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©2001 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Mar-27-2001

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Your Last Zhance

©2001 Zhan Huan Zhou, Winter 2001, Issue 6

"Take A Zhance" premiered in September 1997. Thirty-six instalments later in March 2001, "Take A Zhance" bids fair well to the Iron Warrior and University of Waterloo. Many topics have been covered in these pages but there are three strong themes that pervade them. In this final issue, I will recount these three themes and how they apply to engineering, university, and life.

The first theme is the idea that engineering should always extend beyond your own discipline. Engineering of one kind always requires engineering of a different kind to help complement each other. Furthermore, extending beyond engineering into arts and science is perhaps a greater leap. You may even find that engineering isn't so alien from arts as you thought. Knowledge and appreciation of concepts foreign to most people in your discipline can give you advantage in the world. There is a growing demand for interdisciplinary engineers. For example, engineers with a background in biology will be essential in the upcoming years to make full use of the recently sequenced and assembled human genome. Always remember that engineering is important, but only as a piece of the larger puzzle of humanity. Use engineering creatively and use it for the good of the world.

The second theme I've stressed is to have fun both in university and in life. This relates directly to the first theme that you should not limit yourself to engineering. Engineering is a part of life, but not life itself. Some pleasure can be found in doing engineering, but there are many more fulfilling pleasures that can be found by pursuing other endeavours. Don't fret over one insignificant mark on a midterm or lab. Your energy is better spent pursuing activities that you've sacrificed while doing school work. I recently attended a presentation where the keynote speaker addressed the issue of employees staying late at work. The speaker said that there is always more to do before you leave work so you'll end up being there forever. You have to draw the line somewhere to go home and leave your work for the next day. Where is that you draw? He had a simple answer to this dilemma: "I leave work when my wife calls." This principle also applies when working on a lab or project, there is always that little more that has to be done before you go home. Go on, live a life. Your life shouldn't be condemned because you chose to do engineering.

And the final theme that spans my columns is that I've encouraged you to think for yourself and know yourself. This is the root of life. If you cannot be an independent person, how do you expect to interact with others? Knowledge of yourself gives you confidence in yourself because you know and accept your strengths and shortcomings. You can use your strengths to help others and fix your flaws by learning from others. The basis of knowing yourself is thinking for yourself. Independent thinking leads to the path of self-knowledge. Independent thinking is crucial because no one knows yourself better that you do. You know where you can succeed and where you will fail. Sometimes you may lie to yourself, but this is part of building your character. If you search within yourself, you will find the answer. Know yourself by thinking for yourself.

I apologize if this sounds like a Buddhist sermon. My religions of the east class (RS100A) this term has greatly influenced me. I highly recommend this course for anyone still deciding on an elective course. This is quite common of my writings. The content and style of my column always tends to reflect courses I am taking as well as recent readings. I re-read all of my previous articles prior to writing this final one to see the progression of my writings. As I've grown and matured through university, my writings have grown and matured in synchronicity. I hope that you've enjoyed this column for the past four years. If you missed any articles during this time, the complete archives can be found on the web at http://drivel.ca/zhance. But now the time has come. All good things...

The End

Read the companion article.