Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How un-robotic can I become?

What a weird topic to my blog post, but pretty dear to my mind; this is something I ponder almost every minute of my life.

I have no regrets (as of now) being a civil engineering major, given my love for architecture and wondering: how is this building or bridge built?

However, many challenges in life make it really difficult for me to study civil engineering.

For example, two years ago, I wanted to major in Asian Studies because I loved (and still do) Asian culture. I have a strong passion for doing something to contribute to the Asian-American activist movement and contemporary Asian-American culture. Given my involvement in my school's debate club, I'm also into politics and other social sciences (especially sociology!). I'm pretty much somebody who has a open-minded love of the liberal arts that cannot be restrained.

UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, unlike the College of L&S, does not have specific breadth requirements for the Humanities/Social Science requirements. For example, in L&S, there are 6th breadth requirements (i.e. you have to take 1 philosophy course, 1 international/area studies course, one biological course, one social behavior course, etc.), whereas in College of Engineering, there are six humantites courses - two of them have to be English courses, and the four others can be anything you want (well, one have to be related to American Culture and the other has to be American History, but that's just a university-wide requirement). While I can use the CoE requirements and take classes specific to the L&S requirements, I get a bad impression of how the CoE treats the liberal arts. College is where one can be an open minded and well-rounded individual, but the CoE's leninency on the Humanitities/Soc. Science requirements show that well-rounded-ness isn't a priority.

These challenges make me feel robotic because I want to learn more about myself, as an individual. Engineers have an impact on everything in society, positively or negatively, and the humantities explains why people do what they do, especially, but not limited to, engineers.

I chose civil engineering because I wanted to preserve Asian Architecture (as well as promote sustainable design and improve our aging infrastructure). This is the field which allows me to do something about a number problems in our world today, while trying to understand my culture, which I barely understand.

My only hope is that people respect the field of engineering (and, for some, maybe enter it?), while putting out the need for engineers to be well-rounded in other fields. Engineering is very technical-based, specific, stereotypically (and sometimes truthlly) unsocial, and especially difficult; these characteristics make it difficult for people to even accept engineering, espeically when America needs them a lot.

I have a difficult time explaining and defending why I chose civil engineering, given that I sound more like a liberal arts major than an engineering major; I appreciate my open-minded-ness, and my belief is that people will appreciate this rare quality. Engineers can be social scientists too, historians, public policy influences, artists, performers, polticians, teachers, etc! I want people to accept me if I am a citizen-journalist in my free time, an Asian-American activist trying to promote Hmong cultural arts, a sociologist analyzing 3rd generation Asian-American families, or whatever it may be, all while being an engineering major.

While college majors are really specific, I choose to go to college because I want to learn about life in general, not primarily because I want to study a career-specific field just to get a career specific job.

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