Mechanical Engineering (Co-op) at University of Guelph
Daniel Davis (Year 2)
What did you wish you knew before going to your university? What made you choose this institution over all others? What are advantages and disadvantages of your institution or campus? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your university.
Being in Guelph already, I was very comfortable with the campus and getting around the city in general. It also helped being close to campus as commuting was convenient and cut down on living expenses. The Guelph campus also is beautiful in the fall and winter semesters with many events and live performances that keep your spirits high. One of the biggest advantages would have to be the friendliness of everyone on campus, as the majority of people are willing to help if you happen to need it. One of the disadvantages is the relative size compared with neighboring universities, where those larger institutions get much more resources (i.e. larger libraries, more labs, etc.). Though the most important advice I can give for Guelph is make friends in your program and study together, this can help a lot because bouncing ideas off of those who do similar classes to your own will benefit your learning.
What did you wish you knew before choosing your specific program? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your program? List any advice for incoming first-year students about your program of study.
My biggest mistake during first year was not making any connections outside of class. I had been an avid extrovert during high school and I enjoyed taking classes with friends, but in university you do not have the opportunity to go off and do questions in groups while in a lecture. What could have prevented this was pushing my pride to the side and introducing myself to more people during lectures and asking if they wanted to go over the material afterwards. It's a daunting task, but well worth it. As well, going to programs like SLG's (student lead groups) where you can have that student helping student experience is extremely valuable and I recommend it to anyone taking courses with SLG's. Some advantages of early years of engineering in particular is how similar everyone's courses are, so you have a much larger cohort to work with, and by acting as a unit you can help each other succeed. As each individual separates and goes their own way, they will have the skills needed that were developed in the safety of the group to go and fend for themselves.
IN REGARDS TO ONLINE SCHOOLING:
This is where things can get difficult as it is obviously more difficult to make connections over a video call, but there are many chats on facebook and in tern messenger that can be found, and often there are whole engineering group chats with upper years to guide as well as many first years to hash out everyone's problems. There are also orientation week activities that are being held to help students make connections as well so you are not all alone.
What was your favourite university experience?
I think one of the best times was going from something like the high pressure environment of a midterm or an exam, and everyone walking over to the various residences (mostly south) and partying it up. On a day to day basis though, being in the library and having friends stop by and pull up a seat to study is extremely enjoyable as you can joke as well as get work done, making those stressful times more fun. As well, going through otherwise tedious practice questions becomes a social gathering and starts to be amusing
What was your least favourite university experience?
Anything involving the subjective nature of some TA's marking. Also the stress/anxiety of seeing how bad your mark can actually be as well as failing in general.
What is the hardest part about your program and what were the steps that you took to overcome any difficulties?
The hardest part of engineering is the constant pressure of midterms and exams as barely a week or week and a half into school you should already be thinking of midterms. And after that is over you should be thinking of exams. This cycle continues, and a rigorous cycle it is. The only way to survive this is to prepare for the storm, otherwise you will be burnt out. Time is of the essence so making good use of it is necessary, so making schedules or writing down goals is almost essential (I personally use a kanban board). The most important part of engineering is that you are studying at least once a day. I suggest studying 2-3 subjects a day and rotating what subjects based on which one needs more work. Dedicate proper, focused studying time to get through many practice questions to guarantee you are comfortable with the material. If you are not comfortable, go to a friend who you may believe could explain it. If they cannot help you can email the prof and they would be happy to help. As well, take time out of your day to make sure you are organized as a mismanagement of this can lead to headaches in the future. Organize yourself by keeping your notebooks and tests for each class in order so that come midterms or tests/quizzes, you are able to access past resources.
If you were able to take electives, what was your favourite elective? If you were not able to take electives, what was your favourite course and why?
ENGG 1100 was extremely enjoyable as the profs were fun to be around as well as the content was very helpful (solidworks, Auto-CAD, circuitry). Being able to actually build something that functions and completes a task was extremely rewarding.
IN REGARDS TO ONLINE SCHOOLING:
You won't be able to experience the building of robots but another course I enjoyed because of its content was HIST 1250.
Try your best to maintain co-op as keeping a 70 average is no easy feat. The best way to do this is to start strong and continue to be vigilant to the last exam. It's okay to fail, but learn why you failed and make sure to not repeat those same mistakes. First year is a huge learning experience in itself, so make sure you use your shortcomings to your advantage and tune your studying as a result of those hurdles. University is an independent venture so only you can know what works best for yourself.