So you’re studying mechanical engineering… here’s some tips!

Published by Carter
on 20/05/2020

Hello! After summer, I am looking forward to starting my final year of my mechanical engineering! The beginning of the end – ooohhh. In this blog post, I will reflect on my time studying for the past 3 years and give you some tips and must have items!

Firstly, some items which I think most people will have already, but that I have found oddly useful over my three years.

Pencil and Ruler
Yes, a lot of lecture notes are digitised and you may spend a lot of time looking at screens. However, there are a lot of tutorials which are a lot easier to be handwritten. A pencil and ruler will make your life so much easier: drawing large diagrams, annotating graphs and making ephemeral calculations which can be erased from your margins easily.

If you are running CAD software on your laptop, you really don’t want to be using a trackpad. It is a lot more convenient to have a mouse for accurate clicking and ease of drawing. In a more general sense also, I have found using a mouse to be really beneficial for productivity. It is also great for when you’re using your laptop as a TV and you don’t want to stand up.

Long pants and closed shoes
This was a particular killer when I was in Singapore – I would rock up to labs in linen shorts and Birkenstocks and be faced with a very disgruntled lab technician. You would have thought I would have learnt after 3 years! Whenever you’re in the laboratory, you are required to wear long trousers and covered shoes to ensure the safety of you and others.

Here are some of my tips if you are starting your studies in mechanical engineering (ME)

Complete all tutorial questions
This is very key for any degree programme, but from my experience with ME is that the tutorials really encourage a deeper level of understanding. I think I may have learnt more from tutorial questions than lectures but that’s a personal thing. To add, the final exam will become a breeze if you are very familiar with the format of questions.

Join a ME society
One regret of mine is not getting involved with a mechanical engineering society (more details can be found online). Not only are they a great way to be more involved with your course, but you can also meet older students who can act as mentors as they guide you through your university life. I have heard from peers who have joined: the first year you join, you may not be too involved as your knowledge base is rather limited. But as your skillset expands, getting more involved is very rewarding.

Draw a big diagram
As I mentioned earlier, using a pencil and drawing a big diagram is something that I have learnt is key. This may seem like common sense, but for me it really doesn’t come naturally. The action of drawing out the question really helps me visualise what is going on and what needs to be found. It makes it clearer to process what you are working through, as well as explain your working to another person if you’re helping them / being helped.

You don’t have to download all of the software
There are lots of programs and software which are used throughout the course. Some are used extensively throughout the course of your degree, some are only used for a couple of weeks. In my opinion, although you have access to download all of the software: don’t – it will just only take up unnecessary space on your harddrive. You will have access to the powerful campus PC’s which can operate everything you need. My recommendation is that if you’re able to, download: Microsoft Office, MatLab, Solidworks.

Work Smarter not harder
This applies to all degrees, but I found it very easy to slip into a habit of working long hours, and not really achieving anything. It is important to find a way to study smarter so that everything you do benefits your learning. For me, it is a lot more beneficial to spend 1 hour looking through tutorial questions and answers than spending that same hour copying out lecture notes word-for-word. I like to spend around 20 minutes reading the lecture slides and ensuring that I understand the content, and then dive right into questions. It is important you find what works for you!

I hope you found my tips interesting! If there are any tips you have to share, or disagree with me please let me know on my instagram @_carter.jpg

Till next time, stay healthy!