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Engineering FAQs
« on: December 12, 2012, 10:51:20 pm »
Hey guys,

Following on from Ninwa's 'Law FAQs' I thought I would make an engineering counterpart to address any general queries about the field.

University Engineering Faculties -

University of Melbourne
Monash University
RMIT University
Swinburne University
La Trobe University
Deakin University
Victoria University

New South Wales:
University of Sydney
University of New South Wales
University of Technology, Sydney

University of Queensland
Queensland University of Technology
Griffith University

Western Australia:
University of Western Australia
Curtin University
Murdoch University

South Australia:
University of Adelaide
University of South Australia


Should I do engineering at University A instead of University B because it's ranked higher / my mates are going there / my parents like it?

This is less of an engineering-specific topic but it does come up sometimes; type Monash vs Melbourne engineering into google and you will see what I mean.

 - Due to the need for accreditation, engineering courses have to teach roughly the same thing, making all course outlines for each university  surprisingly similar in the case of engineering. This is the reason I've linked all the prospective universities for Victorian students above. You should look up your intended institutions and compare them against each other to see which degree model you like better. Make sure you look at specific disciplines and their differences. While mechatronics and mechanical engineering differ by some CompSci units, you cannot call yourself a Mechanical Engineer without completing a Mechanical Engineering degree. This is important for later on when you are looking for a job.

- Rankings: While overall rankings of universities mean little for an undergraduate student (it does get more important as you proceed to honours and research higher degrees), you can get an idea of what an engineering faculty's strengths are by looking at engineering specific rankings schemes. Note that these will not tell you which degree program is better. Some employers like one university better, others will prefer a different one. It is a very personal decision and no one can say that one engineering uni is better than another. I do however, suggest that you go to one of the big 4 engineering universities if you are in Victoria. These include UniMelb, Monash, Swinburne and RMIT. This is purely because they are all very well known with engineering employers in the state and are very developed faculties.

Is there a difference Melbourne / UWA Model degree pathway or go for a Bachelor of Engineering pathway?

This question comes up a lot. From this point on, I will refer to the Melb Eng Model as BS/ME (for Bachelor of Science / Master of Engineering) and the traditional 4 year degree model as the BEng (for Bachelor of Engineering).

The major difference is the time taken to achieve a degree which enables you to call yourself a professional engineer. This accreditation is incredibly important for your future career. If you go through the BEng route, you will finish your 4 year degree and have a professional qualification. If you go through the BS/ME route, you need to finish the total 5 years and graduate with the BS (at 3 years) and the ME (at 5 years) to be awarded a professional qualification.

Now, comparing between the number of technical electives for the BS/ME and the BEng:

                         BS / ME                       BEng

No. of tech         34 - 36                        ~29 - 31                 
No. of non-         4 - 6                           ~1 - 3
tech units             

Total no. of         40                                32

The approximation for the for BEng Tech / Non-Tech subjects is due to the differences in course plans for different disciplines and is subject to the specific university. For example, Swinburne Mech has 2 non-tech management units while Monash has 1 professional practise unit for ECSE students. This is, of course, just a guide as all electives in a students course may be tech-courses while some will take some extra non-tech units.

What this is showing is that by going through the BS/ME route, you will gain roughly ~5 extra tech electives and ~3 extra non-tech electives (by use of breadth units). However, the downfall (or upside, depending on which way you look at it) is that you have to spend another year at university to get a job where you call yourself an engineer.

BIG NOTE: If you go through the BS / ME route, you will be doing engineering units from first year. You do not do 3 years of Science and then 2 year of engineering. You will be following a more B.Science / B.Eng course outline for the first 2 years but then it's is straight engineering for the last 3.

Should I do a double degree with engineering? Is there a possible way to double at Melbourne / UWA?

After completing 7 tech units (Engineering Sys Design 1, Physics 1, Calc 2, Linear Algebra, Engineering Sys Design 2, Chemistry 1, Physics 2) and 1 non-tech (introductory microeconomics), I would recommend taking a double degree. I found my 1st semester quite a bit easier due to lower contact hours at university.

