Chemical & Materials Engineering – Taylor

In between commuting, cooking, reading, and catching up with friends this Chemmat student finds the time to explore the world at the atomic level.

You Are Not Alone

The first few weeks of the semester seem so long ago now, and as I am writing this, end of semester exams are most definitely on the horizon.

You could say that our lecturers eased us into things in the first few weeks. It was a lot of revision and getting the basics down before we got into the harder stuff. But that is what we are here for right? A challenge.

Before we get into it, just a disclaimer– Chemmat is not all like CHEMMAT 121. I don’t want you to go into it with your eyes closed – we have significantly more processing related courses than materials. That’s not to say you can’t choose to go into materials later on if that’s what you are into.

In saying that, there is a good variety of courses that we take in the first semester, the old classic maths, materials, processing and chemistry – everything you should expect from a chemical and materials degree.

ENGGEN 211 or as we affectionately call it, MM2, is a step up from MM1. As someone who struggled with the latter, MM2 is definitely manageable and at times is quite enjoyable, for a maths paper (you know what I’m talking about).

The rest of our papers are all just for us, CHEMMAT 221 is a follow on from CHEMMAT 121 which you take in semester 2 of your first year, the 221 labs are all interesting and strongly relate to what you have learned in lectures which really helps with understanding everything on a practical level.

CHEMMAT 242 is probably the one that we have all struggled with, the department overhauled the whole paper making it less organic chemistry (yay!) but still has a lot of content to cover in short periods of time. If you have a decent grasp on year 13 chemistry it is a bit easier to understand the new material.

Finally, CHEMMAT 211, which we share with food science students, is the processing course. This has all the basics that we will need for future processing papers, and though its not as ‘cool’ as materials (a universal favourite), it is important. There is also a lot of worked examples that they go through in lectures which is super helpful.

The best thing about Chemmat though, has to be the people. In a much smaller class of about 75 we are all getting to know each other really well and everyone is so supportive of each other, it is such a great environment to be in when the workload and content sometimes threatens to get the better of you. Already, I have learned that everything always seems far worse than it really is – you think you failed that test? Fear not, you probably didn’t. Everyone else is in the same boat as you are and don’t you forget it! The worst feeling is that you are alone in this which you most definitely aren’t!

Until next time.



Secrets to Success

So we a are few weeks into semester two and there are definitely some key things you need to know to survive your first semester of CHEMMAT.

In order to make this snappy and to the point – these are my top five tips to making it through in one piece and having a pretty good time while you are at it.

1. Do NOT procrastinate!
I cannot stress this enough. You will get assignments and think you have all the time in the world to get them done when all of a sudden you will have two lab reports due and three tests all in one week. Best to keep on top of that, let me tell you!

2. Revise, Revise, Revise!

I know it’s easy enough to say now but fifteen minutes spent revising what you have gone over in each lecture every day will do wonders for your mental health and your grades. Save yourself from cramming half a semesters’ worth of study (in the case of 221 that is a LOT of material) into one evening the night before a test and you will thank yourself in the long run.

3. Learn to love coffee
Ask any engineering student and most of them will have had at least one all-nighter and dragging yourself to an 8am compulsory lab the next morning can seem impossible. Caffeine is the answer (to all of the problems). Also helpful after a stein, ball or any party. 10/10 would recommend.

4. Get a study group
It could be anyone – your best friend, a group of your classmates or literally anyone, really. They don’t even have to be studying the same thing as you, but having someone else there to motivate you when you feel like you have had enough will give you the almost unbelievable, superhuman ability to study all day. Which comes in handy when exams come around and spending your days studying is the only way to make it through and get the grades you are after.

5. Get involved!
Join a club, definitely join AUES, go for class rep, sign up for the ZOME competition. Whatever floats your boat – but joining in with what is going on around campus and in the faculty will introduce you to new people and widen your circle of friends. Also getting to know people in part III and part IV is absolutely worth it. They won’t mind if you want to pick their brains about what they think of lectures and lecturers and we all have some tips for the courses we have done before.

