Monday, April 6, 2015

The Grace Hopper Celebration: A Conference Not to Miss!

The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing is the world's largest conference gathering of women technologists. If you are in computing, you definitely need to attend this conference at least once in your life! 

Last year, we were six Carleton students to attend GHC in Phoenix, AZ. It was epic! You can read about last year's conference here:

The Grace Hopper Celebration features multiple tracks including invited technical speakers, academic, industry, student, and career tracks. Keynote speakers are usually well known leading women in tech (e.g. Sheryl Sandberg, Maria Klawe, Mary Lou JepsenArati Prabhakar) who are greatly inspiring. There are also sessions for students (undergraduate and graduate) and mentoring opportunities. You get to hear from women who went through the same path and also advise younger ones. It is an awesome networking occasion. Plus, if you are interested in getting a job, GHC has a career fair with great companies, and instant interviews possibilities.

The 2015 edition, themed "Our Time To Lead", will be held in Houston, Texas. If you have been reading our newsletter lately, you probably know that applications for GHC Scholarship Grants will be opened until April 15. For more information, read here. I highly recommend you to submit an application if you would like to attend GHC this year. This post is full of good tips about applying to opportunities for women in STEM (Feel free to send me an email as well). And, stay tuned for upcoming GHC info sessions! It is our time to lead!

Stay great! 

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Building Your Own Legacy

The 2015 edition of the WISE National Conference took place last weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This year's theme was "Build Your Own Legacy". Many speakers shared their insights about this topic. In this post, I will share one of the fireside chats given by Caroline Charter about how to build your legacy.

Let's first start with Caroline's brief bio. Caroline is currently a Microsoft's Operations General Manager. Prior to Microsoft, she was VP within Worldwide Alliance & Channels Operations at Oracle Corporation. She was one of the 2013 Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the Corporate Executive Category. Caroline was also a 2014 Colleges Ontario Premier's Award Nominee.

Caroline started by sharing her own story and lessons learned from her experiences. Her very first job was as a McDonald's Fry Girl, and she quickly made her way up the ladder and got a position in management. After graduation, she moved to Ireland and got a position at Gateway. Unfortunately, the company ended up cutting jobs, and the announcement was made the day of the September 11 attacks. These events put her life in perspective. It was also a life lesson: no matter what day you are having, it could be worse! She also learned that no matter what you have done, you will have to earn your stripes over again. Caroline got another position but the working conditions were quite hard. She decided to find another job that would allow her to transfer back home. Oracle hired her. Caroline ultimately got transferred to Canada. Her career really took off when she decided to exploit a niche that hasn't been looked at. Colleagues told her that it was a dead-end, and nothing would come of it. But, Caroline trusted her gut and made it happen: She led the integration of Sun Microsystems into existing Oracle's existing business in 2011, by designing and launching a partner store that supports $3 billion in annual revenue (You can read more details here). Caroline was offered a position at Microsoft last year.

After sharing her story, Caroline addressed four topics for building one's legacy: what is legacy and why does it matter, filing emotions and managing voices, where to start (action vs impact), and finally calling time out.

From the Leadership Freak blog
  • What is legacy & why does it matter?
Your legacy becomes your brand and reputation. And, they are known to people before they meet you [You know how it has become standard to google someone before meeting in person. Well, employers do that.]. It becomes part of your internal identity. You should also be aware that there is a difference between what you think you are and the way you are perceived. The great takeaway from this part was that actions should back up/project what you aspire to be. Everything you do, whether on social media or elsewhere, is going to be there. So, why don't you make sure it serves your future?
  • Filing your emotions and Managing the voices
This point is quite essential. We have all been caught in a swirl of emotions, or met someone who was. It's definitely not pretty when emotions take us over and negatively affect the work we are doing. The advice was to check your baggage before going to work. Make sure you do some prework and identify which emotions are appropriate for each situation. Don't let everybody have a bad day at work just because you are having a bad one. At the same time, be aware that it's not always about you. It's not personal. You will probably meet people who will yell at you not because you are terrible, but just because  they feel like yelling. You have to be confident in who you are and what you know. Always come with data, and facts. Finally, humanize everyone. Your colleagues/managers are human beings too. Treat them like yourself or friends.

