Pitt offers almost a hundred different distinct undergraduate degrees! I am currently pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering. I am hoping to get a minor in architecture and/or environmental engineering. My motivation to go into engineering stems from my love of building things and understanding how they work. Interestingly enough, I originally went into Pitt, still in Swanson, but as a chemical engineer! But the freshman engineering seminars do a wonderful job of explaining each of the disciplines to you. They are specifically designed to help you choose which major you want to declare for come you sophomore year. Each goes in depth into what sort of field you could be working in. They really helped me realize that I wanted to focus on civil engineering and not chemical. And don’t be afraid of going in with a declared major because its easy to change. And the same goes for going in undeclared – its also easy to declare later on and most classes you take freshmen year will cover your general education requirements for any of the engineering majors.
Within the courses you take when you come to Pitt, you have a wide variety of options to choose from when deciding whether or not to take Honors courses. The Honors courses are great because they offer a more in-depth view of the subject as well as offer insights into real world application that is not necessarily explored in the regular courses. Now this might make you nervous to enroll in an Honors course because it sounds more complicated or like more work. But don’t be discouraged! The professors of the Honors courses recognize that their courses are of a different nature and quality than the regular ones and will help you figure out how best to study and excel in the course. For me, the content of the Honors courses made it super easy to pay attention and study because the content is more interesting when applied to real life scenarios. And you get to perform fun experiments! The picture on the left is my Honors physics professor teaching us about propulsion while sitting on a wagon propelled by a fire extinguisher!
Honors courses are also a great way to meet students from other disciplines. Any Honors student can take any Honors course. I took Honors physics with people in all walks of life – physics majors, computer science majors, etc. I really enjoyed meeting people from different majors because I tend to find that most engineers think the same. So, if I ever got stuck on a problem and asked an engineer, we were likely stuck at the same point in the question. Whereas if I asked someone who wasn’t pursuing an engineering degree, they were more likely to look at the problem from a different perspective. This is a super valuable takeaway not just for class work. Meeting new people who think differently than you can help your network and self-discovery and not only improves you as a student but as a person.