Grad School

Hey guys,

Been doing the grad-school thing.  That means all work and pretending I never play (I make time for sanity keeping).  Lots of homework and my classes have been rough, but I think I'll pull through.

I'm taking only 9 hours (3 classes).  One is Linear Algebra, which I took to be an easy class for my first semester.  So far, it's been eating into my time, but the only "hard" thing about it is an anal-retentive professor who wants more information than I give him.  I said to myself "I'm an engineer, and if it's completely obvious exactly what I did then I'm not going to worry about it".  I'll lose a few points, but not stress over minor details that are irrelevant to my major.

My second class is Acoustics.  Everyone thinks I'm learning guitar when they hear that, and I'm left wondering what guitar has to do with rocket science.  Acoustics is a class that focuses on the mathematical description of sound.  We talk a little bit about music and stuff, but we stick to the math.  We did have a pretty cool YouTube video of a Reubens tube that I'll share:

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HpovwbPGEoo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

My last class is "Design of Electro-Mechanical Systems".  We had our first mid-term exam recently, and I told the professor when it was over "If you're going to give tests like that, you should do it before the drop date".  The class had been doing basic run-of-the-mill examples that used a single fundamental principle to work, so I thought I might be ready for the test.  I got to the test, and there were six devices that we'd never seen or discussed before on there where the question was "Figure out how this works, describe it mathematically, and then calculate the value of something using it".  The last two questions were real beasts -- one involved the use of Faraday's law (which I was a little fuzzy on regarding alternating current, since we didn't really talk about it in class much), and the other was a magnetic braking system that I was only really familiar with because I was looking at applying that technology to a drop tower (in other words, ouch, because I ).  I think I did terrible, even compared to the other students in the class, but in consolation nobody finished the test at all before time was called and I did answer a handful of questions.  I need to go back and study super-hard.

Overall, the experience has been pretty good, but I spend all my time vacillating between "OMG SO HARD I'M GOING TO DIE" and "What was so bad about this grad school thing again?"

For gaming, I've only been playing a few quick cheap games I find on sale on Steam.  I was accepted into the closed Darkspore Beta, but can't tell you much more than that.  I picked up Greed Corp., and it's been kinda fun.  I only paid something like $2.50 or $5, so I feel like I got my money out of it (I still load it up once every few weeks).  Played the Dragon Age 2 demo, and I liked it, but I'll have to put off buying it until I have the money for it.  I was surprised my computer could run the game at all, because it's getting a wee bit old.  My money mostly goes entirely toward grad-school related expenses, which is mostly rent and food.

Heard about a few internship opportunities which I need to follow up on "soon".  I had the flu recently and have been playing "Don't fail" in my classes.

7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by DragonBloodthirsty

Hey guys,

Been doing the grad-school thing.  That means all work and pretending I never play (I make time for sanity keeping).  Lots of homework and my classes have been rough, but I think I'll pull through.

I'm taking only 9 hours (3 classes).  One is Linear Algebra, which I took to be an easy class for my first semester.  So far, it's been eating into my time, but the only "hard" thing about it is an anal-retentive professor who wants more information than I give him.  I said to myself "I'm an engineer, and if it's completely obvious exactly what I did then I'm not going to worry about it".  I'll lose a few points, but not stress over minor details that are irrelevant to my major.

My second class is Acoustics.  Everyone thinks I'm learning guitar when they hear that, and I'm left wondering what guitar has to do with rocket science.  Acoustics is a class that focuses on the mathematical description of sound.  We talk a little bit about music and stuff, but we stick to the math.  We did have a pretty cool YouTube video of a Reubens tube that I'll share:

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HpovwbPGEoo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

My last class is "Design of Electro-Mechanical Systems".  We had our first mid-term exam recently, and I told the professor when it was over "If you're going to give tests like that, you should do it before the drop date".  The class had been doing basic run-of-the-mill examples that used a single fundamental principle to work, so I thought I might be ready for the test.  I got to the test, and there were six devices that we'd never seen or discussed before on there where the question was "Figure out how this works, describe it mathematically, and then calculate the value of something using it".  The last two questions were real beasts -- one involved the use of Faraday's law (which I was a little fuzzy on regarding alternating current, since we didn't really talk about it in class much), and the other was a magnetic braking system that I was only really familiar with because I was looking at applying that technology to a drop tower (in other words, ouch, because I ).  I think I did terrible, even compared to the other students in the class, but in consolation nobody finished the test at all before time was called and I did answer a handful of questions.  I need to go back and study super-hard.

