International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Chemical Engineering V/S Students: the battle continues

By Hemanshi Galaiya
Hello once again,
If you frequent our blog and are a ‘fan’ of Chemical Engineering, you have just landed on the correct page. It’s Easter break and while some are busy celebrating a lot of students are busy stressing about their graduation or anxious about how to be productive this summer. Yet, here I am sitting in front of my computer sipping on some relaxing herbal tea and not biting my nails.

Now, I know you are reaching out to call 911 because you have never seen a meme that would show a non-stressed, non-caffeinated student but don’t worry I am doing just fine!
The holidays are soon coming to an end; which means everyone will be stressing about exams, job and internship applications and trying to get that 100-hours coursework done in a night. Yet, I feel relaxed, relieved and refreshed to tackle all of the above.
Again, I assure you there is no need to ring 911. 
Yes, I know you are skeptical about how ‘fine’ I am but what I am about to tell you might give you the much needed reassurance. My spring semester so far has been full of activities, studying and stressing. However, while I approach the end of this seemingly long time, I am sure that a lot of good has come out of it:

  1. Design Week 2017
If you have ever spoken to an engineering student at UOS they definitely have had to mention the Global Engineering Challenge (GEC) or the Engineering! You’re Hired (EYH); and while both these weeks are really fun and excited Chemical Engineers don’t seem to have enough of them. Hence, our department does its own version of the challenge right before Easter break for both 1st and 2nd year students. While GEC and EYH teach you the soft skills of teamwork, research skills and solving real life problems, design week sheds light on the application of core knowledge, analytical and critical thinking and project management.
Throughout design week each team works to solve a very realistic chemical engineering related problem. The teams have to make use of a variety of different modules and concepts already learnt as well as computer software and known literature. This hands down approach helps everyone not only see how classroom knowledge can be applied but is by far one of the best ways of making students revisit a variety of concepts and theories in preparation for exams.

 2. Networking sessions
The Chemical Engineering department organizes a number of networking sessions throughout the year; some of these include calling upon alumni to share their advice. One of the few sessions that I attended this semester consisted of alumni from all ages and phases (yes, it is an engineering pun) of life.
I had the opportunity to interact with a diverse variety of individuals - from my current professor’s classmate back from 1970’s who showed everyone their class photos to a recent graduate who just started working at a company; from a Chemical Engineer who worked for Shell for over 30 years to a Chemical Engineer who is now working in law enforcement as a police officer.
All of them had invaluable knowledge and experiences to share. We discussed issues such as typical job roles, emerging market and the contribution of women in the uprising of engineering. At the end of the session, all the insights and advice kept me encouraged throughout the semester to continue working on those applications even when the psychometric tests and endless cover letters got me bummed up.

 3. Drop-In Sessions and increased tutorials
Like every typical student, I too leave a lot of my coursework for the last minute or sometimes I too need that extra help because I was unable to understand all the content and needed a different way of grasping it. To my benefit, I have had a ball of a time this semester as most of my lecturers acknowledged and acted upon this need. While some choose to reduce the amount of time they ‘blabbed’ on for and instead chose to spend some time on physically going through examples step by step during the lecture, others went ahead to give out worksheets and video tutorials.
Yet, for me the best move so far was having additional drop-in sessions. This semester, we were faced with using a variety of software to carry out a number of engineering related calculations. We all are aware of how most operations in today’s world are becoming highly computerized which means that coding has become as sacred as the concept of thermodynamics. It was a very useful way of ensuring that individuals who were comfortable with the software from the initial sessions would not need to spend additional hours of their busy time while those seeking more help had access to more resources, one on one time and practice which meant that no one would be struggling all by themselves at 2 in the night trying to work on ‘alien’ software.
So there it is guys, my top 3 reasons for being able to breathe a little better, laugh a little louder and sleep a little more this Easter break. However, before I go here is a bonus pro tip… if you are still struggling and yet want to do all the ‘chilling’ I am doing, just find a friend convince them to motivate you to get up and get going.

P.S. I get my flatmate to check up on my study progress every morning and every night. It always helps to put extra tabs on yourself.

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