What Doesn’t Kill You

You’d hope that after a whole year studying engineering, I’d have some idea about the specialisation of my choice, but I can honestly say that I had no idea. The last few minutes before the submission deadline were some of the most nerve-racking of my life as I underwent a soul-searching journey to decide what it is I want to do with my life. It was in those final moments that I selected Mechanical engineering.

Why you might ask?

Basically, I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I went with the specialisation with the greatest options.

Mechanical has the magic of being the most general of all specialisations. The subjects you study are relevant in any field of engineering. From fluid dynamics to control systems, as a mechanical engineer, you have the potential to enter any field. This freedom of choice was what swayed me to enter the faculty.

I ended up sitting in the lecture theatre on the first day back, feeling like I had never left university for the summer break, ready for the new semester.

The first few weeks were a fun and slightly puzzling experience as I began to realise what the specialisation I choose involved. As a part 2 mechanical student, in first semester you study 4 core papers alongside the part 2 mechatronics students.

These are…

MECHENG242 – Mechanics of Materials, combines Statics from ENGGEN121 with theory from CHEMMAT121 to understand how material behaves under loads. I hope you like beams, cause this paper has beams, beams and more beams. This is probably the hardest paper in semester 1, but has some fantastic lecturers with good styles of teaching.

MECHENG235 – Design and Manufacture 1, very similar to ENGGEN115, this paper involves conceptual and detailed design projects, with lectures on core mechanical theory, such as gear and pulley systems. I really struggled with this course. There was a terrible course book with no practise problems, and lecturers were difficult to understand and interpret.

MECHENG201 – Introduction to mechatronics, where you learn the electronics relating to robotics and have several projects involving robot coding. As a conjoint student, I was not required to take this paper, so I don’t have a first-hand knowledge on what it’s like. If you would like some more information, check out the part 2 mechatronics blog.

ENGSCI211 – Mathematical modelling 2, an extension from ENGSCI111 which most part 2 have to specialisations take. I found this to be much more enjoyable than ENGSCI111. Most of the lecturers were great, and the content just made sense.

The thing that shocked me the most about part 2 was how similar everything seemed to first year. Whilst second year is step up in the teaching pace and complexity, the subjects are similar. I found myself having to recap on design skills taught in ENGGEN115 and looking back to my statics notes to help in solving a MECHENG242 problem. Apart from this, I found the first few weeks to be more relaxing than first year. By this point, I developed had a good routine and study discipline, so I was able to hit the ground running. With a year of university already under my belt, the confusion I had from moving to a new city and dealing with an entirely new experience was gone. I just slipped smoothly back into my university routine and got down to work.

However well I thought I was dealing with the opening weeks of mechanical, by the time I came around to the first project submission in week 5, I was feeling the workload, but still managing okay. After the mid-semester break, a triple salvo of tests knocked me down a few notches, and from then on, I was fighting fires week to week, up to my ears with labs, tests and projects, the only thing holding me together was the memes on the cohort’s Facebook page. Study break and exams were a welcome relief, as they marked the end of projects and lectures and gave me the time I desperately needed to consolidate all the content. And remember, shadows has 15% off your first order if you bring your exam script.

With semester 1 out the way, I am looking forward to semester 2. I am excited to learn about dynamics and thermofluids and while I may be dreading MECHENG236, the continuation of MECHENG235, I’m sure I can make it through in one piece. Regardless, I am still enjoying the challenge, and am looking forward to next semester and all the new content. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

At least I hope so.