failing like never before


Request for a Change

Hauling out my change of major request essay...

Prior to UCLA my knowledge of anything vaguely associated to the field of electrical engineering was essentially nil, so it should come as no surprise when I say that I cannot for the life of me begin to remember why I chose electrical engineering as a major. And now, the more electrical courses I take, the more tiresome I find the subject matter to be. So the question I should be answering isn't "why do I want to change majors," but rather, "why did I wait till now to change?"

Over the last two years, I have trudged my way through the required introductory math and physics courses, never particularly excited by the material but always telling myself that it was going to get better when I reached the EE courses and that then, everything would be worth it. So it came as somewhat of a surprise to me, that I found the electromagnetics in EE 1 to be as unexciting as the materials in all the prerequisite courses. But after having spent the better part of two quarters convincing myself that "it was going to get better," I continued to drag myself through another uninteresting class, and during my second year, I proceeded to take EE 2, 16, 116L, 10, and 102, continually hoping that things would get better. Happily, they did.

It was during second quarter of this year while I was doing EE homework one night, that I realized that the only EE classes that I have ever actually enjoyed were the multi-departmental classes (16, and 116L) shared by the EE and CS departments, and that CS 35L (informally called “intro to Linux) was without a doubt my most enjoyable class ever. Shocked by my newfound epiphany, I stood up from my desk and declared to my roommates that I did not like electrical engineering and that instead, computer science was the field for me. My roommates were unsurprised by my sudden realization, saying that they had always noticed that I liked computers more than electrical engineering, and that the energetic mannerisms that I adopted when talking about Linux or computer architecture deeply contrasted the dull and tiresome attitude I exhibited when I approached my EE homework. Indeed, during my past two years at UCLA, I have probably spent as much time tinkering with Linux and reading essays like Neal Stephenson’s In the Beginning was the Command Line, and Fred Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, as I have dedicated to my EE classes.

I am, however, not choosing to switch into computer science, but rather computer science and engineering since my enthusiasm for all things computer related extends below (so to speak) the software level. Now lately, numerous people have pointed out to me the similarities between electrical engineering with the computer engineering option, and computer science and engineering, and asked why I simply do not stay with EE CE. A question to which I can only respond to by saying that the differences between the two majors is quantitatively quite small (That is to say, the difference in course requirements between the two is almost negligible.), but that the content of the almost negligible difference is quite significant to me; I would much rather take a compiler class rather than another electromagnetics course.

Having now realized what subjects I enjoy the most, I am loath to continue in a major I find no pleasure in. Though perhaps over-dramatic, it would not be inaccurate to say that this change of major could have the potential to dictate my future happiness.

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