam Neeson studied Computer Science. British comic Rowan Atkinson, remembered best for playing Mr. Bean, earned an Electrical Engineering Degree at Manchester and Oxford. Ashton Kutcher studied Biochemical Engineering before playing dopey Kelso on That 70’s Show. Talk show host Montel Williams worked as a Naval Engineer. Dolph Lundgren studied Chemical Engineering at MIT before taking on Rocky, and everyone loves Bill Nye “The Science Guy”, who holds a Mechanical Engineering Degree.

"Mr Bean earned an Electrical Engineering Degree"

If you’d rather be the guy calling the shots, you could try your hand at directing. Frank Capra studied Electrical Engineering at CalTech before going on to make “It’s a wonderful life” and “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”. Famed Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock studied Electrical Engineering before becoming involved with movies, and director Roger Corman studied engineering at Stanford. But your options are not just limited to the enter- tainment business. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who led the team to the super bowl five times, was an Industrial Engineer. Florida Marlins pitch- er Kevin Brown, who helped the team to a World Series win in 97, studied Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech.

If politics are more your style, you would be joining the ranks of world leaders like Nobel Prize Laureate Yassar Arafat (Chemical Engineering), Former US Presidents Herbert Hoover (Mining Engineer) and Jimmy Carter (Nuclear Engineer), Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (Metallurgical Engineer), and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin (Civil Engineer).

Other Engineers who made it big in other disciplines include US Olympic Gymnast Jair Lynch, who studied civil engineering at Stanford, Boston lead guitarist tom Scholtz (Masters in Mechanical Engineering from MIT), and Astronaut Neil Armstrong (Master’s in Aeronautical Engineering).

So remember the next time a calculus equation triggers a severe bout of depression, your future is not limited to a Scott Adams-esque cubicle farm hell. Many people began in engineering and went on to excel in other fields. Engineers can do and have done far more for society more than simply solve calculus equations and tinker with engines.

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