A Week in the Life of a Renewable Energy Engineering Student
Renewable Energy Engineering is a popular degree which exposes you to the theory and applications of many incredible technologies powering the future. Follow a week in the life of 2nd year student Alex Beza as she designs innovative and sustainable showerheads whilst playing a TON of netball! She’s also lucky enough to live at one of UNSW’s residential colleges.
I have the luxury of a slow start to the week, waking up at 9am and heading to the gym before catching up on uni work.
After lunch, I have a two-hour lecture for my Renewable Energy Project (REP) course. These lectures are used to explain when project deliverables, such as reports and prototypes, are due and to learn the software we need for the course.
Dinner at college is nice and early (5:15 anyone?)! I then head out to support or play whatever college sport is happening which can be anything from soccer to table tennis.
At midday, I have a lecture on Life Cycle Analysis and a two-hour tutorial right after. This class is about the “cradle-to-grave” environmental impacts of manufacturing and other processes.
Not much on Tuesday nights. If there are midterms or exams coming up, I’ll definitely study. Otherwise, I’ll watch a movie or hang out with my college friends.
Wednesdays are a bit more packed. At 9am I have a Fluid Mechanics laboratory where we use the equipment to measure flow rates, pressures and other properties before relating them via calculations.
From 11am-2pm, I go to the Makerspace for my REP lab time. My team has three designated hours each week to work on designing and building our project. We are creating a device which attaches to your shower head and measures how much power you use! The great thing about this course is that you can pick any project you can think of.
After this, I have another Fluid Mechanics lecture from 2pm-4pm. I then head back to college and relax for an hour before netball training.
I have another three-hour class for my REP course. My team uses this time to design, test and make our idea into a reality.
For lunch on Thursday, I usually catch-up with my friends from class and eat on the village green (=uni oval) or go to the RESOC (Renewable Energy Society) BBQ. They run heaps of events and it’s a great chance to talk to other students in my degree.
After the BBQ, I head to the University of Sydney to coach a Year 9 - 10 netball team. When this is done, I head back to college, ready for the gourmet delights which college food has to offer (not!).
I don’t actually have ANY classes on a Friday! Hooray! My afternoons change depending on the week, but I normally do something with friends like go to the beach or movies. If I need to, I’ll meet up with my group and do work for the Life Cycle Assessment or REP course.
Friday night = college party time! We all get dressed up (there’s always a theme) before heading to the Roundhouse (uni bar), local pub or another venue in the city.
No sleep-ins on Saturday! I wake up early for netball coaching as my team plays all over Sydney and sometimes even in the Blue Mountains.
I hurry back to college and eat lunch before running to my own netball game. I’ve played with the UNSW Netball Club since I started uni in 2018 and I love it! The girls in my team are great and we always have heaps of fun!
Tip from Alex: UNSW has HEAPS of sports clubs which you can join. From Muay Thai to AFL, there’s something for everyone and it’s a great way to meet people from different degrees.
Netball training for the national inter-university competition, Unigames, starts at 11am. We usually head to the beach or go to brunch afterwards.
Another college sport is often on Sundays, so I go and support or play. Otherwise, I finish uni work and hang out with friends.
College always has a (not so) nice roast on Sunday nights so I usually end up ordering takeaway. I then finish any uni work I have or watch a movie. But let’s be honest, the movie usually wins.
Alex answers YOUR question!
Q: What do you do if you realise that you do not like the courses you chose for uni?
A: Don’t worry! Think about whether the course is a general first-year engineering subject (like maths or physics) that everyone has to do or if it is something that is more specific to your degree. For the former, it’s understandable. The classes are quite big and can be a bit tedious. That said, you should know that everyone has to do them, and they pave the way for the rest of your degree (trust me!).
If the course you don’t like is more specific to your degree, think about why you chose your degree in the first place. Talk to other people about it and see if they are feeling the same way. If you decide that you aren’t enjoying the courses specific to your degree, it is OKAY to change courses or degrees. That said, be aware that all uni courses are going to be hard work and have a bit of stress involved. Overall, it’s much better to take the time to find out what you really love.