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As a high school student, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. Everything was pointing me toward engineering; I loved math and science, problem-solving, and had an interest in creating things that would improve the world. However, I was still unsure which of the many disciplines in engineering I wanted to pursue. In my research, I looked at what I would be learning in each major and decided from there. Here are some of my favorite classes I’ve taken as an undergraduate.


AME 201: Statics

In Statics, we learn all about forces on things that are… static. While this might not sound that exciting at first, I loved Statics because it felt like the first real engineering class I took. We applied formulas from calculus to real world problems and it was eye-opening to see how abstract mathematical concepts could be used and applied in everyday applications. Additionally, we were able to apply all our theoretical knowledge with a final project. My group built a Christmas tree out of sticks and measured its internal forces using an Arduino.


MASC 310: Materials Behavior and Processing

In MASC 310, we learn about the properties and manufacturing of many fundamental materials, such as metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. I loved learning about why certain materials are chosen for applications, and tradeoffs for different materials. However, my favorite part about this class was the lab, where we performed tensile testing and made our own composites!


AME 341: Mechoptronics Laboratory

Mechops was definitely the toughest class I’ve taken as an undergraduate. Spread out over 2 semesters, this class is lab-based where we evaluate the effectiveness of mechanical and electrical formulas and concepts. Despite how challenging it was, I utilized the concepts and experience I gained in this class in my internships and extracurricular activities. I loved this class so much that I’m now a course producer! I help students troubleshoot during lab and grade assignments.


ITP 348: Making Smart Devices: Introduction to Electronics/Wearables

ITP 348 is a non-Mechanical Engineering Department course that I was able to take as an elective. One thing that drew me to Mechanical Engineering was how broad it was, as I was interested in many types of engineering as a high school senior. In this class, I was able to learn more about electronics and work on my own project. We also received a kit of electronic components, such as a microcontroller, motors, and different sensors, that we could keep and use on any personal projects.


AME 404: Computational Solutions to Engineering Problems

While I’m not a Computer Science major, I still often use software for data analysis and processing. In this class, we used MATLAB to model heat transfer, fluid flow, an elastic wing, and even do machine learning analysis. MATLAB has been one of the most useful tools throughout my engineering experience. Also, learning MATLAB has made learning other coding languages easier!

ASTE 499: Special Topics: Introduction to Human Spaceflight and Operations

As I wrote earlier, one of my favorite things about Mechanical Engineering is how many industries too which it is applicable. I recently became interested in spaceflight, and I was able to take this class as a core elective. This class is by far the coolest and most unique class I’ve taken during my time at USC; we get to learn everything that goes into executing a human spaceflight mission and design our own mission to and habitat on Mars! I haven’t even mentioned that it’s taught by an astronaut who’s been to space and has lived in the International Space Station!

While these have been my favorite classes, there is so much more the Mechanical Engineering program has to offer! Check out the course catalog to see more.



Victoria Pinkett

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Inglewood, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @victorriaimani I'm a member of Regional Executive Board for the National Society of Black Engineer's Region VI. On campus, I am also involved in USC Makers.