Journal #6423

Posted 10 years ago2010-03-01 12:22:13 UTC

I had my first day of Uni today. I'm studying Civil Engineering, and am already starting to stress.

My maths subject sounds impossibly difficult, and the many assignments for my other subjects will take alot of time and higher order thinking - things not required in high school.

Oral presentations are going to be prevalent - one of my weak points is public speaking, so now I'm stressing even more.

People keep mentioning MatLab, SolidWorks and PebblePad, is anyone familiar with those particular programs?

I found myself falling asleep in my 2 hour long Engineering Materials lecture, as the chemistry he was explaining turned into crazy theorems and concepts which completely lost me.

My subjects include: Mathematical Methods for Engineers 1, Sustainable Engineering Practice, Engineering Materials and Computer Techniques.

Tomorrow I'm off to get my textbooks, configure my laptop to work with the university's wireless network, and spend 3 straight hours in maths lectures and practicals. Oh joy.

Well there you have it, folks! What do you guys have to say. Anyone else completed/completing/wanting to complete an Engineering Degree? Anyone in the same or similar situation as me, or have been? Anyone got any advice?


Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 12:30:26 UTC Comment #63433
I'm doing an Aeronautical Engineering degree. I'm halfway through the first year. And I'm pretty experienced in SolidWorks, I had to use it a lot for Technical Graphics in secondary school. Although I haven't used it since then, so I;m a tad rusty.
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 14:30:13 UTC Comment #63430
Wow, sounds pretty full-on.
I'm sure you'll soar through it, though. Good luck.
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 16:31:01 UTC Comment #63432
I did a little bit of Matlab for uni - it's a huge program with tons of shit in it. Complex as hell, but some functions are easier to use than others. It implements it's own scripting language so you might need to brush up on your programming skills unless you are just sticking to basic functionality.
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 16:34:06 UTC Comment #63435
I'm glad to see another engineer, or two for that matter. I am currently in my fourth year, last semester in completion of my Mechancial & Aerospace Engineering degree, and to be honest it is a little bittersweet. On one hand I'm happy that I don't have to derive shit that was derived 200-300 years ago, yet on the other I quite enjoyed the experience. I am sure you will too.

However, I have to stress to you how important your first two years are. Do not slack off in understanding your base Calculus, as you will see it again and again, and yet again. A running joke that my friends and I have is that with the amount of Calculus, Physics, and Economics courses we have to take we could easily earn a Quadruple degree if we stay for 6 years instead of 4. Every course you take, you will find, will have some bearing on your future courses. The same math that you derive in Calculus will rear its ugly head in your higher level Engineering courses. The same goes for your Engineering Materials course.

As for the oral presentations, don't worry too much about that. Your professors/TAs know that not everyone is a great orator (I guarentee you some of your professors are terrible at it as well). If you know your stuff it should be relatively easy to explain it, so you'll be fine.

MATLAB is amazing. It is a technical computing environment that is extremely fast, and can do everything from Calculus to controlling and running of experiments including data acquisition, as well as simulations of physical systems (electrical and physical). If you get a chance to learn how to program/script for it, make sure you don't forget any of it. It will come in handy for your Laboratories when you get 20 different data sets that consist of 10,000 data points each (Try putting that in an Excel spreadsheet and watch it choke on itself). If you ever get stuck with something in MATLAB, or want to do something but think its not possible, just Google it with "MATLAB" in the search field as well. Chances are, it has been done before, or at least can be done.

SolidWorks is a 3-D Computer Aided Design (CAD) environment that allows for the modeling of individual parts, integrated systems, and the physical simulation of those systems. Depending on the particular license your school has it is also capable of a decent FEM analysis. Overall it is okay, however its a little cartoony for my tastes and it wastes a shit-ton of resources (It has advanced shaders running throughout the entire design of a part, even while sketching). However, it is pretty easy to use and gives you a nice looking finished product. Although you probably don't have a choice in the matter, when it comes to being able to do things the way you want it done, I would recommend Pro/E.

Other than that you're in for a real treat, at least when you get to your upper level Engineering courses and start to see some of the real cool shit. Good luck, don't slack off (unless you're 100% sure you can do it and get away with it :P).
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 17:47:52 UTC Comment #63434
You'll be fine. Good luck.
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 17:58:07 UTC Comment #63436
I'm once again so happy I chose Architecture over Civil Engineering and Electronics Engineering.

Don't panic over speaking in public. You'll find it's less bad than it looks. I had to do 3 or 4 presentations throughout my 4th year - I absolutely hate speaking in public - and while the first time wasn't particularly good, I learned from others' mistakes as well so my own presentations were improving over time.

As for the rest... well, I can't say much, I chose a wussier career :P

Have fun!
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-01 19:58:51 UTC Comment #63437
Thanks for the nice comments, kind welcome and helpful advice guys!

I'm studying at the University of South Australia by the way.

I received an email recently about holiday schools which "add value to your degree." There was an architecture one and some business ones. Would they be worth doing?
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-02 10:30:01 UTC Comment #63428
I just started my second year of Civil Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing last year and my lowest mark was 81%. Uni is actually quite easy, even the engineering maths. I skipped a good 70% of those lectures and ended up with a 95 last semester...

Uni is good fun, aside from shit lectures and early mornings and train trips and all that junk. Make some friends, and you'll have an absolute ball.

Good luck with it all, we might work together one day. \o/
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-02 12:56:02 UTC Comment #63429
"one of my weak points is public speaking, so now I'm stressing even more."

It's easy if you have a paper to read off in front of you and it really helps to chuck in a joke if possible. For example I was explaining my horror game dissertation thesis and I explained my reasons for choosing a certain heart rate monitor. I talked about its strengths etc and said

"lastly it is waterproof to protect it from all the sweaty people when they get scared" laughs

And just enjoy uni. My first day was scary as it had been over 8 years since I went to a different education location but once you meet the people around you you'll be fine. I've made some good friends over the 2 and a half years and you should too.
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-03 00:08:35 UTC Comment #63431
Shepard, just do the homework, and you'll be fine. Even if the homework is not mandatory, just do it. If you're having trouble with anything, talk to your professors. Let them know who you are, and let them know that you're making an honest effort. If they see that, they're more likely to give you a grade boost if you need it.
Im sure your uni has an academic support center, and get to know the people sitting around you. Studying / doing homework in groups is what's getting me through my years right now.

I started school as a Mechanical Engineer. I knew how to use Solidworks because i did part-specs and prototyping for my high-school robotics program, and it's REALLY EASY to learn. If you can hammer, you can do solidworks.
MATLAB, as mentioned before, is an amazing piece of software, but learning the programming for it is a severe pain in the ass. (at least my experience was) Nef is correct, just google it and you can get help.
As for calculus, go to for some really well-taught video tutorials.

In my case, i'm an Electronic engineer. So i get to deal with electronic simulation software, and programming microchips.
I never dreamed i would like the stuff i was learning.

Anyway good luck!
Commented 10 years ago2010-03-03 11:40:10 UTC Comment #63438
Thanks so much for the replies guys, I love the friendly and intelligent community here. It's why I keep coming back. All the advice and points of view are greatly appreciated, and I wish you all good luck with whatever study or pathway you have taken.

EDIT: Oh and by the way, you can call me Alex if it's easier.

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