What’s first year engineering during COVID-19 look like?

Hands on and team-focussed, engineering as a first year subject at uni may be a lot of fun – but how did it fare during lockdown? And what will first year engineering degrees during COVID-19 look like in 2021?

Careers with STEM Founder Heather Catchpole checked in with Dr Eva Cheng, Deputy Director for Women in Engineering and IT at University of Technology Sydney to get the lowdown on engineering open days, virtual tours and what makes learning work best for students in first year engineering degrees.

Read next Are you prepared for uni Open Days? Quiz yourself!

Transitioning to full time online learning was a massive challenge for universities during COVID-19. Engineering is a particularly hands on subject – with applications from making prosthetics for disabilities to improving housing in developing countries. So how do you work project-based learning into engineering?

Turns out giving learning into the hands of students is key, says Eva. “We’ve really been learning from our students – they’ve been really adaptive in changing to online teaching and also engaging in a different way.”

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One of the things that works best in first year engineering during COVID-19 was setting up strong social channels, says Eva. “One thing we’re definitely going to keep is the chat live function and definitely emojis!”

“In some ways online has enabled more diversity of interaction. This year has made us think about what’s really valuable about face-to-face and what’s valuable about teaching online and the strengths of both.”

“Next year I’d like to think more about how I can bring the world into the classroom.”

Visit UTS Engineering during Open Day.

:) Head to our YouTube channel for more fun, STEM-themed videos.

Heather Catchpole

Author: Heather Catchpole

Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs

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