When it comes to managing stressful situations, you get what you put in. So,
  1. Approach with an embrace vs a defense: Don't assume it's personal until someone tells you it's a problem.
  2. Inspire those around you: Act assertively, calculatively and logically without taking it out on others.
  3. Lead by example: Be genuine, be human, be invested.
  4. What's the worst that can happen? Ask yourself: Am I projecting my paradigms onto this situation? If your biggest fear is to forget your speech when you are on stage, and it happens. The audience will not kick you out. So, breathe!
Now, about managing the voices [The voices in our head. It sounds a little bit creepy but it refers to whatever you hear/feel when you take decisions for example]: You have to identify who they are, why they are there, and what triggers them. You need to deal especially with the negative ones. Are they qualified to take up time in your head? If no, prove them wrong. If yes, who says they are qualified and why? Deal with both, and again prove them wrong.
  • Where to start (Action vs Impact)
Today is DAY 1! Always remember that. Plus, examine your activities, and determine if there is real impact or if you are just "busy". If you are doing 20 projects at the same time and only 4 have an impact, go for the 4. You will feel better. 

  • Calling Time Out
Calling time out might be particularly helpful to:
  1. Distance yourself from a bad/difficult situation
  2. Review a situation and circumstances objectively and logically
  3. Determine what you should be
  4. Identify key barriers and hurdles
  5. Make your plan

Reflect on the previous topics and create your own future. Determine what you should be. If you had a blank piece of paper, what would you be? How do you want to feel? Today is DAY 1.

Stay great! 

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lunch and Lecture with Dr. Angelica Lim

I don’t know much about robotics. I thought it was still a very futuristic thought, only to be seen in science fiction. I recently attended the lecture Lunch and Learn with Dr. Angelica Lim. Dr. Lim is a fascinating woman, who greatly represents women in science and technology. Dr. Lim discussed the robotics field, and what is being done to progress into the future. Dr. Lim showed us the robots that are currently being sold to the public in Japan, Pepper the robot. Pepper is a companion robot, who socializes with people who may have trouble interacting with others. I didn't realize how sophisticated the robots we have are, I imagined a very skeletal form, so this was eye opening for me.

 Picture of Pepper the robot, taken from Aldebaran
 The topic Dr. Lim talked mostly about was how her team was trying to teach robots emotional intelligence. They want to create robots that can be expressive, so being “robotic” doesn't mean “lack emotion”. One way they are accomplishing this is by using similar techniques that mothers use to teach their babies. The other topic that was discussed was how Dr. Lim ended up in this field. She never thought of herself going into robotics initially. Then she did a Co-op term in Nice designing water robots. She also participated in exchange research project in Japan. For more information about the exchange in Japan, Click Here. This lecture was really informative for me. I found out that we are farther along in robotics than I initially thought. Dr. Lim has also taught me that you never know where you will end up in your career.

Bronwyn is a second year Software Engineering student. When she isn't studying, she is either reading books or playing video games. She loves Star Wars.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feel Good Tips and Tricks

Hey everyone!

I hope you are all surviving your midterms. The “Feel Good” week we had early this February (along with my own battle with the sudden flood of midterms and labs and assignments) has inspired me to do a little segment here on mental health. Hopefully my experiences and advice I have received will give you some ideas on how to keep a positive mental health and de-stress a bit with the university lifestyle.
 So here are my tips on how to keep feeling good and managing the stress of your hectic life:

1) Think positive!

 For me this is definitely the most important advice I can give myself in regard to maintaining great mental health. It is so easy to get swept up in all the negatives. If you are anything like me, you are constantly thinking about what you have to do when you get home and how you have all these deadlines piling up and you realize one day that the only conversations you have had this week were competitions with your friends about who is the busiest. And once you’re in this dark hole, it can be hard to get out. But try to focus on the little things, like how pretty icicles are when the sun shines through them, or the fact that your prof wears colourful patterned socks every day. If you can’t think of any, try looking at Neil Pasricha’s blog of 100 awesome things to get the mental ball rolling. Try to frame your thoughts in a positive light and remember that all of your hard work here at Carleton is getting you an amazing education that you will one day use to change the world!

2) Do something you enjoy doing.

For me, it’s ballet. I definitely feel better after every ballet class. Pick something that you really enjoy doing, no matter what it is (even if it is weird, like yodeling). Do something that makes you feel absolutely alive every time you do it. And I know, you’re busy, but try to take an hour or two a week. You will be doing what you love and helping your mental health at the same time! Hint: if you find a club or society that does what you love, you can be doing something you enjoy for you and your mental health AND beefing up your co-curricular record or meeting your semesterly quota for school involvement.

 3) Get moving!