Double degrees are good because they break up the engineering units and lower the contact hours needed at uni. Engineering is notorious for having the highest amount of hours on campus compared to any other degree bar science. My commerce mates have 12 hours a week and I had 23 and 25 for sem 1 and 2 respectively. On top of that, you are expected to have a 1:1 relationship between the number of contact hours and the number of hours spent doing private study at home.

However, you have to remember that if you do a double degree you will be lowering the amount of technical engineering expertise you will graduate with. I know an engineering employer personally that actually dislikes BComm / BEng compared to straight engineering students just because they have less tech experiences (granted they are a consulting firm). Just something to consider about future prospects and how different engineering sectors want their graduates to be trained.

In order to double at Melbourne, you have to go through Commerce (I don't consider a Science pathway as a double as you are majoring in engineering studies). In order to do this, you will take 3 years of commerce with engineering electives, and complete your engineering studies for Year 4 and Year 5.

Comparing the BComm / BEng (using Monash as an example) and BCmom / ME (Melbourne):

                         BComm / ME                       BComm / BEng

No. of tech            25                                      26
No. of comm         15                                      16

Total no. of           40                                      42

Both are taken for 5 years full time (you will need to overload twice in order to finish BComm / BEng in 5 years). This also shows that double degree students have 1 extra tech AND comm unit compared to their BComm / ME counterparts.

In the end, I do recommend doubling engineering with something you do like as it will reduce your hours and give you another qualification to fall back on if you do decide to change careers sometimes in the future.

Is engineering hard?

This is something that is very subjective. The biggest thing I found with engineering in first year was to keep up, or be ahead of, the lectures and work at all times. Some of the topics, especially in Physics 2 with electromag, just screw with your mind and the workload for some of the maths courses, if you want to score well, is pretty high for first year in my opinion. From what others have told me, it only gets more intense from this point. While engineering isn't conceptually difficult (depending on the major, moreso for civil than for electrical), you do need to do the practise questions and you do need to do complete the work in order to understand what's going on.

Of course your ability to complete an engineering course is related to how well you understand physics and mathematics but you cannot say that you are good at maths, ergo, you will be a good engineer. However, if you are good at understanding mathematical and physical concepts, it will definitely aid you.

What is the workload like / How do hours split with labs and lectures?

In my second semester, where I had all tech units, I was sitting on 25 hours per week. This broke down to 13 hours of pracs/workshops and 12 hours of lectures. The problem is that all of these pracs are compulsory meaning that if you miss too many, you will fail the unit. The lectures are also mandatory...if you want to pass (joking, but not really).

Tutorials start week 2 and so do practicals. Practicals are 3 hours long and happen once a week depending on the subject. You do want to do go tutorials even if they are not mandatory. The number of contact hours will feel high after 5 months of holidays but you will ease into it and get back into the 'high school 9 - 3 days' eventually.

The workload for engineering was quite similar to my VCE study habits, but on a larger scale. You have to want to be doing engineering and want to study the course material in your own time to succeed. My typical uni day consisted of training 50 minutes to the city where I revised topics (if I ceebs, I'd have to do this later) and then completed 5 contact hours of lectures and practicals. During my breaks, I would try and complete some extra mathematics or physics work. I'd do the same revision trip on the way home and then do a couple of hours study completing assignments or doing un-required work. The key to my success with my grades was doing extra work than was required (except Chemistry. I dislike that subject a lot) and this is something that many of my friends that are currently going well have been doing in their engineering degrees as well.

I didn't do spesh / physics / chemistry etc. Will I fail engineering?

Short answer: no. While doing those courses will definitely help you realize if you are cut out for the type of studies you will be proceeding with, they are definitely not required by many institutions. For example, Spesh material is covered by 'Foundations Mathematics' at Monash, 'Engineering Maths' at Swinburne and 'Calculus 1' at Melbourne.

If you are proceeding into VCE now, I would highly, highly recommend you take Physics at least, as well as Specialist Mathematics if you are capable enough. These will help immensely and you can get pseudo-university credit for Spesh (don't have to repeat it at uni). Engineering is using physics and mathematics A LOT, so the more exposure you can get to these fields of study, the better.

Common first year: Yay or nay?

