Sem 2 2021 here, just not an option available for selection!
ENGG1600 is a tricky course, no two ways about it. It should not be taken as an easy elective and there is a high workload as you figure out how to appropriately research and learn about a topic well enough to produce your own material on it. You get out what you put in.
I'll start by saying I went into this course knowing I never wanted to be involved with research, and my opinion has not changed. I'm not suited to the world of academia, which is why I chose engineering in the first place. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would highly recommend it to any others who revel in learning a lot about a topic they find cool. Delivering a conference paper and presentation on a complex area you've spent a semester immersing yourself in is undeniably rewarding.
The elephant in the room is the reflections. They are as bad as everyone makes them out to be and can be incredibly frustrating on the marking. No one wants to make up "actionable" goals they have no intention of carrying out and spell out specific times and situations in which they are relevant for 1/4 questions of a 24% weighted assessment piece per week. That said, there is a question or two in some of the reflections that I genuinely did enjoy answering, so it isn't entirely unsalvageable, but the "how will you apply this learning" criteria was the bane of my existence. I would venture to claim it was for the rest of my cohort as well.
I gained some fantastic connections through my placement and thoroughly enjoyed being allowed into the lab, where, more often than not, I'd hang around and find a researcher who was more than happy to talk to me about what they were doing and their area of research. I had a couple pull up powerpoints they had created and enthusiastically talk to me about something they were fascinated by, which honestly made my day when it happened. There were also those on the opposite end of the spectrum who spoke down to me (and fair enough, I'm just a random first year someone let into the lab to watch the oxy-acetylene torch testing), but they were far less common than one may fear. Several are just enthused that someone is expressing interest in something they're devoting so much time and effort to, regardless of their base level of knowledge.
It was difficult for me to pull off the final assessment criteria because I had been passed between members of the group I was doing my placement with, and each person was doing something completely different in relation to the overall focus, but I was able to come out with something I was proud of in the end after a horrible peer-review session (I didn't even have a clear direction with my paper at that point, but I got more information and data from my placement connection the next day).
Lydia is great, and barring the reflections, we were treated as genuinely competent individuals who could figure things out and make appropriate decisions. I am sure Dr Chen will foster this atmosphere from 2022 onward.
Overall, I would take some time considering whether or not you want to do this course. Whether or not it's worthwhile is dependent on your attitude and investment, but it has the potential to be incredibly rewarding and was something I'm certainly glad I decided to do.
Semester 1 - 2017
BE(Hons) Chemical Engineering
N/A, just be ready to put those academic literature-finding skills into use.
This course is a great opportunity to get a peek into research life, as well as early networking and experiences so that you can stand out just a little bit more when applying for internships and attachments.
Scoring; The course is structured such that almost everybody gets a 5, if you have ANY intent on it. So passing is not an issue with almost minimum level of effort into assessments, as long as you submit something reasonable. However, this course is structured such that almost everybody gets a 5, whether you want to or not. You can probably get a 6 if you're not a real first-time student and have actually been through real academia before. You can probably get a 7 if you're literally superhuman and can read minds.
A/P Kavanagh is very passionate about the course and personal in communication. Personally, this makes her more inspiring than other lecturers, feeling more like a friend than a instructor.
However, as the majority of this course is 'outsourced' to the attachment supervisors and guest speakers (like 80% of the 'lectures' are by guest speakers), the QA is very hit-and-miss.
Guest lecturers: many were phenomenal, sharing with us valuable insights. However, there were also many which were decidedly mediocre, making the lectures wastes of time. There were way too many lectures on very low-level "moral" issues, with correspondingly low-level "discussions" (just the speaker regurgitating some Philo 101 for dummies responses). A few were complete idiots, it's a wonder how they got where they are with ignorance and arrogance at such fundamental levels.
Actually a pleasant variety. I think Lydia has done an amazing job here: most of us got attachments in the field of study we're interested in. Maybe Lydia checked the students' previous courses or something to predict it, not sure. Also, it's nice that we can actually suggest and work under other supervisors/researchers that were not initially on the list, if they come to an agreement with Lydia, which is probably pretty easy.
Specific attachment experiences are probably rather hit-and-miss, again. Mine was pretty interesting, as were my friends', but there's always a chance you can't get into the one you want, or have uninteresting scopes.
The good: Paper-related stuff like critical reviews, and conference presentation stuff. These were very useful for preparing us for what we had to do in the very near future (for some of us). We sometimes felt inadequately-prepared, and our assessments were marked very critically, but that's more or less a reflection of the 'real world'.
The hell: Reflections. The irony of the course. They were extremely anti-intellectual. At least how my tutor marked them. Each week or so we were given a few prompts to answer. They mostly consisted of specific questions/problems, and we were to discuss possible solutions. Thankfully it was not free-writing. HOWEVER, the marking scheme was shit-faced retarded. If you demonstrate previous thought, research, and/or any other signs of education in that problem, which would lead you to formulate a learned response, YOU GET MARKED DOWN. The tutors DO NOT WANT SOLUTIONS to problems. They want to see stupid little kids rambling on, grasping in the dark. They DON'T want clear and structured thought. They want you to repeat yourself at least 5 times. They DON'T want information and critical thinking. They want to know about your "feelings".