We all know we need to exercise and that exercise helps us maintain our physical health. But there has been a tone of research done recently that shows that physical activity is crucial for good mental health as well! Exercise helps relieve your body of all the stress hormones it’s been building up. And who doesn’t want the totally amazing endorphin high you get after a good workout? (It’s like drugs but legal! And free!) If you didn’t get a change to go to our CUWISE Commit to Me super fun fitness classes, you can ask our very own Alicia Gal for some cool exercises you can do at home any time. On top of keeping you fit, regular exercise helps you sleep better, focus more, and gives you an outlet for all of your stress and energy.

 4) Stay social

 Being around others always helps me feel better after a long night of studying. And spending time with my best friend or my boyfriend gives me a chance to have a laugh, unwind, and forget about school for a little bit. You could be surprised at how much good a monthly girls’ night out can do. What fun is university if you don’t go to the occasional party and dance it up?

 5) Go outside

I know its winter. And some days its so cold I lose feeling in my face within two minutes of being outside, but leaving the tunnels for a few hours at a time could be really great for you. Tip: study somewhere with lots of windows and LOTS of sun. It is finally starting to get sunny again, so grab your books and head over to somewhere on campus with a great view of the river (like the Timmies in River. Haha). It has been shown that spending even a couple of minutes in nature increases people’s positivity and decreased their stress levels. So go take a minute out of your day and look at trees. It’s also really cool to see how the water flows through the half-frozen –over river next to campus.

 I know some of these points have been obvious, but it is always good to remind ourselves of what we can do to keep ourselves happy, healthy, and stress-free.

 Hint: to get the most mental wellness bang for your buck (and by buck I mean time), combine a few of the tips above into one great activity! For example, I use ballet to work my body, and do something for myself that I love doing. Or you can do yoga and meditation to get moving and to bring yourself to a more positive mental state. Whatever it is that you do, remember that it is just important to maintain our mental health as it is to keep ourselves in good physical health. ANY effort towards a less stressed you is great.

And don’t forget to HAVE FUN!


Sarah is a second year student in Carleton's Neuroscience program. When she's not cramming all of science into her brain she likes to watch cartoons and YouTube videos of people playing weird video games.

Monday, February 9, 2015

About Tech Interviews

If you are interested in working for top tech companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook [Don’t you dare to say that you are not good enough!], you will probably have to go through a technical interview [ Read here why Technical Interviews Matter]. On another note, the good news for us women is: the majority of companies are interested in increasing diversity and recruiting women! So, go for it! 

Now, the very first step (before getting to the tech interview) is usually the screening interview where you talk about your previous experiences, points mentioned in your resume, and your goals. If you want to get to this step, I would advise you to make sure your LinkedIn profile is always updated [An outdated profile might scream that you are not interested], check out hiring events happening next to you, always have a resume if you are going to conferences or similar events …. In few words: put yourself out there and give recruiters the chance to find you (or go after them)! The Google Resume by Gayle Laakmann McDowell [An online version is available via Carleton Library] is a good resource to refine your resume. You should also consider the Co-Op and Career Services [They have an interesting blog too]. 

From Palantir - The Coding Interview

Once you pass the screening interview, a first technical interview will be scheduled. The number of rounds of technical interviews varies depending on the company you are applying for. The following resources are among the most recommended:
These books cover the must-knows and provide examples. They basically go through behavioral questions (these are more general and about you as a person) and coding/technical questions. 

Here are few advices I got from my own experiences and from people who had tech interviews: 

  • Prepare Prepare Prepare ….Study Hard! [If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail!] In fact, you should start preparing way before hand, as soon as you know you want to work in a top tech company.
  • Practice writing code on a paper or a whiteboard [It’s harder than you think! We become so used to IDEs that we don’t realize how much we rely on them]. So write your code on paper, then type it in your IDE and see if your program compiles. 
  • Find lots of practice interview questions and solve them [The above resources are a very good start]. Don’t memorize common examples, make sure you understand them. 
  • Review relevant course materials. It might be Digital Systems Design, Data Structures, OO, … 
  • Don’t panic! Remain calm during the interview and solve the problems you are given. The interviewers are not against you, they want you to succeed and want a pleasant interaction. So, be genuine. If it’s a phone interview, tell your interviewers everything you are doing and your thought process. 

Be sure to check out CareerCup and GlassDoor to know what previous interviewees have experienced, and what kind of questions they got. 

