Wednesday, May 02, 2007

End of Semester Nearing

Yep, it's another boring post about (mostly) school.

This is the last week of classes; next week is Finals. I'll have a final next Tuesday in Software Engineering Principles (swep), and tomorrow I'll get our take-home final for Geometry, which will be due the following Thursday.

I have a pretty decent A average in Geometry so far. According to my calculations, if Dr. T is calculating grades the way he says he is, I need an 80 on the final in order to have an A. Even on the super-hard test that took me a whole week of stress (story here), I got a 97, so that should be easily doable. But I have to admit, I'm hoping it's more like our recent exam, which was pretty easy.

Geometry was an interesting class in the beginning, but as we near the end I've gotten really fatigued with it. Every class is just going through theorems and proofs, and it's just a long slog - the parts of the material that are interesting are spaced too far apart by the parts that are both difficult and boring at the same time. But I only have one more lecture to sit through, so I'll survive.

I anticipated that Geometry would be pretty easy, and it sure hasn't felt that way, though in the end it looks like I'll have a high A, so it must not have been too hard. I did put in some real effort, at least early on. I also hoped this course would make me smarter (not by teaching me geometry, but by working my brain) and it has definitely done that. As a side benefit, it caused me to buy and learn to use Mathematica, which is a huge good thing.

I went into Software Engineering Principles with some dread. I liked the professor, but a friend who's taken him for the next course in this sequence told me it was a ton of work, and basically, my underlying feeling was that I did not actually want to get involved with the "yucky" parts of software engineering - the planning, project management, design diagrams, etc. (as opposed to the "fun" part, the coding). In fact, on the first day of class, Dr. P asked us to state our primary concern about the class, and that was mine ("I think I hate this material").

Well, either I was wrong or I've become a convert, because I've actually loved the material of this class. We started with five students (six if you count the guy who only showed up one time) and are ending up with four, so it's been like a seminar, but it isn't just the format that's been fun - the material has absolutely rocked.

Am I coming out of this feeling equipped to run a software project? Hell, no. But I feel like I have a good idea of what is required to do it, how it might be done fairly well or poorly, and basically what the desired characteristics are. I could certainly run a software project now better than I could before taking the class (though it would likely still be a failure).

And, of course, we've had this fun project. I'm still working on that, and plan to keep working through at least this weekend.

So, speaking of that class, I currently have a low A average. I suspect I'll get an A almost regardless of what I do, since nobody else currently has above a D average, and I've done extremely well on everything other than the midterm, but it would help to get at least a high B on the final exam next Tuesday. I don't have any plans about making that happen, but I've actually been reading the material the second half of the course, so I should be OK.

I'm a bit sad about swep coming to an end - it really has been a lot of fun - but it's satisfying to complete a course, and in general I'm really looking forward to having a relaxed and empty head for at least a few weeks. (I have two easy online courses this summer.)

In those few weeks, Sally is visiting me for a whole week! That's very cool also, especially to consider that she'll be visiting during my relaxed, between-semesters period.

Life is good.


Debbie said...

I enjoyed this "boring" post.

Sally said...

One of the nice things about a class like swep is learning that there is "something to" the whole area - that there are actual theories, interesting arguments within the field, different approaches that can aid/hinder implementation and success in various situations, and so forth. Even if you come out with just a little bit of knowledge and experience but an appreciation that it's a real thing that is worth knowing about and taking seriously, that's to the good.

Of course, then you get to try to apply these principles in the real world and realize that even if you don't truly hate the material of the course (as an academic subject), you may indeed hate your involvement in this process as it plays out, especially if you join a team in a lower-ranking capacity and do not have the impact on decision-making that you would like. I guess you'll find out more about that next semester in Software Engineering Practices. (Is that the right name?)

Jason Galbraith said...

What are you taking in the fall?