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May 2011 cover
Technical Journals

How to survive exams

Well hasn’t first semester flown by! Most of you will be finishing off those last few assignments (hopefully without having to pull too many all-nighters) before buckling down for exams. Examination time can be very stressful, so what should you be doing to come out in one piece without becoming drained and run-down right when you need to be functioning at your best?

You need to study hard, of course, but you also need to look after yourself properly at the same time. Regular healthy meals, decent sleep, regular exercise as well as some time-outs are essential to maintaining your health and well-being over the exam period. These activities will help your concentration and maintain your energy levels.

Have regular short breaks to stretch and refresh. Drink plenty of water (and less caffeine) and eat fresh, healthy food. Cramming until late in the night will not help your concentration or stress levels the next day, so make sure that you get a good night’s sleep. Exercise is really important too – you’ll study much more effectively if you take the time to get some exercise a couple of times a week.

Avoid feeling overwhelmed by breaking your study down into manageable components. Preparing a study timetable at the start of the study period can help. Try alternating topics (for example, study statics in the morning and maths in the afternoon) to avoid boredom. Make sure you also schedule some relaxation time to avoid burning out. Preparing your own summary of the course material is another good strategy, as it’s easier to remember your own words than someone else’s.

Double check the time and location of your exam – after all that preparation, you wouldn’t want to be late or go to the wrong venue. Long debrief sessions at the end of the exam are rarely beneficial – you can’t change the result, so take a short break and then start focusing on your next exam.

Best of luck!

Dr Jessica Andrewartha is chair of the Young Engineers Australia National Committee.

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Water competition to bolster winner’s cash flow

A first prize of nearly $15,000 is up for grabs in technical services consultancy AECOM’s Urban SOS: Water competition. The competition, which is in its third year, challenges undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students to provide innovative solutions to water resource issues. In addition to the prize money, nearly $24000 in professional services and/or cash will be made available to a charitable organisation to help make the winning project a reality.

The competition is open to teams of up to four students. Topical areas can range from potable water access, to sea level rise, to storm and wastewater treatment.

The submission deadline is 29 July. The competition culminates in November in London, where the top three teams will present their proposed solutions to a jury. To apply for the competition or to obtain further information, click here.

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Bright student minds compete in design awards

The committee behind the 2011 Australian Design Awards – James Dyson Award (ADA – JDA) has announced its 12 finalists. The award, which seeks to acknowledge projects from tertiary students of design in Australia, requires students to submit an innovative, practical, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sustainable design for a product. In accordance with industrial designer James Dyson’s philosophy, the submissions need to exhibit complete design – that is, to display efficiency, aesthetics and innovation.

The awards presentation ceremony will be hosted on 22 July in Melbourne, where the winner will be announced. To view the list of finalists, or for more information on the ADA – JDA, visit the website.

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University rolls out Rover replica

An operational model of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover was recently built for the Powerhouse Museum by University of Sydney students and academics. The robot, which is being applied in the musuem’s red planet-emulating Mars Yard, is intended to give high school students a direct experience with robots used in interplanetary exploration. The battery-operated, six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle bears the same size and appearance as NASA’s Mars Rovers, and was developed by the university’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). Visitors to the Powerhouse Museum will be able to watch the rover traverse simulated Martian terrain and run experiments similar to those undertaken on the red planet, while also observing students and academics conducting planetary robotics research with the rover. According to ACFR representatives, the researchers have implemented novel algorithms into the rover which could potentially find their way to Mars in the near future, such as autonomous rock sampling, analysis and classification.

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Postgraduate information event

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is hosting an information evening on 15 June for all students interested in postgraduate engineering studies. The evening is designed to give prospective students a detailed overview of UTS’ postgraduate engineering courses, and will afford attendees the opportunity to meet academics and discuss study options. For further details or to register for the event, visit the website.

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Engi-near and far work opportunities for graduates in Queensland

The benefits of international industry experience were discussed at a recent seminar delivered by four Queensland engineering graduates. E.S. Cornwall Memorial Scholarship recipients Jonathon Dennis, Nicholas Craig, Aidan Roberts and Reena Kwong each received the scholarships in 2008 for overseas industry placements.

The scholarship provides each recipient with $3000 per month for up to 18 months to pursue a program of work that typically consists of employment with an overseas electricity supply authority, manufacturing company or research organisation. It aims to provide its recipients with the opportunity to travel abroad and garner engineering work experience in foreign locales, and is open to engineering graduates from all Queensland universities. For more information on the E.S. Cornwall Memorial Scholarship, click here.

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Australian geomechanical research award

Mohammad Pournaghiazar, a final year PhD student of the Centre for Infrastructure Engineering and Safety within the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded the Australian Geomechanics Society Research Award for his work on cone penetration testing of unsaturated soils. The cone penetration test is a widely used tool for evaluating the engineering properties of saturated soils while in-situ. Pournaghiazar's research specifically addresses its use in unsaturated soils where, at present, no reliable methods for cone penetration test interpretation are available.

The Sydney and Newcastle Chapters of the Australian Geomechanics Society offer the award each year for research in geotechnical engineering or engineering geology. The award aims to provide a forum for research students from NSW universities to showcase their research to the wider geotechnical engineering community.

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Scholarship kickstarts studies for Indigenous students

Three Indigenous Australian students were presented with the Jeff Dobell Memorial Scholarship by the former prime minister Bob Hawke to assist in their pursuit of engineering studies. The scholarships, named in honour of Engineering Aid Australia (EAA) founder Jeff Dobell, are offered to alumni of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) who enter engineering courses at university.

The three winners were Edward Hyland, who is enrolled to study civil engineering at UNSW; Nathan Smith, who will study engineering at UTS; and Jesse Vinson, who is also enrolled in an engineering course at UNSW. Each of the three students received a cheque for $3000 towards their studies.
The IAESS is an annual week-long program organised by EAA to showcase engineering as a prospective career to young Indigenous Australians.

(l–r) EEA CEO Peter Berry, Jesse Vinson, Bob Hawke, Edward Hyland and Nathan Smith at the awards ceremony.

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