Why I’m Not An Engineer

Why I’m NOT An Engineer

A very very important lesson I learned while taking an Environmental Engineering class at Stanford, fall of 2010.

It was always the avoided class. The class I dreaded. Like a reclusive turtle, it was always hard for me to come out of the shell. The class that I wanted so desperately to do well in, but never really did. This class in which I’m referring to is science class. There is such a vast amount of scientific topics that I have learned in my life that it’s almost daunting for me to figure it out. I can’t even explain why it just doesn’t come naturally for me, but I still did well in science class all the time (A few “A“‘s, mostly “B“‘s though, I must admit) while growing up. Fortunately for me, a lot of science is related to mathematics, which was something that I always excelled in. But see, I had forgot all about these things while pursuing my professional career in basketball. So with all that history of fear being said…

I should’ve known it was bound to come back around and hit me one last time before I graduated from school forever. I never gave myself the chance to succeed in math or science at Stanford, out of fear that I would fail. However, I am SO elated that I’m taking this class during my last quarter of school. The class is in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and titled, “CEE 70: Environmental Science and Technology”. It’s actually a really dope class! It’s incredible to see and to be able to figure out the math behind science, and to know that all living things really do have a purpose, and know that our surroundings have a much bigger effect on us than we might think. If we know this, we can build things to help protect ourselves and natural life from all the damages that occur with pollution and a generally unclean environment. Give me one quarter, and I’ll be able to really put you on game!

For me, this class certainly isn’t what I would classify as an “easy A”. It’s an eerie challenge, one I don’t think I’ve ever faced, but I’m confident that I’ll succeed because I know that my best is going to be good enough. I figure with the right amount of discipline, the same amount I dedicate to basketball as a professional athlete, anyone can really be a great student, because there is always someone out there that is fully equipped with the tools to help you understand the
concepts.

Message clear: SEEK HELP!

Enter Greg Rulifson, my very first tutor at Stanford, and the dopest one at that. This guy did undergrad at Cal, if you can believe that (and still wears his Cal hat around Stanford, gotta respect that!) He breaks down concepts that could literally take me hours to understand, in a matter of minutes. When all else failed in our tutorial, I could count on his knowledge and ability to conceptualize everything and then translate them into a more simpler language. He knows that the knowledge he possesses on the topics come more naturally to him. He then in return helped me gain some knowledge that would have otherwise been equations sending me in the other direction. But something fantastic is starting to happen in the past few weeks: I’m actually
kind of understanding this material! (small concepts for Engineers, HUGE leap for Candice Wiggins). And it feels just as awesome as scoring the game winning shot. Seriously.

My last thought is this: Feel the fear, and do it anyway. Just like its hard to enjoy playing the game of basketball when you’re missing every shot, sometimes school can be like that too. If science classes translated to basketball stats, I’d probably have a 30% FG percentage, 15% 3 point percentage, and maybe an 80% FT percentage (since like free-throws, there ARE some easy concepts in science that I absolutely understand and love). That’s pretty dismal, I know. But I don’t care, I’m still shooting the ball every time I’m open. Like Mike said, “you miss 100% of the shots you DON’T take”. I love that because it lets me know that the only way to succeed is to risk failing. One thing for sure though, like I am with basketball, I’m never missing a practice, and I’m going to continue to sharpen the skills that are necessary for me to succeed. There’s extra work required for people when certain things don’t come naturally to them. But I’m still on the team. The class itself has been just as scary as I ever imagined, but at least
now I’m not afraid…

…And THAT, my friends, is why I’m not an engineer.


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