Mechatronic Engineering - Marie


Marie

Hello newbies, I hope you’ve had a great start to university – surprise!!! It’s a lot more work than high school. As second­ years we can already see you’re starting to realise that when your professors say the Creo project will take 8000+ hours, it does not mean you can do it the weekend before it’s due (people have tried!).

I’m doing Mechatronics conjoint with Commerce, and so far I’ve loved it (best memory: the first few days of semester before the workload hit). Hopefully by reading these posts you’ll get a better idea of what Mechatronics is - still trying to work it out myself. Hopefully my employers will know by the time I graduate.

For those of you who have no idea - it’s essentially a combination of Mechanical, Electronics and Software engineering. Personally, the reason I chose Mechatronics is because I want to work in robotics. Also for conjoint students like me – I’ve noticed mainly commerce conjoints, but some with a death wish are taking a law and engineering conjoints apparently - Mechatronics is a lot more flexible than say, Civil.

A bit about me; I’m French (je ne sais pas quoi écrire); always last-minute (I’m so sorry to anyone who has ever known me); and because I hate sleep and free time, I sign up for everything.

Good luck for assignments/tests/exams, and thanks for reading!   

 

Goodbye


You’ve done it, congratulations!!!! You’ve made it through first year engineering, now it’s time for you to get to the real work. I’m only half-kidding, but instead of scaring you by talking about how the leap from first year to second year will feel like trying to step up onto a skyscraper, let’s talk about knowledge.

As you get into second year, and especially by the end of it, you start to realise the reality of employment. As everyone rushes to find an internship (quick warning some internships close very early on - think May), you realise that once you graduate you’re going to be doing this stuff 9 to 5, five days a week. And some jobs aren’t exactly the most satisfying you could be doing over summer.

The fact is that though you’ll definitely complete your work hours if you put in the minimum effort required, if you want to have an open career choice, it’s not enough to put in the minimum anymore. From second year onwards your GPA is counted towards your final year honours - and as a wise-ish man said to me, a degree will get you the job, but a 7.0 will get you options.

The most important thing when we’ll be working as engineers for the rest of our lives, is job satisfaction. Lacking in knowledge, having bad time management, and a lack of experience will make it less likely you’ll get the job of your dreams. But on the other hand, if you start practicing good habits now, by the time you graduate you’ll have the world at your fingertips.

Which is why my final piece of advice is study to learn, not to pass. The knowledge your professors are teaching you now (even if it is incredibly boring and you’d like to be anywhere but learning about coordinate systems - sorry Professor), is the basics of what you need to be a great engineer. This is the knowledge you’ll use to come up with great ideas for your fourth year projects, and eventually your future careers. It’s not enough anymore to cram in the information a couple of days before the exam (been there done that); you’re only letting yourself down at this point.

So please (telling myself this as well not going to lie), put in those few hours each day to really absorb the information you’re receiving. Take the opportunities to talk to your professors, and discover what your passions are.

And most importantly, DON’T leave finding an internship til November. Unless you like working at Bunnings. In which case go for it.

Have a great summer everyone, and good luck for your second year. I know you’ll all do great.

- Marie

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End of a Journey


I’m calling this final blog post the end of a journey because it certainly feels that way. With the leap from first year to second year being so high, we’ve been challenged continuously throughout the year. With the end in sight as our final exams draw closer, it’s starting to feel like we’re reaching the top of a mountain (at least until we enrol for next year and realise Part II was like Ruapehu compared to Everest).

Recap of Semester Two:

We’ve been through a lot of highs and lows this semester. The lowest point probably being the hell week before break where we had 3 tests, and around 4 assignments due all in the one week. Apparently our lecturers are preparing us for a real work environment – something to look forward to once we graduate.

The courses we took this semester were:

1.   Mecheng222; Dynamics. Easily the hardest course this semester, and definitely not a course you can slack off in. Think the dynamics portion of Enggen121 but a lot harder. Things to look forward to; the clan war put on by our lecturers, where students compete to complete assignments and win points for their clan each week.   

