7 Stereotypes About Engineering Students

1.5 million students graduate from various colleges across the country with an engineering degree.  That’s 25% of engineers around the world. Now that the numbers have played their part, let’s get into what stereotypes that plague these 1.5 million.

We love Circuits, Math and Computers

One of the most prominent stereotypes about engineering students is that they love circuits, computers and Math in general.  In reality, Mathematics has made more students cry into their pillows than the breakups they have to hide from their parents. Circuits make us groan more than our professors’ lame jokes. Working around computers mostly involves hoping your partner has a better clue than you do; which rarely happens. 

Not only that, we’re expected to know how to repair stuff around the house even before get our degrees. Repairing cycles, removing punctures, solving computer issues are not in our syllabus but that doesn’t stop Ma from asking me to repair the mosquito racquet.

Branches of Engineering

Contrary to popular belief, Engineering is not limited to Mechanical, Civil, Electrical and IT. For that matter, IT and Computers are two separate branches of engineering and yes, it does matter. Similarly, Biomedical engineering is not the same as Biotech.  There are over 60 distinct branches of Engineering like Geotechnical, Aerospace, Mechatronics, Agricultural, Petrochemical, Metallurgical and so many more.

However, the big four come more naturally to the public eye maybe because companies often come to recruit come for these branches first.  Not to mention, comedians more often than not pander to these branches more. It’d be nice to have a joke or two about instrumentation, but for now, we’ll settle for laughing at the extreme singleness of mechanical engineering students.

Free time and Social life

Okay. This is a tricky one. Engineering students seem to have a lot of time on their hands. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. Engineering students study quite a lot for their exams. But the big exams come once a semester.  So, we just optimize our time efficiently. 

Which often means we have time to do other stuff like learning other languages (more C and Java than German or French), playing online games, sports, and most importantly, Netflix during the semester. During exam season, however, we end up studying for ridiculous amounts of time and still manage to score pretty well.  

Our social lives while eventful and happening are not exactly healthy. We nearly have to go through a Hunger Games like scenario to make our fests happen. Our friends’ circles are ever changing and evolving. From the ‘Chai sutta’ group to the ‘study group’ and the ‘PUBG group’ to the Fest committee. With so many things to do, we simply cannot help but meet different people with similar interests.

The MBA Cliché

A lot of people ask us why we bothered to study Engineering when we were going to end up doing an MBA.  There are many reasons for this. Before we get into that, let’s get into this stereotype. Engineers are not exactly calculators, they’re problem solvers. Engineering puts us through a 4-year gruelling program that spits out a graduate that can be calm and patient under stress. That just happens to be rather tailor-made for the corporate management world. One quote perfectly sums it up. “Engineering requires from you the fortitude to do enthusiastically apply your energy to towards a task you find undesirable”  
Now the reasons why we do an MBA are two folds. One, a higher paycheck and better job opportunities. Second, we don’t really know what else to do and that’s sort of how we ended up in Engineering in the first place. 

Gender Gap

The Feminist movement has fertile grounds and a dire need in Engineering colleges.  The students would love to have more female students and not just the male ones. This stereotype however of boys doing engineering has harmed the profession as a whole. Mechanical and Civil often see female students that barely make up a full per cent of the class strength. 

At the same time, Computers and IT have a slightly better scenario with an almost 40/60 split. But then you get to the Biotech and Biomed branches and it all goes for a toss. Here, it’s the guys who are not just outnumbered, but spectacularly so. while this stereotype has some basis in reality, there’s a lot of variation and it seems to be weakening with more and more girls taking up engineering.

Coffee, Caffeine and Energy Drinks

There’s an increasing group of people who think engineers drink a lot of coffee. That’s not exactly accurate. Either we don’t drink it at all or else, guzzle it down by the pot. It’s extreme, yes, however, we do need it for our all-nighters and study marathons. If we can’t wait for a pot to brew, we get our caffeine fix from elsewhere.

Hackathons and gaming sessions for our fests often get sponsored by Redbull and the like because who’s going to wait for the coffee to filter? If you find a can or four crushed around the room, know for sure a frustrated engineer is around. Tread carefully. They are unpredictable creatures.

Engineers are Geeks

This stereotype is one that offends us to our very coffee-addled souls. We are not Geeks. We are proud Nerds with a capital ‘N’.  A run of the mill Geek is someone whose obsessions/passions lie outside the mainstream. That’s a formal way of saying they live and breathe and fantasize about something like Star Trek or World of Warcraft. A Nerd, however, is someone with an above average intelligence and an occasionally debatable type of social skills. All engineers are Nerds by default. We just train ourselves out of it and become confident and learn to develop our social skills. An Engineer can be a Geek but he is a Nerd first and foremost. 

Engineering is Easy

Engineering of any kind is not easy in any way. That is not just true for our education system in India but everywhere around the world. A huge number of assignments, journals, experiments, vivas, practicals, reports, internals, externals, internships; these are just some words that, to this date haunt the dreams of engineering graduates. Time crunches and ridiculous workloads alongside a varied and detailed syllabus make a student’s fiery crucible in which we are tempered. 

- Nachiket Bhushan Kondhalkar

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7 Stereotypes About Engineering Students 7 Stereotypes About Engineering Students Reviewed by EMN on July 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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