When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to study engineering in college, and after some basic research, I decided on civil engineering. As I visited colleges, I was sure to ask lots of questions about the engineering school and more specifically, civil engineering. Because of this, I didn’t actively seek out other major options that I hadn’t considered.
Flash forward to the beginning of freshman year: I was bright-eyed and excited to dive into what I thought to be civil engineering. I wanted to be sure I knew about the other types of engineering, though, so I enrolled in ENGR 1101: Engineering and Beyond to learn more about all the engineering disciplines offered by SMU. After several weeks of classes, hearing stories from people who had jobs in different fields, and learning from professors in each engineering field, I had the realization that what I had previously been set on studying was probably not actually the best fit for me.
Now enter management science. When I tell people I’m a management science major, most people either immediately ask me what it is, or assume it is the same as management, both of which are fair responses. In fact, when I first heard about it, I didn’t know what it was either! I first learned what it was in the very same class where I discovered why civil engineering wasn’t for me. Management science is in the engineering school, and it has a lot of similarities to industrial engineering, operations research, or other related fields. The management science curriculum combines many different types of classes. In my two and a half years as a management science major, I’ve taken a couple computer science classes, business classes such as accounting and marketing, and traditional engineering classes. The goal of a management science major is to make things more efficient, whether it be processes, networks, or teams of people. Essentially, we make things better, cheaper, and faster. In one of my classes, we looked at a problem related to a supply chain network of monitor manufacturing. This network consisted of multiple parts coming from multiple sources traveling to 2 different factories where the parts were used to make the monitors. The goal of the problem was to identify how many parts should go to each of the factories to minimize the cost or maximize output. This is just one example of something you could be finding solutions for!
One big perk of majoring in management science is that there is a broad assortment of job types or industries you could go into. Last summer, I interned in the engineering department of one of the top transportation companies. The engineers on my team worked with some of the company’s largest clients to see how their trucking network could be made more efficient. Sometimes this was solved by adjusting the drivers’ weekly schedules or rerouting trucks to other distribution centers, among various other creative solutions. One of the projects I worked on was aimed at saving engineers’ work time by automating a process that previously took a few hours of manual work.
After several semesters in management science and a related internship, I’m so glad I found the major that is right for me. There will always be something new to work on, learn about, and optimize, and I think that’s part of what makes this field so exciting. Remember that it is okay to change your major, or to come to college not knowing exactly what you want your career path to be. Just like me, though, I hope you find your perfect fit.