2.   Mecheng211; Thermofluids. This course surprises you, and not in a good way. The first few weeks are great. The content is interesting and easy enough, until you study for the first test and realise how much more you were meant to practice on your own. Things to look forward to; just take comfort in the fact that none of your lecturers will be as bad as those in Compsys.

3.   Enggen204; managing design and communication. This is where you remember how much you loved English in high school. Things to look forward to; learning how to use Word and Excel, nearly no lectures, a group project on greenhouse gas emissions, poster design where you find yourself reverting back to Year 8 graphics, and an oral presentation. An interesting part of this course is ethics in engineering, especially watching students debating with our lecturer’s sense of realism.

4.   Mecheng270; this is the course which differentiates Mechanical from Mechatronics, software! Look forward to the lecturer Nasser, who tries his hardest to make the course interesting and includes karaoke as punishment. There is no exam for this course, only three assignments and two tests, where we build on our knowledge from 131.

The Summer:

Time to talk about work hours; as you all know you need to complete 800 work hours by the end of your degree to graduate. If you only plan on working at the end of your second and third years, it means 3 months of full time work. Holiday what holiday. I would recommend trying to get some work hours in at the end of first year, just to make it easier on yourself later. Internships usually begin at the end of November and go all the way through to right before semester starts again.

The important thing to note here is APPLY FOR INTERNSHIPS EARLY. Some internships close as early as March or April, for example BECA and Cubic Defence. I was under the impression for the entire year that most internship applications open in August, but actually internships are open throughout the year depending on the company.   

The industry:

Just a final note on the reputation of Mechatronics as an industry. You’ll often hear from others, especially in New Zealand, that getting a Mechatronics degree is like getting two half degrees. Essentially that you don’t have enough knowledge from either discipline to be useful in the workforce.

However with advances in smart technology mechatronics is quickly reviving itself; smart becomes smart when mechanical, computer, electronic, and software engineering combines to create a smart product, rather than a sum of it’s parts. According to EY integrating the work of engineers facilitates technological innovation; our work maximises throughput, reduces lead time, eliminates set up time, enables addition of features, and enhances productivity.

This increasing relevance means we can work in a number of industries, including aerospace (think Rocketlab), automotive (Formula 1), health care (Fisher and Paykel), robotics (anything from artificial intelligence to mechanical arms), and a range of others such as manufacturing and mining. Using robots to increase the effectiveness of routine tasks is something most manufacturers use as everything becomes more automated.

I think it’s important to understand that though we focus on more disciplines, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other engineering graduates come out more qualified to work. From speaking with employers almost everyone comes out and has to start from zero, there’s just no way that a four year degree can teach you all you need to know for your future job. So what I’m saying is, mechatronics can widen your options, especially as the field becomes more recognised.

So that’s it for this post! I hope you’ve learnt something, but don’t take it too seriously. As you choose your specialisation do your own research, and make the right choice for you.

Good luck!

-Marie  

 

 

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Some Advice from Mechatronics Survivors


Hi everyone, I hope your first semester went well! For those of you who didn’t do so well; if your motivation to do engineering has taken a downturn, just remember engineering is worth it. You can always recover from mistakes, and there are people here to help. For those of you who did well; I’m proud of you, keep it up.

Ok enough mothering, I’m sure everyone’s doing great. I’ll tell you a bit about the courses I’ve been taking this semester – and then some advice I’ve collected from some older Part III and IV students.

I’ve found that the main difference between Sem One and Two, is that the courses are more diverse (and for me more interesting). We have a thermofluids, software design, and a dynamics course. We also have an engineering communications course but does that count? (kidding Professor McCarthy).

