Mental shifts and Start of Semester Rush

Hi everyone!

Listen, I get it. There’s a lot of reading to do in this program. I’ll try to break things down into thematic sections below so you can get to what interests you the most.

My predecessors have written about their academic experiences and course details in past posts (see September 2016 here), so I thought I’d write about the extracurricular side of things. Most of these posts will focus on topics related to co-op, design teams, and exchange experiences.

A. Choosing a Design Team

September arrives a bit differently every year. In MECH2, you’re corralled on-campus a week before everyone else, giving you the opportunity to strut around like you own the place or grieve uncontrollably for the loss of lazy summer days. It’s also recruitment season for our design teams, of which there are many.

You’ll see various info sessions and application forms posted across social media. How does one possibly decide which team would be the right fit? What if you like rockets and submarines equally? Here are a few tips from my own experiences:

  1. While there are natural fits for students that are determined to get into one particular industry, for those that are unsure, find a team with projects that will best develop your engineering skills. I didn’t grow up as a hard-core gearhead for example, but I knew Formula did the kinds of analyses and design work that interested me and that made it easier to stay committed to their projects.
  2. Prioritize a team with a dynamic that matches your personality. Team and work dynamics can make a huge difference in morale and learning. It’s one of the first things people bring up about their co-op jobs, for example.
  3. The foundations of engineering are present in any student team to some degree, so if you’re set on learning about fluid dynamics, or continuum mechanics, you aren’t limited to just one team that offers that sort of work. Ask each design team about their potential projects!

B. School vs Co-op mindsets

  1. Every semester following a co-op term has been a struggle for me. Co-op terms have typically ended the week right before school starts up again and the extra mental load of school took some time to adjust to.
  2. While many of my colleagues swore they’d review course material, excuses ran wild in the weeks leading up to September. Summers are hard, man; how do you fit course review in between hikes, road trips, and satisfying your Instagram followers? I’m guilty of missing this resolution too, but I feel it’s important in a program like ours, where upcoming material builds heavily from previous.

    And it’s not only good for learning sake, but for work ethic too. It gets your brain in the habit of staying alert past clocking-out of your shift. While we all endeavour to sleep at a reasonable hour, late night study sessions are all too common come midterm season.

What are some of your own challenges as school rolls back around? Let me know in the comments below. Also if you have any questions regarding student teams, interviews, typical work, etc., I’ll try to get to them before the next post.

Happy studying for now,
Jason

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