Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I drew the above figure of a little student being crushed by a pile of work to reflect my current mental state. On the plus side, at least arches are generally fairly strong structural elements; unfortunately, the construction of this particular arch appears rather flawed so our student may well be smushed shortly.

There's nothing quite like midterms. They induce about 20 to 40 percent the stress and sleep deprivation as final exams (figures based solely on grade weightings), while also being right in the middle of classes. It's easy to get into a situation where you feel like studying one subject will cause you to fall behind in all the others; you'll note that the student in the drawing doesn't actually have an open book in front of him, but removing a book will cause the whole setup to collapse.

However, midterms come and go... and with enough sleep they even usually go well enough that understanding and grades can be salvaged by the end of the course. There's also life after midterms: an hour after my last midterm this Friday I'll be headed off on an engineering jazz band trip. Wee! So on that note, I'm off to bed.

Friday, February 20, 2009

On Engineering Blogs and Bluffing

I've always been a big fan of the blogs published on the MIT admissions page. Establishment propaganda or not, I imagine they do a really good job of getting young little MIT freshmen excited about their school and preparing them for their first year.

However, I am a Canadian engineering student in second year. This means that: (a) I don't go to MIT, (b) I've already passed the excitement that is first year engineering, and (c) I can't really relate to institutions that bleed money.

Hence this blog. This blog is for every student that wishes their school was just a little bit better, for every engineer that secretly loves arts, and every arts student who really wanted to be an engineer; most of all though, this blog is for whoever the heck can find it.

But enough of the manifesto! I'd like to take a moment to bring the non-engineers up to speed so without further ado I present to you The Majugi Guide to Bluffing Through a Meeting of Engineers:
  • XKCD is awesome. (Also valid for meetings of mathies, CS students, or internet junkies)
  • The engineering song: "We are, we are, we are the engineers / We can, we can demolish forty beers [alternatively: fix anything with gears]" after these two lines start mumbling but try to join in for the part that goes "and we don't give a damn for any damn [mumble] that don't give a damn for us."
  • Lady Godiva is the mascot / patron saint of engineering. She got the gig by riding naked through town on a horse.
  • Regardless of your gender, you believe there are not enough women in engineering.
  • Engineers who have graduated from Canadian universities receive Iron Rings. They are meant to be reminders of engineers' responsibilities as the iron was originally taken from a collapsed bridge in Quebec.
  • You cannot legally call yourself an engineer in Canada unless you have the P.Eng certification. Don't worry though, you can still blend in with engineering students by calling yourself a plummer (supposedly -- I've never actually heard anyone use the term).
  • If you're really having trouble breaking the ice, flap your arms together like a seal and repeat "arts, arts, arts" in your best seal-impression voice. [I can't claim to have come up with this on my own, but it's a sure-fire way of amusing engineers.]
...and for those of you who knew everything on that list I present The Majugi Guide to Appreciating Arts -- ie How to Avoid Being a Complete Douchebag:
  • Don't do that artsy seal impression in front of arts students.
  • Pick up and read a campus newspaper every once in a while.
  • Note that arts students actually have time, so they make great recruits for thankless but crucial roles in organizations such as Engineers Without Borders and student governments.
  • Student film festivals are amazing... particularly if admission is free for students.
  • Drama productions are usually surprisingly fun. Try to go on the last performance on the last day when they'll often allow heckling.
  • You're not a computer power user until you've used it to compose music, draw, do some 3D modelling or animation, or something similarly artsy. A very elegantly coded hash sort does not count.
  • To develop a quick appreciation for visual artists, try making your own graphics for a website, or a video game, or for the GUI of any fancy software project you might be working on. If you've tried this and you're smugly thinking it was easy, show your design to a non-engineer and watch as they recoil in horror.
Thanks for reading. Homework beckons.

The Beginning

Some people make New Year's resolutions on January 1st. Others use the Asian or lunar calendars, or even the beginning of a school year as a time to reflect and set new goals and lofty ambitions.

For my part, I find mid-February during my school's reading week to be particularly conducive to resolutions. This is a time of relaxation, when the overwhelming flood of work from school is temporarily (oh so temporarily) held at bay and there is suddenly time to contemplate life after assignments. It is also a foreboding time, with midterm exams looming and grades hanging in the air. Together, boredom and guilt are very strong motivators, matched only by years of procrastination experience to channel the need to be productive away from studies and into wild ventures such as acting a musical, building a snowman, or starting a blog.

So here we are.