Student recollections

Memories of Monash Uni Chem Eng days

On 1st Year Engineering Enrolment Day, sitting between schoolmates Terry Anderson (Chem) and Mike Taylor (Civil) when told by the VC or Dean to look to the left, then right  as “one of you will most likely not complete your studies in the expected time”. Terry & Mike both completed PhD’s, and yes, I didn’t quite …

O Week’s “Hardest to Acquire Object” contest – sign from Mint, concrete truck (full), Susan Jones from Ansett, railway gate from Clayton? Crazy

Huge tiered lecture theatres daunting after small Matric classes. Frantically copying notes from the blackboard scrawled by droning Maths lecturers who’d drawn the short straw – the Engineers! No hope of understanding content until reread later yet a student with a clear, confident voice corrects a slip made by the lecturer. Lecturer & rest of class stunned & amazed. Welcome Nick Heath.

Timid Maths lecturer obviously dreads the Engineers talks to the board as he writes quickly. Restless students start to grumble, paper planes to fly. Lecturer writes faster as planes pepper the platform. Finally a plane hits him, he gathers his notes and flees.

Engineers annoyed by Science students entering lecture theatre before they’ve had a chance to leave, creating a traffic jam at the main doors. Revenge is planned, flour brought & distributed. Lecturer senses tension, bolts when class over.  Science students pour in, welcomed by flour bombs, can’t flee as doors have been shut behind them. Glorious mayhem, Engineers victorious!! But had to pay for clean-up & drycleaning of clothes of blind Science student.

Organic Chem lecturer draws schematic diagram of ‘Spanish Fly’, an aphrodisiac, then tells us his lectures are printed so he doesn’t expect to see us in class.  We don’t disappoint him.

Prof. Potter very reluctantly lectures us undergrads and refuses to use a duster. He writes neatly, but when the board is filled he writes round the edges, then between the earlier lines.

Engineers vs Arts Girls footy match in the rain on a muddy oval. Game quickly degenerates into reverse keepings-off ie boy passes footy to nearest girl then drags her down into mud whilst trying to retrieve ball. ScragBall!! Marvellous!!

SMUCE “Cider & Cheese” night where we learn that Scrumpy might taste like apple juice but packs a wallop that cubes of cheddar don’t fully allay.

Engineering Drawing exam where I have chronic hayfever, sneezing, nose & eyes streaming. Cartridge paper becomes blotter, pencil digs holes, absolute disaster!

Ian Coles, tall & good-looking with golden curls becomes engaged to a beauty who hails from exotic Latvia or Estonia (?). Most of us were still trying to get the hang of ‘picking up’.
Engineering Dinner with Prof K. Hunt (seriously!) as Guest Speaker who manages to make a connection between a ‘dumpy level’ and a woman of ill repute. Was there a very curvaceous stripper there too? Yes, Engineering was very male-dominated back then!

Denise “Bubbles” Drysdale go-go dancing in a cage to a chorus of “Get your gear off, Bubbles”.

Watching the landing on the moon in the Union building, excited to be part of the Age of Technology.

Alby Langer haranguing a crowd outside the Union. Loudspeakers sneakily  turned to face him, Alby becoming confused by feedback and being booed for sounding drunk.

1st Year Maths a totally foreign topic: Set Theory. I was barely coming to grips with its rules and notation when the kid next door needed a hand with his Year 8 Maths. It was the New Maths course which started with, you guessed it, Set Theory! Which proves the maxim: if you want to make something incomprehensible to the masses, give it to a Uni Maths Lecturer.

1st Year Physics was so challenging to us poor Engineering students the pass mark was reputed to be 28%. I, like most, barely scrambled through. Unlike most, I ended up teaching it!

HP, BTU, KiloCalories, Ergs, Foot-poundals, Watts, Newtons and many more. Imperial & Metric, conversions & confusions. All with a slide-rule, no calculator or computer in sight!

Was the adjustable Cook’s Constant and it’s mate, the Frigging Factor (to be used sparingly when experimental results failed to yield required conclusions) pure fable or did it lurk unacknowledged deep within many an engineer’s prac report?

Dave Bolger(?) a Canadian(?) lecturer somewhat bemused by the physical properties of a brown goop called Vegemite.

Col Fryer, a very approachable lecturer with a background in oil refineries.

Analog vs digital programming of processes, analog more refined, the new digital format clunky but catching up quickly.

Digital computer occupying a whole floor, programs and data on trays of punched cards, results available overnight all going well and no crashes.

Vacation employment in remote locations; Ardlethan, Broken Hill and Port Hedland. The adventures just getting there (across the Nullarbor in Keith Bartel’s VW, then to Marble Bar & beyond) and the wild-west life so different from home…

(Updated Oct 26, 2011) Printed on: