Staying Catholic as an Engineering Student

As college students majoring in engineering, we often find ourselves devoting many hours to projects, homework, and studying. Although our education is the main reason we go to college, and we should do well and work hard in our classes, our education, no matter how difficult, should not come at the cost of our Catholic faith. Many of us often look at our busy schedules and then look at the Mass times, and conclude that there simply is no time to devote to our faith.

This conclusion cannot be any further from the truth. As engineers and scientists, we work with and study the natural laws and sciences that God directly created. Instead of keeping our Catholic faith and our education separate, we should bring our faith into our work, and bring our work to God. When we hold onto our faith through the joys and hardships of our college life, we obtain a greater understanding and appreciation of God and the life He has given us.

One way that we can bring our faith and work together is by appreciating our work and seeing the beauty that is in it. As engineers and scientists, we study and work directly with God’s creation. The order we see in the periodic table and its properties, the seemingly perfect equations we encounter in mathematics, the constants we work with in physics, are all the direct and unfiltered creation of God. Our journey through the semester should not merely be a struggle through homework, but it should also be seen as a revelation of the hidden beauty that God has placed in the entirety of the world.

In addition to changing our perspective on our studies, we should spend more time with the Creator in Adoration and Daily Mass when possible and if available. At first, it may seem hard and contradictory to make the effort to attend Mass and Adoration more often, especially when we have a difficult class in mind. However, creating a habit to go to Daily Mass is invaluable and very helpful. We should make those 45 minutes a day with Christ in the Eucharist the center of our day. In doing so God gives us a renewing sense of peace and structure in our busy lives. Jesus is there because He wants to know about our hard classes, He wants to rejoice with us when you pass an exam. God does not steal time, rather, He is the Creator of time and he wants us to do well.

However, our relationship with God does not have to stay inside the church. With long schedules and 8 AM classes, it can be hard to keep up a prayer routine, but that again does not mean God can’t be with us throughout our day. We can turn our work into a small offering for God. Some ways of signifying this can be done by drawing a cross on the top of the pages in our notebooks, symbolizing that all the work we do is a gift to God. Not only does this increase the grace in our work, but it also acts as an encouragement to do well and be diligent in creating that gift for God.

Finding time to rest may be hard, but it is necessary to do well in class and stay healthy. Despite the centripetal acceleration we learn about in physics, our lives do not and should not revolve around our classes.  After finishing calculus homework and lab write-ups, go out to a grassy area and pray either a Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy. This takes at least five minutes and at most fifteen minutes. But in those five to fifteen minutes we can leave the stress of our work and spend some time in conversation with God.

Finally, many universities have Catholic campus ministries, and getting involved in these groups helps quite a lot. Even at universities where there is more than just engineering, the Catholic ministry is a good place to find other Catholic engineers. It is also encouraging to see other young college students also working hard for their education while still striving to live out their faith. The events and retreats Catholic ministries provide can also be something to look forward to and enjoy, especially when not involved in other clubs or activities.

College is not a place where we must let go of our faith because our hard classes supposedly demand it. On the contrary, it is where we can come closer to God and truly appreciate the order and beauty that He has placed in our world. If we wish to truly appreciate our discipline, then we must know the One who created it.


About the Author.

Born in California and raised in Colorado, Eric Smoorenburg is a mechanical engineering student. He was a Totus Tuus teacher for the Archdiocese of Denver. He was Homeschooled through the Seton Home Study program and has an AS from the Community College of Aurora. He likes to write and go hiking in his free time.