A summary of my second semester courses in Track One Engineering at the University of Toronto.
Today I am going to continue writing about my first year experience in the University of Toronto's Track One Engineering program. I have written an introductory article about the Track One program, along with an article about the five first semester courses I took in Track One Engineering. If you haven't read those already, click on my name and check them out on my page (or look at the end of this article for the links).
In this article, I will write about my five second semester courses in the Track One program. I hope that by reading this, I can give prospective students a glimpse at what kind of courses they will be taking first year. Also, this will give upcoming and current students my insight on the course, and how I feel it should be approached for success. Hopefully, my mistakes and experiences can help you avoid making the same mistakes, and succeed in the course to the best of your ability. Enjoy!
APS104 - Introduction to Materials and Chemistry
This is a split course, the first half being a chemistry course based on gas laws and thermodynamics, and the second half being a materials science course. The chemistry course is a continuation of the gas laws you have probably learned in high school, and is quite simple if you are strong in chemistry. I, however, was horrible in high school chemistry and still managed to pull off a half-decent mark in the course. I attribute this to the fact that the tests were easily predictable and there was not THAT much material to cover (compared to other courses).
The materials science half was interesting, although slightly more difficult. Going to the lectures for this half of the course is beneficial, because all the concepts taught are new and you will not have experience them before. Thus, it becomes very difficult to study out of a book for a brand new subject with no prior experience. The tests are fair and just a direct application of your knowledge. In both halves of the course, do your homework, understand the concept, and you should do very well.
APS112 - Engineering Strategies & Practice II
This is a continuation of the Engineering Strategies & Practice I course, which you can read about in my first article. Again, lectures will be abstract and the course mark is heavily based on a semester-long team project. This semester, however, you will not be solving the same problem as everyone else in the engineering program. Instead, you will be assigned a real-life client (most likely a campus professor or employee), and tasked with generating a solution to their problem. Every client/problem is unique to a group; this is what differentiates the course from the one in the previous semester.
Group dynamics and teamwork are key, and you can expect to get a very solid mark in this course if you take this into consideration. There will be a few graded milestones of your project, along with a final submission and a final presentation. Stay posted in the coming weeks for my article on teamwork and group dynamics. I will write about my experiences in this course and others, and speak about how to succeed in this type of team environment.
APS191 - Track One Seminar
This isn't really a course (ok it is), rather, it is a seminar that you must attend weekly. Attendance is taken, and if you miss more than 4 of the lectures (don't quote me on that number), then you fail the course and must take it again the following year. Essentially, a guest speaker from each of the eight engineering disciplines will come in and speak about their program, why it is the best, and lots of other fun stuff. You should attend all of them if you are unsure of which discipline to go into. There are some weeks where they talk about something unrelated, like graduate school or field work. Don't miss too many!
ECE110 - Electrical Fundamentals
This is again a split course, however, you will have the same professor for both halves and they are somewhat correlated. The first half of the course is based on electrostatic physics, and is a continuation of the electrostatics that you will have done in high school physics. The second half of the course is an introduction to circuits, focusing on methods of solving circuits (loop analysis, nodal analysis), equivalent circuits (Norton & Thevanin), and a host of other circuit-related work.
This course can be extremely difficult if you do not keep up with the material. Going to lectures is not crucial, but it will help explain concepts that you may not readily understand from reading the book. If you do not do the homework (all of it), you WILL get stuck on problems on the test, and they will be unsolvable. It is not a course where you can "wing it", and just figure out things as you go on a test. This was one of the most difficult courses for me and I would strongly advise allocating a large chunk of your time to succeeding in this course.
If you want to go into Electrical or Computer Engineering in second year, you must understand this course completely. This is an absolutely crucial foundation to the upper year courses in circuits, electronics, electrostatics and many others. If you do what I did, and just barely got through this course, you will continue to struggle year after year until you understand the material in this course completely.
MAT197 - Calculus B
Very similar to the workload in the Calculus A course I wrote about in my last article. This course focuses on integral calculus, with some work done on sequences and series'. You can get a good mark in this course if you do ALL the homework problems, all the previous tests and final exams, and also some additional problems out of the book that you choose.
The professors in this course like to include little "tricks" in the test problems. If you can recognize the trick, and transform the question based on the trick, it becomes relatively easy to solve (if you did the homework), and the answers almost always work out to something nice (for instance, 1 or e). However, if you do not recognize the trick, you will struggle with the question and will probably get a mark of zero. Very little part marks are awarded, even if your error is trivial (such as negating a positive number or adding something wrong). There will be a couple test questions that are straightforward, but the majority will be more difficult than what you have seen in the book. Thus, you must be a master of the trivial questions in order to have a sufficient amount of time to solve the harder questions. If not, you will not complete the test on time and will be stuck with a poor mark, as I was. Do your homework!
MIE100 - Dynamics
This is a physics course no longer based on static bodies, but moving bodies instead. You will review the basics that you learned in high school (velocity, acceleration, etc.) and then the course will begin to get more and more difficult. This is a course where you REALLY need to understand the concept; each question you do will be slightly unique and there is not a cookie-cutter approach to solving the problem. Attending lectures is strongly advised; here you will learn the concepts and be able to ask questions.
As the course progresses, you will learn about momentum, radius of gyration and lots of other fun stuff. Stay on top of the work and you can do well in the course, but approach the problems with a quality over quantity mindset. What I mean by this is: it is much better to do 2 problems and really understand the concept, rather than doing 20 questions but not really understand why you are doing what you are.
This concludes my review of the courses I took in second semester within the Track One Engineering Program at the University of Toronto. Stay tuned in the coming weeks, where I will be writing about how to succeed on engineering exams, and how to create the perfect team dynamic for an engineering project!
Until next time...