Workload (or: The Obligatory Revision Rant)

Saturday 26th April 2008

So it’s just over two weeks before my exams start. I have four spread over a fortnight, before I shuffle off to Devon for a field course for a week (sidebar: who the hell thought it’d be a good idea to go on the same day as the Monaco GP? One of my favourite races on the calendar, and I have to miss it. Or, more to the point, get Mum to record it and then devoutly avoid any news sources for a week. Which shouldn’t be hard – apparently the place we’re going doesnt even have cashpoints…).

Anyway, just over two weeks before exams, and we’re still being taught new material, meaning it’s still worth going to some lectures. Oh, and we have a bunch of coursework due in the next two weeks. One is a design module, which we’re yet to start the drawings for. Which means dealing with possibly THE least intuitive piece of software ever.

Obviously, one of the things we have to do (by “we”, I mean “me”. Being the resident geek means that getting things out of AutoCAD is my job…) is the FUN task of getting drawings out of AutoCAD. YAY! It’s just like printing a word document, only on A2 paper and so loading the plotter is massively awkward. Oh, and obviously as it’s an engineering drawing it’s pretty much useless if it’s not to scale. But getting things to scale in AutoCAD is a black art; you play around with various options and hope one of them gets the damn thing to the right scale. Otherwise, there’s the risk that it’ll come out at 1:1, which… Well we’re designing a 3-storey office block at the moment, you do the maths…

Changing linetype is even more fun. We managed to get dashed lines on the last drawing we did, but I don’t think any of us knows how the hell we did it.

Can you tell I hate that software?

Also, theres maths to be done. Loads of our calcs (i.e. designing the RC beams and slab so that the thing would stand up, if it were ever built) have gaps, where we’ve started and got bored… Good idea at the time, but bad when it comes to write them up and we find out that we’ve left bits out. And ESPECIALLY bad when you do part of those calcs and find out that your floor slab fails servicability checks… (You basically design for two cases. The ultimate case is the absolute maximum loading that something will take before it fails; in other words “if you exceed this, the thing will fall down”. The other one is the servicability state. If it fails this, then the structure won’t fall down, but it will do something that it shouldnt. So it might crack or bend too much in certain places, or something like that. It’s safe, but isn’t doing its job properly, which means that as a design it’s failed. A perfect example is the Millennium Bridge in London; that wobbled because of the loadings placed upon it and was uncomfortable but not unsafe. But, a bridge that people don’t want to use is pretty useless, so the structure is said to have failed*. In the case of our friend the floor slab, it fails a deflection check, although thinking about it it’s only just over the limit, so we’ll probably be ok. Huzzah for factors of safety!)

So yeah, beyond the design module, I’ve also got maths coursework due in next friday. Which I haven’t started yet. That’s on Matlab, and I’m not actually sure what we’ve got to do for it. In fact, all I know is that “it’s solid!”, which doesn’t help…

Aaaand on top of that, we have to update our Professional Development folder (think NRA, except that this counts towards a module) for… Well I think that’s in for the week before exams, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure. Hmm. And I found out the other day that because of something I’ve gotta do on Wednesday, I’m going to be missing a guest lecture which we’re expected to write a report on. So I’m gonna have to half-inch someone else’s notes to write some sort of waffle for that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is: my timetable sucks. I’m trying to revise, but between lectures and coursework and other stuff, it doesn’t always happen. That said, I went down to the library a few times this week and got a decent stack of revision notes done, which doesn’t suck. Ideally I want to have all my notes done by a week on Sunday, but after printing out circa 40 pages of notes on Law that I need to learn, I think that target is slightly optimistic…

Now I’m sure I’m not the worst affected. I’m sure someone will leave a comment like “well you think that’s bad? I’ve got 100 STRAIGHT hours of exams, a 20,000 word essay due in the week before, and my lectures finish AFTER my exams!”, but damn it, it’s my blog and I’ll moan if I want to :-p. It just seems so silly to still be teaching us stuff and expecting work off us right up to the start of the exam period. This is why I wasn’t looking forward to coming back to Uni after Easter.

I still feel far too unstressed though. They haven’t shifted from “too far away to worry about” to “Imminent! You’re bloody screwed!” yet…


*Writing that makes me happy, because it means that I’ve learned something during the last couple of years…

Posted at 3:53 am | Posted In: RantSleepStuff Tagged:



Saturday 26th April 2008, 10:34 am

What we have established (between various blogs and postings and what have you) is that a lot of university teaching is structured appallingly. Just goes to show that academic expertise does not equate to common sense.


Saturday 26th April 2008, 10:53 am

That all sounds quite crazy. I agree with Lucy, I always thought Uni would be far better structured that school but it turns out that’s not the case – the illusion didn’t stick for long!

Good luck with all your work and exams :o)


Saturday 26th April 2008, 12:43 pm

Hannah – if only! I’m afraid that my Dad’s rants disabused me of that notion long ago. In schools, students’ learning takes priority above all else and people there have actively chosen to teach. In university, academics are there first and foremost to research. That’s not to say that there aren’t those who enjoy lecturing and who do it well, but unfortunately it’s not first priority for a lot of them. And as with all other walks of life, some of ’em are just plain clueless.


Saturday 26th April 2008, 9:24 pm

I wish you could have told me 3 years back! ;o) I suppose I got the school side of things with my Dad being a teacher, I remember moaning about how school was a little lax in certain areas of organising and planning, I take it all back.

It appears the *adult* world isn’t all that sophisticated.


Sunday 27th April 2008, 1:29 am

“Changing linetype is even more fun. We managed to get dashed lines on the last drawing we did, but I don’t think any of us knows how the hell we did it.”

So it turns out that you make a new layer, shove all the lines/whatever you want to be dashed into that layer, then change the linetype of the layer (and remember to change the linescale to something sensible). The fact that it’s so easy makes me kinda embarrassed that I moaned about it in the first place.

THAT SAID… printing it with the dashes is still a battle, iirc. Cos of the linescale when you set the print size. Woe Is Me.

Anyway, yeah.
“Just goes to show that academic expertise does not equate to common sense.”
Lucy, I can think of someone we both know who exemplifies that point Perfectly…

“It appears the *adult* world isn’t all that sophisticated.”
lol, where did you get the idea that it was? :-p


Sunday 27th April 2008, 11:42 am

Can’t think who you’re talking about :-P

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