After receiving some fire for publishing only one side of the issue (in relation to transferring out of the Engineering Science program), the Cannon had decided to publish another article vis-à-vis the same topic, only this time from the other side of the picket fence.
Below is a transcript of an interview conducted via email of a student who has chosen to stay in the Engineering Science program and is now currently in his third year. Note that some of these questions are a repeat of similar questions from articles which were published beforehand, with minor adjustments.
At the request of the interviewee, the student’s name will remain anonymous.
Why did you choose Engineering Science?
I was a very indecisive person in high school, and I only knew that I liked math/science subjects at the time. I was intrigued by the variety of options that would be available to me after my second year and also appreciated the extra year that I could use to choose the major most suitable for me. I was also attracted to the two foundation years, since I enjoyed learning about science but at the same time wanted a grounded education in engineering.
My dream was to become a master of a large set of related skills in a professional and advanced scientific field. My aspiration was to have a research position in the physical sciences at the forefront of human knowledge that would be applicable to the real world.
What were your initial feelings in the Engineering Science program?
I felt very overwhelmed at first since there were so many keen students around me who were eager to make a strong start in their academic careers. I was pleased to see that most of the professors were reasonably friendly to us, and I already started to love the material that I was being exposed to.
I hoped that I would be able to balance the incoming workload with a healthy lifestyle (physically, socially, and mentally). My fear was that I would fall behind and inevitably fail out of the program, forcing me to go into another engineering discipline and blocking me from reaching my desired option.
What were favourite and least favourite subjects in Engineering Science?
My favourite subjects were Classical Mechanics, Fundamentals of Electric Circuits, Waves and Modern Physics, and Electromagnetism. All of these subjects only contained topics that I really loved to learn about, and they all provided very good learning resources for me.
My least favourite subjects were Praxis I, Praxis II, Engineering, Society, and Critical Thinking, and Cell & Systems Biology. The first two subjects had a lot of potential because of the projects they pushed me to create, but I did not like how their outcomes were so dependent on the quality of the team that they chose for us (at least in my year) and also on the subjective judgement of the teaching assistant. The third subject often let class discussions become the dominating teaching method and I was often distracted by the sometimes irrelevant material of the textbook, leading to an unfocused learning experience. For the fourth subject, I simply prefer subjects that focus on understanding a few concepts and applying them rather than memorizing a large number of terms and processes with little conceptual understanding (at least this is how I perceived it).
Do you think you did your best?
According to my personal standards, I did my best. I worked diligently on all of my subjects while trying to get involved with extracurricular activities. Although during my first year I was not as committed to clubs as I would have hoped, I still felt satisfied since I personally found the workload to be very difficult to balance with other activities. Devoting most of my time to my schoolwork to develop strong study habits for the more important upper years and to avoid spreading myself thin ended up being the right choice for me.
I did not work to my full potential because I did not sleep enough everyday, but this was because I wanted to understand every subject thoroughly. I was content with the overall outcome because I felt like I had learned a lot at the end and performed decently well.
Do you think Engineering Science might break you someday? Do you think it’s making you stronger or weaker?
Engineering Science will never break me because of my stubborn perseverance. With all of the work and pressure it dumped on me during my time here so far, I have always found a way to get past it while still enjoying the content that I was learning. Especially after passing through the first two years without breaking, I doubt that there will be anything else that Engineering Science can throw at me to destroy my hopes and dreams.
I may have lost a few years of my life because of my lack of sleep, but I have grown stronger in my ability to analyze problems and work on multiple projects at the same time. Engineering Science taught me to never give up no matter how hard things may seem at the time.
What’s your overall feeling about Engineering Science?
I am impressed in how Engineering Science does its best to cram a huge amount of information into a very condensed form. However, I am also disappointed that none of the subjects were taught very much in depth. Of course this is understandable given the variety of topics being taught, but disappointing nonetheless for a student with a love of learning as many subjects as possible. It becomes easy to feel like a jack of all trades yet master of none by the end of two foundation years if you don’t focus on the subjects that you are passionate about (not like this is necessarily possible with the workload sometimes). I also felt like the program should have taught more practical engineering skills during the first year design courses instead of focusing so much only on the design process. Despite this, I am overall very content with the diversity of subjects that I was exposed to and so far had a great experience.
Any advice for future Engineering Science students?
My advice to future students would be to plan and develop a realistic schedule and good study habits for yourself during the first two weeks of school. It is during this period where the courses will not be too challenging, allowing you to get a feel for how you can manage your time wisely. Join whichever extracurricular club you want as soon as possible during this time and also think about how exactly you will balance this with the rest of your curriculum. Mastering your time early will decrease the chance of having to sacrifice your grades, your commitment to your extracurricular(s), and your precious sleep for the long months ahead. Overall though, never stress out too much and try to enjoy the ride.