What has third year done for me?
So, third year. For those on the BEng it’s the final stretch, and for those of us on MEng, it’s a mighty hurdle to pass before the final year can commence. It definitely feels different – between my friends applying for actual jobs (which I get to postpone for another year) and the increased workload, it’s a whole new beast. In first year, I found merely attending lectures enough to get a pretty good feel for things – now, the need for self-study is much higher. In addition, I feel lecturers are far less forgiving when it comes to marking our coursework, and the time I’m putting into it has gone up accordingly. For those on a three-year course this is it, and I feel as if the past two years have laid the groundwork for this one; now we are learning Engineering proper.
A good chunk of my third year has been design-based. With the imaginatively-named modules ‘Steel Structures’ and ‘Concrete Structures,’ I’m slowly but surely building up my knowledge of structural engineering. There’s a good sense of progression through the year as we’ve moved from simple beams to designing flat slabs and concrete staircases, all the time with heavy reference to Eurocodes. These are design guidelines that provide a (relatively!) simple procedure to structural design, accounting for everything from your beam bending too much to how long it should last in a fire. If my lecturers are to be believed, the Eurocodes approach is heavily used in industry, supplemented by computer simulation which removes the need to actually sit down and calculate everything by hand – how the other half live! It’s nice to compare the rather basic statics we did in first year to this complex approach – I feel far more able to analyse real problems then I did at the start of the year. Parts of it will definitely need a good amount of revision before exams, but it feels as if I might actually have some use as a graduate now!
My coursemates doing the three-year Civil course currently have the joy of bringing this all together in their group design project, for which I’m reliably informed they’re designing a theatre. This is a uniquely Civil quirk – all other students (BEng and MEng) instead have the individual projects to contend with. I’m busy with my dissertation so there’s not a huge amount to give away – other than that both projects appear to be causing a similar amount of worry as deadlines approach! My original project plan, lovingly crafted at the start of first term, has somewhat fallen by the wayside and, in what I can only hope is not symbolic, all the pages have fallen out of my logbook. Luckily, my supervisor has been great in keeping me in the loop and getting me back on track, and the end is slowly approaching. I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to more – submitting it, or the lie-in the day after!
Until next time,