Engineering school is never easy and it will never be. It is always complicated!
Whether you are an average student or an achiever, you will never be totally spared from the complexity of engineering school.
No matter what engineering field you are currently studying, it will take a lot of all-nighters, studying, guts, motivation, strategy and inspiration to be able to finally walk on the stage and grab that engineering diploma.
Many people underestimate the struggles of being an engineering student, that when they get a failure or two, they would drop out and shift to a different course.
There are also others who are just really not cut out to be in engineering school because it’s not where they want to be, and in turn, they also leave.
But there are a few others, who defy all the odds and struggles and would still get up from their failures and continue their journey that is to finish engineering school and get that diploma.
Engr. Wayne Lorenz B. Tandingan who graduated from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines belongs to the last group.
What makes him stand out is that his resilience, motivation and hard work in engineering school has helped him get the number one spot in the 2017 Chemical Engineer Licensure Examination in the Philippines.
In an email interview with GineersNow, Wayne shared his struggles as an engineering student despite being an achiever since childhood, and how he was able to cope with his disappointments.
He also shared some studying tips that are uniquely suited for engineering students to help them study more efficiently.
Lastly, he gave some life lessons he has acquired as an engineering student to inspire millennial engineers around the world.
Here is Wayne’s inspiring story as an engineering student:
Why did you choose Chemical Engineering? Who or what was your inspiration?
I love the natural sciences particularly chemistry. I also had an interest in mathematics.
I would have loved to take up a triple major in chemistry, biology, and physics though but that was a bit out of reach.
I thought it might be more practical to take up an engineering course since it was easier to find work and I hoped that I’ll see the same sciences at work in the same field.
Did you have any failing grades? Or any disappointing experience in engg school? How did you cope?
I had a failing midterm grade once in advanced engineering mathematics because I was pretty bad at solving equations numerically.
It did ease the disappointment a bit when I knew I wasn’t alone but it was the first time that I have gotten a failing grade so I felt very sad about it. I was used to expecting that I always pass my subjects.
If I kept on sulking forever though, it won’t be the only subject that I’d fail so I had to stand up and keep moving forward.
I have to suck it up and deal with the problem since it won’t solve itself with me doing nothing.
I paid particular attention to this subject and kept studying. I practiced solving exercises until I was satisfied that I can take on whatever is thrown my way.
I listened to lectures attentively and asked for advice from my classmates who knew better than me.
Loads of studying and practice coupled with Dory’s “just keep swimming” attitude paid off.
I did well during the final exam and got a decent grade because I did not stop swimming my way in the ocean of adversities.
In fact, with all those things happening, I almost forgot that I failed! Looking back though, it’s uplifting to see that things will turn out okay in the end if I just keep pushing forward.
Do you have any studying tips you can share with the future engineers?
It’s very important to know how you prefer to study.
Are you the disciplined type who sets time to study every day or are you the type who likes to cram the night before the exam?
Do you prefer to read, listen to lecture, write notes, practice problems, ask for advice from peers?
More often than you think, you are actually doing well with how you do things right now.
I believe that we learn more when we learn comfortably.
The other thing that you need to know is your goal. If you are preparing for an exam, studying hard gets you far but being in the right condition to take the exam is also important.
You can’t expect to pass when you never had a wink of sleep from studying so long!
If you are preparing for a school project, there are a lot of opportunities for mistakes and revision.
Plus you can ask around for help while doing it so investing plenty of time working on the project helps a lot.
What’s the best advice/pieces of advice you could share to other students?
Don’t settle for studying for the sake of good grades!
We often see studying as a means to an end and often that end involves a better future or a better sense of self-worth, both of which can be accomplished even without enrolling in college at all.
It will never fail you to study something for the sake of learning and question how these things you studied can be used in everyday life.
What are the 5 most important life lessons you’ve acquired that you want to share with young millennial engineers all over the world?
1. Define Success
Success is not a sole function of hard work.
One can spend countless hours fanning a cup of water to cool it and the other does the job with barely effort at all by adding ice.
Engineers should know this best – the most optimal method definitely isn’t the one that consumes the most energy and resources.
2. Do It Best
The least that you can do when to decide to do something is to do it right and good things can happen when you do the things you do best the way you best do things.
3. Meaningful Experience
For almost all millennials, experience is a currency one uses to gauge self-worth which can be seen mostly in social media. Don’t be fooled!
The only experience that matters is meaningful experience.
Be in something so wonderful and beautiful you’ll almost forget to write a post and take a picture while doing it.
Fly high but don’t forget to put your feet on the ground. You can change the world by doing something crazy but you can save the world by just doing your job.
5. Live Life to the Full
All things will pass in time. That one embarrassing moment you had with your crush in high school? It fades off into distant memory.
That one failing grade in college is but numbers on paper now. Your Latin honors will be just medals and papers on the wall for not long.
There’s plenty of time to worry about yesterday and the future but today only happens just once. When you breathe your last, let it be a sigh of relief that indeed you lived.
What did you do the second you found out that you topped the board exam?
Nothing! My family members were the ones who found out first and told me about it.
I was too shocked to deal with the news. I kept pinching my cheeks trying to convince myself that it was not a dream. It took me a while to swallow the reality that it is indeed my name that is on top of the list.
Needless to say I was prepared for any possibility but never for a success as overwhelming as this one.
How did you find the exam? Easy, average, or difficult?
Two subjects of the exam, Physical and Chemical Principles and Chemical Engineering, were very difficult. The last subject, General Engineering, was okay.
Did you have any expectations when you took the board exam? Did you feel that you would top it?
I was prepared to pass, fail, or top the exam but never to make it to the top spot.
What’s your next plan?
I plan to work first and get meaningful work experience. I might pursue a master’s degree or take up a second undergrad degree but I would love to work in research or try out business in the long term.
What sets you apart from other engrs?
I do a lot of nerdy stuff. I like reading Wikipedia articles about weird animals, reading manga, and playing computer games like League of Legends and DOTA 2.
I also tried playing World of Warcraft, Dofus, and other MMORPG games. My natural curiosity and love for games both helped me grow.
My girlfriend inspired me to try out other interests like weightlifting, fashion, and hanging out in cafés.
Recently I’m trying my hand (literally) at playing the cajon. Travel around the world, extreme activities like skydiving, and being able to publish a groundbreaking study are some of the things on my bucket list.
While reviewing for the exam I spent most of the time playing computer games with my brother and going on dates with my girlfriend.
She drags me out to study with her at cafés and fast food restaurants and if not for her I might not have made it.
We took the licensure exam at the same time and she passed too!
Who do you owe your success to?
I owe my success to my school for teaching me a new way to see the world.
To my family who motivated me to achieve high.
To my friends who were there for advice and emotional support
To my girlfriend whom I shared the last leg of my academic journey with
To God who granted my prayers to make things okay in the end.
Are you ready to enter the world of #adulting?
Not really. While I have to keep moving forward, I would want to make use of my youth to enjoy things that I missed because of my focus on the academic life.
I don’t want to hurry things but I can’t be a kid forever.