Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fall Term 2006 Wrapup

I'm finally updating after a very long absence! This post will discuss the last few weeks of fall term, at least for academics.

I did very well on my last few tests, I even got way above average on my final 5.60 test, which was exciting! My finals went pretty well, but having four is not fun. I had 10.10 and Western Music on Tuesday December 18th. On Wednesday, I had 6.001, and Friday, the 22nd of Dec., I had 5.60. (I know, they are so close to Christmas! But the good thing is, you get two weeks off, and then you have all of January off for IAP, which I will discuss in another post). Most of them seemed to go fine. Unfortunately, I was not feeling very well for the 5.60 test, as I had a bad cold, which did not help me on the exam. But oh well, I didn’t end doing all that badly. I got an A in Western Music, so I was very proud about that! I was also very proud of my B in 6.001, especially since many students in the class have been computer programmers for years, and since it isn’t in my major.

I really enjoyed my classes this semester, although they did have their annoyances, which I will sum up below.

10.10 Introduction to Chemical Engineering [H. H. Sawin]

I learned a lot of Matlab for this class, which was good. Unfortunately, the psets take way longer than they should. I went to the help sessions Tuesdays and Thursdays after class, and that helped TONS. The TAs would answer questions and help us with the problems, and most importantly, Matlab errors. I’m not sure how good of an introduction this class was to chemical engineering, but I did learn about flow rates and such, which was interesting. I wish they would have gone more in depth with certain fields, so we could have a better feel for what being a chemical engineer is like. They did bring in lecturers from the department, which ranged from research in energy to biomedical, so those were very intriguing. We had a project at the end of the class, and I worked with two other people on it. We worked well together, dividing up the work, and we got a good grade on it in the end. I actually had fun working with them on it! All in all, this class was difficult, and often frustrating, but still fun.

5.60 Thermodynamics and Kinetics [R. W. Field]

This class was not too bad. The tests and psets were often long, but rather easy. I learned a ton about thermodynamics, and the material was interesting. Sometimes lectures were boring, but it was ok. I would have done really well in this class had I not felt poorly during the final, but at least I know I am well prepared for my chemical engineering thermodynamics class next term.

6.001 Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs [W. E. L. Grimson]

My roommate, Annelise, thought I turned into a programmer this term instead of a chemical engineer. It’s sort of true, because I spent so many hours at the computer lab for this class. This one was my toughest class, as I did well on the projects and homework, but not on the tests. It was tough for me overall, but it was one of my favorite classes this year. The professor was excellent, my TA (who is actually a professor as well), was amazing. I think I might have learned the most in this class, especially in terms of how to think. 6.001 is different than other intro programming classes at other schools because they teach you how to THINK about programming. The theory is that once you understand how to program in Scheme, you can learn other languages easily because you know HOW it works, not just how to program. I now know a lot more terminology for computers, and I know how to program. I loved this class, even though it was hard. I sometimes stayed up programming until 3 in the morning, and even a few hours before projects were due, and I had started them a few days, if not a week, before the due date. Some of the projects were very tedious and difficult, but they were still very helpful in learning the material. My favorite project was the famous “Adventure Game” which is based off of the Harry Potter universe. It was just text-based, but you could interact with objects and people, and cast spells and such. I implemented a humorous puzzle system in mine, and I also added health items and “bosses” to my game. I would definitely recommend taking this class, whether you’ve had tons of computer experience or not.

21.M011 Introduction to Western Music [M. Marks]

I also learned a lot in this class. I had the lecturer as my recitation instructor, and in some ways that was a blessing and a curse. I have never seen such an anal grader, but it did improve my writing. I learned a ton about music in this class, so much so that I actually recognize songs and styles just by listening to the radio, or an advertisement. When I was playing Gus’ Civilization IV game, they even had a song in there from the medieval period that I recognized, which I thought was really awesome! I can also go through most of my dad’s classical CDs and recognize composers such as Palestrina and Purcell. I found the lectures and recitations somewhat dry, but I learned so much in this class, so I recommend it!

All in all, this was a great semester, and I enjoyed my classes, even if I did feel like screaming IHTFP a few times :-).