Spring 2010 - Wow, I'm already past sophomore now, well, almost…

Looking back and reflecting on my previous diary entry, I don't feel like I've personally changed, but my student life definitely took some interesting twists and turns.

Abdul in springtime Then and now

I am beginning to feel what engineering really is. Gone are the days when things could easily be learnt by heart for an exam, when a single textbook or even the slideshows/notes prepared by the professor were enough to help you ace a test.

Now, as I march further into my engineering degree, my courses are becoming increasingly technical and demanding. Contrary to my earlier mindset when my primary focus of studying was for the examinations/quizzes, I've come to realise that we're meant for more. We're the builders of tomorrow's world, we're the future, and that itself puts upon us great responsibilities.

You never really stop being a student. Everyone learns something every day of their life. Here are the important lessons I've learnt recently:

Asking questions

If you're a student, you're bound to have questions. You will definitely be blessed with strange and new topics everyday. If there is something you don't understand, or have a doubt about, then not asking your question is one of the gravest sins a student can commit.

I've observed some of my classmates being too nervous to ask questions, or worse - not caring to ask. From personal experience I feel that the understanding I developed of the topic was immensely better when I got my questions or doubts cleared up right when they popped up.

Being wise

Another issue I feel strongly about is of young engineering students copying homework or cheating in tests. I wonder how these engineers of tomorrow would carry themselves with these habits incorporated in them from the very onset of their professional life. Can we entrust our bridges, buildings, networks security, airplanes, defence systems, etc. on such engineers? No, never.

I've witnessed some students misusing the solution manuals and they end up suffering in the examinations. At the same time, I've witnessed students using the solution manuals to help them gain more practice and experience of problem solving. Needless to say, such students not only aced the exams, they even developed a better understanding of the subjects.

Learning by teaching

This term I let myself experience a different taste of life by trying my hand at teaching.

Taking up the part-time job as a teaching assistant in the undergraduate physics labs really helped me learn a lot. Teaching can be a lot tougher than learning.

I enjoyed finding ways to provoke the engineering students to think for themselves and solve practical problems. It made me see how different students are blessed with different sets of talents, skills and even problems.

I strongly recommend you grab such opportunities and learn the skills of conveying and expressing our knowledge - for once you're out there in the world, its not really how much you've learnt that matters, but how much really you can convey or convert what you've learnt to useful stuff.