When I entered university for the first time this semester...

Fall 2013

Liam Lawrence

Schulich Leader at McMaster University

When I entered university for the first time this semester, I wasn't entirely sure of what to expect from my chosen program, Engineering. Sure, I had spoken with an academic advisor during my grade 12 year, and I had done plenty of research online as to the discipline of engineering, but I felt like I still didn't have a solid grasp of what engineering really is; I only knew it had something to do with the application of science, and I thought I would enjoy applying the principles of science in a useful way.
As my first semester wraps up, I think I'm beginning to understand engineering. I've taken an introduction to engineering course, and I've been reading a few books on the subject. Engineering is the design of new, useful creations, and relates as much to art as it does to science. It is the bridge between theoretical research and the applications society needs. Engineering is the perfect discipline for anyone interested in helping our world grow, because engineering is, above all, a human endeavour which impacts every facet of our lives through the tools, devices, and structures we use.
I've had the opportunity to try my hand at design problems both through my introduction to engineering course, and through the McMaster Solar Car Team. A major component of the introduction to engineering course was a design challenge in which teams of four to six students worked together to design and build a device which would assist a real client with rheumatoid arthritis with her difficulties fuelling her car at the gas station. My team created several different designs to assist the client in lifting the trigger on the gas nozzle; we eventually chose one and used the McMaster machine shop to build a prototype ourselves. I also joined the McMaster Solar Car Team in the second half of the semester, and I've been working with upper-year students to design a safety feature for an electrical component of the car.
This first semester of university has been the most intense, challenging, and amazing time of my life so far. I've made interesting and passionate friends, and I'm learning so much every day. Though I was a little uncertain at the beginning of the semester, I know this now: I want to do engineering.