Introducing the Part II Sem 1 of Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineering!

Hello! I hope you all had an excellent first three weeks of semester 2! (How is CHEMMAT 121, ELECTENG 101 and ENGGEN 131 going?) Semester two

Last year, a fresh first year, I remember thinking;

what do you actually learn in second year?

I asked around, read through all these blogs (yes I was, in fact, an avid reader of the part II blog), and continuously scrolled through the Uoa Engineering course viewer, but I still didn’t quite understand what you learn in Part II, or going one step further, Part III (I spent a lot of days agonizing between mechanical and mechatronics engineering as well).

So! I decided to dedicate one entire post explaining what each paper teaches. Since I haven’t completed the sem 2 papers yet, (I might have a separate post for the sem 2 papers later in the year), I will first explain what we did in sem 1. Please note that Mechanical and Mechatronics have the same papers for Semester 1 of Part II, so if you are thinking of mechatronics, this post might also be helpful. (If you want feedback about 1st-year papers, I recommend Victor – the software blogger’s first blog!)

ENGSCI 211 (aka MM2)

Now I’m sure everyone else has or will also talk about this paper! This is the extended version of ENGSCI 111, aka MM1, from the first year (more math!), and it is compulsory for all specialisation to take it. Yes, you cannot escape from this paper. (but it will be fine, I promise!)

If you loved ENGSCI 111, you will love this paper (I did!), but if you didn’t enjoy it, I pray you good luck.

Some relevant topics from Part I are:

  • Differentiation (don’t forget differentiation by part)
  • Integration (remember substitution!!!)
  • Matrices (remember your Gaussian eliminations?)


The course consists of :

  • 2 tests (each worth 10%)
  • 2 assignments (ODE and DA)
  • Weekly Quizzes
  • End-of-Year Exam (worth 50%)

One assignment is on ODE (ordinary differential equations), which involves using Matlab, so don’t delete Matlab after finishing ENGGEN 131! You will still use it! (I do understand the temptation though!!!) It will be helpful if you know how to use the function ODE45, but the lecturers will tell you everything you need to know. You do get a reasonable amount of time to complete both assessments, so my advice is not to worry (but perhaps not procrastinate till the last minute)

The second assignment is on Data Analysis (DA), which is similar to high school statistics (they have a lot of case studies that you can study off) and uses a language called R, or R studio. Again, don’t panic, and start early! Data Analysis is about using code to analyse data and interpreting different graphs (like the scatter plot and box plot), comparing the model to the data and how well it fits, and regression models. If you didn’t take statistics in highschool the terms they use might be foreign, so I suggest studying outside of lectures to understand what is happening.

The math you learn in this course gets more relevant to your other courses, which is exciting to see (I heard electrical engineering uses many of these skills, but I would have to double-check that with the electrical engineering people.)

Study tips for ENGSCI 211

  • Coursebook: I highly recommend going through the course book to fully understand all the concepts (especially sometimes not everything is covered in detail during the lecture!), and the example questions are also helpful.
  • Practice Question Booklet: I did every question in the practice question booklet before every quiz. This gives good insight into how the questions are formatted for quizzes, tests, and exam, and also a little break from other papers.
  • Past tests/exams: Use these after you solve the practice question booklet!
  • DA prep: watch all the DA flipped lectures during the mid-sem break!
  • For the DA part, watch all the lectures and pay attention to what the lecturers emphasize!

And since all the engineering students are taking this course, the Piazza is very active, so you can get a lot of resources and help.

Overall it is a very well-structured course, with plenty of help.


This is like part II of ENGGEN 121 statics combined with some CHEMMAT 121 (121+121=242……..get it?)

I’d say it is 90% ENGGEN 121, and 10% CHEMMAT 121 (wait, don’t leave yet!) but trust me, it’s algoods!

(something like this!)

Some relevant topics from Part I are:

  • Stress and Strain from CHEMMAT 121
  • Bending moment and Shear Force Diagrams from ENGGEN 121
  • Free body diagrams (very important!) from ENGGEN 121
  • Centroids from ENGGEN 121
  • Equilibrium equations from ENGGEN 121 (I think you will get the idea now!)


