Wednesday 28th October 2009

I had to give a talk today about my year out. All the placement students have to give a presentation in front of 2nd years who are thinking of doing the same thing, and we get 15 minutes to cover the year. I’d imagine in most cases it’s pretty difficult to sum it all up in 15 minutes, but in my case I found it particularly difficult because I worked in three places doing two very different jobs. There was a lot that I missed out, which is a pity.

This is my final year of University. I was worried that I’d find it all incredibly tedious but actually I’m rather enjoying it. Yes some of my lectures are truly tedious (I really can’t find it in me to care about geotechnical engineering, possibly because the lectures are really hard to follow), but equally some are really fascinating (as ever, the water module. Who would’ve thought that the design of water/sewage treatment works could be interesting?), so it’s all good. I think my attitude is very different to before I did my year out, which is something I didn’t think would happen. I find it less difficult to motivate myself to do work now, which is pretty good seeing how I’ve got a hell of a lot to do this year…

I’m halfway through week 5 of the final year (yes, Cardiff University starts back at a proper time, unlike some “institutions” I could mention that can’t be bothered to start the year until about halfway into October… :-p). I’ve already applied for one graduate job, my to-do list for the rest of the week includes finishing the form for another one, and I’m considering a couple of other things too. All that, and I think I’ve still got a fairly good chance of getting a job with the company I finished my year placement with, should I want it. But the thing I’ve just applied for is the one I really want.

Whilst I was writing the talk I gave today, looking through my diaries and photos from the past year and thinking about how to cram almost a year’s worth of experiences into 15 minutes (the answer: 37 slides in PowerPoint), I started to miss working. In fact, I went with one of my brothers to watch my other brother play rugby the other day (yup, both my younger brothers followed me to Cardiff when they went to university. Oddly, we’re still all at different unis), and there was a building site right next to the pitch. As we walked past, I couldnt help thinking to myself “yeah, it’d be a lovely day to be out on-site today”.

The thing I miss the most is the feeling of “I did that”. It’s the feeling of having done something, of having made a difference in some small way and having something tangible to show for it. You can go and see the work I’ve done in the last year, and it’ll be there for a while yet. That’s a great thought.

I pretty much stumbled into engineering. I’m not sure how, but now I’m here I’m really glad that I did. It’s a fabulous profession because We Do Stuff. In the Victorian era, engineers like Brunel, Telford and Stephenson were celebrities; people queued up to visit their latest marvels. Engineers built your house, designed the circuits to carry electricity to it and worked out how best to lay the cables that carried this writing to your computer, which yet another engineer designed. Civil engineers are the reason you have clean drinking water, and I think we’re fairly justified in arguing that we save more lives every year through that one thing that we all take utterly for granted, than the medical profession could ever hope to achieve.

And I guess that brings us back to sewage treatment. On which I have a lecture at 9am tomorrow morning, so I should go to bed.

Posted at 1:13 am | Posted In: EngineeringSleep Tagged:



Friday 30th October 2009, 7:44 pm

People who start really late are irritating because they are always so smug about it. Week 5 is no week 9 though.

And if I’m sick I’d still rather have a doctor than an engineer, no matter how clean the water is =P


Friday 30th October 2009, 8:16 pm

I’m so jealous. Not of you being an engineer – because I’ve been to enough talks and seen enough rigs to realise that it’s not for me – but of knowing and of missing something that you know you’ll get to go back to in like, 9 months or something. Whereas I just don’t have a clue where I’ll be a year from now and that scares me a lot.


Saturday 31st October 2009, 2:40 am

“And if I’m sick I’d still rather have a doctor than an engineer”
Point being that, because of engineers, you’re less likely to get sick :-p

“…knowing and of missing something that you know you’ll get to go back to in like, 9 months or something”
Oddly, the job I really want isn’t the one I did last year. But yeah, it’s nice to have some sort of idea, and I hope you work it out soon too, cos I can imagine it’s a bit crap not having a clue…


Sunday 1st November 2009, 8:42 pm

I guess I’m still very much in a secure place with what I’ll be doing for the next three years and likely the two thereafter as well. It’s only after that that I’ll be confronted with actual life-changing decisionmaking. Hmmm.

I remember what it was like not knowing that though, and it wasn’t great. You’ll find yourself at home somewhere at some point without really knowing how you got there, I reckon =)


Monday 2nd November 2009, 12:11 am

But how do you know if the water actually is clean? Chemistry!

This seems like it’s a bad joke or a cute moral story about how everyone works together to make the world work, so stop quibbling about who is more important and let’s all live together in harmony, oui?


Monday 2nd November 2009, 12:30 am

And it’s biology that informs the way we make the stuff clean…

I didn’t say it in the first instance to “quibble about who is more important” (Mostly said it to wind Callan up, actually :p). You’re right though, lots of people with lots of varied expertise makes the world go round. The point I was trying to make though was that I enjoy engineering :)


Wednesday 11th November 2009, 4:10 pm

Clearly the key subject here is social sciences, without which nobody could communicate in an evidence-based fashion for maximum efficiency.

Or not.

Reflection always reminds me of reflective statements, which are the bane of medical school. I hates them, I does.


Saturday 21st November 2009, 7:17 pm

May I just say that I *love* how Callan and Dickie squabble and wind one another up? You two always have (since waht I believe was your first ever debate, about SUVs?), and it honestly makes my day, makes me smile inside and curl my fingers that bit more maternally around my mug of hot chocolate.


Saturday 21st November 2009, 7:18 pm

Oh, yeah, and Callan – where would medicine be without biomedical science, research and development? :P


Sunday 22nd November 2009, 2:30 pm

@ Callan:
Definitely “or not”…

@ Jenny:
Intelligent debate is fun :-)


Sunday 22nd November 2009, 8:55 pm

@ Jenny: Where would bioMEDICAL science, research and development be without medicine? =P


Tuesday 24th November 2009, 12:38 am

@Dickie: It’s intelligent (well, kinda…) but also so… boyish and squabbly and insincere and, well, sweet, and that’s what I like about it. Sorry!!

@Callan: If it wasn’t for all the research that plenty of scientists (to be fair some of them were doctors too) did, you’d still be arsing around with leeches and the moss from the skulls of dead men and things :P



Tuesday 24th November 2009, 1:27 am

lol yeah, I got that, no need to apologise :-)


Tuesday 24th November 2009, 10:30 am

I wasn’t really apologising – the ‘sorry’ is for patronising you :P!! xxx


Tuesday 24th November 2009, 2:05 pm

Haha. I love this. Also. I initally read “first debate” as “first date”, the image of which made the whole exchange a whole lot funnier. Boys will be boys, eh ;)


Friday 27th November 2009, 12:20 pm

I’ll have you know that leeching off blood is still used, but without the leeches. And it’s pretty unusual. Less unusual is cutting big holes in peoples skulls to alleviate pressure on the brain, and we know how old that treatment is!*

But yes, medicine is much improved these days. MDT and all that.

*although they sew the piece of skull into the abdomen where it develops a blood supply etc, keeping it alive, and then they can replace it later when they need to, which is pretty cool.


Friday 27th November 2009, 5:55 pm

I know they still do blood-letting in a non-leechy fashion but not for EVERY SINGLE DISEASE THEY CAN THINK OF. Which I think rather used to be the case.

That skull-abdomen-sewing thing is bloody amazing, too.


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