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Posts Tagged ‘College’

Senior Design Project

October 16th, 2010 No comments

Let me start somewhere close to the beginning of the semester for this story. Our group picked the “Patient Database Administrator” project, thinking that we would be building a full tool for docs to access all their patient records. Yes, in retrospect that sounds too HUGE to be able to do in a single semester, but that’s what we were thinking. We then, before meeting with our client, found code that a previous group had built for this same project, and assumed they were related. At this point, it is 2-3 weeks into the semester, and we still haven’t had an opportunity to meet with our customer!! Once we finally did (for 3 HOURS on a Friday night!!), we managed to make clear the purpose, goals, and scope of this project: create a custom form generating engine that our customer can plug into their overall tool to take all patient records and forms online (including managing the hospital as well).

This project description is of smaller scope than even by the end of that meeting, but we managed to make it more concise over the following weeks, which was nice. Let me describe our customer for a moment though. He is a big-thinking Neurosurgery doc who is finishing up his residency (in the final 2 years I believe) at Emory University Hospital. When I say big-thinking, I mean he sees the big picture very clearly, but doesn’t see all the little steps to get there at the same level as the people he has gotten to accomplish them. This lack of seeing eye-to-eye on many of the technical matters means that we senior design groups receive emails that regularly change, or attempt to alter, the direction we are headed with this project. Some examples include the frameworks we are using have been changed multiple times, typically with more added rather than our overall structure being simplified, and our technology choices were limited to some proprietary software (Flex, which is Flash) that we have to use FREE TRIALS to be able to code in for 60 days. Don’t get me wrong, Flex will likely make coding the front end a lot easier, but that doesn’t mean that it will make our lives easier as a whole since we have to use a framework called Mate with the Flex UI… it’s basically a wreck right now with us trying to put together enough pieces that we can get things rolling so that we can meet deadlines. A minor detail to add, being asked for working prototypes when we haven’t been able to get any real coding done yet, and being asked for the same documentation that has already been sent out, is really annoying from a team managing perspective. Really doc? I sent you those docs about 3 weeks ago!!!

Anyway, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Here is a quick breakdown of the technology limitations and our deadlines for production:

  • Java back-end
  • Hibernate to communicate with the DB
  • Flex UI
  • MySQL DB (ended up being the better choice out of the options, we got lucky here)

Milestones:

  • Start of semester: 8/23
  • Picked project: 8/29
  • Met with customer: 9/10
  • Met with DB professor on campus to discuss our design (and he loved it by the way): 9/24
  • Documentation due date and group presentation to class (end of Sprint 1): 9/27 — we were supposed to have started coding at this point, but didn’t have the time because we met so late with the customer and had so much documentation to do in the limited amount of remaining time for Sprint 1.
  • Upcoming, end of Sprint 2: 11/1 — we plan to have a prototype in place by then, but feel woefully behind because we had so much trouble setting up our local development environments. Really cost us on time!

So we have time to get things done, but are going to have to really push it the next 2 weeks to meet our planned deadline for a working prototype.

Behind Again

October 8th, 2010 No comments

So it would seem that I can’t keep up with my desired blogging output (of at least one post a week). It’s been… a while since my last post to say the least! My focuses lately have been with applying to jobs, working for my part-time job (continuation of my summer job), keeping up with academia, and a bit of recreation in the form of beating Fable 2 last night. So, that brings me to what I am going to post about over the next week or so (and actually post about, not just “want” to post about).

  • A review of Fable 2: I believe I did a review of Fable 1 way back when I played that, so might as well do a follow-up.
  • The jobs I am applying for and what opportunities I am presently interviewing for (this is likely to be my next post actually).
  • My senior design project: we are actually working on a pretty cool concept, but I really don’t like the restrictions to what technologies we have to work with. Expect a rant on this subject…
  • Other subjects that come to mind, maybe my entrepreneurship class project…? Depends if I want to release this idea into the wild since it is a bit more unique.

The plan is to do the job offer applying one this weekend, and have it post on Monday. Then knock out the next one by the end of Monday and have it post late next week, etc. Basically the time-table I WAS working with before I started getting lazy about it.

My Opinion on the Teaching Process

February 1st, 2010 No comments

Firstly, I really have to figure out a better way to remind myself to do blog posts than my present system. Working on it so I don’t miss days like I did with last Friday.

So, why do I even have an opinion on what the teaching process should be? The answer is simple (-edit: the answer turned out to not be simple at all, but rather long winded and possibly off point-), I have been exposed to a large number of different teaching styles and techniques over the course of my life because of the diverse schools I have attended so far in my life. Personally, I love the Montessori technique and entire methodology and will, to this day, claim that it is a HUGE contributor to my present level of academic success (we won’t discuss how hypocritical it is to try to measure your own academic success in any manner other than GPA, and even that is flawed). For those people who don’t know, Montessori focuses on teaching the student at the student’s pace and giving the student tangible ways to see how intangible, and sometimes convoluted, concepts work. I may have missed some other principles of the Montessori technique, but those are what I got out of my own Montessori education.

Unfortunately, my Montessori education only lasted through 6th grade and from there I went to a more traditional school setting that included desks in rows and a teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom. This of course was simply a precursor to college, but it was on a small enough scale that I was able to continue to learn at “my pace” simply by having the opportunity to easily learn 1 on 1 with the teacher if I so needed. I did learn that I suck at receiving things in an auditory only format and I am STILL a slow writer (by hand that is, computers have really changed that).

My college education is now upon me (and somehow is only a year from finishing already…), and I am seeing that not all teachers picked up or experienced the better teaching practices along the way to becoming a teacher themselves. I have experienced some of the best and some of the worst teachers at Tech in 2009. The two professors that I consider the best that I have had while at Tech were good because of similar, but not exactly the same reason. The first, during the spring semester of 2009, was quite simply engaging and knew all of the students who attended class by their first names. The second one was a little less engaging (a much larger class), but the subject was one that I have a great amount of interest in (Information Security).

In the fall, I also had the incredible misfortune of taking a course from the worst teacher in my educational career (i.e. my entire life so far). The professor was unprepared for class, couldn’t answer questions in class without lots of thought, and would usually opt for answering a question in a later class. Overall, I learned nothing from this professor in a subject I had hoped to learn quite a bit from (Computer Networking 1) and am now unable to take the follow-up to this course because I don’t feel that I have the knowledge required.

So that whole long introduction brings me around to why I am even writing this blog post in the first place. It is my belief that the teacher should understand a subject better than his or her own students and that the teacher should come with the expectation that he or she are going to teach the students something new during the next class period. Instead, I have lately been confronted with a teacher that expects us to learn the entire concept BEFORE class on our own and then come to class so she can tell us that we are either wrong about what we learned, unguided, or that we should have learned the information already so that she can ask rhetorical questions of the classroom at large and not give anyone the time to answer. Overall, while the course is VERY structured with in class assignments every time we meet for class, so it is pretty easy to keep up, the professor’s style and attitude towards us as students completely turns me off to the course as a whole. I will of course finish out the semester with this class, but I do not find her teaching style to my own benefit. For all future students, it is her last year teaching this course, so don’t worry about it.