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When the bells change: Mac Eng students reflect on returning to campusFebruary 7, 2022

From first years to those nearly graduated, we caught up with engineering students as the community returns to in-person learning and a transition ‘Back to Mac.’

In the Junction, students wear headphones and bend over their laptops. Just below, a stream of students passes through the doors of JHE. Coffee is flowing at the Fireball Café again.

Welcome back to campus Mac Eng.

The winter semester has taken a staggered approach to in-person learning. In the past few weeks, students and faculty have returned to labs, design studios and lecture halls.

As the whole community returns to in-person classes, here’s a look at what some engineering students had to say about being back.

Annika Yardy

Annika Yardy, 5th year, chemical and bioengineering

As Yardy approaches the end of her degree, she says she’s happy to see familiar faces on campus again. “It’s great to know we get one last “hurrah” before we all leave and enter the working world,” she said. 

“It feels amazing. You can tell a lot of people are back on campus because when the bells change, there’s enough people to stop traffic.”

Flexing her creative muscle

“I’m looking forward to looking for some on campus studio space. I am a co-host of a podcast called ‘Tell Us About Yourself’ with Anushree Chakravarty, and we interview engineering co-op students about their jobs so other students can learn about co-op positions.”

Annika’s quick tips

For fuel: “If you want to get coffee or any food, get it on the hour. Don’t get it during class change!”

For studies: "If you want a quiet place to study on campus, check out the tutorial rooms in MDCL!"

For help: “With everyone coming back in person, everyone is really anxious. So just remember that when you’re lost on campus or you’re struggling or confused – so is everyone else! Just ask somebody for help and they’ll point you in the right direction.”

Kirsten Espe

Kirsten Epse, 1st year, integrated biomedical engineering and health sciences

Espe says she’s looking forward to being in class after finding it more difficult to watch lectures on a screen: she says face-to-face interaction, for her, sets the best environment for being able to learn.

New experiences

“I’m really excited to start learning in person. I feel like we’ve been missing out on this whole “university experience” that you see in movies and tv-shows that I was excited to start up in September. Obviously, we didn’t get that, but now it feels like it’s a real experience that we get to have. Seeing all your peers and teachers in person, although there are still some restrictions, is really great being able to have that momentum to start this new semester."

“Being able to see my friends also helps with the social aspect, helps with the motivation for learning and it helps me stay more focused and concentrated. It makes me remember what I’m here for.”

Kirsten’s recipe for getting through the day 

“I would definitely tell them to pack a snack. Because you get hungry and sometimes you don’t have enough time between classes to run and get some food. So even just a granola bar or some trail mix to go between classes would be really great.” 

“It’s going to be a difficult transition because we’re moving from a mostly online or hybrid environment to fully in person. So being able to do that transition by yourself…is something that each individual person is going to have to figure out for themselves. It’s not going to be a direct process, so it’s okay to take your time figuring out how you work in this new environment. And take time for yourself so you don’t burn out."

Omar Sabri

Omar Sabri, 3rd year, electrical engineering co-op

Sabri says it’s strange to be walking the halls again – memories of his first year at McMaster are around every corner. 

“It feels really exciting. It’s very nice to see people kind of back to normal. I’m reminiscing about the times from first year. It’s nice to be back and see everything open again.” 

“I’m excited to see my peers from first year and for a lot of workshops and libraries to be open again, which we did not have access to for the past two years. You can work on cool projects, and get to do stuff in your free time, which is nice. “

Seize the moment

“Definitely try to be on top of your lectures, don’t fall behind. Try to go to all of your lectures as much as possible because it’s very easy to fall behind. It’s going to accumulate so always try and be on top of your studies."

"Always try to enjoy the time with your friends. Try to take advantage of being back in person, seize the options campus is offering and make friends since we never know what's going to change in the future: we are living in uncertain times.”

The Chem Eng Club
Left to Right: Back Row: Emman ElHamahmy (President), Harry Hong (VP Events), Annika Yardy (General Member.) Front Row: Nicole Liut (3rd Year Rep), Quinn Sullivan (2nd Year Rep.)

Emman ElHamahmy, president of the Chem Eng Club

ElHamahmy says she’s pleased to get back to a more interactive class environment. As president of the Chem Eng Club, she’s also looking forward to those out-of-class moments that blend academic wellness and fun.

“I feel really excited to be back to campus today. I’m excited to experience lectures in person with a more dynamic environment and to finally hold events on campus.”

The power of organization

“My advice to first and second year students who are coming to campus for the first time in their undergraduate careers would be to take a look at your schedules and get organized. It’s a very different environment from taking a lecture from your laptop in bed to being on time in person. I think you will have a lot of fun on campus once you get organized and can experience the campus for all it has to offer.”

Chemical Engineering Club 

“The Chem Eng Club is super excited for McMaster’s welcome back to campus! We have many in-person and hybrid events this term, kicking off with our first in-person event in collaboration with the Faculty of Chemical Engineering, The UN Sustainable Goals Design Competition.” 

“The Chem Eng club is representative of the undergraduate class of chemical engineering here at McMaster. We hold events for social and academic reasons such as Industry Night and Research Night. We also hold bonding events such as skating nights or intramural sports.”