I ran out of floss a few weeks ago, and as a result, I have been unable to produce blogs on as regular intervals as possible. I now have more floss, and therefore the blogging may continue. Full steam ahead!
I am over halfway done with my undergraduate education here at RPI. Somedays it feels like only yesterday that I was sitting in Cary 124 writing my first blog at college. While I’m certainly not writing my last today, I find myself looking more and more toward post-undergrad plans. Do I want to stick around and get a Masters? Dare I try to anything lenghtier than that? Or would I be better suited to enter the workforce? I certainly have no clue, and don’t plan on getting a clue for another year or so. Just things to think about.
As I surf the internet I look at the various websites I visit and check out their ‘jobs’ section. While I am not actively seeking a job this moment, its something I like to keep an eye on just to be aware. I find that most web-based companies don’t have RPI on their list of school’s they recruit at. If I had done this research as a freshmen I would have been surprised… RPI certainly did a decent job to convince me while I was in high school that you could definately get a job in your desired field after RPI. They must have been talking about fields that I care less about, like biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, or maybe emac?
I don’t blame employers for not looking to RPI’s computer engineering or computer science programs. I wouldn’t give either program super marks; something in the mediocre range is probably more fitting. I find as a Computer & Systems Engineering major that the program is taught very much like the Electrical Engineering program is, with 3-4 courses switched out with introductory courses in the computer science department. The most useful things I’ve learned, the things I actually use when on the job, are things I’ve taught myself. Not material I’ve been taught in these funny “computer” classes here. Most of my professors feel their topic is crucial to any engineering degree, and that I’ll be applying what I learn their regularly. I like to shake my head no when they say this. I do not plan on ever doing anything that requires a lot of work in electric circuits. While I can satisfactorially complete all the assignments, I am not the guy you want to hire to design small circuits for your computer systems. Please, pick someone else! The same could go for my material science class. Yes, I see how materials are useful to a mechanical engineer, and I can definately see applications in the electrical engineering field.. but computer engineering? What materials might I ever need to understand the science of? My desk? The case of my computer?
I registered for classes last week. I was unable to get into most of the things I wanted because RPI didn’t offer them or they were full. As a result I’m taking: Signals & Systems, Networking 1, Intro to AI, and Web Systems Development. I would have been interested in taking a class in the semantic web or more useful programming classes but the options are limited. Most CS classes that I haven’t taken are strongly rooted in theory or old implementation (i.e C). It would be nice if there were more modern programming classes around here, more things that at least sound like “Web Systems Development”.
This semesters courses have been decent. My most challenging course continues to be Material Science. Its my multidisciplanary elective, aka the junk course I have to take to gain some insight into a field of engineering I never want to use. The material isn’t hard at all. I’m confident that if I was given this course my senior year of high school, I could probably earn an A or an B. What I’ll be earning this semester is up for grabs. Most of my grade is based on weekly quizzes, which would be fine by me if the material was taught before the quiz, and I had time to absorb the materal. The amount to which I can quickly absorb for subjects I’m not interested in has decreased over the past year or two, and this class is clear proof. The professor is pretty good when he’s in class and prepared. There was this 2 month period where he was out of town just about every other week. When he is in class, he starts by asking for a syllabus to identify what material he should cover today. Then he lectures for 2 hours about the theory behind it. I take notes when appropriate. Two days later we have a quiz on the math behind some section the syllabus outlined as material the he should cover. Of course none of these equations have been demonstrated in class, so I rely on the homework as sample material. This would work if the homework was a) due before the quiz and b) returned to us to get feedback before the quiz. Neither of these are true. The day after the quiz he hands it back, informs all of us how the material was very easy and how he cannot fathom why we did poorly. The he asks for the syllabus, and starts a new cycle. Somewhere in their are labs, which are mildly related to the topic. I have yet to determine the actual relation, but I think they share the same keywords. I do not think that I would take Material Science at RPI again if I was asked… at least not with this professor.
Where will all this put me after these last 4 semesters? I have no clue at all. I am unsure what I want to do this summer as well. I would really like to do something cool which could manifest itself as an internship at a company that has need for a web programmer or video person, spending the summer working on my own projects and doing something part-time, or maybe looking into some sort of research kind of thing I can do from home. None of these look very optimistic.