Meet Catherine Cheng, a second year Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science student. She's still a bit of time away from becoming an astronaut, so for now she's content with building rockets as part of UNSW AIAA Rocketry. She is also an assistant tutor for a first year computer science course!
Read on to find out more about what a typical uni week looks like for Catherine!
My Monday morning kicks off with a 2 hour lecture on Software Engineering Fundamentals. In this course, I'm learning all about Python, how to code collaboratively, and all about the Software Development Life Cycle.
After a quick lunch, I head onto campus for social sport run by Arc. I'm in an oztag team with a bunch of friends who are also studying computer science. Although we haven't been doing much winning, we have a very fitting team name - "We Tried"
After dinner I get logged on for a 2 hour online help session. As an assistant tutor for Programming Fundamentals, I'm online with a few other tutors ready to answer any questions that students may have about their lab exercises or assignments one-on-one.
Get ready for a jam packed Tuesday, starting off with another lecture for my software course.
We now have a tutorial and a lab for my software course. The tutorial is a smaller, more chill version of the lecture, where we get to ask our tutors any questions we had and get a refresher on some of the content we've looked at.
In the lab we are usually put into breakout rooms with our project group members where we can work collaboratively on the lab exercises we have for the week.
First math lecture of the week! In this course, I'm currently learning about Engineering Mathematics - essentially everything I'm learning is directly relevant to real world applications!
Wednesday starts off bright and early this week at the QVB tea room. I'm here for Engsoc's High Tea w/ Industry, a chance for me to network with engineers working in industry all while enjoying some quality finger-sandwiches and scones.
Tip from Catherine: Take advantage of networking opportunities! You never know who you'll be able to meet at these events, and it's always interesting to hear about what people are up to in industry.
The first of two Thermodynamics lectures of the week. Currently, we're learning about gas cycles, refrigeration cycles and all things energy and entropy. Excitingly, we get a bit of a taste of how jet engines work.
Time for thermodynamics lab! This week, we're heading into campus for a gas expansion lab where we get to see some of the equipment that we've been learning about in lectures in action. Some data values and calculations later, and I'll be ready to hand in my lab report.
Another maths lecture!
On Thursdays, I usually have the first of the two Programming Fundamentals labs that I assistant tutor. It's an online lab, so I get logged on for a two hour sesh, helping students debug their code and guiding them through their lab exercises.
Tip from Catherine: Many courses in the Faculty of Engineering, particularly in computer science hire undergraduate tutors and assistant tutors. Don't be afraid to apply for these positions as they can be a great way to build on your communication and technical skills.
Time to head onto campus again, this time for AIAA Rocketry - AIAA is a student society for aerospace engineering students, and they have their own rocketry team! Today, I'm headed to the Electrical Engineering makerspace to grab some parts that I've 3D printed for my rocket. Then, I'm off to the Renewables Makerspace to meet with all the other (mostly aerospace) students - we're putting our finishing touches on our rockets, which we have designed and manufactured all from scratch in the makerspaces, so that they're ready to be launched on the weekend!
Tip from Catherine: UNSW Makerspaces are amazing! They've got 3D printers, laser cutters, band saws - you name it! I definitely recommend getting involved with some technical team/project as part of the ChallENG program as you'll be able to learn how to use many of these tools!
After a pretty chill morning, I have another Programming Fundamentals lab. This is followed by a maths tutorial, where I can ask any questions I've been stuck on.
I usually like to round out the week at the bouldering gym with some friends. Friday nights are cheaper for students :))
Today's the day! An hour and a half drive later, we're at Whalan, ready to launch our medium powered rockets! Watching rocket launches is absolutely exhilarating and it's a literal blast to see all our hard work pay off. My rocket managed to reach about 330m in height. It did get a bit damaged on the way back though :((
With our project deadline upcoming, I'll usually meet with my group members at least once on the weekend to work on our project for our software course. We're working on the backend for a messaging software in Python. Usually these meetings are just standups - we go around, each updating the group on what we've been working on in the past week, and then we will discuss what our actionables are for the coming week.
The rest of Sunday for me is pretty chill. Usually this is time for me to catch up on any lectures that I've missed, or any new Netflix episodes I've missed.