A Week in the Life of a Mechatronics Student
Meet Anoushka Rehan, a third-year Mechatronics Engineering student and executive member of UNSW’s Women in Engineering Society. Did you know that Anoushka spent the last term break taking apart a printer to see what was inside?! Read on to find out more about what typical week in Anoushka’s life looks like!
9am - 11am: Lecture on Coding to control an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV)
To make it to uni on time, it's a 6am wake-up and dash out the door but having friends in the lecture makes it work it. Once it's done, I eat an early lunch on the globe lawn and enjoy some sunlight before my next lecture.
12pm - 1pm: Lecture on Linear Systems & Control
This class goes over the theory for the tutorial content. The last half-hour is reserved for a few worked examples. HOORAY!
1pm - 2pm: Workshop for Linear Systems & Control
Generally, if I don’t have any questions about the tutorial or lecture content, I leave early and head to the mechatronics building to keep working on my latest assignment.
I chill in the mechatronics space and ensure my laptop is connected to the UGV’s server so I can write and test my code. Once I am confident that my code is running and I’ll pass the next week’s checkpoint (or I feel that I’m getting nowhere) I head home.
9am - 12pm: Lecture & Tutorial for Additive Manufacturing
Again this means a 6am wake up *cries* but the lecture isn’t recorded and the content is interesting so coming into uni is worth it. The class starts with an hour lecture followed by an hour to complete a 2-question quiz and then a tutorial (not the usual ‘demonstrator answers questions on the board’ type, more of a discussion style).
12pm - 1pm: Tutorial for Linear Systems & Control
This is a more traditional style of tutorial where the demonstrator writes up answers to the week’s set of questions.
1pm - 3pm: Computing Lab
There are no strict questions we are supposed to answer in the lab; it's just a time for us to work on assignments with the demonstrators’ help. I get the week’s checkpoint marked off before starting on the following week’s tasks. Labs aren’t intended to be just individual work - we are encouraged to help each other out and attend other lab slots if we need more help.
3pm - 4pm: Break
My Tuesdays are pretty intense so I like to take this time to eat and relax before I head back into the Mechatronics space and work on assignments.
Again I stay back as late as I can to work on assignments because I need to stay connected to the servers for debugging.
9am - 11am: WIESoc meeting with the rest of the IMP team
This year, I am the Industry Mentoring Program Director for UNSW’s Women In Engineering Society (WIESoc). This means I am responsible for organising a mentoring program that connects students from all fields of engineering to mentors in their industry (basically companies and organisations). I organise 6 events over the 8 months of the program and encourage mentors and mentees to continue meeting outside of the official events.
Every Wednesday morning my co-director, Emily, and I meet with our subcommittee members to get an update on the action items set out last meeting. We also work on the next set of things we need to get done before our upcoming events.
11am - 1pm: Lecture & Tutorial on Linear Systems & Control
Whilst interesting, I often spend this lecture & tutorial thinking about the weekend. After all, it’s my last class of the week. But it’s still worth going to as tutorials are a great opportunity to ask questions.
Hopefully, I am done with the code for the upcoming weekly checkpoint and can just head home, but if not I stay back and keep working.
Tip from A: Get involved in societies and clubs at uni! They’re a great way to make new friends, develop practical skills and have some fun. Whether you’re into Biohacking or Game of Thrones, there is a club out there for you.
I don’t have any classes on Thursday. I only go into uni if I have WIESoc meetings or events, or if I still need to work on the mechatronics assignment.
Again I don't have classes on Friday so I sleep in till 8am (what a luxury!), then eat a proper breakfast and try to get some work done for all my non-coding courses. At around 3pm I stop studying and get ready to tutor at a local tutoring centre from 4pm-8pm.
No classes so more sleeping in and then planning things out for the next IMP event. I then spend the afternoon and evening working on tutorial questions for next week.
I tutor from 8am-6pm so it's another early morning but in the evenings after work I like to watch Netflix and vegetate.
As you can see, Anoushka’s week is pretty chock-a-block! Whilst engineering does require a lot of work, seeing your Unmanned Ground Vehicle driving or attending an event with over 100 people which you organised makes it all worth it!
What made you choose engineering?
The science teachers at my high school were very passionate about encouraging us to consider STEM fields. They would regularly organise for those interested to participate in Science and Engineering competitions and attend ‘Experience It’ workshops. I attended almost all of them with friends and enjoyed problem solving to address challenges (which I was informed is what engineering is all about).