I highly recommend a common first year if you are even a little bit hesitate about which field of engineering you are interested in. Most engineering degrees these days have a common first year, but some double degrees and institutions (Swinburne / RMIT) do not. You may discover that you enjoy Civil more than mech, or discover that you absolutely hate electrical and that you wanted to originally major in it. If you have the option of a common first year, take it.

Specialized fields (Aero / Biomedical / Mechatronics): Good idea or not?

Everyone has their opinion on this, but I would recommend against doing these specialized courses straight away. This is just because you are restricting your graduate options straight away. Recently, a a university in South Australia changed their aerospace degree to read 'Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering' because students who graduated in aero and couldn't find a job had a harder time finding a grad role in the mech eng field even though both disciplines are highly similar (the aero field in Australia is quite small compared to other fields). The 4 engineering fields of electrical, mechanical, civil and chemical are the main disciplines and the specialized subfields are just that: subfields. If you want to go ahead with a specialized degree and are passionate about the field, fantastic, just remember that there are some downsides with choosing aero/biomed/mechatronics. It is also good to note that you can always do an extremely similar aero/mechatronics major in mechanical, and do a virtual biomed major in electrical engineering.

Vacation work / Interships. What's possible during my engineering degree?

Since engineering is a very technical degree, vocational experience is highly looked upon. However, as a student, you don't really have much proper engineering experience until later years to be worthwhile for companies to give you an internship. When you get to your 2nd year / 3rd year, you want to be starting to look for some vacation work (dubbed 'vac work') which you partake over the summer. For many degrees, this is compulsory for you to graduate, and even if it's not, you'd be stupid to not look for vac work during your undergrad.

Vacation work is highly competitive and can give you a leg up when you are heading into graduate employment the year after. Even though engineering is an 'in-demand' field to the best of my knowledge, graduate roles are still extremely competitive. Especially for the top-tier companies such as AECOM and ExxonMobil.

MelbUni Careers
Monash Careers

Remember, any engineering experience is good experience. It's always nice to have more to write on a CV / resume if it relates to your field of employment.

Is it true that engineering is a sausage fest?
See here
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 01:40:15 am by Hancock »
Thinking of doing Engineering? - Engineering FAQs

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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 05:58:45 pm »
I'd like to add a few things to this.

Firstly, an engineering degree is considered to be one of the toughest degrees at university. In lieu of this, if you are to achieve good grades in an engineering degree, you'll demonstrate a high level of competence entering the professional sector. For instance, engineering is a much tougher degree than most of the commerce majors. So you really do keep your options open by completing an eng degree, so it is a good place to start if you're not 100% sure about your future.

The Melbourne University masters degree is really a masters. Deal with it. It's not just a re-badge, if you look at the old BEng, the M.E covers all those units and a year extra. So, it is appropriate to term it an M.E. Having said that, it's debatable whether those 5th year subjects will actually help you professionally.

With regards to the 'no Aerospace at Melbourne', this is again not really true, you can choose to pick aerospace-related units in your Masters and you can then get a job at an Aerospace firm. RMIT and Monash have just made it a separate degree.

What you shouldn't consider when choosing a university?
Please don't say, '(One of Monash or RMIT or Melbourne) have a better faculty than (One of Monash or RMIT or Melbourne)'

Lecturers so frequently change between the three, it is so stupid to say that one of the universities has a better faculty than the other. Just this year, Jamie Evans now teaches units in Elec Eng at Monash (when he was at Melbourne for 10 years before that) and I think Rao Kotagiri who teaches a lot of computer science was at RMIT for a while. These guys so frequently change, it is so stupid to say that one faculty is better than the other.

Basically, the pros of Melb Uni/Monash/RMIT is that you are generally pushed by people who are the best of the best (top 10% of the state) and this pushes one another to get even better. Pick it based on location, there is seriously no difference between the three.

