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Hongyuan Zhang

Dr. Carlisi


13 Apr 2017

The On-Going Journey To My Future Career

Section 1: The Motivations For Choosing My Current Major

It was in the middle of July, 2016, when I first walked in a car dealership in San Gabriel

city to buy myself a car. The day of buying one’s first car in life is a big day, especially for a

car enthusiast like me. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting too much due to my limited budget.

On my way to the dealership, I was still made believe that the best I would have is a 10-

years-old Toyota which could fall apart at any time. However, the reality was much

different from my expectation. Unlike those old and dusty cars I imagined, I saw a line

formed orderly with cars which seemed brand new. I would not be able to tell one of the

cars from its newest model if there was not some changes in detailed design. In addition to

the surprisingly good condition of those cars, I was also shocked by the variety in models.

Many models ,like Camaro and Mustang, which had never been released in my homeland,

were also available for low prices. I was fascinated by such closeness of cars that I have

never experienced and it was at this moment I realized that here is the perfect place to

realize my dream of working with cars.

After that day, I thought a lot about how to make my major and future career related

with cars. The first thought that came into my mind was to become a automotive engineer,

and I believe this first thought had a solid connection to my family background. My father
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started his career as an engineer when he was young. When I was a kid, he used to take a

lot of blue prints home and work on them. After finishing his work, he liked to show me

his work and explain to me how the mechanism on those blue prints work. Because of this,

I began my interest in mechanics at a very early age. Although my father had left his job as

an engineer for years, my interest in mechanics remained and became stronger. When I

decided to study abroad, I made the determination to become as successful and highly

respected as my father. So it was understandable for me to think of taking a similar path to

the one he once took.

The language requirement was also a significant factor which I took into consideration.

As an international student, the fact that English is my second language would no doubt

bring me a lot of linguistic difficulties. However, unlike those non-science majors, science

major, like Engineering, is less involved with language. Such a characteristic of this major

would reduce the negative effect brought by the language barrier, which is an advantage

over other majors. Thus, I believed it is more likely for me to be successful in Mechanical

Engineering than in other non-science majors.

Another aspect I thought about was the employment and salary of Mechanical Engineer.

According to the data from U.S News, the unemployment rate for Mechanical Engineering

is 1.6%, which is considerably low comparing to other majors. In addition, the salary for

Mechanical engineer is relatively high. According to Bureau of Labor Statistic, the mean

wage for Mechanical Engineers in 2016 is 89,800$ In contrast, the mean wage for all

occupations in 2016 was 49630$(BLS). Thus, I believed Mechanical Engineering is the

major which could provide me a stable future.
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After considering all these aspects, I made my determination to choose Mechanical

Engineering as my major. I firmly believe that Mechanical Engineering is a perfect major

which fits my interest and minimizes the disadvantage of my cultural identity while

providing me a stable future with considerable opportunities.

Section 2: Professional’s View Of My Future Discourse Community

A Discourse Community can be generally recognized as the a group or organization in

which people agree to certain values and rules. According to linguist John M. Swales from

Cambridge, who is known for his contribution on genre analysis, discourse community is

the community which holds criteria including “common goals, participatory mechanism,

information exchange, community specific genre, a highly specialized terminology and a

high general level of expertise.”

In order to identify the discourse community which Mechanical Engineering belongs to,

I conducted an interview with Mr. Li from Duro UAS. Mr. Li took Mechanical Engineering

as his major during his study in Columbia University. He is now an mechanical engineer

working on eco-drones project at Duro UAS. We had a telephone interview after dinner on

March 26th, 2017, in which I took notes of and recorded Mr. Li’s opinion on this discourse

community. According to Mr. Li, the discourse community that Mechanical Engineering

belongs to has following characteristics.

First and foremost, this discourse community requires a high level of linguistic

competence. Despite the fact that Mechanical Engineering is an non-science major which is

less language-involved, Mr. Li regarded language skill as one of the most important

factors in the discourse community. According to Mr. Li, in the most situations, one task
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requires multiple departments to work together, which means many engineers are

involved in the same task. Efficient oral and written communication become very

important under such circumstances. For example, he needs to listen to and understand

what effect the designer of the product wants to achieve when having a conference. A

second language-related aspect he mentioned was the consuming of the newest

technologies. “I spend a lot of time reading articles from academic journals like The

Engineering Index” said by Mr. Li, “These reading need one’s mastery in English.” Due to

the worldwide usage of English as an official language, most of the academic reports are

written in English in order to get published. At the mean time, Mechanical Engineering is

a branch of science which relies heavily on academic journals and reports to achieve

progress. Thus, sufficient language development of English is one of the basic

requirements for studying advanced and up-to-date technology in the field of Mechanical

Engineering. Anther significance of English language skills Mr. Li talked about was its

relationship with one’s future advancement in this occupation. It is said by Mr. Li that

“you need to write and publish a lot of reports to make yourself known”. Linguistic

competence is no doubt the basic requirement for writing these reports.

In addition to language skills, critical thinking also has a strong bond with this discourse

community. According to Mr. Li, Engineering is all about determining and solving various

problems. For example, an engineer usually recognizes the problems he is facing. Then he

provides possible solutions through calculation and experiment. After that he determined

the problems in the solution and repeat previous steps until no problem exists. Thus,

critical thinking skills like problem solving skills is highly necessary when working as a
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mechanical engineer for it serves as a tool for thoughtful analysis. Another reason for Mr.

Li to believe critical thinking is indispensable to this discourse community is that critical

think is important when exploring new ares and making innovations. “The key to success

in this career is innovation.” said by Mr. Li. Indeed, a big part of the task is to solve

problems when one works as an mechanical engineer,. However, what make one a

successful engineer is how innovative his solutions are. According to Mr. Li, innovative

solutions “pushes you to the cutting-edge of this field”. In order to make such innovative

solutions, critical thinking skills is necessary as it makes one think of their own thinking

process and thus cause new ideas.

Section 3: Reflection Based on the Interview

After analyzing the information I received from the interview, I am made believe that

there is a certain degree of inconsistency between the career I imagined and the one

actually exists. For example, despite the fact that Mechanical Engineering does not rely as

heavily on language skills as the non-science majors, it still requires a high level of

linguistic competence. Additionally, the mastery of language proves its solid relationship

with the discourse community which Mechanical Engineering belongs to. Also, according

to my interviewee, critical thinking is one of the key factors to reach success in this field,

which is beyond my expectation.

With regard to these inconsistencies, other than academic preparation in math and

science, additional preparations for this discourse community including training on

critical thinking and further study of English also turned out to be necessary if I want to be
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successful in the field of Mechanical Engineering. For example, I should constantly think

about my thinking and make analysis to improve my critical thinking skills. Doing free-

writing everyday night is also one method I would like to try for it helps develop my

language skill and reflects my thinking at the same time. I firmly believe that with all these

preparations, I would no doubt become a successful Mechanical Engineer as I have been

longed to be.
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Work Citied

“17-2141 Mechanical Engineers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172141.htm#(3). Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

Li, Jinpeng. “Project#2 Interview.” 26 Mar. 2017.

“May 2016 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.” U.S. Bureau of Labor

Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#00-0000.

Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

“Mechanical Engineer Ranks Among Best Jobs of 2017.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News &

World Report, money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/mechanical-engineer. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.