Structural Semester 1 Reflection

Writing this post being in lockdown. We all know what that means…. back to online lectures, 2x speed, no sleep schedules yet always lots of uni to do, but nevertheless  I’ll flashback to the good in person times of semester 1 and give you guys a quick summary of the papers we took.

Though quickly I will preface that Civil and Structural, even though it is spilt, all take the same papers in second year (we have the biggest cohort – exciting!)


First specialisation paper, exciting. This is a fluid mechanics paper. Now, in all honestly I had no idea what that meant either. In summary it compromises of the properties of fluid, hydrostatics, looking at the forces/pressure acting on a fluid at rest, ie. like the pressure on an iceberg, or a log floating down a river. Quickly, before diving into what the paper actually is – I’ll share my personal opinion, the paper itself I found to be very challenging – there were a lot of derivations and new concepts introduced – especially since it is so niche in the sense everything is only applied in a fluid/pipe flow sense. I would definitely recommend keeping on top of this paper and DO THE PRACTICE PROBLEMS –  I can’t stress this enough, after the lecture just spend that extra 30 mins and go through the practice problem sheet – its all well and good thinking you understood the content in the lecture but when you try do the problems yourself it is a very different story. Anyway back to the paper itself – the main topics are the 3 conservation topics which take up the rest of the paper. The conservation of mass, conservation of energy and conservation of momentum. Now as I’m sure you’ve all heard of these from high school physics, it is just a more applied version in relation to fluids and pipe flow. Now to give you my opinion – I’ll be honest – I can’t say it was my favourite paper as it was very ‘civily’ I guess you could say, but it does teach important principles. Though I found the labs to be very enjoyable, as they were super interactive and gave meaning to the theoretical parts of the paper.



Another Civil paper! This paper was on Transport Design & Geomatics – again what does that even mean. So broken down, the first half of the course is on Geomatics – essentially this is a mix of land surveying and highway geometric design. I really liked this paper because of how it was structured. So the first half I just mentioned is all the content in the mid-sem exam and then the second half of the course is transport design, so learning about speed parameters, how the roads we drive on everyday are designed and things in that sense. I found this paper had a good mix of theoretical learning and calculations – unlike other papers (cough-cough 211) which are straight calculations. There are quite a few labs and field exercises which I enjoyed – and if you’re a visual learner, like myself, you too will probably find these to be very helpful. So back to what I was saying before, the final exam is only based on the transport design half of the course which I thought was great because it meant that for each exam, mid-sem and final I was able to focus on one topic and really nail it.



Yes our first structural engineering paper!! This paper is called Introduction to Structural Mechanics, as it sounds it is your first taster of what structural engineering encompasses. Now, I’ll be honest with you straight off the bat – I found this to be the hardest paper in first semester, though I really enjoyed it. Strcteng 200 teaches a lot of new concepts and also builds on concepts from ENGGEN 121. It is super important to take the time to understand the concepts taught in this paper and not learn just how to solve the problems – because this paper becomes the base for the rest of the structural papers – not just this year but for the rest of the degree. Now I’m not trying to scare you or stress you out, but even that extra 10 minutes every day makes a difference. I really enjoyed the actual content of this paper, what we learnt was actually super interesting and applicable to almost daily life. Half way through you have a lab which I loved – you had to build an beam as a team using given materials and make it as strong as possible as it would then be put under a hydraulic press until it failed – it was a competition between the groups to see whose beam could take the most load (i’ll give you a hint – make an I beam – not a truss like we did…) Anyway overall I really enjoyed this paper!



Lucky last, but actually I have to say it was probably my favourite paper funny enough. Now this is just a continuation of first years ENGSCI 111, so yes it is still a math paper, yay! Lots of Laplace Transforms, numerical methods, Fourier series and Stats. Now if you took stats in high school it will be a piece of cake – though I unfortunately am not the biggest fan of stats so did everything I could to avoid it – yet it still came up here. Now I will be honest the stats part is probably the easiest part of the whole paper, though it was a bit of writing. The rest of the paper I loved because it was all do do do. Equation after equation to solve without any theoretical learning. Overall a great paper – though stay on top of the content cause the lecturers go through it quite quickly.


Summary: I found first semester to be lots of learning – both in the sense of the specific papers but also in the sense of learning what works for me in terms of studying and what doesn’t. First time specialising and doing papers that I (supposedly) love! Exciting as it is, you need to find a way that works for you. Whether that means watching the lectures at home, taking notes, doing all the practice problems, and remember that everyone learns differently so don’t stress if you do something different to how someone else does it – I promise it will be okay. And remember Uni isn’t life – please get outside, hangout with your friends, go to the uni events, sometimes you just need to breathe, take a break and regroup.  If you made it all the way to the end – I have to say I’m impressed – but the last thing I’ll say is that you can do it – it gets stressful at times – like everything does but you’ll be okay – ask for help if you need and lean on your friends 🙂


— Izzy 🙂

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! Flick me a message on instagram (izzycattermole) or add me on facebook (Izzy Cattermole)

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