Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where do I begin...

Okay, so final year right now feels kind of overwhelming. I'm trying to juggle a heavy courseload, domestics, spending time with friends, and keeping in touch with family - all while making plans for next year, which is a whole lot more difficult than in high school. Despite any difficulties, enjoy the OUAC process while you've got it; dealing with rolling admissions for graduate school and job applications is a lot more challenging than having an earliest date for a required response set for Ontario universities.

Anyhow, I try and keep my head up through all of it and I have to admit it's a really exciting time! long as I manage to get through the last wave of final projects for the term and my exams. But the highlight of the week is Iron Ring sizings at the Alumni Office; and this isn't just any ordinary school ring.

The Iron Ring is a tradition in Canadian engineering schools that takes place in a ceremony called The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (nicknamed Kipling, for the author [Rudyard] who developed it). At these ceremonies, graduating engineers undertake an obligation to society to do their best work. The iron ring is worn on the pinky finger of the working hand, the idea being that the contact with surfaces as the engineer writes will remind them of their responsibilities. The mythology of the iron is that it comes from a bridge that collapsed twice during construction due to engineering errors, and killed over 70 workers - but today the rings are made out of stainless steel. The ceremony is private and only open to those receiving an iron ring, or who have worn one for ten years or longer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Engineering and the arts

One of the subjects I want to write about on this blog are other engineering students, and the cool things they are doing in and out of school. So, I can think of no better person to start off with than one of my closest friends (heavy bias here, but she totally earns it too). Everyone, meet Adri:

Adri is a number of awesome things: the resident techie/mechie of my household (she fixes refrigerators and wireless internet routers), crew director for the Mac Eng Musical, part of the first graduating class of Engineering & International Studies, and a mechanical engineering student (see 'Fascination with Engine,' above).

What I find particularly cool is her final year design project, a collaboration between mechanical engineering and fine arts students to design and construct an art installation that will be located on campus. We had a mini-interview to talk about her course:

Robin: How would you describe what you do in your course?
Adri: It's a collaboration between mechanical and fine arts students on final year design project. The original idea was an "art jukebox," but after discussion we wanted to create something more permanent, dynamic, and something that you can interact with. We need to design around the spaces that we have in mind for the project, and some ideas were too big but there are two that we think could work. We also need to obtain the funding and look at contacting some companies for materials and maybe reach out to alumni.

How often do you meet to work on the project?
Adri: We meet about once or twice a week. Right now we're working on 3D models of our concepts - not working prototypes but models first to help explain how the design could work.

Where is the art going to be installed?
Adri: There are two spaces in the Engineering Technology Building that we're looking at. Our next step will be meeting with the Dean to present our detailed design - that's the report we're working on right now - and hopefully get approval and take it from there.

I really like the interdisciplinary aspect of her project, and the visibility and tangible-ness it has as a final project. To see the result of the collaboration from two years ago, have a look at the website for the Chronos Clock project (also installed in the new engineering building). Make sure to check out "What is it?" to learn how to read the somewhat different clockface.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

Hey there!

Not sure really what to write today - this weekend was a nice one, and a good break after a really intense week including a final exam for a course I was taking online! Loads of music stuff coming up in the next while, as the Concert Band is performing on Sunday November 14th, and the a capella group that I'm part of is working on Halo. I cleaned up and readied my wall calendar for November this weekend, and although it feels exactly like two months of school have passed now, I know by the start of December it will still feel as though only two months have passed except it will be time for exams then!

Time management has been on my mind lately, and I have to say it's taken me all of university to get a system that I'm completely happy with and that works with the unusual hours of university schedules (more so in upper years when there are fewer hours of class but a higher independent workload). I managed a lot of extracurricular activities in high school, but once you start having to take care of all the domestics on top of that yourself - grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning (oh, the dishes) - it takes a while before you balance things out again. This year though, I've got some powerful extra motivation in the form of graduation! It's exciting stuff. :)

That's really all for now I guess; I'll see you in a week!

P.S. Yes, that's right. Liz and I carved a fireball jack-o'-lantern!