September 20, 2023
September 6, 2023

Lessons on Note Taking: Engineering Student

How a Taipei-based engineering student uses Notability to reduce mental strain.

Notability Student Stories high-five

Back-to-school season is almost here! We're delighted to share the third and final chapter of our interview series with Gallery content creators. 

Friska is a fourth year international student at National Taiwan University, working on her BS in Mechanical Engineering. She uses Notability for both studying and art sketching. Despite the time difference between California and Taiwan, we were able to chat with Friska about how she integrated Notability into her life.

Drawn to Notability

I was drawn to Notability, instead of other note taking apps, because of how intuitive it is. A lot of drawing apps are overwhelming and feel like a hassle to learn how to use. Notability is straightforward. I’ve been using it for years now and I have over 950 notes in my library! Thank goodness for nested dividers.  
Notability note created by Friska


When starting a new semester, I create new subjects and dividers for all of my classes. I’ll immediately import my class syllabuses into each subject and change my iPad background to a screenshot of my weekly class schedule. As an overseas student (Chinese by way of Indonesia), Notability helps reduce the mental strain I tend to feel when I’m in class—trying to understand the lecture when I’m still learning the language. With Notability, I can quickly jot down what a professor is saying and translate it with another app without losing track of what is happening in class. The most valuable part of Notability for me is how easy it is to quickly combine handwriting, screenshots, and other images. I’m always dragging and dropping pictures into the app! 

Night Mode

Night Mode has been a godsend! Chef’s kiss. Parsing through STEM content with a light background is tedious on the eyes and makes studying feel more boring. Maybe I’m also biased because a lot of STEM content I watch on YouTube is also presented in a dark background so I prefer that look. I love the way my pen colors look on a black background and how Night Mode reduces battery use. 
Robotics Engineering note created by Friska


Before Pencil was released, I used the Pen and Highlighter for sketching. I’m still impressed by how  creators in the Gallery were able to make such impressive gradients with only Pen + Highlighter (tools traditionally used for note taking, not necessarily drawing). Now, Pencil is my most beloved and favorite feature because of how great sketches can look with it. 
Sketch created in Notability by Friska

Tips for Students

Don't be afraid to ask your professors and TA's for assistance. They're getting paid to teach and help you! If you're an international student like me, you will undoubtedly feel a disconnect between you and your instructors. You might even feel ashamed because you have to resort to speaking in a broken language, but trust me—they won't judge you or dismiss your ability as a student. 

Friska’s Favorite Resources for Studying

I utilize Youtube a lot. I tend to stay away from ‘hustle’ Youtube channels related to studying and I’d recommend these resources to someone who is prone to burnout during a semester:

  • Elizabeth Filips
  • Tina Huang - How to Take Notes for Technical Things
  • Jeffrey Kaplan

Engineering-specific Youtubers: 

  • Less boring lectures: Quick and concise. Provides theory and solved sample problems.
  • The Efficient Engineer: Animating general engineering concepts (the long paragraphs of explanation we tend to quickly skim over in textbooks). 
  • Real Engineering: Trivia and real-life engineering wonders.

Thanks for reading the final installment of this blog series! Don't forget to check out the first two on planning and sketching. We hope these student stories were inspiring and useful for you. You can download Notability for free through the App Store. We can't wait to see the cool notes you take this upcoming school year (post them on the Gallery here)!

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