By Sara, Civil Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham offers a multidisciplinary first year which means you get to do a bit of work in both the Mechanics and Electrical Lab (which are both very new)!
Labs are always a fun and educative experience, you get to test and observe theories that you have been taught in lectures. You can understand where deviations could arise and how reasonable the assumptions you are making in your experiment are, and as an engineer, you always know what you are looking for! This teaches you many skills, from teamwork to analytical skills, which employers are always actively seeking.
The lecturers and PGTAs will be very helpful in labs, guiding you through how to operate the machinery or giving you some tips to help you come up with your interpretations. Some labs will be solely for informative purposes and others you will be working in either a group or individually to formulate a lab report. Definitely expect a lab report at least once every year and, don’t worry, it will become one of your strongest skills by the end of your degree – you also get to make friends from lab groups!
You will also get “electronic” labs in the new CTL building, where you will learn a lot of computer software in one of the most amazing and tech-advanced computer clusters! Each desk has two screens where the lecturer can control one screen and you can practically attempt your code (or any other software you are learning) on the other screen. This is also a great place to work outside of labs, as you can have both screens for your multiple tabs, this comes in very handy for assignments!
Some people enjoy lab work so much that they take it up as part of a society, such as UB Racing and ECO Racing for Mechanical Engineering, or Concrete Canoe for Civil Engineering! This gives you a chance to work constantly in a lab and is a great thing to talk about in a future job interview.
Here are some pictures from the Materials module labs this year and Mechanics lab from Year One: