Nothing’s quite worse than realizing you’ve forgotten everything to do with electric circuits from high school despite getting straight Excellences in Physics. Who knew that 6 months without having to think about which-component-lags-the-current or what hand rule to use would make your brain flush all that knowledge down the metaphorical toilet. Or, perhaps, all that rote learning in high school isn’t even very helpful in the first place.

Of course, the electrical course in first year is, thankfully, not just circuits. There is a substantial section which strongly relates to computer-y stuff that might just save my GPA! Generally I think this course should be the most familiar to those coming straight from high school…except since it’s done in 2nd semester people would have forgotten most of it by then. So remember to try to retain your knowledge, or take up a tutoring job or something.

Something that was not quite present in my first semester, and the past 3-ish years of high school, are multiple choice questions. Oh, how I have missed you. It’s a bit exciting filling in those little bubbles, like you’re back in kindie trying to stay in the lines. Is it better than short answer questions, or, God forbid, essays?!

Nahh. That’s like comparing apples to oranges to… I dunno, chairs. They’re totally different, and examine different aspects of your understanding. Which is nice, I like a little bit of variety now and then.

Speaking of variety, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy. Alongside my job(s) as a web developer, blogger, and who-knows-what-else, I also tutor high school students (mainly in Maths & Physics). Given a lot of the content I’m tutoring is relevant to what I’m currently learning, I’ve found that by teaching others I’m actually learning more myself!

Back in Malaysia there was a subject called “Living Skills” where we did a whole lot of stuff like soldering, woodworking, sewing(?), and learning table manners(?!). It sounds bizarre but it was the one time I got to use a breadboard (not the actual one for bread, the circuit one) and I failed miserably. The LED didn’t even light up, and the soldering was horrendous (which was probably why it didn’t work). Err, I’m not sure what the point of that anecdote was. Here’s a few words from a super special guest star who knows a whole lot more about Electrical Engineering than I do. His experiences might be a little different to that taught at Auckland, but I’m sure it’s still relevant to anyone considering EE:

How would you describe Electrical Engineering?
Electrical Engineering is a subset of engineering that focuses on electricity and how it relates to the world around us (hint: it’s everywhere, but you knew that). EE is generally broken up into three sectors: Power, Control, and Communication. Yeah, it sounds like a handbook for becoming a dictator. Lots and lots of labs, but lots of fun as well

Why did you decide on Electrical Engineering?
Personally, I love circuits, and I love math. The core of electrical engineering is in understanding how to analyze a circuit, and often there are multiple courses dedicated just in circuit analysis techniques. As an EE student, I’ve gotten to do a lot of coding as well, whether that’s C++, Python, and even (a LOT of) Assembly-level languages, which varies on your software and chipset. It has been an enjoyable learning experience, and a good option for those who love math and coding, but may not have the desire to do Software Eng (or didn’t get in).

What advice would you give to someone considering Electrical Engineering?
Be prepared for many all-nighters, especially as you’re days away from deadlines in project courses. If you’re in engineering, you should be prepared for that regardless. It’s definitely a sight to see when you enter a lab room at 10pm and almost your entire year is there. It has happened to me more times than you’d think (though I wouldn’t enter at 10pm, you’ll never get a spot 😉 ) If you’re a hands on type of person, EE might not be the best career option for you, as a lot of the time you’re working with the magical black box.