This past week has been one of the toughest. We all expect the final year to be fun but forget the amount of work you have to put in. I am a fifth year student in civil engineering and don’t get me wrong I had not imagined reaching here this fast. One of the units in the program is the project, when I was in first year and second year I would see the fifth years going for their presentation dressed in power suits, it was actually one of the few occasions I feel engineers get dressed up for. I got serious in third year after my first attachment program when I started doing research online on different problems and possible solutions but I think after actually writing a proposal for one of my fourth year units is when I knew that fifth year was knocking.
Fast forward to last week when the project proposal presentation was scheduled for Wednesday. I don’t think I slept as the date drew closer. We had a brief meeting with the coordinator on what is expected from the students, what to expect from the panel which would include lecturers and guidelines on what to include in the presentation. I spent three hours preparing twelve slides three hours!!! 🙄I was up on Wednesday at 2 am editing the slides and rehearsing because each student had five minutes only. Some of my friends came to help me rehearse with an audience and it really helped.
The program began at 9 am where the panel ( which only had one female representative)took their positions while the students settled in. There were brief introductions and words of encouragement from the panel( I repeat ONE female) 😏. The only thing on my mind was the order of presentation, at the back of my mind I knew I was either fourth or second. As each student was called to the front all I could think about was all the stories I had heard of how intimidating and harsh the panel was but as the program progressed I got a different perspective. It was finally my turn, I was actually proud of myself for being able to articulate my idea and actually keep time. I forgot some points but was still able to remain composed. The panel then asked questions and gave general comments. One of the comments was a grammatical error; did you know the past tense of cast is cast, if you didn’t know now you do. Who knew those five minutes which had held me hostage for three days would be over that fast. The only part left was the final verdict which would be: approval of the title, amendment of the title or rejection of the title.
In my opinion it was a very good experience that encouraged public speaking and also a learning opportunity listening to my colleagues presenting their ideas.
My advice to someone who might have to do a similar presentation maybe not in front of a crowd but a panel is:
- Do your research. As everyone did their presentation it was clear who understood their topic. A simple question such as what is a bore hole can be asked. Literature review is very important, it can help you find out what has been done, challenges encountered and recommendations
2.Consult. I was so afraid of running my idea by people but it helped me understand more and encouraged me to research on aspects I had not thought about. Constructive criticism will help you shape your idea into something tangible.
3.Identify something you are interested in. I am a strong advocate for people to do what intrigues them because I feel it gives you drive to overcome challenges it will come with. Someone pitched an idea about construction of spectator stand for the rugby pitch. He is a rugby player but his charisma about the issue was evident . The panel even gave him a round of applause.
As I begin this journey I cannot wait to share as it unfolds. Till my next post , ” Life is tough my darling but so are you.” – Stephanie Bennett Henry.