Overall, the experience has been pretty good, but I spend all my time vacillating between "OMG SO HARD I'M GOING TO DIE" and "What was so bad about this grad school thing again?"

For gaming, I've only been playing a few quick cheap games I find on sale on Steam.  I was accepted into the closed Darkspore Beta, but can't tell you much more than that.  I picked up Greed Corp., and it's been kinda fun.  I only paid something like $2.50 or $5, so I feel like I got my money out of it (I still load it up once every few weeks).  Played the Dragon Age 2 demo, and I liked it, but I'll have to put off buying it until I have the money for it.  I was surprised my computer could run the game at all, because it's getting a wee bit old.  My money mostly goes entirely toward grad-school related expenses, which is mostly rent and food.

Heard about a few internship opportunities which I need to follow up on "soon".  I had the flu recently and have been playing "Don't fail" in my classes.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Sounds like you've been through a bit of a war :) 
 
I understand what you wrote, though, so all the intensive classes haven't managed to ruin your ability to communicate, which is a good sign :)
 
On the whole, which mathematics professors have you wound up liking the most over the course of your schooling?  I found I liked the ones the most who gave me context for what I was doing. I wound up doing a lot better in Physics than in Mathematics because there was some historical context to how we were applying the equations, which helped me better model stuff in my head than learning rote abstractions.

Posted by the_korben

Hi there. I just wanted to say that you should enjoy your time in grad school as much as possible. Yes, it can be hard - but it's (hopefully) also something you really want to be doing. And nothing that is worth anything is really, really easy. Also, just imagine that probably 80 % of all people go to their jobs everyday not because they really enjoy it, but because they need to make money. In grad school people are actually paying you for learning and researching stuff that you're really interested in. How awesome is that? 
  
As somebody who did his M.Sc. back in Europe and then came over to North America for his Ph.D. I was very surprised to find that many students here are constantly doubting their decision and feel they might not be up to it. Mostly I have found that this is due to the weird status that grad students seem to have here. They are basically told to look down on the undergrads, but look up to faculty, and get caught up in all this bullshit of constantly having to impress people or live up to some weird standard.  I also have found that quite a number of people somehow feel the need to categorize what it means to be a "grad student". Don't let yourself be bullied into this weird North American self-deprecating grad student cliché that things like Ph.D. comics seem to nurture.  What does it mean to be a "grad student"? Well, it just means you're an adult who's job is to study something they're really interested in to a level, so that they can become an expert in the field in order to contribute to it substantially in the future.It doesn't mean you're supposed to be a weird Gollum-like creature that doesn't have a life and has to eat ramen everyday. It doesn't mean you have to participate in any grad student-internal bullshit competition. It doesn't mean you have to act condescendingly towards undergrads (I hate that word actually - but that might be because up until a couple of years ago, the concept of undergrad didn't even exist in the country I originally came from). It just means you have to make an effort to study this stuff, sometimes even if you don't really like everything you're supposed to like.
 
Just use the time wisely to get the most out of your education, enjoy it and have fun doing it. Oh - and treat it both as a passion (during the good times) and as a job (during the bad times). If you need a couple of days to relax, then relax - just don't waste your time all the time. If you are on a studying spree, working through text books that are completely unrelated to any course you're taking right now even though you are supposed to spend more time on your homework - good for you, as long as it doesn't really affect your ability to graduate. 
 
You're about to become an expert in some field that others could not even begin to comprehend, and you're going to enjoy it, dammit! ;)
And once you're done, and if you're lucky enough, you might even use your education to make this world a better place for everyone to live in. 
  
*rant over*
Then, of course, that's just my opinion.

Edited by Geno

 Fixed the video code for you.  
 

    
   
Nice to hear you're doing decent in grad school, I imagine rocket science must be fairly exciting. 
Posted by iam3green

ouch grad school. it must be hard to learn all of that. pretty crazy and expensive stuff right there.

Posted by chocolaterhinovampire

I feel and share your pain brother

Posted by DragonBloodthirsty

Thanks everybody; and thanks especially for fixing the video.