Hope everyone had a relaxing midsemester break. I am not sure how that would be possible for any engineering student but at least to some extent, I hope that you can describe your break as somewhat or remotely relaxing. I spent most of my break studying for midsemester tests, projects, and assignments. Nothing unusual for a typical engineering student I would presume.
So far, semester 2 of Biomedical Engineering has been far more interesting than semester 1. You get a better taste of what BME actually entails in semester 2 compared to semester 1, as you get more insight into bioinstrumentation and design which is a major aspect of this degree. However, with the stress of applying for internships and whatnot, there is certainly a lot that you would need to balance.
As mentioned in my previous post, here is my review of semester 1:
Content-heavy course. This is a first-year pre-med paper. I probably spent the most time on this course, considering a large amount of content you need to absorb in each lecture. In this course you cover topics such as cells and tissues, cells and processes, blood and immune, muscles, neurons and embryology. The content is undoubtedly heavy but the concepts are fascinating. As someone who only had done NCEA Level 3 Biology prior to uni, knowing a whole bunch of stuff about plants and animals did not help me at all. Almost all lectures were content heavy for 107, which can be discouraging at the start, but the lecturers give you guidance on how to tackle the content. I think out of everything, the best way to do this course is through consistency in whatever study method suits you. I found the test more difficult than the exam, mainly because there were a lot of rather irksome questions on how well you can memorise the minute details of the slides, rather than the broader concept (like most engineering papers). Try to put in consistent effort from the start because you don’t actually need to get a good grade in both the test and exam to get an overall decent grade in the course, as the weightings are spread evenly among the labs, test, exam and quizzes. I found that pretty neat, but it merely emphasises the importance of consistency in your studies.
I loved this course. It seemed most similar to statics and chemmat, which were two of my favourite topics in first-year engineering. You start off with learning formulae that on the surface, appear to be complicated but are actually not. It is divided into three modules: fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and solid applications. A lot of the questions are based on interpretation, looking at your formula sheet, and picking the right formula to insert numbers into. This course is not a big step up from last year – as long as you go through the weekly exercises, tutorials and obviously the lectures, you’ll do great! The only downside of this course is that the exam is worth 60% of your final grade, which means you need to nail your coursework to have a decent chance of doing well in this course. The whole course is mostly about deriving equations from different situations, and while you are not tested on the derivations (for the most part), it is certainly helpful to understand it. I’ve noticed that for the tests and exams, they tend to be consistent with previous year’s papers, so doing practice papers would be in your best interest. Overall, if you enjoyed statics and chemmat from the first year, you will definitely love BIOMENG 221.
Tough course. As someone who is in no way, shape or form remotely good at coding, I spent the most time in this course compared to the other Sem 1 courses. You learn about Python, processors, storage devices, forms of computer memory and networking. You get a weekly lab that is weighted 6% and cumulatively, the 10 labs add up to 60% of your final grade! These labs can be a time sink but they don’t have to be. With the online start to the semester, asking for help from the TAs through zoom was certainly a mission, and I hope that this won’t be the case for you next year.
The last two labs are probably the more enjoyable labs as they are done on a micro bit and are based on networking – for our last lab, we were able to play Rock Paper Scissors with other students using our micro bit. Furthermore, you have a partner to do the lab with so less work compared to other labs. I remember the most challenging part of this course was the first week as we were required to code the connect four game using Python, although we were not taught how to actually use Python. This course requires a lot of diligence and independence, so I do suggest learning Python over the holidays instead of cramming a 6-hour YouTube video on python basics on the week lab 1 was due, which is totally not what I ended up doing. The test and exam almost require no code as they are based more on the concept of what you did in the lab, as opposed to how to code it like ENGGEN 131. So, it is paramount you take notes of the concepts that are taught in the lecture since these come up in the exam/test.
Ace the labs and you basically ace the course.
This was irrefutably my favourite course. As the name suggests, it is the second-year version of ENGSCI 111. Here you go into depth about differential equations, multivariable calculus, linear algebra and you also have a module on statistics, which is a delightful break from all the calculus. Make sure you remember all the stuff about vectors and matrices, as you would need to have a solid understanding of that in 211.
The lecturers provide a lot of guidance in this course, with weekly lectorials that cover exam-type problems which equip you with almost everything you would need to know. The content is not too challenging, and the lectures are certainly enjoyable. You also have two assignments. The first assignment has some light coding on MATLAB so don’t forget everything from ENGGEN 131 yet. The second assignment is a statistics assignment; while it may sound intimidating, you can copy from case studies provided you change the context which is what most people do. If you print out all the case studies and go through all of them, you basically don’t need to do any further revision for the statistics module. As for the other modules, going through practice problems in the textbook is the best way to learn.
All in all, I have faith you’ll do well in semester one. It is a pleasant introduction to Biomedical Engineering. Try hard. Don’t give up. Above all, be consistent :))
Hope to see you in my next posts with more insights about internships and semester 2.