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07 January 2008


As you may know, today was the first day back to classes here at Pitt. And that usually brings some sort of schedule with it on this blog. But you may also know that I usually talk about how my semester went once it's over, in terms of meeting expectations as well as grades.

Well, I put one off, and now it's time to do the other... and they're really a lot related, more so this time around then ever. Anyway, here's last fall's roundup:

Finals week started with OChem, and I'd made it no secret that I wasn't grasping the concepts as well as I'd have liked. On the other hand, I did feel confident that I had done better on my final than on some of the other recent exams. I got my exam grade back (a number) that Friday afternoon, but forgot that I had signed the exam allowing my professor to post my grade by ID number later that day. So he didn't have the exam or the signature, and my grade wasn't posted and I had to wait. And that was hard.

The Diff. Eq. final was a bit of a non-event. It was a departmental final, written by my professor and one other guy, so it was fairly predictable. The last of the ten problems was on material squeezed into the last week, though, and I put the wrong types of information on my "cheat sheet" that we were allowed to use. So, I had practically nothing for that one. But I did well on all of the others, and even caught myself in the process of making a reading mistake similar to one I'd made on an earlier exam.

The ChE 0100 exam was easy, but long. Not to mention it was open-book, so even if you got stuck, you were there for three whole hours. Really, that class was a breeze, but it's those basic concepts of various chemical properties, expanded to a more general sense, that will really lay the foundation for the future ChE courses. I'm already seeing that in ChE 0200. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, I'd been debating with myself over how to approach this next part: the summary. You see, as it turns out, though I passed OChem 1, my grade did not end up being satisfactory by my standards, especially considering that I'm going to have to take OChem 2. So, I'm retaking OChem 1 (and again, I'm jumping ahead), as there are a lot of important concepts that I must look over again.

So it is with some trepidation that I summarize my grades, although really, in the end, I decided that having a class like this is fairly normal, and that it really won't matter once my new grade replaces the old one. So, if I can quit talking about this term, here's the breakdown of last term:

ChE 0100 Foundations of Chemical Engineering 6 cr. A
ChE 0101 Foundations of Chemical Engineering Lab 1 cr. A
ChE 1085 Departmental Seminar 0 cr. S
CHEM 0310 Organic Chemistry 1 3 cr. D
CHEM 0330 Organic Chemistry Lab 1 1 cr. C+
MATH 0290 Differential Equations 3 cr. B-
MUSIC 0612 Heinz Chapel Choir 1 cr. A
MUSIC 0630 Marching Band 1 cr. A

As it stands, these grades represent a QPA of 3.094 on 16 credits, giving me a cumulative average of 3.365 on 52 credits. Obviously, I'm disappointed with the drop caused by OChem, but I'm glad it was only 0.12. And of course, the retake will replace the old grade in the QPA calculation, so barring a complete meltdown, it'll really be higher than that.

On the plus side of things, you can see that I actually have grades for my major now, and that it stands at a perfect 4.000 on 7 credits. Oh, how I'd love to keep that...

Now that I'm done with that, I'd ordinarily start talking about break thusfar; obviously, it's not only done, but it's already been blogged about. So now, it's onto the present. Here's my schedule for Term 2084:

Class Titles and Credit Values
ChE 0200 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics 6 cr.
ChE 0201 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics Lab 1 cr.
ChE 1085 Departmental Seminar 0 cr.
CHEM 0310 Organic Chemistry 1 3 cr.
ENGCMP 0400 Written Professional Communication 3 cr.
ENGR 0020 Probability and Statistics for Engineers 1 4 cr.
MUSIC 0631 Concert Band 1 cr.
18 cr.

Classes begin 7 January 2008; final exams are 21-26 April 2008. No classes 21 January for Martin Luther King's Birthday Observance, or 9-16 March for Spring Recess.

The first and most important thing to notice is that the OChem 1 classes are in a different color. It's not actually that color on my calendar, but I did that while taking the screenshot to illustrate that I'm not technically registered for it... yet.

You see, there are two sections of OChem 1 offered this term: the one shown above, and one that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 09:30. Obviously, that one won't work with my ChE 0200/0201 complex that clogs up the top of my schedule and allows me to progress through my major. So it's pretty important that I get into the 10:00 sessions.