Now, here comes the bad news: Studies show that there are subconscious, unintended biases - all else being equal, on average men will get a higher rating. On the Feminine / Masculine communication style, women are likely to show less confidence and understate achievements. Be aware of that! 

Also, know that if you fail, it’s not the end of the world! Get up, analyze where and why you failed, and be busy getting better. Failure is an option, but fear is not! Some people even turn their failures in interesting blog posts. Here is an example that unexpectedly turned out well after failing the interview. On the other hand, if you succeed, it’s great! Get ready for the next round, do a retrospective of your first interview and work on your weaknesses.

Stay great! 

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Changing Degrees

Most students applying to university don’t really know what they want to do later in life. Students sometimes take gap years to learn more about themselves, or take a general first year at university to see what different fields exist. All of this is normal, and you should not feel ashamed if this happens to you. My journey to where I am now was long and I wished I talked to more people about it so that I could make an informed decision.

I have always been good at math and science, so I was told that I should be in engineering or a related field. I didn't really bother researching what engineering was, and decided to apply for the most difficult sounding engineering there was, Aerospace Engineering (do not do this, always do research).

During my first semester of engineering, I hated it. It wasn't what I expected, so I decided that I would switch my major. At first I thought I would go into a different type of engineering and Sustainable Renewable Energy Engineering sounded intriguing, as I always had a passion for helping the environment. As the year went on, I decided  to leave engineering altogether. So, again without researching or consulting any of my friends or professors I switched into business for my second year.

During my year in business, I felt many different emotions. It was quite a change from engineering, and I didn't know how I felt about that. The classes, for the most part seemed easier, which was not as challenging as I had wanted. The one reason I chose engineering is I didn't like group projects or presentations. Guess what business is full of? Group projects and presentations. I couldn't stand it. I also had a hard time making friends; most of my friends were in engineering, so we had differing workloads. I knew business was not right for me.

At this point I had a difficult decision to make. I knew I would be really behind if I switched again not to mention the additional financial strain. I decided to go to the Student Academic Success Center, which has career counselors, and they really helped me. If you are thinking of changing your  major, I would highly recommend talking to as many people as possible before you do so. You could just be having a rough time and you don’t want to make any rash decisions... like I did.

After lots of contemplating and weighing benefits, I decided to switch back into engineering but in a different stream. I am now in Software Engineering and am loving it! It isn't the same as other types as engineering, which fits me perfectly. Software Engineering has a wide range of opportunities, which I am really attracted to. I find it fascinating that you can make your own tic-tac-toe game with the computer playing the opponent! I find the main differences (so far) between aerospace and software engineering, is the lack of Mechanics and related courses. I remember taking that in my first year of engineering, and I realized that being in aerospace, I would typically be doing work related to that. I enjoy that I can still be in engineering, and that my lack of interest in mechanics doesn't change that.

It took a lot of time to find where I belong and I still have lots of decisions to make such as, what parts of software engineering I am most interested in, but what's important is that I am now sure of my choice of major.

If you aren't happy in your current major or are looking to make the right choice the first time around my advice to you is this: talk to as many people as you can, go see a guidance counselor, talk to professors and students that are in the fields that you are interested in, do research and gather as much information as you can. You may have misconceptions about certain fields but you won't know until you investigate. If you want to do something but are worried that it will be a set back, go for it anyways! You decide what you want to do and no one else. It may take some time to find out where you belong but time doesn't matter, do whatever makes you happy! Most importantly, don’t let people tell you what you would be good in, make the decision that is best for you.

Bronwyn is a second year Software Engineering student. When she isn't studying, she is either reading books or playing video games. She loves Star Wars.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Useful Study Tips for Exams

It's that time of the year again ….. caffeine filled nights getting ready for exams. I know that this subject may be overdone, but I've decided to summarize a few tips to make this month a bit easier for you.

The first piece of advice that anyone will tell you is to pay attention in class, take great notes and start studying really early in the semester, and not at the last minute. If you are anything like me, that is never going to happen... so, I'll move onto some more useful ideas (If my mother is reading this, I am clearly lying and do all of the above).

