Sunday, 23 December 2012

Challenges faced as an Engineer or Engineering Student Response

So the last couple of weeks I asked about some of the challenges people faced as an engineer or engineering student? I also asked how did they overcome and get through these challenges? Here are some of the responses from the people who follow this blog and the facebook page.

Getting thru Purdue's most dreaded weedout sophomore courses, ME 200 (Thermo I) and EE 201 (Linear Circuits I).......amazingly both with A's! I was just darn lucky with Thermo due to the fact that I had a very articulate, younger post-doc instructor who was very adept at combining both technical and lay speak during lectures. Otherwise, the biggest challenge is balancing perseverance with the extracirriculars.....and trying not to let the epicurean 4.0 Liberal Arts wussies bother yah as much. Tom Engelsman
Had to talk to a woman once........still recovering. Clay Feldner
I sat in class, consumed copious amounts of caffeine and payed as much attention to my professors as I possibly could. Knowing that I wasn't the only person who wanted to make it through our courses I took the time to reteach the subject matter and go through examples with my other classmates. In my program we have our own Facebook page ironically, even while I'm at work, I walk around my McDonald's with my calculous textbook and fluids work book working through examples and Sharing thought processes on every second of down time I have. Sleep deprivation this semester is really brutal and I can't wait for the end of this week. It's disappointing knowing that a lot of my friends aren't going to make it to next semester. Andrew Lukachko
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Lack of sleep!? Seriously though, i have a hard time with group work - mostly because someone in my groups always has " something come up" thats more important or uses their backyard experience instead of using engineering practices.... Waste of the rest of our times...Michelle Gesh
I am a mechanical engineering student at a maritime school. On top of the mechanical course load we take requiring courses to sit for the coast guard engine license to operate shipboard plants. The course load is typically 21+ credits per term, and the summers are spent at sea operating a training ship or doing an internship at sea. The hardest thing is just keeping up. Seth Kaye
Trying to comprehend the subject while trying to understand the extremely THICK accent of the professor. it's quite a torture. Cory Chorne Over coming self doubts wondering if I was smart enough. I had a very challenging professor for Calculus 291 - Multivariable Calculus. Our professor required an essay with each homework problem and every test question. After the first exam and 80 percent of the class bombing it, there was a near riot the next class with students complaining his course was too hard. He calmly rolled up his sleeve and showed the class the identification number tattoo the Germans gave him during World War Ii. The only thing he said to the class was "You don't know what hard is". The class sat in stunned silence with most dropping the class shortly thereafter. Thank you Professor Fred Haring for putting things into proper perspective for me. After that life lesson, engineering seemed pretty easy. Hugues Dorzeus
Hard classes with no available outside help, classmates who give up and drop out every semester, teachers with thick accents, peers who don't understand what your major is like, having to balance study, work, and sanity, and still trying to live life as a normal teenage girl. Alexandra Hope Murray
During my sophomore year, I thought I was gonna fail my last quarter of engineering physics. My grade without the final exam was a D+. I think my problem was I was so shy to ask my instructor for help. So a few days before our final exam, I finally decided to go to my instructor and ask for help. He explained everything to me and I finally understand it! When I took my final exam, I felt that I did pretty good. I never find out what my final exam score was, but I got a B- for my engineering physics 3. Julius Ceasar Arevalo
For most of the engineering subjects its visualizable so it was easier, but EE was tough. You need to stop over thinking and use pure logic for the most part. Best way I can tell you how to overcome, don't memorize, try to understand how things come to be, especially formulae, the derivation is so important to understand. Laurie Bynum Caffeine.... And lots of micro-meltdowns that are overcome by an all-encompassing sense of accomplishment when I see my GPA. The struggle makes victory that much sweeter. Ian Goh
Lack of females in my classes. No getting through that....literally. Kevin Burke

Yep Engineering can be tough, but one should never give up because of that reason! There will be good and bad times, but in the end it will be worth it!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Difficult and Challenging Engineering Courses

Have you ever taken a course in engineering that you just could not understand? A course you barely passed and you still didn't know what was going? I have had that problem before. I passed the course thanks to scaling and projects!

How I Feel about These Engineering Courses

The course I had trouble with was Control System Design, under electrical engineering. It was taken in my final year and I thought I would like the course. I thought it would be very useful for when I graduated and started working in the industry. I took a course before it called systems and control. It involved a lot of math (laplace transform), state-space analysis, root-locus method, frequency domain analysis etc etc. That course was fairly easy ( I believe my professor was pretty 'chill'). So I was like okay I did fairly good in this course so why not take Control System Design in my final year! Bad idea!

At the start of this course I was doing alright. We were learning about PID control, PID tuning, and pole placements. That wasn't too bad,but then we moved into more advance topics and I just started getting lost.

