Prior to starting my first year in University my aim was to contact many people in order to get an idea of what to expect. Granted I received a lot of great information there truly was no words to describe the experience.
The hardest part of University was merely adjusting to a different style of teaching and classroom interaction. Having spent four years in high school, it was very different to be in a lecture class of hundreds where very few questions could be asked throughout. Nonetheless as the year went on I was able to get comfortable with the style of teaching and adapt. A characteristic that I found mandatory for success in University is that you had to take initiative for your learning. In Engineering at Queen’s, in the classes the professors motivate a concept then proceed right away to the problem solving applications. However, granted this suffices to give the basis of the concept a lot of time it requires further research in order to get a deeper understanding of the applications.
Computer skills for research and analysis are vital. Granted many students have the basic research skills for acquiring materials on the web; throughout the year I learned skills on how to acquire specific documents in specific formats for citations and projects. We focused a lot on programming which I found really great. Having had previous introduction to programming in High School it was a familiar subject, nonetheless the new applications for which I used programing was to program robots, code algorithms in order to solve problems both mechanical and computational such as: being able to walk around a maze while interacting with objects in its path, or compute matrix multiplication, integration, and roots of polynomials.
In addition, one very different course offered at Queen’s that I really enjoyed is called Engineering Practice which is split into three sub courses. This course helped me learn how to model a system when problem solving, something that all engineers must do at some point in time. We had to write a report for a town looking to implement renewable wind turbines upon which we had to program a simulation for the optimum turbine design accounting for climate, wind speed and environmental and social effects. Yet, despite these projects my favorite was the project my group completed during the second semester. We had an actual paraplegic client who was having trouble to access the bags that she carries on the back of her wheelchair on her day to day commuting. Thus we were in charge of finding a solution that would prevent the strains of constantly turning her shoulders to get the bags. Surprisingly, there were no previous designs that addressed that particular problem; one t hat I felt was a definite necessity. So our group came up with a design, as can be seen in the picture attached, for which we built a working prototype for the client that was mounted onto her wheelchair. At the end of the project we had to showcase our solution in front of a panel of established engineers and listen to the criticisms. Having analyzed our research, calculations and the final product they were very pleased, and the client was ecstatic. I was overjoyed because I had applied many of the things I learned in many different classes in order to help solve a problem and help someone in the process.
Suffice to say that this year has been nothing but a collection of new experiences. Nearing the completion of my first year in University already requires that a house is rented for the upcoming something that is definitely a new experience for me. Nonetheless, I remain grateful for such an experience and as I enter the summer I am both humbled and hungry for knowledge, in order to attain the level of performance to which I am familiar with and helped established me as a Schulich Leader Scholar.