Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Cool-Aid

The Journal is over, but I want to keep updating the site with my classes/research. Graduation is next weekend, and I'm done with everything except completing the Design & Construction project. That will be going gun-ho through next week, but I think things will slow down a little after graduation. Gotta find some good sources for posts though.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Journal #28: 12-608 Final Thoughts

As I said in the previous post, I felt like all my classes were very unique this semester. Mostly in a good way. This class and my other engineering courses were such a welcome escape from my awful exposure to the "your project is due this day... oh you actually finished? just kidding now we want you to do more" CFA design policy.

When I was asked how to describe this class by other civ-e's, I usually just said, "it's like another level of intro to environmental." That isn't a very accurate description in many ways. Where intro to environmental really revealed the mathematical, biological, and lab aspects of environmental engineering, 12-608 expanded the breadth of the topic and gave me an strong idea of how the same principles can really be applied to anything. Especially life cycle analysis and sustainability concepts, because now I feel like nothing is environmentally safe anymore. Which isn't as bad as it sounds.

I really liked all the different perspectives that were brought to the class by the students, and I think trying to cross-list the course could be a very good thing to improve the diverse ideas. I agree that having it as a general CIT course wouldn't attract too many students. I thought the homeworks challenged me, but weren't overly frustrating and I often just became engaged and enjoyed them. The project and journals have been fun too, and I was glad that the project did not become some 9 page paper or something.

I thought maybe the grading rubric could have been defined earlier in the class. I also think that the class could still have more defined aspects while still being flexible with the grading. Just forcing the students to make a choice about tests, homework, and projects early in the course could allow this. I know that there was kind of a lack of response when Deanna asked for this input in class, but I think if it is made known to the students that they have to pick now in order to create a rubric there could be more input. I also hate debates and feel very awkward during them, but I think they were good for this class and I learned a lot from it.

Either way, I didn't really find any big faults with the class and always found it enjoyable.

Journal #27: Independent Study Final Thoughts

Gonna put in a couple more entries here and then I don't know what this site will turn into. Probably not as many updates, but still the same earth shaking write ups.

I thought I'd write up some thoughts on my independent study, since I feel like this semester I took four of the most unique and differently structured classes I've ever had. This one, though, really let me feel like I put together a lot of the skills I had developed here at CMU to structure and summarize this study.

Our advisors (mostly Burcu A, somewhat Larry C) want to continue to implement this independent study that myself, Joe N, and Greg G designed for the Design and Construction course. This means that they asked ways that we would change the study for next year.

Immediately, I thought of the constant battle with the students in turning in their timecards. The timecards that we designed allowed us to collect the hours students worked with detailed descriptions weekly. Getting students to turn these in turned out to be a serious problem, and I'm sure much data was lost because students would end up turning them in 3 weeks later in some cases. A couple of whole weeks of data were lost at the end because we had to compile and finish our report.

I also wish I would've researched more management methods, as I feel the scope of the study could definitely be broadened. Hopefully next year the students could immediately use what we've researched so they can find new things to apply. And maybe they will have more help to do it. Maybe something with 4-D or 5-D models (time and money are the other dimenstions)? Hopefully the next students are good with CAD.

Also, I wish I had known more about the laser scanning and its applications. As far as I am aware (I wasn't the one in charge of researching and writing up that part of the report) the laser scanning is a tool in finding discrepancies in designed vs. as built (CAD models vs. scanned data), and can anticipate problems in needed materials. For example, we were short on concrete for the first pour, and Burcu explained to us that the laser scan model could have told us exactly how much concrete was necessary.

Either way, I'm anxious to hear Burcu and Larry's comments. I'll finish up the rest of my entries soon.