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How to Excel in Engineering at University Dr. Chris Macnab B.Eng. (Engineering Physics) Royal Military College of Canada Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering)

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Presentation on theme: "How to Excel in Engineering at University Dr. Chris Macnab B.Eng. (Engineering Physics) Royal Military College of Canada Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering)"— Presentation transcript:

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2 How to Excel in Engineering at University Dr. Chris Macnab B.Eng. (Engineering Physics) Royal Military College of Canada Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering) University of Toronto Chris Macnab is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineeering, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 Legal rights you didn't have in high school: Teenagers: the oppressed minority

4 the right to drink the right to drink

5 the right to work wherever you want the right to work wherever you want

6 the right to live wherever you want the right to live wherever you want

7 full access to the justice system full access to the justice system

8 the right to vote the right to vote

9 Rules your parents give you: you can't stay out all night you can't stay out all night you have to let them know where you are you have to let them know where you are you have to let them know when you are going to be home you have to let them know when you are going to be home you can't have your partner stay overnight you can't have your partner stay overnight

10 you have to clean your room you have to clean your room you have to go to school you have to go to school you can't live on your own you can't live on your own

11 Rules in high school: you have to go to school you have to go to school you can't skip classes you can't skip classes you can’t leave in the middle of class you can’t leave in the middle of class

12 you have to raise your hand to talk you have to ask to go to the bathroom

13 you have to do your homework you have to do your homework

14 you can't eat in class

15 When you graduate from high school : NO MORE RULES!

16 Why we may not feel free after we graduate

17 After graduating we don't have all these rules anymore. We have many rights. But we have been so used to not having these rights that we have trouble asserting them, or even realizing we have them. After graduating we don't have all these rules anymore. We have many rights. But we have been so used to not having these rights that we have trouble asserting them, or even realizing we have them.

18 How we think we should act in University:

19 we should do all of our assignments we should do all of our assignments we should go to all our classes we should go to all our classes we should write down everything in class we should write down everything in class we should learn in class we should learn in class we should read all our assigned readings we should read all our assigned readings we should read our textbooks we should read our textbooks we should study from our notes and textbooks we should study from our notes and textbooks we should work hard we should work hard we should do the same things as other students we should do the same things as other students

20 How we think we should be in University

21 we should understand everything we should understand everything we should know everything we should know everything we shouldn't make mistakes we shouldn't make mistakes we should get good marks we should get good marks we should care about our classes we should care about our classes we should do the same things as other students we should do the same things as other students we should be hard workers we should be hard workers

22 What’s wrong with that?

23 These “shoulds” make us follow a set of imaginary rules. Other people will be quite happy when we follow them. But they prevent us from excelling in university. University rewards learning. None of these “shoulds” help us learn, so following them only leads to frustration, stress, and depression.

24 Getting rid of shoulds. Replace: I should _______________ I should _______________ With: If I want to learn, then I must ________ If I want to learn, then I must ________ Or: If I want to ______, then I must ______

25 If we don’t should on ourselves We can prioritize our workloads and utilize time management skills We can prioritize our workloads and utilize time management skills We can develop strategies for: We can develop strategies for: 1. note taking 2. doing assignments 3. writing tests We can make decisions for ourselves and act instead of reacting to what professors give us We can make decisions for ourselves and act instead of reacting to what professors give us

26 How to learn, excel, and enjoy yourself at university:

27 If we want to get the most out of university, we must assert our rights!

28 Our universal human rights! The following assertive rights found in: “When I say no, I feel guilty” by Manuel J. Smith (Bantam Books, New York, 1975)

29 we have the right to make mistakes we have the right to make mistakes we have the right to not understand something we have the right to not understand something we have the right to be wrong we have the right to be wrong we have the right to be illogical we have the right to be illogical

30 we have the right not to care we have the right not to care

31 we have the right not to please others we have the right not to please others we have the right to set our own goals we have the right to set our own goals we have the right to decide what will best accomplish our goals we have the right to decide what will best accomplish our goals we have the right to decide what is best for ourselves we have the right to decide what is best for ourselves

32 We can decide how we learn the best and our own capabilities. We have the right to decide for ourselves: what program/classes we will take what program/classes we will take how much of our assignments we will do how much of our assignments we will do when we will go to class when we will go to class what notes we will take what notes we will take what we will study what we will study when we will study when we will study what marks we will be satisfied with what marks we will be satisfied with

33 The more we think about what will be best for ourselves, the better off we will be. The more we think about what will be best for ourselves, the better off we will be. The more we do what we have always done, or what we think we should do, the more miserable we will be. The more we do what we have always done, or what we think we should do, the more miserable we will be.

34 How we think professors should act:

35 We get used to what teachers in high school do. We like what some professors do. We then feel all professors should act a certain way. We can get very frustrated and stressed out when they don't act like we expect. We get used to what teachers in high school do. We like what some professors do. We then feel all professors should act a certain way. We can get very frustrated and stressed out when they don't act like we expect.

