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Ayeda Sayeed

Dear First Year Me,

Would you look at that, you’re in university (and in engineering too, how impressive)! But boy are you small. Can you even see the chalkboard over that guy’s head? Or that one? Or that one too?

Don’t worry. If you don’t catch part of the class notes, one of your engineering pals will be happy to show you what they’ve managed to write down. That’s something you will find among engineering students: a camaraderie that’s stronger than the coffee you’ll need to get through midterms.

At the 2014 Formula Sun Grand Prix, an international solar car competition for collegiate teams, where I learned that there is so much to be accomplished in my lifetime.

That’s not meant to scare you. You probably won’t need coffee, you’ve never drank it before. You’re organized and dedicated, and that is what will get you through the toughest of school times. Managing your time is a very important skill to have in engineering, what with all of the classes, course work, and extra projects you’ll be doing. This is something that moves with you into your future.

Speaking of extra projects, get involved! That cool design team you want to join? Do it! You may be in first year and you may think you don’t know a lot, but your most valuable asset is that you are willing to learn. You’re the kind of sponge that’s going to soak up everything you can so that one day you too can lead that team to success.

But, being in university is not about working all of the time. You have so many opportunities available to you in this place! Sure, spend some time extra time getting technical experience. You also need time to relax, have a little fun, and let your brain recuperate. Also, try to meet people outside of the “engineering bubble”.

Take good notes, re-read those notes, and keep on top of your homework. Find ways to make your course material interesting and applicable outside of the classroom. If you lose interest in a topic, you lose motivation, and then you lose marks as well as a great learning opportunity.

Do. Not. Carry. A. Heavy. Backpack.

It’s amazing how much there is to see, do, and learn in the world. It’s amazing how much of that is available to you in your first year. Take advantage of this experience. You are exposed to so many incredible technologies and projects that you should not miss out on. Never, for a second, think that you are incapable of something—this is the time you have to grow and learn so that you can achieve that goal. Soon enough, you’ll be at the frontlines of innovation, and right now you need to grab all of the tools you can to arm yourself.

 

All the best,

Future Me.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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