This course consists of:

  • Weekly quizzes – similar to ENGGEN 121, but you don’t get the answer after your attempt (you just know it is right or wrong). Generally, the questions are easier than the study aids, so I do recommend going through the study aids first (but don’t panic if you can’t solve them!). The lecturers are generous enough to show the diagram for the question as a preview, which allows you to deduct which topic the quiz is on. It is very helpful in terms of making you study consistently.
  • 2 labs – You have to go to your labs and fill out the lab reports, but generally it isn’t too difficult.
  • 2 tests (worth 10%)
  • Final exam (50%)

Overall, ENGGEN 242 has a steady workload throughout the semester, it is difficult at the start, but you will get used to it. All the topics do relate to each other, so you will have to understand one concept properly before moving on to the other topic.

Study Tips for MECHENG 242

  • DO THE STUDY AIDS! I can’t emphasize the importance enough! The study aid questions are generally more challenging than the quiz, test, or exam questions, so if you do manage to solve them, congratulations you are well-prepared for everything!
  • Study with other people. No, I don’t mean it as to go against academic integrity, but while studying for tests or exams, it is good to have a group studying with you rather than you being alone. It can be disheartening when you get a question wrong and have no idea why (it could be typing your numbers wrong in the calculator!), and having extra pairs of eyes and brains can help a lot.
  • Join discord. I do warn you, some incredibly talented people are very ahead in terms of content, but it doesn’t mean you have to be like them! However, those people are generally quite enthusiastic about helping you understand how to solve problems, so it might be worth asking them how to approach a question.
  • Solve a lot of problems. I wish I have the ultimate easy-to-do guide on how to solve these problems for you guys, but, unfortunately, in the end of the day, you have to solve the problems yourself and understand it.
  • Watch youtube videos explaining concepts.

I remember when I first started this course I was completely overwhelmed, as I had struggled last year during ENGGEN 121. I was fully anticipating the day I finish ENGGEN 121…and then the first week back, I was told I had to revise it!

Yet I liked how logical this course was, and how the things I learned in first year was applied. For example, I remember thinking in my first year, what is a bending moment? What is this number? Is it saying that my beam will break, or not?

Now, using the Engineering Beam Theory, I can use the bending moment to get the deflection of the beam. Fun times!


This is an extension of ENGGEN 115. Like how I mentioned last post, Mechanical Engineering – Group project = 0. Yes, this is one of the papers with group projects.

Some relevant topics from Part I are:

  • Using Inventor
  • Writing Reports
  • Group work
  • Concept Design
  • Technical Drawings
  • Keeping a workbook


This course consists of:

  • Warman Design project – this is based on the Warman Competition. This competition is held annually (you can apply for it and build your design, but it is optional). You are given a design brief, where you and your group should use your knowledge and skills to design something. This is done in a group of four, preferably a mixture of Mechanical and Mechatronics students. You are marked on your report (which has technical drawings and rendering from CAD), and your individual workbook
  • Gear Reducer project – this is a new project in this course, previous year students (i.e. current third years and above) had done the window washer. For my year, we were given a scenario where we had to calculate the gear ratio for the gear box connecting a motor to a conveyor box, choose the gears, bearings, keys, and shafts using catalogs, and CAD the assembly and the housing for the gear assembly. This is done in teams of two, however you are individually marked for your housing design.
  • Synthesis challenge – this is a fun quiz-type assignment that highlights the importance of iteration in design, using gears.
  • Labs
  • Final exam (40%)

Study Tips for MECHENG 235

  • Synthesis challenge – do a lot of iteration! Some of my friends used Matlab and coded to get the optimum solution, some of them used CAD to see the gears, but I drew circles on paper to work them out. The method you do is entirely up to you, but it might be a good idea to know what values your friends are getting; therefore, you have a rough estimate of what number you should be looking for.
  • Labs – I declare it is nearly impossible to complete the labs alone. I will recommend reading the lab questions and answer sheets before going into the lab (it is provided on canvas), and communicating with other people about the different concepts.
  • Warman Project – you can choose your groups, so if you have friends you know and want to be in the same group, make sure you are in the exact tutorial session. Otherwise, stick to the plan and ensure you communicate well with your teammates. (there is a peer marking at the end!) Also, work on your workbook as you are working on the project, and don’t cram it all at the end! It will be tough to remember what happened at each tutorial or meeting, and the tutors won’t be able to give you a good mark for it. Also, remember it is your tutor who is marking your work!!! Talk to your tutor frequently and clarify aspects you don’t understand in the rubric. I wish you all the luck!!!!
  • Gear Reducer Project – At this point, you probably have a good idea about the work habits of everyone else. Most people stick to people from their Warman project (a big shout-out to my team who were absolutely the best! Thanks guys!) but it is possible to choose people outside from your original group. This is done in partners, and you will have to rely on each other a lot. I recommend starting the project early (I started mine during the mid-sem break), but pace it with the lecturers! The lecturers sometimes add contents to the project, so don’t be too ahead, otherwise you might have to change your entire design! In terms of CAD, be prepared to spend a long time with it. Like, I’m saying 20-30 hours (I think I spent like 25 hours?). Make sure to read all the slides and the study content, because they will have the exact calculations you would need.
  • Make a word document summarising all the necessary information from lectures and identify which document is needed when. Otherwise, you will have 10+ tabs open moving back and forth.
  • Exam – I recommend trying all the examples the lecturers give early (as in, not the day before the exam) and going to office hours. Discord could also help.
  • YOUTUBE IS YOUR FRIEND!!! If you aren’t sure how to visualise something, go to youtube! There are tons of free information available to you!

