Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer, author and mentor living in Washington, D.C. Since joining academia at UDC, "Dr. Z", as he is known by his students and colleagues, has distinguished himself on campus and beyond. He is passionate about engineering, gifted in teaching, and is a true champion for professional licensure. Dr. Z. has extraordinarily high standards; has produced award-winning designs; is prolific in professional service; and infects others with these same values. He is the recipient of numerous local, regional and national awards, including recent national awards from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly articles for “Dr.Z’s Corner “ and offering hundreds of engineering problems, for free, every month for students, engineers and engineering educators worldwide. Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the greater Washington metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch! Starbucks coffee is always a must have for Dr. Z.

Importance of Setting Goals for Engineering Students

In this month’s column, we would like to talk about the importance of setting goals for success. All successful people and achievers in all fields set goals. Setting goals gives students long-term vision and short-term motivation. It helps them to organize their time and their resources so that they can make the most of their life.

Goal setting is fundamental to long-term success as well. After all, it’s difficult to get to a desired destination before you have clearly defined where that destination is. Goals help students to focus upon the journey to a collection set of achievements, meaning they allocate their resources and time more efficiently and can access motivation during times when they may feel like giving up.

From an academic perspective, goals improve performance by ensuring engineering students remain accountable for their own failures and successes, propelling themselves forward through a selection of small achievements designed to break down a larger purpose. What’s more, setting and achieving goals translates to feelings of success and confidence for students, which in turn leads to greater confidence and productivity.

Goals Keep Students Moving Forward

Writing a specific goal into a calendar or journal gives engineering students something to work and plan toward. When written down, these goals form an external representation of inner desires to get a higher grade or pass the FE exam. Written goals are a constant reminder of what a student wants to accomplish. Goal setting even fuels ambition and confidence by encouraging determination through difficult periods and offering a sense of pride when success finally arrives.

Establishing a goal creates a sense of clarity and correlation between the process of working hard and accomplishing something significant. Because of this, many students access the motivational energy that they need to work through periods where focus may begin to wane.

Goals Break Down Insurmountable Mountains

Most young adults have huge dreams that can seem impossible to accomplish at first. It’s easy for students to feel discouraged when they’re staring at a future that seems too large to achieve. However, proper goal setting can break those larger, more intimidating aspirations down into achievable stepping stones. Not only does planning toward smaller goals make it easier to formulate a plan of how one achievement can lead to another, but research suggests that achieving smaller milestones offers greater levels of motivation.

Students can be encouraged to work towards short-term and long-term goals that interconnect, giving them more focus on what they should be spending energy and time toward. Through the pursuit of those smaller goals, students learn more about themselves – their skills, weaknesses, and what they want to accomplish.

Goals Hold Students Accountable

Having goals makes students accountable for their actions, their efforts, and even their time management skills. Setting a goal obligates an individual to take action, regardless of the obstacles that may be in place. As such, it can encourage students to develop critical thinking skills, new problem-solving techniques, and a better understanding of how to overcome challenges.

What’s more, the accountability of goal setting encourages students to look back over their previous successes and failures, evaluating areas they need to improve. As such, it pushes them to tackle challenges head on and work on their weaknesses in order to produce better chances of overall success. It can also help engineering students to realize techniques that may not be working for them so they can seek out alternative routes to achievement.

Goals Make Students Want to Be Better

There are numerous experimental and correlational studies showing that setting goals increases success rates in almost every setting, including education. Part of the reason for this is that setting goals pushes young adults to articulate the things they want out of life, so they live more consciously.

Without goals, students subject themselves to a default or natural set of actions that are there to keep them feeling safe and comfortable, without offering any opportunity for growth. With goals, students can discover more about themselves and work towards becoming the best versions of themselves. In other words, goals allow engineering students to tap into their inner potential by giving them targets to strive toward.

Goals Prepare Students for Professional Life

Through goal setting, students discover a level of respect for the dedication and determination required to achieve further important goals in life. Not only is goal setting important for helping students get more out of their academic experiences, but it also means that they will continue to use the same skills in the future to apply for a high-paying job or achieve a new promotion. Furthermore, setting goals give engineering students an important tool to measure their progress through life by using their leadership skills, critical thinking, and determination.

We would like to thank army and navy academy for the permission to use their resources: (https://armyandnavyacademy.org).

Until next time,
Ahmet Zeytinci (Dr.Z.)
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