We then started talking about the fundamental limitations of control design, control architecture, MIMO analysis, decentralized control, and decoupling control. I was so lost in the course. I think the professor was not teaching it properly or I just couldn't grasp the concepts. The text book we were using didn't help either. The textbook was called Control System Design by Graham C. Goodwin (Author), Stefan F. Graebe (Author), Mario E. Salgado (Author). I tried reading the chapters over and over trying get a better understanding of the material.

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I found out I wasn't the only one who was finding it hard to learn the course material. A lot of my other classmates were having trouble as well. I think another problem that made it hard for us was there were no assignments. There were only 3 midterms (worth 25% each) and a final project (25%). There was no final. However, he did give us 1-3 past midterms for each midterm we had. He also allowed a single sided cheat sheet for the midterms. Those cheat sheets did not help at all. You really had to fully understand the course material if you wanted to do well.

Anyways, have you been in a similar situation? Is there an engineering course you took that you thought would be useful, but ended up not being useful and very challenging? Is there a course you passed with flying colours, but you still don't understand the material? If you answered any of these questions or want to share your experiences, feel free to leave a comment!

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Friday, 14 December 2012're studying what?

This is a guest blog post by Niko Temofeew. He is currently a Sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at Saint Louis University. This is what he had to say about people reacting to what he majored in and why he chose to go into engineering.

It was the summer before I started college. I was working two jobs to save money and to get some experience. I worked at a pediatrician's office as a medical assistant. For the longest time I wanted to be a doctor like my dad. After working in the office though, I realized the office setting was a little too slow for me. I needed something that fascinated me more. It was a month before school started that I ran into Biomedical Engineering and what it was all about (little did I know there was much more to it).

Fast forward to move-in day. All kinds of name-games and ice-breakers to get everyone on your floor to be social and talk to each other. Of course, like any college ice-breaker, whoever was running the show would say something like, "Okay we are going to start with your name, where you're from, your major, and something unique about yourself!" Someone started and the information flowed. "Hi my name is Jim, I'm from Boston, Massachusetts, I am majoring in Accounting and…what was the last one? Oh yea, and I was a stunt double in a Hollywood movie when I was 15." People continued to announce their names and other information with some cracking jokes while others were quite and nervous.

Finally it was my turn. I recited my name, hometown, major, and "unique fact." However, to my surprise it was my major that riled up a response. I received a few odd looks and even an "Oh wow…" I wasn't quite sure how to take this so I ignored it. But it continued to happen whenever people heard of my major. They said it was "the hardest major on campus." As I soon came to realize, it was pretty tough. After two semesters we lost 20% of our original class of 60.

Though I didn't understand before hand, I now understand that engineering of any kind is difficult and is definitely not for everyone. But I chose it for a reason and I'm sticking to it. I've made it this far (about to finish my third semester) and don't plan on looking back. So bring on the math, physics, engineering, and biology because its what I am interested in. If engineering is what you're interested in, don't let predispositions scare you away because you may regret it.

If you want to be a guest blogger like Niko Temofeew just message me on the facebook page for details

Friday, 7 December 2012


In first year I bought almost all my textbooks.

In second year I bought maybe a quarter of my textbooks.

In third and fourth year I bought one textbook.

I noticed as I went through my engineering degree I never really used my textbook at all. Most of the information I needed I could find online or I could just find a digital copy of the textbook online. I also found reading the textbook was not helpful in preparing me for exams. I found that doing more practice problems was what benefited me the most in succeeding in my midterms and finals.

One thing I thought that was pretty ridiculous was the price of the textbook! Some of the text books the professors wanted us to buy could range either from $80 to $300. I remember buying a textbook in second year that was worth close to $200 I believe. It was a microelectronics by Sedra Smith. I did not use that textbook at all. However, there are times when I did use the textbooks quite often.

In fourth year I bought a textbook for my Semiconductors course. I found this course really interesting and I usually don't enjoy reading things off a computer. So I ended up buying it ($80 I think). I didn't read the textbook as often as I would have liked, but when it came to exam time and midterms I would read the textbook like crazy!

I love how one or two hours before the final exam people read their textbook for the first time and try to learn 100's of pages worth of information. I wonder how much information they actually retain haha.

Another thing I hated was authors who changed the edition of their textbooks. I'm pretty sure they just used a random number generator to randomize their textbook questions and maybe added one or two pages to their textbook to change the page numbers. I'm glad some of my professors said it was okay to use old textbooks. If you plan on buying textbooks try to buy used ones!

Here's a question for the readers. Do you buy your textbooks? Or do you usually find a digital copy or find the information you need online? Also what was the most expensive textbook you have bought?

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