Hello, lockdown whatever number we’re up to now! The lack of new social interactions and activities lockdown brings always makes my brain gift me with memories I had thought well and truly blocked. I’m reliving the most awkward conversations I’ve ever had, the worst tutorials I’ve sat through by myself, the weird eye contact I make with people in lectures. So sprung the inspiration for this post, a look back at the papers in Semester 1.
A mix of Chemmat 121 and Enggen 121, this paper was tough. We started with a module on fluid and thermodynamics. I still struggle to wrap my head around these concepts, but they had some cool applications with questions on air pressure on aeroplane wings and blood flow through veins. The second half of the semester was a deeper look into stress and strains and how they act on different planes of materials. The extension from Chemmat 121 last year was fun to learn about and made me realise that specialisations have many crossovers and similarities. The last module we did was on beams and supports, which combined stress and strains and Jason’s section on statics in Enggen 121. It built bridges between everything we learnt and helped me understand the links to real-life applications. The tutorials are beneficial to attend, and the lecturers help go through practice problems in depth. There is heaps of space in the coursebook to write notes, and the examples worked through in class.
If all first-year med papers are like this, I have no idea how my friends did it. The content is primarily an extension of high school biology, but there is so much of it. The multichoice exam was deceivingly challenging, as most of the questions were on tiny specific details. It didn’t require much interpretation, just memorising everything in the lecture slides and everything the lecturers said. Biosci 107 covers body systems, skin and tissue, cell structure, blood components, immune system (highly topical with Covid-19), a short section on foetal development, and neuron and muscle electrical activity. This is a vast range of content, which makes it super-fast paced but enjoyable. There is a lot of terminologies, but there are heaps of past questions to work through. The test covers the first few topics. The exam is on the rest of the content, making it easier to focus on the little facts in the few examinable topics. Having an extra book to take notes on was helpful as the coursebook is just a brief overview and doesn’t have much space for annotations. The labs every two weeks were interactive and super enjoyable and helped to solidify what we had learnt. Try to keep up with all the quizzes though, there are a lot of them. The lecturers are mostly engaging, and the few specialist guest lecturers are enjoyable to listen to.
Engsci 211 is the second-year equivalent of Engsci 111, the maths paper that every specialisation takes. Colin and Peter from first-year both make appearances, which means halftime ultimate frisbee videos and Kahoots. An extension on first-year, it was cool to see the links between the content we learnt last year and being able to understand the applications more with differential equations. 211 also has a stats module which was an excellent little switch up to get you thinking a bit differently. Kevin, the lecturer, provided a basic format for all the analysis you needed to write, so there is no need to fret too hard about writing a massive report. There was a bit of coding in the first assignment, which was a good opportunity to refresh those Enggen 131 Matlab skills. Some of the maths here crosses over with Engsci 233, which again helped to solidify these concepts.
Despite only having two lectures and a two-hour lab a week, this is probably the paper I spent the most time on. The lectures dive into the workings of computers, the different storage types and the pros and cons of various hard drives. The labs, however, are a mission. If you have time over the summer holidays, watch some YouTube videos on how to code in python. The labs are mostly mathematical modelling using python, and the lectures don’t cover the syntax or techniques. These labs are related to the lecture content but go to the lab sessions to help link what you’ve learnt and how to represent that in python. The tutors help guide you to makes these links, but the two-hour sessions often aren’t enough time to If you’re like me and not a coding wizard, start and continue these labs early. I learnt the hard way that if you have a 233 lab due at 10 pm, taking a bus back to the flat in peak hour traffic drastically reduces the time you have to finish the code. There is lots of helpful stuff on the internet about going about the statements and using them. The prelab exercises are often beneficial. Each lab is work 6%, and ten labs mean there is no exam at the end of the semester. Honestly, I don’t know which is better. There is an opportunity to do well in this paper if you can manage your time well with these labs, as the tests cover the lecture material in slightly more depth.
Overall, you will survive. It may feel hard at times, but the content we learnt was interesting and formed many connections. It was a good introduction to the Biomedical specialisation and left me excited for what’s to come. I will say, though, that so far, semester two has been more interactive in terms of more labs and classes with just the Biomeng cohort and feels a bit more related. Push through sem one, and you will be rewarded. Until next time, stay safe 😊