In Conversation with Glorified Sparkies in Training: Part 1

Reflecting on my last two blogs, I’d call it fair to say that I haven’t done the greatest job selling electrical engineering. Sure, I’ve made numerous forgettable jokes here and there, but it’s probably time to give you some actual insights into what second year is like in electrical. At this point, you’re probably expecting here is where I promise my content will change. Here’s where I’ll pledge to not be that blogger who was forgotten the very next year because he used the opportunity only to make jokes and obscure references no one understood. Well yep, you’d be pretty much right, if my Microsoft Word didn’t decide to suddenly spasm and crash. Consequently, you are now reading a rewritten introduction, and a hastily poor one at that; you’d think ‘third time a charm’ extends to blog writing, but clearly things are not going great for me here.

So what was it I wanted to talk about in my third blog? Well, I want to give you a long overdue student’s insight into electrical, but I also wanted to impart some advice. I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers recently have touched on the challenge of finding internships. It’s true, finding summer work is one of the hardest challenges you’ll face in second year, but I doubt you signed up for your engineering degree only to shy away from a challenge.

The best advice I can give you is to prepare now. Yes, I realise there might still be a year left before it even enters your mind, but all you need to do now is real simple – go out and chase the things you love. Help out with committees that interest you, involve yourself with activities you enjoy. It’s impossible to overstate the value of demonstrating a side of you independent of your degree, and it speaks volumes to employers about all the diverse qualities you possess.

All the capable and successful people I meet in my specialization are creative-minded and intelligent people who apply themselves to a vast contingent of activities outside of their degree.

This week, I talked to a few of my electrical friends about why they chose their degree, what they were enjoying about it and what they got up to in their spare time, and I hope this challenges you to think about what your own goals through university life are. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to tackle something new! 🙂

But first, a little about me:

What attracted me to Electrical Engineering?

Choosing electrical engineering was something that was never set in stone for me when it came around to picking my specialization; for most of the year, I had drifted through several options. Being someone who enjoyed the maths and problem-solving aspects of engineering, the circuit theory and design of electrical became a clear option for me.

What are my hobbies/involvements outside of my degree?

I am up to a lot outside of my degree, and I really enjoy involving myself in different activities! I am the current subeditor of the student magazine Craccum, part of the IEEE Student Branch Committee, working down at P1AC and also running this blog. So yeah, it’s definitely a balancing act, but these roles all require different skills and abilities and I wouldn’t drop one for the other.

Yep. We did a whole issue on the McDonalds Grimace.

How have my hobbies/involvements helped me in terms of my degree/road to becoming a professional engineer?

Having all these roles gives me the opportunity to practice all the skills involved with collaboration: teamwork, communication, empathy and all those other soft skills employers love to hear. Specifically within Craccum, I’ve had the opportunity to grow to become a skilled and proficient writer.

What am I most looking forward to this semester?

The object-oriented programming Compsys 202. The great thing about coding courses is that you can always sense how much time the teaching staff invest in producing the projects we get marked on, and as a result they always prove an enjoyable challenge to complete.

What did I find was my biggest challenge last semester?

Probably Compsys 201, which involved VHDL and microcontroller programming. It was quite content heavy, and it introduced new concepts to me that I had never seen before, so I made the mistake of falling behind.

Guest #1: Jared

What attracted you to Electrical Engineering? Electrical devices are all around us! Being able to explain how these devices work and design them myself drew me to Electrical Engineering. I’ve enjoyed coding since high school but couldn’t see myself studying pure software. Electrical allows me to explore control system design and signals, which means I can still do some coding and see it applied with electrical hardware.

Clearly it wasn’t difficult transitioning from the thrill of surfing to the thrill of circuit analysis

What are your hobbies/involvements outside of your degree? Surfing!!! I have been a member of the New Zealand Junior Surfing team multiple times so I spend a lot of time in the ocean. I love everything outdoors and compete in a range of other sports. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar and often create projects with Arduino development boards.

How have your hobbies/involvements helped you in terms of your degree/road to becoming a professional engineer? High performance sports teams have provided the perfect environment for me to develop communication and leadership skills and become accustom to working under pressure. These attributes are imperative to success in the engineering profession and I find switching off from my study a great way to refresh my mind for new content.

What are you most looking forward to this semester? Our analogue and digital design project (ELECTENG 209). It’s awesome having the opportunity to work with your friends on a major project that combines and applies many of the ideas presented in first semester. It should be a lot of fun!

What did you find was your biggest challenge last semester? Moving out of first year halls and learning to cook and clean for myself meant that I had to manage my time better to stay on top of my study. I found last semester thoroughly enjoyable, but I had to work harder than first year to maintain the same academic performance.

Stick around for next time where I’ll be chatting with my friends Niwanthi and Eva about why they chose Electrical engineering, and what they get up to outside of their degree!