Since I’m only a year older than most of you, I’ve collected some advice from older students about surviving engineering:

  • An overall comment; for those doing Mechatronics to get into robotics or another specific industry – please just bear with second year. The courses are almost entirely mechanical, but I’ve been told that in later years you can specialize with electives.
  • You will graduate as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The advantages of mechatronics are variety and options, but the disadvantages are that though you do get a base knowledge on a variety of topics, you don’t tend to learn enough to master any single topic. This just means you’ll have to work harder to specialise in a specific area of mechatronics.
  • Don’t be a hermit. No matter how good your grades are, it’s the extra-curricular that will give you the extra advantages. It’s not just about having a good CV, it’s about what you learn. Employers want to know you can work in a team, that you can communicate (204 is not so useless after all), and also, have fun! Clubs and sports are not only good for your sanity and well-being, but also teach you essential life lessons.
  • Try to turn your procrastination productive! Still struggling on that one myself – but try!
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously – but take your studies seriously.
  •  Nobody cares what you’re doing – do what makes you happy.
  • Get drunk!!! By that he meant get the crazy out of your system earlier rather than later. Try new things and go out of your comfort zone while you still have time in first year.
  • Join everything – try everything once in first year when you have the time. Committees are looking for younger people who will carry on the tradition, so definitely don’t feel inexperienced. You’ll learn on the go.
  • Just a random list of what you can join in engineering; WEN, Robogals, Engineering Revue, IEEE, Robot Soccer, FSAE, Robotics Club, the Space Programme, and many others. Check them out by looking them up on facebook or on the clubs list on the website.

That’s all from me for now – if you have any questions feel free to message me. Have a great semester, and good luck choosing your specialization!!

- Marie

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One


Hey guys, hope everyone’s been having a great first semester. I know exams are hitting hard but I believe in you; keep aiming for that A+. For this post I thought I’d just give you some general information with a bit of a review on Semester One courses. But first:

 

WHY I CHOSE MECHATRONICS:

Personally, I chose Mechatronics because it keeps my options open, and can lead me into robotics. As it’s basically a mashup of specialisations; there’s a more diverse range of elective papers to choose from once we get to Part III and Part IV, and the work hour requirements are much broader. If you have time, look at a planner to see what’s on offer. It was also more flexible from a conjoint standpoint; I could take Commerce papers while other specialisations (ie civil) had five set papers per semester, no exceptions.

Play to your strengths and choose the specialisation you’ll enjoy, engineering is only going to get harder. Remember that though EngSci sounds prestigious because of the high GPA requirement and limited places, if you didn’t particularly enjoy EngSci111 then it’s probably not the best option for you.

 

THE COURSES:

DISCLAIMER: No we don’t go on a field trip like certain other specialisations. The class reps have asked, the answer is no. But apparently we go on a trip in third year when our cohorts separate.

By separating cohorts I mean that in Part II, Mechanical and Mechatronics students take nearly exactly the same papers. Apart from one electrical paper we’re all thrown together, especially EngSci211 which nearly all specialisations have to take.

A quick recount of what we’ve been doing for Mechatronics so far this semester;

  1. Mecheng235; we completed two design projects. The Warman design project (which some groups are now attempting to build and enter in the Australasian championship), and the Window Washer Project. Similar to 115 but harder.
  2. EngSci211; trying to understand LaPlace transformations, students attempting to shoot (with Nerf guns) Peter Bier on his unicycle, and jokes about bombing the 211 exam. Similar to 111 except a lot harder.
  3. Mecheng242; a surprise pop quiz, and realising that when lecturers love self-study it means a whole lot more self-delegated homework. Get the textbook for this course. Similar to 121 but much harder.
  4. Engineering Volleyball Tournament!! Also other Mechatronics students are also doing Electeng208, apparently harder than 101.

Thanks for reading, good luck for exams!

EXTRA 360 ABROAD NOTICE: Last piece of general advice, if any of you are planning on going on an exchange, it’s recommended for engineering to go in second semester of your second year, or first semester of your third year. This means if you want to go second year you have to apply by 1 JULY of this year. Good luck!

-Marie