I’m the First Engineering Student Without a Superiority Complex: Here’s My Story

Written by: Gabrielle Hart

By Gabriella Heart
Engineering Student

I still remember the exact moment when I realized I wanted to be an engineer. It was when I built my first gaming computer in high school, as my parents (both business majors, so their hardest class in college was probably Adding Numbers 101) sat in amazement. When I finally finished and turned it on, I relished in the moment of accomplishment. I felt the dopamine course through my veins as it was the first time I felt smarter than my parents — err, I mean … I felt the joy in building something useful (while feeling smarter than my parents).

I wasn’t quite sure what discipline in engineering I wanted to go into. There were so many ways to make a positive impact on the world as an engineer. I thought about going into civil engineering to build structures for the homeless or build affordable prosthetics as a biomedical engineer. However, I later checked the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and was heartbroken to find that aerospace engineers make the most money, so I had no choice but to contribute to the military-industrial complex instead. Applying to engineering programs for undergraduates was definitely a challenge, and I think this is where my fellow engineers’ budding superiority complexes develop. Did you know engineering programs often have significantly lower acceptance rates than other majors? I was so worried about getting accepted into the engineering program at UCSD. I felt like my 1500 SAT score was not nearly sufficient for such a rigorous program, but I certainly never mention that in casual conversation when someone asks about applying as an engineer (unlike some people). I’m not sure why people keep asking me about that anyway. It’s not like I’m always going around telling people that I’m an engineering major, even though I am.

I truly do understand how challenging it must be for engineers to keep their ego in check. Whenever someone asks me about my major, there is always an accompanying “oooo,” “ahhh,” or another form of flattery. Sometimes I catch engineers smirking to themselves just an instant before they say what their major is, like their opponent made a critical error in a chess match. They just know that it will be another chance to have their ego stroked. I try to avoid this excessive adulation by never mentioning my major, engineering. Although, my UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering crewneck I wear 24/7 might be a giveaway.

When I sat at my introduction to engineering course my freshman year, I felt humbled. I was no longer considered smart among my peers. You can’t brag about your major to other engineering majors, so you need to seek that external validation from non-STEM people. For many engineers, bragging about their major is all they have left to be proud of. Outside of their major, they have nothing. Their GPA barely hits 3.0, they can’t get a date, can’t get invited to parties, and they do homework for 12 hours a day. I get mine done way faster than that because of my powerful intellect. I truly am the exception. Also I can get dates and used to go to parties all the time. Most importantly though, I am humble.

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