Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I'm at home relaxing right now. It was a bit strange to be home, but after a few days it feels normal. I've been away since the end of August, so it's been a long time. I'm having fun with my family and will be going back to MIT in the middle of January (but I'm leaving for Houston to visit family there for a week before heading back).


“Beta Inside” (I built a processor!)

The longest lab in 6.004 is building a simple processor. The diagram below shows the essential circuitry. It’s pretty cool that I made something that works and can add, subtract, multiply, and much more! Even better, I finished it a few days before it was due, on schedule!


Parent’s weekend was in October, and my mom and dad came to visit me. They took me and Gus to see the musical Wicked, which was showing in Boston. If you haven’t seen it GO SEE IT NOW! Seriously, it is that good. It’s amazing. My favorite musical used to be Phantom of the Opera, which I’ve seen multiple times, but I think Wicked has replaced it. I don’t want to say too much about the story, because I think it was better going in knowing nothing except that it is about “how the wicked witch of the west became wicked” which is what anyone will tell you. I’ll just say I was astounded at the depth of the storyline. There’s stuff here for kids and adults. There’s a dark undertone, not like the Phantom of the Opera, but it’s a serious musical. Wicked is also hilarious, beautiful, moving, and just amazing in general. The music is outstanding. I keep listening to it while walking to class and I can’t get tired of it. I would suggest seeing the musical before getting the soundtrack; however, as you will appreciate it more (especially since you will know the storyline). There is nothing like seeing a musical in a theatre. The soundtrack reminds you of the experience. The actors were just brilliant. The girl who played Glenda was perfect, her facial expressions and movements were so intricate and so detailed. The actress playing Alphaba was equally amazing. Everyone was just great. We were very close to the front row, so we could see all of them closely. I just don’t know how to explain how much I love Wicked, except to say it is one of those experiences that stays with you for a long time afterward. After the show, I bought a poster which is now in my room. Every time I look at it I smile :-).

Finally an Update: Classes for Fall 2007

Sorry it has been such a long time since I have updated. I’ve been busy, but not THAT busy.

Here are the classes I took this last term:

3.155J/6.152J Micro/Nano Processing Technology [Schmidt, O'Handley]

This was one of my favorite classes. The workload is not excessive, and the material is interesting. I know I want to go into the electronics industry, so this class is perfect for me. It combines many different disciplines (we have people from many majors in this class). I’ve heard this is the most expensive class per student at all of MIT. This is because our labs are in the fab at MIT, and we get to make microelectronics and nano-devices such as MOS capacitors, cantilevers, and microfluidic devices. I have a wafer in my room that I made! Seeing really expensive equipment in action and being able to take home the end product is quite cool. The lectures are hard to pay attention to (I’ve never been a fan of powerpoint), but the lecturers do a pretty good job of giving you the pertinent details.

6.004 Computation Structures [Ward]

I have enjoyed this class. There are no psets, but there are labs and quizzes (8 labs and 5 quizzes) throughout the term, so you still have something to do each week. This is a great class to take along with 3.155J because at the beginning of the class we studied semiconductors, but from and electronic standpoint. This class is not overly difficult, though I must say that it is very easy to lose points on the quizzes. I’ve gotten 100% on all the labs so far though. This class uses a point system. There are 210 points total and you need 170 to get an A, so it’s rather neat since you know exactly how well you need to do to get a certain grade. I’ve learned a lot about how computers work at the basic level, in fact, we even “built” (virtually) a processor!

10.302 Transport Processes [Dalzell, Smith]

What can I say? This is a Course 10 class, and I generally find them very difficult, frustrating, and not all too likeable. This one is not much different. The good thing about this class is that the material is much easier to grasp, since everything we talk about can be related to the physical world. For example, the entire class is about exchanging heat and mass, so I can tell you why windows are often double-paned instead of one thick slab (so...technically I knew that before I took the class but now I can model it mathematically!). So, it’s very different from 10.213 (thermo and kinetics for cheme majors) in that aspect. I like it better than other Course 10 classes I’ve had. The lectures are not all that helpful, but our book is very useful (thank goodness, since the last few textbooks I’ve had for classes have been worthless).

Writing Longer Fiction [Haldeman]

This class is taught by the Hugo award winning author Joe Haldeman. I’ve generally enjoyed it, Haldeman is interesting to listen to. I’m not sure how much I’ve actually learned in this class, some random tidbits about writing and publishing. I like how we have to read a short book every week (at least for the beginning of term), because it forced me to read, which is something that always seems to be on my to-do list but is never completed. I enjoy creative writing, so the writing assignments are fun for me. I don’t always agree with Haldeman’s opinions (he’s a very tough grader, if he likes it you’re fine, if he doesn’t…well…sucks for you :-). For this class the major assignment is to write a synopsis for a novel and a few sample chapters (essentially 30 pages). So it’s a lot of work, but fun. Just pray he likes your story…and don't write ANYTHING relating to magic (meaning essentially anything that involves special powers).