If you haven't read Victor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning", his personal account of the Holocaust and his reaction to it, you should. But if you don't much care for reading, or haven't the time, and still want to gain some understanding of how people find hope and reward in a pit of despair, you might consider taking ENGG1100.
It starts with icebreakers. Thirsty, male first years waited for the few women in the course to sit down at the dozens of circular tables set up in the gymnasium, then pounced. We were shortly given a chance to assert our physical dominance, being taken outside and instructed to roar like a tiger, hold hands, and shoot each other. Tigers don't hold hands, nor shoot people, which made this segment puzzling, to say the least. Later, we would be instructed to build a bridge from pasta and to prioritise equipment in a survival situation. I ate the pasta and prioritised food and water. I'm a tiger, what do they expect?
This was the first hint of organisational troubles within the course.
The workshops, seminars, and lectures were of little use. The information we actually needed was buried in mostly random sections of mislabeled documents sitting in vaguely named subfolders sitting at the bottom of entirely unrelated pages. It also tended to be inaccurate or blatantly contradictory with other material. The proper response to such a dilemma is, in my opinion (frequently mistaken for an animalistic snarl), to update the documents. I recall one example of this happening. Preferred responses included "the course is brilliantly organised, you're just too stupid and / or lazy to understand it" and "our mistakes were deliberate - we're just mimicking real world difficulties".
The fact that I seriously debated whether a "I'm paraphrasing and exaggerating" disclaimer was necessary in that last paragraph should be indicative.
Ah, but I highlighted finding hope amidst this despair, did I not?
The good news is that the project is great fun, if you choose the right project at least, which is obviously building a robot that can detect landmines. If you chose to build the shelter or shovel or sanitation system, you're either a) incredibly kindhearted and want to enter engineering to help people, b) more boring than the drill you'll build in ENGG1200 next semester if you continue in your dreary ways, or c) a tiger who didn't understand Si-net signon (which, by the way, is apparently crucial to fill out within one minute).
The STC sessions provided me with an immense variety of practical skills, from asking the overseers to use the bandsaw for me, to waiting around aimlessly while waiting for an overseer. The natural separation of build tasks made it easy to perform my own segments while learning virtually nothing about my teammates' work until it invariably broke while they weren't around to help fix it. Being pestered with deadlines for documentation and progress and team management was, granted, a little repetitive and dry, but eventually enabled me to flawlessly shift blame and divert anger when I made a mess of things.
More seriously, it was an incredibly affirming and engaging experience and I particularly recommend applying to be team leader. If you luck out with a good team, or are a sufficiently engaging team member you can inspire everyone to properly get behind the project, you'll learn a great deal about practical engineering, working to strict requirements and deadlines, leadership and generally getting a long, and perhaps most importantly, how to fit in at university without anybody realising you're a tiger with a penchant for undeserving Holocaust analogies.
The course is MUCH better than my rating reflects. Silly UQReview criteria don't know ****.
Semester 1 - 2014
BE / BSc
Robots and simulated landmines are badass
No-one realised I am a tiger
Wonderfully practical and improves your groupwork
Course organisation was Hitler's brainchild
Didn't get to eat the lecturer
Probably really dependent on getting an awesome group and project like I did
The real life/practical side of the course was great. Felt like you actually 'created' something. Most of the theoretical side really felt padded and superfluous though. Some parts feel very segregated to the course and just thrown in as a 'daunt inducer'. You'll probably feel like you've thrown into the deep end also seeing this is taken in your first semester ever! Eventually, it becomes clear that lots of the stuff on the theory side is just baloney and you only really need to know enough of it to pass and you can shine in the areas that you care about. Also, some of the assessment fell victim to this same fault making some criteria unclear or feel irrelevant. Lastly, the 'prac labs' or whatever they were called (where you could test and code your components) felt real lacking to me. No one bothered to explain much to me and felt reluctant or condescending when they did. Bear in mind that I'm a Software major and did one of the more software involved projects.
Semester 1 - 2013
Very fun and interactive
Real life 'project' and responsibilities
Helps evaluate whether you would enjoy being an engineer for the rest of your life
The ENGG1100 course was set out nicely for every student, with or without a passion for engineering. It completely introduces and breaks down what engineering is all about, giving you all the necessary tools and sources to assist you in your semester-long project. Despite the few counterproductive and ineffective classes aimed towards assisting us with completing the weekly tedious task sheets on engineering aspects, it definitely introduces team work and report-writing to a whole new level. It was definitely a great experience which allows you to build a foundation with people considering the same discipline and sets you up for future reports and team work.
Semester 1 - 2013
Building relationships with new people
Clear understanding of engineering
Prepares you for future work
Tedious work sheets
Sometimes ineffective/pointless lectures
Uncomfortable confrontation with slack team members (if any)
This course it great for learning what engineers actually do when designing things. You will learn about certain processes that engineers go through when designing anything and how much work it really is. Course coordinators are excellent, although many things in the course are done at the last minute, leaving you felling rushed.