36 How we think professors should be : they should explain all the material they should explain all the material they should give lots of examples they should give lots of examples they should follow the textbook they should follow the textbook they shouldn't follow the textbook they shouldn't follow the textbook they should be hard workers they should be hard workers they should return assignments and tests quickly they should return assignments and tests quickly they should mark our tests leniently they should mark our tests leniently they shouldn't make mistakes they shouldn't make mistakes

37 How would your teachers be different in high school if their careers depended only on evaluations done by students?

38 Common pitfalls for students who should on themselves: approaching classes with fear approaching classes with fear spending way too much time on some assignments spending way too much time on some assignments running out of time to do other assignments running out of time to do other assignments trying to get on the prof's good side trying to get on the prof's good side trying to do everything in a course trying to do everything in a course

39 taking it easy when a test is easy taking it easy when a test is easy not working on assignments independently or copying not working on assignments independently or copying getting other people to do the work in the labs getting other people to do the work in the labs doing assignments for the marks and not for the learning doing assignments for the marks and not for the learning trying to be perfect trying to be perfect Asking “why can’t everyone get an A?” Asking “why can’t everyone get an A?”

40 stressing out when a test is difficult stressing out when a test is difficult fearing the prof fearing the prof fearing hard courses fearing hard courses worrying about marks instead of learning worrying about marks instead of learning trying to understand everything immediately trying to understand everything immediately never writing down anything that may be wrong never writing down anything that may be wrong

41 Cheating is of no benefit to you so don't do it. You will simply be wasting the many thousands of dollars you spent to go to university. Guess what? For the next 45 years of your career no employer will ever ask you what marks you got in university!

42 How to enjoy your university career

43 There are two kinds of students Happy want to learn want to learn work and play work and play alert alert enjoy the material enjoy the material Stressed worried about marks work all the time tired hate the material

44 The dummies guide to enjoying yourself at university:

45 Do’s and Don’ts read sections of the text before you are taught them read sections of the text before you are taught them review the previous lecture's notes before your lecture review the previous lecture's notes before your lecture contact the prof if you don't understand something contact the prof if you don't understand something realize your marks in a course are always relative to other students realize your marks in a course are always relative to other students never crack the text leave your notes at home get the prof to show you how to do a question go see the prof to get a hint on what will be on the test relax in an easy course and work hard in a difficult course

46 Do’s and Don’ts take your time understanding things take your time understanding things study for tests by doing old tests and questions you haven't done and old assignments (practice) study for tests by doing old tests and questions you haven't done and old assignments (practice) try to understand everything immediately try to understand everything immediately study for tests by reading and memorizing study for tests by reading and memorizing

47 Do’s and Don’ts set aside a certain number of hours to attempt an assignment set aside a certain number of hours to attempt an assignment schedule your own time for optimum learning schedule your own time for optimum learning try to get every assignment question even if it kills you try to get every assignment question even if it kills you go to every single lecture even if it kills you go to every single lecture even if it kills you

48 Do’s and Don’ts  Hire a math tutor  Refuse to relearn your high-school math

49 Do’s and Don’ts keep your notes keep your notes keep core texts keep core texts throw out your notes throw out your notes sell all your texts sell all your texts

50 Do’s and Don’ts read books and magazines about science, engineering, and/or computers read books and magazines about science, engineering, and/or computers joint technical clubs or have a technical hobby joint technical clubs or have a technical hobby never read outside your courses never read outside your courses

51 Advanced guide to enjoying yourself:

52 Learn these skills: learning from a textbook taking notes and learning from notes test-studying and test-writing strategies problem solving research (texts, notes, old exams, library, internet)

53 Example of Studying Strategy 1)Find some old tests and/or old assignments 2)Identify questions in the text that would be good practice 3)Practice questions for a preplanned time (e.g. 5 hours) and then go to bed 4)Get 7-8 hours of sleep 5)Immediately before the test take some time (e.g. 15 minutes) to look over formulas from your notes and/or textbook.

54 How to get these skills: Try to develop them Try to develop them Work independently Work independently Read books on how to study/learn Read books on how to study/learn

55 Books you can buy/borrow: “What Smart Students Know” by Adam Robinson “What Smart Students Know” by Adam Robinson “Getting Straight A’s” by Gordon W. Green “Getting Straight A’s” by Gordon W. Green “How to Study: Suggestions for High-School and College Students” by Arthur W. Kornhauser “How to Study: Suggestions for High-School and College Students” by Arthur W. Kornhauser “Study Smarter, Not Harder” by Kevin Paul “Study Smarter, Not Harder” by Kevin Paul (You can buy them at any book store or online)

56 If you develop these skills school will be more enjoyable and easier school will be more enjoyable and easier your marks will improve your marks will improve your first job will be easier your first job will be easier your career will improve your career will improve life will be better life will be better

57 “An engineer is someone who knows where to look things up.” engineering degree has to be done in 5 years engineering degree has to be done in 5 years the half-life of an engineering degree is 5-10 years. the half-life of an engineering degree is 5-10 years. the majority of engineering graduates do not have an engineering career the majority of engineering graduates do not have an engineering career Actually the word “engineer” comes from the same root as “ingenuity”. An engineer is someone who is ingenius at design.

58 If I want my university time to be worthwhile, my goal needs to be LEARNING HOW TO LEARN.

59 This seminar can be found at


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