Engineers at Work

Students studying outside of Newman, Oct. 12 2021

Editor’s note: This piece was written with satirical intent. 

According to Virginia Tech admissions, about three out of every 10 students at Virginia Tech are studying engineering. Tech’s program is world-renowned, bringing in millions of dollars from massive companies and research foundations to study the most cutting-edge technologies and relevant problems in society. However, engineering brings with it a certain stereotype of being nerdy (and rightly so). Engineers roam the halls of most academic buildings dreaming about the last good night’s sleep they had and cursing every major except engineering for being “easier.” Here is a collection of common stereotypes about each engineering major.

Aerospace Engineering (AE): These are the kids you see around campus wearing NASA merchandise. They either worship Elon Musk or think they can surpass him in 10 years. However, if they love what they are studying, aerospace engineers are some of the most hardworking people out there — they need to be with the amount of seemingly unpassable math and physics classes they are required to take.

Ocean Engineering (OE): They take most of the same classes as aerospace engineers, but instead of space, think water. The major is super cool and unique, and the students in it are the same way. Ocean engineers are affectionately known as “boat engineers,” and their homework has way too many pictures of waves on it to make anyone take it seriously (even though it is extremely difficult). 

Biological Systems Engineering (BSE)/Biomedical Engineering (BMES): These students are either really into animals or a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein. However, the combination of biology, organic chemistry and physics on top of each other should get some credit. You never know, they could be your doctor in 20 years.

Chemical Engineering (CHE): Along the same lines as BSE and BMES, they take a combination of difficult chemistry courses along with advanced math and physics. Chemical engineers tend to geek out when non-chemistry classes bring up anything related to chemistry, but every future CHE major tutored their whole hall in CHEM 1035 (general chemistry), so no one should complain.

Civil Engineering (CE): Civil engineers always seem to be the butt of the jokes, even though they have to take deforms. Every other major likes to poke fun by saying all civil engineers do is build bridges, but when a non-engineer is asked what an engineer does, the first thing they usually think of is “build bridges or buildings” —  exactly what a civil engineer does. 

Electrical Engineering (EE)/Computer Engineering (CPE): Both majors give off the same vibes. Generally, most EEs or CPEs are nerdy at heart, but incredibly helpful when it comes to that tricky math homework. They combine hardware and software skills with a real affinity for telling others where they went wrong on their coding homework. 

Computer Science (CS): This department is the self-proclaimed nerdiest major of them all. Their version of flirting would be to explain why their Android is superior to your iPhone, and then they’ll ask for your Discord username. 

Construction Engineering and Management (CEM): This major is basically the same as building construction with about three more math classes. CEM kids would rather hang out with building construction majors or agriculture kids than engineers, and I’m not blaming them. 

Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE): ISEs are basically the business majors of the engineering school. When you meet an ISE major, make sure to ask why they’re in ISE. The answer will either be that it’s the most people-oriented engineering major (for us extroverted engineers) or that they were originally a mechanical or aerospace engineer until they got to thermodynamics. 

Materials Science Engineering (MSE): Their coursework kind of combines CHE and MechE, and their interests might seem really niche, but the research going on in their department spans many industries. The students are usually really nerdy about chemistry, and they probably enjoy blowing stuff up or breaking things “in the name of science.” 

Mechanical Engineering (ME or MechE): This is the most common engineering major, and mechanical engineering students love to brag that they’re in MechE. Just because they have to take deforms, dynamics, thermodynamics and more does not mean they are the smartest; it means they are just a little crazy. 

Mining Engineering (MINE): Rocks, dirt and explosives. What more could you need?

While these are meant to poke fun at all engineers, there is something to be said for the dedication and innovation that happens every day on campus. These majors are producing some of the most advanced research the school has to offer. For more information, check out @vt_engineering on Instagram or the Virginia Tech engineering website

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