I'll start off with my six general steps and then a few specifics tricks that may prove to be helpful. Overall, stress is the worst thing for exams so positive thinking, lots of sunlight and chocolate are a great way to start.
 1. SLEEP First thing first, sleep! I know, I know, everyone tells you this but I bet you ignore this every year. Two hours of studying when you're exhausted will do more harm than good! This is  because  you'll be even more tired the next day, and will remember very little of what you studied. Studies show that students should get 8-10 hours of sleep every night. But, if that's not possible, I'd recommend at least 6 hours of sleep. On that note, don't take this as an excuse to sleep the day away (I have been guilty of this).
I'm well aware that this can be both a foreign notion to some of you and a way to procrastinate for others, but it is important! Before you start the never-ending studying session, clean your work area. Declutter, hide the distractions (including your phone), remove any dirty dishes, and give it a quick wipe down and vacuum. This won't take long but it can make all the difference. Please, do not turn this into a three hour cleaning session (or a three hour session of thinking about cleaning). Something else that I find useful, is making lists (I might be addicted) and plans. Make a quick outline of a study plan for the 2-3 weeks of you have left (or more if you're lucky) before exams. Separate the days into hours for specific course subjects, rest, work, etc. You should also make a quick plan for each day of study right before you start that day (ex. get through ch.3-5 of mechanics for today). This will give you a goal to achieve and make it easier to stay on track. Note: DO NOT be like me and spend hours doing this while achieving nothing on the lists.

3. STUDY GROUP As an antisocial and extremely awkward person, this is a hard concept for me to grasp but it really is worth it ; join a STUDY GROUP. Study groups will give you a bit more structure, motivation and focus while you study. It's also great because you can ask your peers for help when you need it and you can help them when they need it. Teaching other people is a great way to cement the knowledge in your brain and ensure that you understand the material. Try to ask some friends or people in your tutorial classes to form a group. In the case that you cannot find a group, remember you always have your TAs and professors that you can go to ask any questions. Also, give yourself or a group of invisible people (I know it sounds silly) a presentation on a topic that you just finished studying. Go full out; diagrams, talking out loud, writing down notes, etc. This will honestly help in the long run. 

4. BREAKS Breaks are very important to take or you'll burn out and you will not retain as much information. Taking breaks will improve performance, relieve stress and increase your overall well-being. The research differs in terms of the agreed length, frequency, and number of intervals a person should take a break for that will be most beneficial. I personally like to study for long periods of time (roughly two hours) and then take a 30 minute break. In reality a thirty minute break every two hours may be too long of a break, but it’s what has worked best for me. Another great idea which has been instrumental in my studies has been to create a study music playlist. Create the playlist for the length of time you intend to study for and turn it on shuffle. When the playlist ends, you know that it's time for a break without ever having to look at the clock (try not to spend time watching the time on the clock). Also, try not to pick music that will distract you. Ideally, choose music that is instrumental or calming, but make sure to pick something you like. I personally love classical music, orchestra music and soundtracks (they're not necessarily calm but at least you don't get distracted by the music too much).

5. DANCE PARTY This brings me onto my next subject; what to do during those breaks. Have a dance party! Put on some fun music and just start dancing (don't worry if you can't dance, this is why you do this in private). You may think I'm joking but I'm very serious and expect to see a lot of dancing students once this trend catches. It's a great stress reliever; a quick way to loosen up your stiff joints and a great way to have your endorphins released. Doing some exercise and going outdoors are another way to achieve the same benefits. Unfortunately, in the real world (in Canada), there's already snow on the ground, and no one in their right mind wants to go freeze their behinds off for fun. If you do, good for you; but for the other lazy and winter hating people like me, just dance! It's the best workout to quickly get your heartbeat going (I may be lying) but don't worry about technique since you're not getting in shape or showing off your dance moves, you are just shaking some stress off.
Napolean Dynamite(2004) 

  6. CAFFEINE Depending who you ask, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. On a realistic note, it's impossible to get through this without caffeine (if you can, I hate you) and it really should just be accepted. My only note of advice is to try and avoid it at night since sleep is more important and cut down on the caffeine when you start getting the shakes. Honestly, what you eat and drink is purely up to you and I know it is hard but eating healthy can go a long way for your energy levels and retention abilities. So remember moderation and even though caffeine may be one of my food groups, I don't have a drastic increase in my intake. Plus, remember to drink plenty of water.

 Ok, now that you've actually read through the six steps (or scrolled pass), you deserve to know the true secret of my success during exam period (not really a secret).

All subjects are different and need to be studied in a different way but in general, science and engineering courses are all about practice. Reading through your notes isn't very helpful once you get to the exams. The only way to prepare is to actually solve or work through the questions (over and over again) until you truly understand how to get to the answer and what to do in all possible scenarios.
HINT#1: My solids II professor gave me this particular word of advice: once you've done a question, do it backwards. Professors like to be sneaky; they won't give you a question in the same format that they've shown you in class. If they always give you A and B to get to C, make sure you can get to A with B and C. It adds more work but is probably the best advice I've ever received; you'll get more comfortable (and therefore confident) about the theories and equations. 

