In this edition of #SeniorsTalk, we managed to conjure a different perspective of the popular Computer Science course where this time around, we got an NTU student to talk about her experience instead. Xin Mun is a year 2 Computer Engineering student who just finished her first year studying the course in Pulau NTU. Until the point of reading through her contribution, I have always thought of Computer Science as just 'coding' and 'programming'. But after reading and learning more about what she went through in her first year, my perspective about the course has changed and now I'm better equipped to advise juniors interested in a career in it. Furthermore, now I can show them how different the courses are in both NTU and NUS, which is an extra weapon for me to psycho juniors to choose NTU instead.. 😈
(1) Why did you choose to undertake NTU CE as a degree?
Initially, I didn't know which course I wanted to take, so I started eliminating faculties I did not have interest in and I ended up with engineering. Then I looked through the different kinds of engineering there were, and I found Computer Science (CS)/Computer Engineering (CE) to be the most interesting and because there is an increasing demand for computer-related degree holders (more avenue for future jobs).
I ended up choosing CE instead of CS because I wanted to learn about the hardware aspect of computers (circuitry, motherboard etc.) which CS does not emphasise much on.
(2) What are the best and worst things about your course?
To be honest, I really enjoy this course. Most of the mods have labs and projects that allows for hands-on practice of the theory learnt during lectures. This helps me understand how to apply what I've learnt in certain contexts. Furthermore, they use a flipped classroom method of teaching (i.e. pre recorded lectures for us to watch before doing tutorials, and face to face lectures for review of material) which allows me to learn at my own pace and I can always rewind to take notes.
However, the worst thing is that it takes time to adjust to certain philosophies, of breaking down problems into subproblems, and understanding the piece of code given - which can be quite frustrating in the beginning. But with time and consistent practice, you will be able to slowly get the hang of it. Furthermore, since I'm working with the logic of computers, it really is a whole new language to learn, a new way of thinking because computers are not programmed the same way as humans. This can get very overwhelming since I had no prior experience with coding/hardware, and the content just keeps piling up every week. In short, it doesn't wait for you to understand fully before moving on. (But then again, that's uni life...)
(3) What is one thing you discover about your course only after entering university?
Before entering university, I was quite worried I would not enjoy what I was studying, making my 4 years in here a drag. But soon enough, I realised that I enjoy coding (even though it frustrates me a lot when I cannot get it) as the satisfaction I get when the code works is indescribable. At the same time, I also enjoy connecting wires to make circuits work which oddly gives me a sense of achievement.
(4) What advice would you give to juniors who are considering NTU CE as a degree?
Consider if you actually like to work with computers, and whether hardware suits you. If you are unsure whether to take CE or CS, the first year is a common year, so you'll be exposed a little bit to both hardware and software. From there, you can make the decision if you want to switch to CS or stay in CE.
It would be good if you can try some coding courses beforehand as well to see if this is something you would want to do for the next 4 years, and maybe even as your career. Gaining some prior experience of coding before entering helps you ease into the syllabus/course easier.
(5) Why did you choose NTU CE over other schools?
I prefer the environment at NTU better as it is more chill and probably a tad bit less stressed compared to the other universities around Singapore. The hall culture also won me over as it gave me a family away from home.
(6) What was your biggest takeaway from university thus far?
The friends I made in hall and in faculty. They helped made the transition to university less overwhelming because I knew I wasn't alone in this journey. My hall life (i.e. the hall activities I participated in) also helped to make uni life less mundane and offered more than just studying. I was able to try new things such as dance which forces me to step out of my comfort zone and from there, I grew as a person.
With that, Seniorsays.sg would like to thank Xin Mun for her insightful contribution and we hope her experience provides you a glimpse of a typical NTU Computer Engineering student's life! Ultimately, we hope this will help you make better university decisions as you transition into adulthood. Should you also wish to contribute, do feel free to click on the Contribute section on think.seniorsays.sg and write in to us today! 😉