MECHENG 235 is a paper that gave me a variety of feelings (I can tell you more if you ask me in person, or on LinkedIn!) but overall gave me a lot of insight into what mechanical engineering is about. I came into mechanical engineering without even knowing what a bearing was, (I seriously had to search up every single word during lectures!) and this course pushed all these important parts into my head.

For future mechanical/mechatronics engineering students, I fully sympathize with you, and if you need any help, feel free to reach out!

Also, remember your assignment isn’t worth your mental health 🙂


Technically this course is an elective, but it’s the only choice we’ve got! (If you are taking a conjoint paper, you have the option of not taking this paper)

You are not required to build a robot, rather, it’s simply coding a robot to perform some tasks (whoop whoop for 8am labs!)

Some relevant topics from Part I are:

  • Coding in C
  • Team work

This is the second paper that has a lot of group projects


This course consists of:

  • 2 quizzes
  • 2 projects (They are linked as Part 1 and Part 2)
  • 1 test
  • Final exam (30%)

This course focuses heavily on the actual robot coding, you are required to attend labs twice a week, normally at 8am or 9am. (You get to make some fun memories during these labs – at some point I was asking Hazim which direction anti-clockwise was)

Like MECHENG 235, this is a semester-long group project, in a group of two (so you and your partner)

Study Tips for MECHENG 201

  • Go early to your labs! Especially your first lab! You can choose your partner from your first lab, and it is a good idea to be there early so you don’t miss out on any information.
  • Meet regularly with your partner and code outside of the lab. I made the mistake of coding right before the lab, which required me to wake up and code at 5am. Highly not recommended. I could feel myself becoming more unstable due to the disrupted sleep schedule and stress.
  • Make backup code!!! In ENGGEN 131, if your code passed the trials, that would be the end. However, coding with physical things is slightly different. One day, the code might run perfectly fine; another day, your robot might crash and do a boogie dance. It is always a good idea to have some sort of backup code that might not be the best, but a simplified version of your current code (sometimes, simple is the best)
  • Know how flow charts work! You will be required to draw a lot of flow charts, so make sure you know how to draw them! You don’t need to hand-draw them, there are free templates online.

Overall the projects do take up a lot of time, and 8am labs are certainly something I am glad for not having this semester. However, it is a lot of fun, and the other assessments (i.e. tests, quiz, exam) are relatively less difficult, so it balances out.


This is a compulsory few-day course that all engineering students have to take. All engineering students build a motor using laser cutting, soldering, 3D printing and using mechanical tools. You get to experience how to use these different equipment, and have a cool-looking motor!

For Mechanical, Mechatronics and Biomedical students we have an extra element: we build a tic-tac-to board with welding, milling and using the lathe. New Market campus is certainly an exciting place to visit!

Me, in safety PPE for Welding

Overall Feedback for Semester 1

Second year was definitely a big step up from first year! I enjoyed the technical side of the first semester of Part II, as I learned more about mechanical engineering and what we do in the real world. Semester one was a rollercoaster of emotions, but I am happy with my choice of mechanical engineering.

It becomes much easier to make friends in second year, as you are in a smaller cohort (with group projects, which acts as an excellent adhesive for building relationships!) I absolutely loved to see how the information we learned in Part 1 slowly pieced together, as well as being able to develop my study methods.

That is all for me today, if you have any questions regarding mechanical engineering, MECHA (UoA Mechanical and Mechatronics Student Association) or general second year life, please reach out! You can find me on LinkedIn, and just lurking around the engineering building pretty much everyday.



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