Nabila is a Westie with a dangerous obsession with coffee and chocolate. She’s also an Electrical Engineering student that’s keen to tell you why she chose her specialisation.
Semester One Over Already
A big congratulations to you for surviving the first semester! I hope your first set of university exams went well and I encourage you to keep going! It won’t be long now until the holidays arrive.
Time has flown by so quickly and in one semester it feels like I’ve only just scratched the surface of this degree. It’s time to rewind and reflect on how my first semester of electrical engineering was like.
On the first day I could already feel the change. The lecturing hours were longer and started later in the day (no more 8am lectures), the rooms were smaller and it finally dawned on me that yes I did choose electrical engineering. It’s time to sit down, forget about my social life and get ahead of the workload before a whole bunch of assignments and tests get smacked in our face. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen until you’re at least a few weeks in so you can afford to relax a tiny bit. Part 2 definitely increases in terms of work load but it’s not to say that you won’t get through.
This semester there are four subjects: ELECTENG 210, ELECTENG 202, COMPSYS 201 and MM2.
Apart from the theory, this is quite a practical degree with labs being held every few weeks. Here’s an inside look to what we actually do in the labs:
- In the COMPSYS 201 lab’s we had the opportunity of designing and implementing a simple calculator using the programming language VHDL. This was one of the most exciting labs, it was really awesome to see it all come together and at the end we could see that 2 + 2 = 4!
In the other labs, we worked with microcontrollers (ATmega328P is life), we designed a 7-segment display which converted binary numbers into decimal form and learnt about the programming language C.
- As a general electrical lab we learnt how to solder things onto a PCB such as resistors, turns out it’s not that easy!
- In one of the labs for ELECTENG 210, we experimented with different kinds of amplifiers. One of the most enjoyable parts of these labs is seeing the phenomenon happen right in front of you. We are always taught the theory but how do we confirm that this actually works to ourselves. I’ve come to appreciate just how complex the technology is that we use today. The world of electronics has progressed so far and the fact that it’s still progressing is really awe-inspiring. It’s also one of the main reasons why I chose this pathway.
I hope this post has been an eye opener for what the ECE degree is like so far. It definitely was for me as I went in not really knowing what to expect. By far I’m really enjoying this degree which is all that matters at the end of the day. Just remember not every specialisation is what it seems so I really do hope you get out there and find out for yourself over the holidays.
I wish you the best of luck for your remaining exams and a relaxing holiday!
Your electron (q = -1.602 *10 ^-19 C)
The Reality of Semester Two…
Another day, another assignment/lab due basically summarises what I’ve been up to at this time of the year. It’s been a busy six weeks but looking back now I’ve enjoyed every bit of it! In terms of subjects the learning content has been so exciting. This semester is different in the sense that we use every single bit of knowledge learnt in semester 1 and apply it practically. So I’m going to get right into it and talk about the subjects for this semester.
ELECTENG 209: Analogue and Digital Design (Project-based course)
This year we were tasked with developing a wireless energy monitor in teams of four. The main idea behind this is to design a circuit which converts signals from analogue to digital. It’s the first time we’re exposed to designing electronic products and it does require independent thought and initiative on your part. At the end of week 6 we were interviewed in teams about what we have designed so far. A pro tip I’d like to give is to take the presentation seriously and don’t leave it to the last minute. Have I mentioned how much support is offered for this project. You can definitely expect to become good friends with your lecturers and TA’s. Another tip I’d like to give is to make good use of the help offered. Don’t be afraid to ask the simplest of questions. Believe me, your understanding is more important than what anyone will think of you. Also don’t underestimate how demanding this course is. Your time management skills are tested every week and it’s risky to fall behind as it not only affects your group members but it also affects your learning.
COMPSYS 202: Objected Orientated Design and Programming (Coding-based course)
Ahhh good old Ubuntu <3
This subject is similar to the C language material you may have learnt in ENGGEN 131. Compared to last semester in COMPSYS 201 where we didn’t do as much coding, this course definitely tests how well you write code. We explore the C++ language using Linux as our operating system. Tips and advice for this paper would be to get started on the labs straight away and don’t put off the assignments. The faster you get your hands dirty the better you’ll do in the long run. Note that this course may be frustrating for some students but rather than getting worried over the results try and enjoy the learning process more. Once again I stress over taking advantage of the help offered for this course, especially if coding is not your biggest advantage.
ELECTENG 204: Engineering Electromagnetics (Theory-based course)
This subject is by far my favourite considering that I’m enjoying all the subjects being taught. The concepts taught here are an extension from year 13 physics so you can expect a lot of theory and calculations. So far we have learnt about transmission lines and magnetism. There is only one lab per topic to reinforce the concepts realistically. Some general advice for this course would be to stay up to date with the material. Make sure you put enough time into this subject every week as ELECTENG 209 may take up a lot of your time.
ENGGEN 204: Managing Design and Communication (General engineering course)
This is a general course taken by all specialisations. The content taught here is quite useful but it won’t be obvious right away. I like to think of this course as something that will prepare us for the industry and the real world. I have enjoyed this course so far simply because it takes me out of my specialisation and reinforces the problems of the world we live in today such as sustainability. It’s also appreciating that engineers in industry are not just working to benefit human life but they are working to better environmental and economic impacts.
