‘What is Engineering Science?’ and other questions I ask myself in Electrical.

[Before we start, you’ve probably realised that I’m terrible at giving in-depth summaries of course content. Last year’s blogger Chantelle covers this semester’s content in good detail, all of which has barely changed over the previous year.]

“If these past few weeks have reassured us electrical engineers of anything, it’s that we’re by no means studying an easy degree.”

My main motivator with this blog, other than the fact to prove once again with the title that I lack all faculty for humour, was this quote which my friend had said to me the other day while we were slaving away in the electrical labs. Basically, in context, it was an optimistic outlook on the fact that over the last week, we’d been absolutely pummelled by the heavy workload of our ELECTENG209 project report. And if that wasn’t enough to drag our fighting spirits down, the COMPSYS202 assessment, which was conveniently scheduled on the report due date, made sure to steamroll whoever was left standing.

If you’ve read my introduction blog, you already know I froth a good quote, so I’m going to use another one which I feel poetically summarizes my ongoing predicament, and one from Sir Elton John no less; “it’s sad, so sad. It’s a sad, sad situation. And it’s getting more and more absurd.” By the way, if you didn’t just sing that line in your head, then that is an offense to me and to Elton and I think you should leave.

(Lack of) jokes aside, since I last posted a month ago it’s no doubt been tough. We’ve had another group project start up while our current one is ongoing. I’ve wrestled with internship applications, armed with a CV worth as much as a recyclable Countdown bag. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a real mission. But if I were a man of integrity (and trust me, I’m not), I would remind you that only a month ago, I had said that engineers weren’t ones to shy away from a challenge. And it’s true – we aren’t. But I think once in a while, it’s worth remembering that a challenge will get to everyone.

Let me play the Engineering Scientist I was born to be and read you some stats: our ELECTENG209 group report was marked out of 10, the highest mark over the entire cohort was an 8.5. Our COMPSYS202 assessment was graded at a staggering 20%, the class only managed an average of 11%.

I don’t think it would be going out on a limb to say that naturally, there were a few disappointed electricians in the room. And it would be especially hard to take at this stage of the semester, when we’ve still got so much more left to give. However, cue first-year electrical engineering messiah William Lee, who majestically declared “tests provide opportunities to reflect on one’s own understanding of the subject…

 

…Hope this helps.”

Point is, you’re not a footballer whose stock value plummets after one bad match. You’re a student who’s learning and exploring unfamiliar territory, and naturally your understanding is bound to be imperfect. In my first blog, I had said that electrical engineers are people who “enjoy learning under new, unfamiliar experiences”, but that would never be case if you’re left hanging your head after one bad bump along the road.

Naturally, our cohort were all surprised to hear that this semester, we would only be set one exam. But six weeks ago, I would have also never believed you if you told me that by mid-semester break, I would have completed a behemoth 24% project covering all aspects of object-oriented programming. I would have doubted myself entirely that I would be undertaking my first electrical design project, implementing a wireless energy monitor with concepts I had learnt the previous semester.

Because I seem to be capable of doing nothing else this blog, I’m going to share with you another quote. This one comes courtesy of a good friend of mine, who said to me this – “never underestimate what you can achieve in one semester”. And it was only after him repeating back to me all I had accomplished in this short time, that I realised how much it was true. Because oftentimes, we’re so caught up in chasing intangible grades and projections that we’ll forget they’re only statistics (no offense to Engineering Scientists of course, statistics are great).

The truth is, ELECTENG101 was my lowest grade in all of Part I Engineering. But don’t ever let numbers like that discourage you. Instead of linking it to your ability, choose to consider it as how much you have left to learn. Whether it is an electrician, software engineer, or anything else you aspire to be (sure, an Engineering Scientist works too), none of us have reached the end of the road in terms of learning. But we’ve done a damn good job of bridging it up to here.

Sometimes, it’s nice to take a minute to pause and reflect on all that you have achieved, and to remember that you are by no means studying an easy degree.

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