Choosing a specialisation, EngSci and other mysteries of the universe.

Going into Engineering at UoA, I had no preconceived ideas about what kind of engineering I might want to specialise in. I vowed to make no solid decision until I had experienced all my first-year papers. Over the summer of 2018/19 I was lucky enough to land an internship (100% recommend looking for internships at the end of first year if you can!). Most of my down time that summer was spent agonising over all nine specialisation options. I read literally everything I could,  and I saw things I loved and hated in all the specialisations. There was still no clear winner for me. But I forced myself to decide; Engineering Science (EngSci for short) first pick, Mechatronics second pick.

Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we have a good understanding of what one might actually do in EngSci. Here’s a nicely worded description transcribed from the Department elders…

Engineering science graduates are able to combine a wide variety of mathematical models with numerical, experimental and data-driven methods, to design tailored computational models, for the understanding, analysis, prediction and optimisation of the behaviour of devices, processes and systems, within and across disciplines, and to balance insights from these models against real-world factors to support and communicate robust decision making.

Still with me? Good! Now it’s time for my hot take on making your choice; The most important balance you need to strike in your choice of specialisation is between enjoyment and ability. It is ideal to have aspects that you are good at and aspects that you genuinely like doing. An example for me is that I’m pretty good with maths and it turned out I enjoy learning computer programming (something I had never really done until ENGGEN 131 last year). EngSci appears to play into my hands in this respect.

Additionally, I wanted to pick a specialisation that developed a wide range of skills and was broad in industry application. Both Mechatronics and EngSci seem fantastic for this. Ultimately, I feel that I would have been content no matter which of these two specialisations I ended up taking. One card that EngSci still had up its sleeve, however, were the many spaces for elective courses. It is a highly tailorable specialisation. How you decide to tailor it? What can my EngSci degree actually look like? Well…

A handy Venn Diagram to clarify.

I was thrilled to see this diagram on my first day of lectures in semester 1; I finally knew what specialisation I’d picked! I was also thrilled to find out that all the third year EngSci students saw this diagram for the first time that day as well! Needless to say, there’s a mountain of understanding to climb. 😅

This seems like a tantalisingly annoying point to stop, but I’ll be sure to explore the flavours of EngSci in the near future (for both my benefit and yours) so we can do some “robust decision making”. 😤😤😤




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