T Minus 8 Hours

Classes started on Monday. For IAP (January), we have three classes in addition to the design challenges and various orientation and cohort-building type bits. They are a Statistics and Probability refresher, the first chunk of System Architecture and The Human Side of Leading Technology.

Statistics and Probability is, somewhat surprisingly, stuff that I largely remember the concepts and just having the equations at hand is enough to get me through it. For once, I guess that my having most of a math degree is going to help me 🙂 The professor at least keeps class fairly interesting. The problem sets are somewhat time-consuming, though, with the first one to take about three hours.

We've only had one session of System Architecture, so far, so I'll reserve judgement. Previous students have made their own opinions clear, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. The challenge for the course, I think, will be making it apply more to software as opposed to just the more traditional “physical” engineering disciplines. Luckily, a good chunk of our class are software people, so there should be a fair bit of interest in that.

The Human Side of Leading Technology is an awesome class. The professor is very engaging and has a variety of good examples from all kinds of industries. His book also looks pretty good from the little bit of reading that we've done so far and I suspect I'm going to end up reading all of the case studies in it even though we don't have to for classes. There are also a whole lot of things which are relevant in the class.

As for the design challenge, our robot is coming along pretty well. I'm very happy with what we've got for three of the five events. One of them just isn't something that matches the core competency for our robot design. And the final one just fell off from a time perspective (both ours and the team we're working with). But there's only so much you can do — tradeoffs have to be made and you have to just do the best you can at your core competencies. Someone said (and I can't remember who at this point, so unfortunately I can't properly attribute them) that one of the things the January program is supposed to do is teach you the art of triage. And at this point, I think triage includes the fact that our synchronized dancing just isn't going to be the best.

Now to go do some final testing and then head home to get at least a few hours of sleep before heading back in the morning for the competition to begin…

2 thoughts on “T Minus 8 Hours”

  1. It’s amusing that you say that about your System Architecture class. One of the biggest problems we have is translating most of the architecting methods and tools into something useful for “physical” engineering. Case in point: One of the big pushes is to use SysML (based on UML) for modeling systems architectures. The engineers that have to interface directly with the software folks love it because the software folks understand it. But most everyone else hates it because it’s not intuitively physical for our purposes.

  2. FWIW, as a software person, I hate things like UML too 😉 While it works okay for things that are simple, when you get to the complex, it just gets to be unwieldy. Also, I really think that it places the emphasis on the wrong things when trying to design/architect software (or anything else for that matter)

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