UC Berkeley Engineering: the ups and downs

Joshua Jordan/Staff

We Cloggers talk a lot about the happenings in Berkeley, breaking news and the lowdown on campus gossip. Yet, one thing we often neglect is that this school is hard as balls — especially for engineering majors, with their wickedly tough course load. Perhaps it’s time to delve beneath the surface and take our interest into the field. We interviewed two of UC Berkeley’s own engineering majors to help us all understand both why anyone would go through such a course load and the tolls that that takes on their lives and happiness.

Our engineers are Noe Barrel, a freshman EECS/MSE major, and Alex Matthews, a chemical engineering major, and this is their story:

Clog: What do you guys like about studying engineering?

NB: One of the most important things I like about engineering is the bridge it forms between scientific concepts and everyday life. For me, engineering is a tool to help make the world a better place and make people’s lives easier. In addition to that, I also like the creative, problem-solving aspects of it.

AM: Chemistry is innately fascinating, and its implications continue to astound me the more I get into my studies.

Clog: What do you not like about engineering?

AM: Unnecessarily harsh grading, extensive lab reports, how precise measurements need to be and how long labs are.

NB: One thing I don’t like about engineering is that there’s too much homework. Also, sometimes the course material can get a little dry.

Clog: Have you guys ever regretted your decision to study engineering?

AM: Yes, because I often question my ability to handle the workload.

NB: No.

Clog: How many all-nighters have you pulled?

NB: Couldn’t tell ya, at least four this semester.

AM: More than I want to admit.

Clog: How many mental breakdowns have you had?

NB: Probably around two.

AM: A lot. I’m unsure if it’s because of engineering or personal instability.

Clog: Longest time you’ve spent on a single problem?

NB: If projects don’t count, then I’d say like 3 or 4 hours.

AM: I usually give up at around the 5 hour mark.

Clog: Have you delayed showering for the sake of academia?

NB: Yes — Somewhat frequently (oops).

AM: Once or twice.

Clog: Any funny stories about being an engineering major that you’d like to tell?

AM: I came to my GSI for help with an outlandish problem, and after about an hour of him explaining it to me, he stepped back, looked at the problem intently, and said, “wait, nevermind, this is wrong.”

NB: No. Nothing is funny about being an engineer.

There you have it: Being an engineering major is a simultaneously difficult but rewarding task. We at the Clog were thoroughly entertained by what our engineers had to say, and we have a renewed appreciation for the STEM fields (mainly because who would want to deal with all that math?).

Contact Melany Dillon at [email protected].