Hopefully I’ve covered everything there is to the first half of semester 2. In my next post I’ll be aiming to show you why I’ve chosen Electrical and Electronics Engineering as you get closer to deciding your specialisation. I hope semester 2 has been good for you and wish you luck for the remaining half. If you see me around don’t be afraid to ask for more insight I would be more than delighted to have a chat.
Here’s to your success!
Attempting to Balance Live – Part II
It’s the second to last week before semester 2 ends and I woke up realising I have one thousand and one things to do! I’ve decided to steer away from the academics this time and provide some insight to what you can expect.
Trying not to fall:
Looking back at Part I, the transition from high school to university was difficult enough. I thought, alright, it might get easier to time manage now that I’ve had some experience. Boy, was I wrong. You always kind of know at the back of your head that the workload will increase every year. But when you actually see about 60% of course work all due in the same week it’s a bit of a shocker. I’ll be honest finding that balance has been challenging but in a different way to Part I. I recently attended a mentoring event hosted by WEN and I got to hear some insight on the whole work and life balance magic some people seem to have. It was comforting to hear engineers in the industry also find it difficult to manage this, and that we don’t have to have a work-life balance immediately. This is a skill that gets better over time and that was totally okay.
Another thing I’d like to add is to enjoy your time being at university. It seems like an obvious thing to say but we often forget to live in the moment with our work load. You’re already in a reputable and rewarding degree, it’s time to sign yourself up for activities/clubs that you know you’re going to enjoy. It’s a good thing to look back at your time at university and remember the fun things you did rather than the days you spent at the library/studying in the Leech.
Around semester 2 next year you’ll be considering jobs for your practical work hours. It’s a really good idea to get in quick and look for jobs early. The amount of things to do during the semester will pile up quickly and adding to the stress of finding a job is not very fun. So start looking around to see where you have network connections, through family or friends. If you don’t, start now! I know it can be daunting to talk to experienced and working engineers but they are human too. They will appreciate you for taking the initiative. Industry seminars, expos, etc. are a great way to expose yourself.
Well that’s it from me! I’ve included some pictures as to what I’ve been doing for the ELECTENG 209 project as that seems to be the only things I take pictures of. In my upcoming final post I’ll be sure to finally talk about why I chose electrical engineering, so stay tuned! All the best for your upcoming exams.
The ECE Life
I hope you found your first year of engineering memorable and met lots of new people. You made it through the first year (only three more to go). I made it through the second year and I’m quite surprised and happy at the same time. But I couldn’t have done it without the support of my ECE friends and all the good times spent at the UG labs. Luckily we only have one exam waiting for us (ELECTENG204).
There are lots of things I want to summarise about the ECE journey so let’s get into it!
One thing you’ll definitely love about studying electrical/compsys are the family vibes. In semester 1 everyone is kind of getting used to the small classrooms and long lecture hours. Then semester 2 comes around and we have this project (ELECTENG209) to complete which kind of brings everyone together. And not just second years – I’ve made plenty of cool third and fourth year friends ready to share their wisdom and have a good laugh.
Reasons to study Electrical Engineering:
- The papers, the content, the knowledge is so interesting! I’m constantly amazed by how versatile the content is yet so interesting. If you’re that kind of person who wonders when you open up the back of your laptop and see all these complex circuits, and wonder in amazement as to how all of this works then this is definitely the place for you!
- You can take computer systems papers if you’re into electronics and also want to know hardware. Also, know that it’s easy to leave if you realise that this is not the career for you.
- The Adrenaline! Maybe that’s not the first thing that pops into your head when you’re thinking about electrical engineering. But trust me; that occasional electrolytic capacitor that blows up because you bread boarded it the wrong way; or when you put too much voltage through the diode and your PCB (printed circuit board) starts to heat up; or when your op-amp decides to blow up but doesn’t tell you so you spend so much time trying to figure out why you’re not receiving a voltage signal at the other end. All those times definitely raise your voltage level.
That’s it from me! I’ve enjoyed being your electrical blogger and I sincerely hope that I’ve helped point you in some direction for your specialisation choices. If you haven’t made a decision yet, don’t worry. It wasn’t clear cut to me that I would end up choosing electrical engineering as my career until the very, very end of the year. Best of luck to you all! I’ve enjoyed part II so much and I can only hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Thanks for reading,
-Nabila (e = 1.6*10^-19)
Hey everyone! I’m Nabila (pronounced as Nabeela) your fellow electron here to talk to you about Electrical and Electronics Engineering. You might be wondering why we have different people from different specialisations blogging about our Part II experiences? Well it’s to help you! Whether you completely dislike Electrical Engineering after reading my future blog posts or feel that it could be a potential career but still not really sure, it would be really cool if I could help point you in the right direction.
So a little bit about me:
I’m a Westie from Auckland but my birthplace is India. People think I have a dangerous obsession with coffee and chocolate. My hobbies consists of lots of road trips , amateur photography, a bit of gaming when assignments are being a headache, and mostly watching football and TV shows.
On the rare occasion that I’m not studying I volunteer at an organisation called Robogals. I do a lot of stargazing with my telescope, and for me the best part of life is catching up with friends.
So why did I choose Electrical Engineering? I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out more!
Keep a lookout for the first week of June where I hope to inform you a lot about what we actually learn as well as what Part II is like through my experiences.
Thanks for reading!
Your electron (q = -1.602 *10 ^-19 C)