As a lot of the problems pertained to morality, if you happen to have done prior reading, you're shit out of luck. You either pretend to be retarded, or you get someone who is to do these assessment for you.
It doesn't seem to matter, though, almost everyone gets a 5. It's just annoying.
Conclusion: The course feels very divided.
Lydia seems to be a very competent, driven, and passionate co-ordinator. However the outsourced nature of this course (which is a great and fresh direction) means she can't always ascertain the quality. Also, perhaps due to the the infancy of this course, she still hasn't found the optimum balance for the amount and nature of hand-holding. And that's understandable. There'll always be a lot of us who are really taking this course as an 'introduction' to academia, and there'll always be a lot of us who can, frankly, excel if you dropped us a Ph.D or RA position right away.
The content is pretty good. But the assessment side of things can get really ugly, and they're the things that weigh you down throughout the semester. And there's really a lot of assessments, since there's no exams.
Many aspects of the course respects you as an adult who has been doing due preparation for his/her path to academia. However, there were also many aspects which treated you like little kids on the first day of primary school, and it's frustrating, and often, insulting, that we have to play along on these parts to get the marks needed.
Finally, for those who are seriously interested in academia: This course MAY help you with networking and an early start. It did help me land a summer research placement, which hopefully snowballs. However, the 5 you're going to get here isn't going to be great for getting that FC Honors to skip Masters. If you think you'll get better than 5, you're either kidding yourself, or you're actually woefully unprepared (which, as mentioned early, really helps you score much higher in this course). On the other hand, a 5 in a first-year level course isn't that huge a blow, but it certainly might feel like one if you're not yet fully comfortable with the weighted GPA system.
Semester 2 - 2016
Course was moderately difficult especially in early when you're trying to get your head around the assignments. However, the assignments are ultimately extremely satisfying to complete and whilst the reflection journals were at times tedious to complete within the 3 days allocated time frame they were quite straightforward to complete once you got the gist of what was required.
Experience as mentioned above was largely dependent upon which research center you got placed in. I was placed in the Power and Energy Systems research center and it was largely centred around providing me and my 4 other colleagues an 'experience' of what it was like to be involved in researching into the implications of increased renewable energy. As part of our placement we got to go on some neat tours to visit UQ's solar power facilities in both St Lucia and Gatton. I personally was also fortunate enough to be invited to attend a conference on renewable energy which was also quite intriguing although admittedly the content was very technical and predominantly beyond my own knowledge. With that said however, if you're planning on doing this course and selecting something where you're actively involved in a research project then I would not recommend the PES research center. Ultimately, there is a very diverse range of research centers (Astrophysics, Hypersoncis, Robotics, High Performance Polymers etc.) available and you'll probably find one that meets your own interests. Also, you're not restricted to being placed in a center of your desired major so if you're unsure on what major you want to do and would like a taste of what research is like in a given field then I would definitely recommend doing this course as you get to really take in what some of the brightest minds in the field are cooking up.
In terms of the lecturer, Lydia is a fantastic lecturer who is deeply passionate about this subject and puts in a genuine effort to get to know each and every one of the students. Furthermore, she even provides exclusive resume proofreading services and referencing to ENGG1600 students which is a definite bonus of doing this course.
Ultimately then, I found this to be an enjoyable course and would recommend it.
Semester 2 - 2015
No but would recommend it as the lecturer can get to know you and you get to listen to some cool talks by academics and industry experts.
There isn\'t one.
The course was well run and organised. The lecturerer, A/Prof Lydia Kavangh, really enjoyed teaching the class which really did show through the support, information and materials supplied to us.
The experience varied, according to your placement preference, you were generally sent off in pairs or groups of three's, so there was always someone with you (yea, I had a research partner that was really good too), as well as other people who shared their experiences.
The assessment pieces are challenging to start off with. No doubt, the critical article review, I sat down for four hours before I even wrote a single word down. The conference paper wasn't much different, however it is really rewarding and provides a fabulous insight to the life of doing research.
Generally speaking, this is something undergraduates don't see till third or fourth year, however A/Prof Lydia Kavanagh has taken the time to arrange this course for first years to experience, or taste if you will, research. And everything about research. On top of the 3 hour lectures (you get a 10 min break usually, trust me the 3 hours is really enjoyable, its not Mark giving a MATH1051 lecture), you are placed for 10 hours in a research facility. Some placements professors enjoyed first years, some I heard did not. One professor quoted 'these are first years who don't know anything about research, sent to me to teach them about research'. So pick your placement wisely, and something you truely have a passion to do. The selection has a large variety from Smart Machines to Math. All in all, do it if your heart desires, it was a wonderful experience and I did truely enjoy my time in this subject.
Semester 2 - 2014
Yes! But if you miss one, you should be able to catch up.