2022: A Civil Odyssey

Civil or not to civil? That was the question I’ve been asking myself for the good part of the last several years. On one hand, I had anticipated it to be a long and difficult road filled with stress and challenges. On the other hand, I am more frightened by the thoughts of regret than the hardship of trying. If you could, from your sweat and tears, build something that will be hereafter you, wouldn’t you? At last, I chose my path and thus began my journey.

The first week on campus was going to be amazing. Or so I thought until the dreadful news came. In my inbox laid the old, familiar Vice-Chancellor’s Update email informing us of the University’s response. I was devastated.

Online learning has its advantages, though admittedly I sometimes pretend it doesn’t. Like most of my friends who live in the outer suburbs of Auckland, I do not miss my 3-hours total daily commute to and from the university. That was equivalent to one whole week of CHEMMAT121 lectures which is to say it was less than desirable.

As for the courses, semester one offered a great variety. Each course tackled different aspects of civil engineering. From the depths of CIVIL202 to the heights of CIVIL203, whether you enjoyed the problems of ENGSCI211 or the stress of STRCTENG200, there was something for everyone.

I personally really enjoyed CIVIL 203 not only for its practicality but also because it is just… believe it or not… fun! Learning about traverses and theodolites, and doing the land surveying, it felt so satisfying to finally do actual civil engineering stuff. What could have elevated this course even higher was being on campus and doing the lab in person. Nevertheless I still thoroughly and rigorously enjoyed the course despite doing it online which spoke volumes about the greatness and immensity of history’s most glorious and grandiose course, CIVIL203. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but the point is: it was quite fun.

ENGSCI211 was the sequel of ENGSCI111. Enough said.

Rumour had it that STRCTENG200 was the most difficult course of part 2 of civil engineering. For me, it was surprisingly relatively easy… until it wasn’t. As one week turned into two, and two to three, we were learning more and more lecture by lecture. The content accumulated and in five weeks’ time, you’d wish you’d started doing those practice problems earlier. By the start of the semester break, it was satisfying to walk around and see the different applications of the principles we learned; why buildings and bridges are designed the way they are, how loads are transferred from the roof to the floor and so much more. It felt like we just started to build a house brick by brick. Now we’re laying the foundation for ours.

CIVIL202 consisted of us learning about fluid mechanics and properties and using that knowledge to predict and manipulate its behaviours. Modelling played an important part in that as seeing how fluid behaved in a small-scale model helped us visualise and infer what could happen on a large-scale prototype.

Civil engineering as a whole is a very, very broad discipline. At its core, it is all about how we can take what we know and uses it to build infrastructures that would improve our lives. Whether it is housing, industrial, transportation or environmental, our civilisations rest on the shoulders of civil engineers.

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