We all learn in different ways and you should concentrate on which way is best for you. So you can rewrite your notes, or read your notes out loud, or do some sort of 'short experiment' to demonstrate a concept. Anything that helps is great; rereading your notes at a high speed in your head is only useful to a small percentage of people. Try to make studying an interactive activity. Note: Even if you learn primarily through one method, I'd advise you to use a combination of all three methods.
HINT#2: You will get annoyed, tired and sore after all the studying. Documentaries are a great way to change it up a bit while still learning the material. The documentary won't cover everything you need to know but it is still covering the same topic from a different point of view. Even better, it allows you to take a break from writing and sit on a comfy couch. Remember that it doesn't need to be a documentary (Aircraft Investigations for engineer students, A Beautiful Mind for neuroscience students, etc.). 

Do not get stuck on the same material for too long. Your mind will start blurring all the information together and you'll end up making mistakes and forgetting the material. Do a few hours on one subject and then take a big break (work, school, eating, etc.), when you get back start a different subject or at least study a different section of that subject that is completely different. It will do wonders for you in the end. If you find this hard (I do), switch it up between theory and practical (or books and films, etc.) and you will achieve the same results.
HINT#3: This may not occur to most people but changing where you study is important as well. Do not study everything all at the same desk; move to the kitchen for a bit, go to the library, sit on the floor. Avoid your bed if possible though studying right before bed and after you wake up has been proven to be helpful at retaining more information * only successful when you're not exhausted*. 

Remember that you're not the only person who wants you to pass the exam. The professors will be available for extra help, and will often provide you a good idea of what to expect on the exam. The university will also help by giving you access to old exams, PASS sessions, workshops, tutors, etc. Utilize the resources available to you because there's a lot more than you may realize. If you don't know where to look on your school's website, don't be afraid to ask.
Hint #4: Humans, including professors, are creatures of habit. Complete all the old exams (not just one) you can find (especially those by the same professor) because I can almost guarantee that your exam will be similar. The old exams should be used as a tool, and you should not purely rely on them. Do keep in mind that certain subjects haven't changed in a very long time (ex. calculus) but some subjects change relatively often (ex. computers). 

 My final note of advice is a few ways to use technology to your advantage during study periods. We live in a world where technology proves to be one of our greatest distractions but can also be our biggest help.

First and foremost, GOOGLE. Never underestimate the power of Google search when you need help. You can find almost everything you'll need but remember to take it with a grain of salt depending on which sites you use. For engineer and science students, you'll find hundreds of videos online with example of questions and demonstrations.

Self Control
It's hard not to procrastinate and get distracted but there are apps out there that will help. There are a few versions of this idea but one of them is called 'SelfControl', it will block certain sites completely for a set period of time and you will never be able to access them (even if you turn off your computer). Check it out:

Sleep If U Can
Try some of these alarms clocks if you have trouble getting out of bed. The first one forces you to do a math problem to turn it off and the second one forces you to take a photo of a specified object (ideally not in your bedroom). There's many more like it; find one that works for you. 

Exam Time 
My personal discovery of the year that I'm excited for is “ExamTime”! “ExamTime” is an app that will help you study using mind maps, flashcards, notes and quizzes. The reason why it's so great is that it's shared online which means you can look at other people's quizzes and notes as well. As a study group, you can all make quizzes separately (which really does help with your memory) and you can test yourself with their quizzes. Depending on the subject, you can find hundreds (I might be exaggerating) of quizzes/flashcards/etc., that are already completed.

My point is that there's help if you need it, I just listed a few free apps that I know of but there are many others out there that may suit you. Of course, don't let the app be a distraction and don't spend hours looking for the perfect app/site either.

I hope you can utilize my six steps and tricks when studying for exams, but keep in mind that there are different ways of studying for different formats of exam. So remember to study using different techniques depending on the exam format (ie. Multiple choice versus essay exams).

Good luck to everyone and enjoy your well-deserved holiday vacation after exams!

Gabrielle is a 2nd/3rd year aerospace engineer student. She has a bachelor of science in mathematics and physics from Australia where she lived for four years. She's your typical engineer student; loves the classes (well.. most of them) but spends way too much time playing games instead. Her favorite activity is watching Broadways (even though she doesn't have an artistic bone in her body).