Mainly 209

Three weeks have gone past so far into semester 2 and, as usual, the workload has already
started to pile up. However, the cool thing about this workload in particular is that it’s all project
work. We only have 1 exam to ‘look forward to’ this semester. But of course that just means that
these projects are worth that much more. A lot more is on the line during the semester than after

So how does one survive this barrage of project work? Well my solution was finding the perfect
place to study, meet friends and stay focused. The UG labs! The UG labs are rooms dedicated
for ECE undergraduate students. They have computers, power supplies and oscilloscopes. But
the best resource the labs offer is the experienced 3rd year students, 4th year students, TA’s
and lecturers that you can ask for help.

I’ve already had to get out of my comfort zone and approach people for help with difficult
problems. But after getting over the awkward tension that comes with meeting new people you
realise that everyone’s on the same boat and most people are willing to help. There’s a real
sense of relief when you get to finish assignments early so you have more time to spare for
some of the larger projects that happen this semester.

The project that has occupied most of my time this semester is the ELECTENG 209 project. It
requires you to work in groups of 4 people to make an energy monitor that measures the power
consumption of a household appliance (a scaled down version at least). Also, if you’re up for it,
you can take on the ‘Smart Energy Challenge’ which for us this year includes making a mobile
app that displays the values as well. It’s only been three weeks into the semester and I can
already tell that the only way I’m going to get a good grade for this project is if I give it enough
time working in the UG labs. I can complete the labs they’ve setup to teach us what we’re doing
while also having the resources to test and design the final product for the project.

The labs for 209 are extremely long and unlike other labs where you have to complete them in
an allocated time slot, you can complete these lab tasks prior to attending the lab – which is the
recommended approach because the lab slots aren’t long enough! There is a tutorial-like
session in the middle of the week to help but it’s impossible to finish these labs without them
eating into your own time. I mean these labs are hard, unless you spend enough time working
on them in the UG labs. You have all the resources you need to finish the labs while also having
an environment that just helps you focus on what you’re doing, surrounded by students in the
same position as you.

I’ve shared an example of one of the labs we had to do for the project which required us to send
ASCII values from our microprocessor to a mobile device and the computer’s terminal, which I
thought was pretty cool.

Much like this blog post, my semester so far has been mainly 209 – but stay tuned for more
about other papers and updates on all the cool stuff we get to do this semester!