Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Migraines Suck

This was the worst experience of my life.

Today I had a test at 11 AM. I have taken a lot of tests in my day and I consider myself a good test taker. I usually finish before everybody and I’m left looking around to make sure I didn’t go too fast. Then I wait until somebody else turns in their test so I don’t feel like I went to fast. Today’s test was for my Timber Structures class.

I had studied sufficiently for this particular test and I felt alright going in. I had woken up around 8, taken a shower, and even had breakfast, which for me is a rarity. I wanted to not be rushed, stressed, hungry, thirsty, or anything to hinder my test taking skills. I got to the classroom ten minutes early, sat down, and pulled out my calculator, pencil, and eraser. I was set up for success.

Dr. Bagheri got to the room and handed out the formula packet, which I thumbed through to familiarize myself with it. It looked normal, and I felt that my chances in passing increased with it in my hand.
She then handed out the test, which I promptly wrote my name on, as most people do.

Then it happened. The worst thing that could happen happened. I went blind. Well sort of. It’s called “aura.” Basically I see spots that fill my vision, much like someone gets when they come inside when it’s bright outside, except that it lasts a whole lot longer. I knew I was doomed.

Then I got the pre-migrainal arch. It’s a tingly feeling that starts in my right hand, moves up my arm into my face and then down my left arm and out my left hand. While the spot is in each place, I lose most strength in that area. So, gripping a pencil was next to impossible. Remember I was basically blind at the same time.

The worst part of the aura was that part of the test was reading tables with small tiny numbers. It would have been a breeze if I could just wing it by writing big things, but yeah, no. When the pre-migrainal arch moved to my mouth, my teeth started to chatter, which during a test is not allowed.

When I get a migraine, my body temperature fluctuates like crazy. So I started sweating. And then I was really really cold. Then I was burning up. Then I was freezing.

Somehow, someway, the aura left and I was able to crank through the test. I finished with no time left and was in a real weird state. I went home, spent some time losing weight and slept the day away.

It was the worst experience of my life. 

The FE Exam

On October 26, I need everyone in the world to be saying a prayer for me. I will be taking the FE exam. FE stands for Fundamentals of Engineering and if I pass it, I will officially be an Engineering Intern. Right after graduation this May, I can take the PE exam, and then with 4 years of experience I will be a Professional Engineer. When I am a PE, I can put my stamp on engineering drawings. As an engineering intern, I can work on those drawings. Eventually I want to take the SE exam and become a licensed Structural Engineer.

Needless to say, the FE is a big step in my career path.  It’s an 8 hour test (as is the PE; the SE is 16 hours long), given in two 4 hour blocks. The morning block is general engineering and the afternoon block is discipline specific, which for me is Civil.

Fortunately, I don’t have to memorize 800 formulas before I go in. I have a 200 page exam book to use with necessary formulas.

The breakdown of the test, and how I feel on each topic are as follows:

Morning Session:
Mathematics – 15%
                -Math isn’t the worst. It’s the basis of everything I do. The trouble could be in remembering exactly how to integrate some formula. I seem to forget that quite often.

Engineering Probability and Statistics – 7%
                -All I remember are bell curves which are standard deviation. Or something like that.

Chemistry – 9%
                -Oh, crap. Mass balances and… concentration maybe?

Computers – 7%
                -I use one every day, but how am I supposed to answer questions about them? The exam book says I need to know terminology, programming, and if analysis. All of that sounds like a piece of cake.

Ethics and Business Practices – 7%
                -What I remember of this is do whatever your client asks as long as its safe.

Engineering Economics – 8%
                -Oh I crushed this class. I got a 96% on the first test, a 98% on the second and didn’t have to take the final. Cash flows are my plaything.

Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics) – 10%
                -Ok, statics (analysis of loads on systems that don’t move) is my bread and butter. Dynamics is the bane of my existence. It is the hardest I have ever worked to barely pass a class. I got a 25% on the first test. Granted, the class average was 27%.

Strength of Materials – 7%
                -Also my bread and butter. I can kill it in this class. The only thing I need to seriously review is torque.

Material Properties – 7%
                -Chalk this one up as a loss.

Fluid Mechanics – 7%
                -I think this I could do this one. I know Bernoulli’s equation and the energy equation. Dr. Dennett has really helped me understand what I never learned in this class.

Electricity and Magnetism – 9%
                -I think this is why I’m taking circuits right now?

Thermodynamics – 7%
                -0º is cold. 500º is hot. I don’t think that’s what they’re testing though.

Afternoon Session:
Surveying – 11%
                - I had a week long module in my capstone design class a couple weeks ago, and the one day we did something, we stood out in a field with a stick and a GPS device that did all the work for us.

Hydraulics and Hydrologic Systems – 12%
                -Pipe networks, water things, dams, I think I have this down fairly well. More or less I’ve learned if the units check out, you’re doing something right.

Soil Mechanics and Foundations – 15%
                -I do not like soil mechanics or foundations. I don’t like dirt. I don’t like solving mud equations.

Environmental Engineering – 12%
                -We reviewed these problems on Monday, and if the units check out, I’m doing it right.

Transportation – 12%
                -This class was evil. I thought I was a genius all the way up until I took the test, and then I felt like a moron. Chalk this up as a loss.

Structrual Analysis – 10%
                -Oh once again my bread and butter. I should probably review virtual work and deflection, but I am not worried about this.

Structural Design -10%
                -Unfortunately I missed the review session for this tonight, but if I look at the codes and the handouts, I should be familiar enough with it to do well.

Construction Management – 10%
                -What the… I’ve never taken this class. Uh cranes, lift things. Concrete pourers, pour concrete. Build!

Materials – 8%
                -I did fairly well in this class, I liked playing with asphalt and concrete. In fact they should make this section a lab section, because that was fun.

Well, I hope I pass. I’m putting my lucky toonie in my pocket to better my chances.