Until next time,



Living Through Semester Two

Here we are closing in on the end of September, closer to the end of the year than the beginning. Meaning that I have lived enough of semester two to give you a brief overview. The second semester courses include one with no exam (YAY!), and some other ones that unfortunately do.

ENGGEN 204 – Managing Design and Communication: General course, includes report writing (something that, by this point, all Chemmat students should be well familiar with), and big group projects worth a substantial portion of your grade. The lectures are super thought provoking and cover sustainability and ethics. Also, no exam, which is a win any day.

CHEMMAT 212 – Energy and Processing (a.k.a. Thermodynamics): A personal struggle of mine but the notes are great. I have to say that the labs aren’t exactly thrilling, (watch an air tank pressurise, anyone?). Requires a bit of study and time, and watching the lectures back is a huge help.

CHEMMAT 213 – Transfer Processes: This course is divided into two parts, Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, and these are taught simultaneously through the semester. It is a bit tricky having two lectures from each topic every week in this course, keeping up with the content and practice questions is the best way to stay on top of all the content.

CHEMMAT 232 – Process Design: Although it sounds like it will be about ‘designing processes’ which is what the first section covers, buckle up for a throwback to first year mechanics. Be under no illusion that there is always a possibility for these things to come back from the depths so DO NOT go thinking you can forget statics or anything else, because they expect you to know. Even if you don’t.

In particular, 212 and 213 have more tests throughout the semester; however they are worth less, so no cramming for 20% tests because 10% is about as high as they go.



So This Is The End

So, this is the end. Of the semester, of course, but a final summary of the year from me. I think its rather apt that I’m writing this during what is arguably the busiest and maybe worst week of the year thus far. Coming from that, all that you really need to know about engineering is that you will be busy at times beyond compare, be excessively tired, stressed, maybe a bit anxious and angry at the world but remember – this is what you signed up for. If you have any impressions that the four years you spend doing this degree would be anything but challenging, you should re-assess your opinion and possibly your degree. This is no walk in the park but I am guessing (so everyone tells me) the grass is greener on the other side. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Most importantly, it is all worth it in the end.

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my year, because I have. I have met so many new people, accomplished things that felt impossible at the time, managed to knock out some solid grades and learnt more about engineering and a lot more about myself. On top of that, through the highs and lows of the year, I am still sure of my choice to study chemical and materials engineering.

I have to admit; I have painted a relatively pretty picture of the year I have had. Glossing over some of the worse parts and highlighting the better ones. To be fair, looking back, that is how I saw the year. Sure some of the lectures are boring and the labs tedious, and you end up starting study for a test the day of, when you still haven’t finished an assignment that is due the same day and there is another test the next day that you also haven’t studied for. Like I said, this is what you signed up for. Honestly, I don’t think I would have it any other way. I’m sure that other people in my class feel differently to me after this year and those people would paint a very different picture of the degree.

Really, I’m just winging it. We all are.

Good luck, you will probably need it.



Hi everyone! My name is Taylor and I am a second year student studying a bachelor of Chemical and Materials Engineering – a.k.a. Chemmat.

Some things you may want to know about me:

I am from Auckland originally and have a ridiculous commute every day to get to uni.

In my spare time (of which I have very little), I like to read, cook, catch up on sleep, and you will be pleased to note that we all still have time to go out for a drink occasionally and have a bit of fun. Also, beware of steins the night before a 10% test – you have been warned.

Depending on where you’re up to in Part I, you may or may not have decided what specialisation that you want to go into. It’s a big commitment. Personally, I was tossing up between Civil, Software and Chemmat when it came down to making the choice – all completely different from each other. But Chemmat won and I am glad it did. I really like finding out how things work right down at the atomic level, why things behave the way they do and how small changes in structure or composition can have drastic effects on the final product.

Hopefully these posts will give you an idea of a year in the life of a Chemmat student and help you decide if it is for you.


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