Have a Break, Have a Kit-Kat: A Reflection on Semester 1

We’re in lockdown. Again. Back to 3am bedtimes and 12pm wake-ups. Back to having an endless amount of time, to do… absolutely nothing. Speaking of doing nothing, to procrastinate for my test in 2 days I thought I’d finally get to writing the next highly-anticipated instalment of my blogs. As promised, here’s a run-down of the papers I took in Sem 1 and all the cool engineering-related stuff I did during the inter-semester break:


This is a continuation of the ENGSCI 111 paper you took this year. Lots of differential equations, Laplace transforms, and multivariable and vector calculus. Sounds daunting, I know, but I actually found this to be one of the easier papers this semester, and the practice problems were kinda fun (if you knew what you were doing). There were two tests, and of course, the classic weekly quizzes. Overall, its a good course – just make sure to stay on top of content, because there’s a lot of it.


Finally, a mechatronics-related course! Though, this one is more for the mechanical students. This paper teaches you the technical skills and background knowledge on engineering design and manufacturing. There are two main design projects – one based on the Warman Design and Build Competition and another that involves designing the gantry of a window-washing system. Its kinda like ENGGEN 115, but much more detailed and meticulous. This was probably the most frustrating paper, as most of it was basically trial and error. The design projects got tedious at times, but the end result was so rewarding. Again, don’t leave doing them to the last minute – unless you hate sleeping. Then yeah. Go for gold.


This paper build on your knowledge of statics in ENGGEN 121. If you enjoyed that, then you will love this paper. It covered topics such as statically determinate stress systems, beam bending and deflection, shear stresses, yield and fracture failure criteria, and more. There were two tests and a weekly quiz for this paper, just like ENGGEN 121. As well as a few labs, which aren’t something to stress over. As said before, just stay on top of lectures and content, and you’ll be sweet as.


Ah, yes, saving the best for last. This was arguably the best and most fun paper of the semester. Most of my mechatronics comrades LOVED it, but my friends in mechanical, well, had much less favourable opinions. This paper was an introduction to mechatronics, and was split into two parts: The first about Robot Programming and Control, and second about Electronics, Sensors, and Actuators. There were also two major projects for this paper. The first project was based on VEX Robotics, and involved learning to program a VEX robot using RobotC to complete a set task. These robots had a tendency to be a tad temperamental, which was very frustrating at times. But again, the end result was so worth it! The second project was designing a smart home system using the components covered in class Very fun! All in all, if you enjoyed this course, then rest assured, you have probably made the right specialisation choice.

Virtually testing out my turning function on RVW. It worked! (Full video can be seen here – IMG_3243 )



This is a compulsory course that teaches you the necessary practical skills to build and make things. All the part II engineering students have to take it, but mechanical and mechatronics students so a version that is very much more hardcore. For 4 days during the break I woke up at 6am to commute to Manukau Institute of Technology, where we learned how to weld, use a lathe and milling machine, file and drill metal for 8 hours a day. I honestly hadn’t had very much practical experience at all before this course, so this was all hella new to me. In saying that though, I had heaps of fun! We got to take home everything we made which was really cool too. The most exciting part for me was probably getting a drill chip stuck in my nose after it overheated and snapped. What a cool story to tell at a party. There were a few unfavourable parts about it though – being a 5″1 asian woman can mean you will be underestimated and mansplained to by big old men who think they’re better than you. That’s a taste of the real world for us girls – we just gotta show them who’s boss, because we can do anything they can. #girlboss <3

Arc-type welded nameplate!

Brianna and I wearing the cool Darth-Vader-esque welding helmets

The end result! Here’s most of the stuff we made – a plumb bob, business card/pen holder and a drill head size indicator










Warman Design and Build 

Remember the Warman project from MECHENG 235 I talked about earlier? Well, my team and I decided to build the design we made, in hopes of competing in the actual competition! If you’re interested, look up some past robots from previous competitions on YouTube. The stuff people come up with is so cool, and hopefully our robot will be just as cool once we manage to complete it. Just like the design process, the build involves just as much trial and error, and a lot of time! Having strong teamwork and communication is crucial. So far, I’m having lots of fun and learning a lot, and that’s always a good thing.




That nears the end of this post. Congrats! You’ve made it. If you’re reading this in lockdown – hang in there! Theres not long to go. This post might’ve been a little intimidating , but just know that you will always have so many people that will be willing to help you. Make sure to utilise them, because that’s why they’re there! Attend tutorials, ask heaps of questions, and don’t be afraid to go to your lecturer’s office hours. Uni, especially engineering, can be pretty stressful at times; so make sure you take some time to look after yourself too. Remember to stop, have a rest; have a break, have a kit-kat.


– Sabina 🙂


P.S. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! You can add me on facebook (Sabina Aquino) or flick me a message on instagram (@ssabinaaquino).