• Katherine Pan

Review of MLE1010: Materials Engineering Principles and Practices

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Year taken: AY19/20 Semester 1

MLE1010 is a new module introduced from AY19/20 and it is a compulsory module for all engineering students. The focus is on the mechanical and electrical properties of main material classes. Students will learn about the chemical makeup, microstructure, and tensile strength of materials. As I took this module pre-COVID, parts of my experience will be different. The assessment criteria are as follows:

1. Class presentation - 25%

2. Lab reports - 25%

3. Quiz - 50%


Every week, there is one 2-hours lecture. Chemical bonding and structure analysis were the first few chapters. It builds upon junior college H2 chemistry and it is easy if you have a chemistry background. However, I found the part on Miller indices and crystal structure to be confusing. The following chapters were on mechanical properties, phase diagrams, and properties of main material groups. I found phase diagrams to be the most difficult to comprehend. It was perplexing as different terminologies were used and a lot was covered in one lecture. I felt that it was too much to digest in one sitting. Do not fret if you leave the lecture hall stumped as this can happen often! Read the lecture notes again later and it should be easier to understand.

I think this is how I look trying to understand ANY lectures. (Source)

Most MLE1010 lecturers have an accent. This can make it difficult to understand what they were saying. Yet, they are passionate individuals who spice up lectures with their enthusiasm. My favorite lecturer was Prof Chiu. I could feel his eagerness and passion during lectures when he teaches. He also uploads additional notes and practices for the chapters he lectures. It will come in handy for quizzes.


There are three workshops conducted by the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC). The workshops are held in the first three instructional weeks. I will let this comic do the talking.

(Source: nus_memes on Instagram. Do follow them and peeaigee on Instagram for dank NUS memes.)

Jokes aside, we had to do presentations and write reports after every laboratory session. Hence, this workshop prepared us for it. In the first session, my tutor covered the assertion evidence approach. It was an engineering presentation format we could use during our presentation. As engineering undergraduates, we needed to know how to communicate our ideas and findings effectively. The assertion evidence approach is easy to understand. Simply put, the heading is the main subject which we will elaborate on. Meanwhile, photographs or graphs of our results will take up the remaining space. This ensures that we are not reading off the slides and that the presentation is engaging.

In the next session, basic report writing formats and structures were taught. I learned to identify what constituted a good report and how to prevent plagiarism. To put what we have learned into practice, our last workshop session was a mock presentation. We had to study a pre-written experiment report. Besides identifying what was wrong with the report, we had to present the findings written in it. It was arduous to understand the content in the mock report as many technical terms were used. As this workshop was held at the start of the semester, I had not learned the technical terms. Thus, I consulted Google various times to make sense of what I was reading.

The presentation in the last workshop is not graded. In my session, I saw numerous unprepared students and it was difficult to watch. I suppose this boils down to one’s personal decision. As it is not graded, some people feel that there is no need to prepare for it. However, others may use this opportunity to gather feedback about their presentation skills. I prepared my part and, in my opinion, gave a stellar presentation. Yet, I think I over prepared for an ungraded presentation.

Goodbye time that I will never get back. (Source)

Laboratory sessions:

Laboratory sessions start in week 3 or 4 depending on your schedule and it takes place biweekly. My lab was at E3A and I was 20 minutes late for the first session because I was lost. I circled the engineering blocks multiple times like an idiot before I found out that E3A was next to the EA building.

Lab groups were pre-assigned, and my team consisted of 6 people. Every session, the lab manual was our bible as we followed the methodology closely. The sessions were relaxed, and my team spent most of our time chatting while waiting. The difficult part of the lab was the writing of the report. The report is due two weeks after the lab session. We had to explain our results and provide possible reasons for any anomaly we may have. It sounds manageable, but it was so tough explaining why we have an anomaly as our result. My team scanned numerous journal articles to justify our findings and it was so stressful when we could not explain our results.

Actual photo of me after reading too many reports. (Source)


Tutorials took place biweekly on the weeks without lab sessions. The first hour is spent going through the tutorial, while the next two hours are for presentation. The tutorials are doable and easy if one understands the lecture contents. Besides the first tutorial, the rest are short and require less than one hour to complete.

For the presentation, we had to give a quick overview of the aim and methodology of the experiment, followed by our findings and discussion. The experiment presented will be the one we did a week before the tutorial. We had to present within a time limit and are penalized for exceeding the limit. Yet, there are times we must present two experiments in one presentation. It is impossible to stay under the 10/12 minute time limit and it is likely we will take 20 minutes instead. For such cases, there is not much we can do because there is too much information to share.


MLE1010 has no finals, but it has a quiz with a weightage of 50%. The quiz has fifty questions and takes place in week 13. There are two revision lectures before week 13. The lectures provide a concise summary of every topic. I found it useful as it is a quick recap of content I have forgotten. To prepare for the quiz, I studied all my lecture notes, redid my tutorials, and completed additional practices Prof Chiu provided. There will be mock quizzes to try as well but it is insufficient. Hence, I recommend redoing tutorials and additional practices to understand the content better. The quiz itself was tricky but included a fair share of doable questions too. If you are prepared, the quiz will be manageable.

Especially when the quiz weightage is 50%. (Source)


All in all, I found MLE1010 to be a demanding module. The workload is high and it will keep one actively occupied.

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