How to make yourself more employable?
Get good grades throughout your degree (70+ average is good)
Develop good people skills
Join a few extra-curricular activities
Get relevant work experience in the form of an internship/vacation work over summer

Good grades alone will not get you a job

If you do all of these things, you should work into almost any engineering graduate position. Now, your first job is just your first job. How quickly you progress up the ladder is an entirely different thing. Some people end up as prinipal engineers by 25, some are shit-kicking at 40.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 06:02:42 pm by tao »


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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2013, 04:05:51 pm »
Hi hancock,

Firstly, really nice thread. I was just wondering the maths workload in engineering. Personally, I don't really like maths and will only take mathematical methods. However, I absolutely love physics. I was thinking of doing chemical engineering because I also really enjoy chemistry. But once again if engineering is too maths based I might not do it.

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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2013, 04:54:00 pm »

If you do an Engineering stream at Melbourne (and similar will apply to Monash) you are required to take Calculus 1, which is the equivalent to specialist mathematics. You also need to take Calculus 2 (which builds on Calculus 1), Linear Algebra (which is a bit more conceptual and geared towards a pure maths major), and Engineering Mathematics which is a second year subject that continues from both Calculus 2 and Linear Algebra.
These maths subjects are compulsory for all engineering streams.
I only took Methods in high school and when I took Calculus 1 I had been out of the academic game for 10 years. I was pretty good at maths, but I got by with a HD in Calculus 1 & just missed out on a HD in Calculus 2 & Linear Algebra.
Even if you aren't heaps maths inclined, it's definitely achievable if you're motivated. Don't underestimate the amount of maths required to complete a Chemical Engineering degree though. As you will know from VCE Chem, there is quite a lot of maths involved, and it gets more and more so - but it is incremental, and honestly if you do the work and enjoy Chem as a discipline you should be fine.
Sorry I know you asked Hancock but that's my 2c (I'm doing Biomedical Eng at UoM)
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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2013, 05:11:41 pm »
I've split Rod's last question about becoming a teacher here Becoming a teacher or lecturer It's a broad enough question to warrant it's own thread.

Split latest posts into:
Thinking of doing Engineering
Middle band (for engineering)
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 05:49:30 pm by pi »


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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 11:57:29 pm »
Hey Hancock! Great post. Saw the link at the bottom of your description :-)

As you now know, I am hoping to do the double in pharma/chemeng.

If you don't mind, I have a few questions:

1. Would you recommend this double degree? Do you think it's worth the hassle of the campus movement, or should I look into a different double degree? And do you know if the first year at Clayton doing engineering is common or immediately specialised?
2. If I for some reason decide against doing the double degree, then I am still going to stick with doing Chemical Engineering. Do you know if Monash has a common first year for normal engineering courses?
3. Has the degree been what you'd expected? Are you enjoying it as much as you thought?

Thank you!!! :-)
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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2014, 12:05:29 am »
Hey Hancock! Great post. Saw the link at the bottom of your description :-)

As you now know, I am hoping to do the double in pharma/chemeng.

If you don't mind, I have a few questions:

1. Would you recommend this double degree? Do you think it's worth the hassle of the campus movement, or should I look into a different double degree? And do you know if the first year at Clayton doing engineering is common or immediately specialised?
2. If I for some reason decide against doing the double degree, then I am still going to stick with doing Chemical Engineering. Do you know if Monash has a common first year for normal engineering courses?
3. Has the degree been what you'd expected? Are you enjoying it as much as you thought?

Thank you!!! :-)
Since I'm Monash eng, I'll just add this. Most Engineering at Monash isn't specialised until second year (except for a few, e.g. aero, mechatronics,  e.t.c.). BUT it looks as though the pharm/eng double forces you into chem eng, see here (bottom of page under awards). So it'll be immediately specialised as the first year eng units you do lead you onto chem eng (although it looks as though you'd start these first year eng units in second year and do no eng in first year according to the handbook).

If you were to do the single degree in eng, then you'd start off with the common first year, trying a bit of each engineering with first year units, then go into the chem eng stream at the start of second year.

Hope that helps!

EDIT: This will also help with which degrees have the common first year, scroll down to the table right at the bottom: http://www.eng.monash.edu.au/prospective/ug/double-degrees/
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 12:07:28 am by b^3 »
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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2015, 11:53:07 pm »
Looking forward to becoming an engineer :)


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Re: Engineering FAQs
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2021, 12:52:50 am »
How is civil engineering?,