Since I was a little kid, I have been dreaming myself as an engineer. So then I, recently, took my first step to be an engineer: installing a numerical computation software. It's Scilab, a free alternative to MATLAB.
According to Wikipedia and some others, Scilab is powerful enough to do technical computing, and model dynamical systems. And I'm learning (albeit slowly) its features. So far, I learned enough to plot an electric field caused by two points of charge, and to simulate a falling stick.
It integrates nicely with my favorite text editor, GNU Emacs. I do not use the original user interface, because it is slow and memory-consuming. (But I had to recode some parts of the ELisp plugin code to get it working in Emacs 23. The plugin was released in mid 2001!)
It is an interpreted programming language, with matrices as its main data type. I like it because it provides an integrated features suitable for simulations (plotting, 3d graphics, etc).
My second step will be grabbing books that relates to continuum mechanics and the mathematics underlying the theories.