Only problem: it's filled to capacity... and as of this morning, there were 48 seats open in the other section.

If the students were distributed more evenly, even if one was closed, I could probably get in easily, just with a few extra forms. But the "capacity size" of each section is linked to its corresponding recitation sections (mine is shown Monday at 14:00). Each of the two lectures as four corresponding recitations, or review sessions, that hold 30 students each. Hence, capacity for the lectures has a fixed cap at 120. The Chemistry Department could add more recitation sections to accommodate a popular course, but they can't do that until the other one gets closer to filling up.

So after running around from building to building, department to department, I found out that I'm not the only one in the same boat, where ChE 0200 precludes taking the more open section. And since I happen to already have an established rapport with the Chemistry Department's Undergraduate Advisor (my original OChem prof, as well as through ACS-SA), he greeted me with open arms (literally), and said that we'd have to wait to see some movement from one section to the other. But he also assured me that if the add/drop deadline of 18 January was to sneak up and no such movement occurred, he would gladly sign the necessary papers and help me jump through the proper hoops to get registered in time.

In the meantime, I'm still technically registered for OChem 2, and I'm going to attend the lectures until things are finalized, and maybe even occasionally throughout the term as my duties will allow, just so that I can get used to seeing that type of material before I'll need it. And after one day of add/drop, there are only 16 seats left in that other OChem 1 section. So things are looking good.

ChE 0200 today was uneventful. Being a two-hour class, we actually started on material — review material — but that was to be expected. I've heard that the class is quite challenging, but very rewarding, and is also curved to account for the challenge. It's thermodynamics, so that should be very interesting.

CHEM 0310 was... CHEM 0310. My professor is a very nice lady, although it's her first time teaching OChem 1. She did take about 40 of the 50 minutes going over the one-page syllabus, though, because she kept thinking of things she forgot or "words of wisdom" and advice for the course. She also helped me in my quest for registration, though there really wasn't anything she could do.

ENGR 0020 is fun. It's common knowledge that statistics can be manipulated to "demonstrate" nearly anything. So as an exercise, each day this class will start with a brief discussion about a "statistical lie," a scenario in which the truth is hidden by the way the numbers are presented. Some important parts of being a free-thinking and honest engineer are to detect such tactics when employed against you as well as to prevent accidentally doing it yourself.

And that's all I have for now. I'll talk about how weird ChE 0201 works this semester in a later post... even though it's listed as Thursday above, I have it tomorrow instead of the ChE 0200 recitation. Very confusing. At least there's no OChem lab.

That and English Comp. tomorrow, as well as sitting in on an OChem 2 lecture. Band and choir start up Thursday. And I still haven't unpacked since I've been running around all day.

Random tangent: How about that nice weather we've been having? I'll take 63°. But warn me next time; I went out in the morning with a coat because it was cold, and then I had to run around all day with it.


Jim Baxter said...

re statistics class:
The one I remember the best has to do with a horse race with American and Russian horses. the Russian paper listed the results thusly: The Russian horse came in second and the American horse came in "next to last". They didn't bother to mention that this was a two horse race. :)

Beverly Cwalina said...

Good luck getting all that scheduling done!! Sounds like a statistical nightmare.

Speaking of... I didn't do well in math at all in high school and even needed tutoring to get through. Thus, I was thrilled when I placed out of having to take a math class in undergraduate school. However, when it came to graduate school, I had to take Statistics and was worried. I ended up doing every homework question for every chapter, whether they were assigned or not, and it paid off with an A+!

Tim said...

UPDATE: After two days of add/drop, there are 6 open seats in the other OChem class, and still none in mine.

Lexi Elizabeth said...

I'm really sorry about the whole OChem situation. I wish you luck on getting into the class you want. But congrats on the 4.0 with your major!

Laurel said...

It sounds like you'll have a pretty exciting semester...or end of the year...w/e its called. Sometime we'll have to schedule a day when we can get together and celebrate that birthday of yours even if we celebrate over coffee/hot chocolate/something like that.

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