Sem 1 – Part II

This post follows on from the last – a retrospective look at the rest of Semester 1.


Life as a student gives you a lot of freedom, but sometimes it can swallow up your time, like a tea towel into a vacuum cleaner.


After the second weekend in a row spent on structural assignments, I was pretty tired of it. All calculations had to be written by hand! Structural 200 probably became one of the least favourite papers of our cohort, saved only by the hands-on MLDS activities. If there’s one thing all civil students love to do, it’s build a structure with the intention of breaking it. Luckily for us, one of our assignments involved constructing an ‘Ɪ’ beam and testing it till failure. We all crowded around the force gauge, waiting spellbound for the tell-tale snap of wood. There was a round of applause each time a beam met its splintered end.


After the mid Sem break, our surveying paper switched to a transport focus. Professor Seósamh (pronounced like Joseph but with a “Sh”) introduced us to roads and highway design. Transport turned out to be a very relatable, interesting part of the course, with several surprises. Did you know that new road designs assume all cars have ABS braking?


One of the defining characteristics of the Civil specialisation has for many years been the five-paper-per-semester workload. Fortunately for us, we were the first cohort to have these smooshed into just four courses instead—same number of points, same workload (theoretically), but much less juggling and admin.

I’m sure everyone in our cohort was grateful for this!


For those planning to specialise in civil or structural engineering, be warned that Semester 1 has many calculation-heavy papers. You’ll be given oodles of practice questions throughout the semester. I realised a little too late that trying them out weeks after the content has been covered is more challenging than trying to remember a dream from the night before. Regular practice throughout the semester is the way to go!


Drawing to the end of Semester one, and it still feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of civil engineering. There’s a whole lot left to learn and discover, and I’m looking forward to another semester!

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