Favorite High School/College Classes

In high school I really liked my senior level math class. It was called “Analysis” or something similar. The teacher is what made it great. At the end of the year he told us, “OK, now everyone sign up for calculus in college. You’ve been doing it for the last 6 weeks.”

It was a first hour class, and somebody asked if we could have breakfast. The teacher replied, “Oh sure, why not?” A few days later he smelled bacon as he came down the hall to the classroom. “I didn’t think you were really going to do it!”

I might be different than many here - my degree from Syracuse University is in Economics with a focus in public policy from their Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs which got me interested in data science in the first place.

Right now I feel incredibly grateful to the Maxwell and Econ faculty for teaching me about the history of our national and world economy and the mechanisms put in place which play into structural racism and socio-economic disparities.

Another one I appreciated a lot was Religious Issues in American Life, essentially a Religion & Politics class. Gave me a lot of perspective into an area that I would have otherwise been very biased towards regarding public policy.

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I think the most fun I’ve had in a school class was Robotics. I went into that class more advanced then pretty much everyone else (except probably @1198159), but I had a lot of fun making overcomplicated vex robots. I learned why treads are very ineffective, how much maneuverability is important, and most important of all, how much making an overly complex robot was a waste of time.

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Rose-Hulman, BSME with various computer-y minors.

  • Intro to FEA / Advanced FEA - FEA is really cool when you can actually use it to simulate things and trust the answers. Knowing how the programs work helps you debug your simulations and make better ones. Also writing your own FEA program is fun. Also Dr. Jones is a great guy.
  • ConApps - Physics is taught in the worst way because it’s all special cases rather than rigor and first-principles. So the ME course has to set the physics department straight on the basics. No offense guys- you’re just approaching it wrong.
  • CompArch II - Why the heck is the ME taking the advanced computer architecture class? Because it’s novel, and gets you thinking about process engineering in a strange way. Computers are cool, codez droolz, Dr. Estrada is awesome.
  • Computational Modeling - Dr. Holder is an amazing man, and this course was a great way to learn about various methods for modeling physical systems/phenomena numerically… which I still use to this day in my sidequesting
  • History of Economic Thought - An excellent tour de force in the development of one of the newest fields of ‘science’; one which is both hard and soft and sticky. Dr. Christ is super knowledgeable and makes the material that much better.

I was too focused on STEM courses when I was composing my response earlier. One of my favorite non-technical classes was comparative religion. As you alluded to, it’s important to develop an appreciation of the socioeconomic, cultural, and religious contexts people experience – especially those contexts that are different from your own. I think it’s key to cultivating empathy and being a good human.

Also a plug for a personal or family finance course. I think everyone should enter the workforce knowing how Roth/Traditional IRA and 401(k) plans work (or equivalent retirement options if you’re not in the United States), how medical/auto/life insurance works, how taxes work, etc.

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I presume the bubbly version of “enjoyable”?

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Expanding a bit on my previous response, with the college engineering courses.

Mechatronics Lab was a junior-level course. Start by messing around with stuff (Arduino and some random sensors and other similar things) and end up building a robot and a free project. Surprisingly enough, I think the video from my group’s is still on Youtube if you know what to look for. (My group went early in the class. Then we sat around waiting for someone else to come remotely close to our time. Nobody did.)

Then there was Sophomore Design and Product Development, an ME/EE/CS course pair. The goal of Sophomore Design was to come up with a (relatively simple) class project, design it, build it, and make sure everyone in class had one. Mine is still somewhere around my apartment; if someone asks I’ll have to take a picture and post it. Product Development focused more on “you have a product, now start a business” aspect of things, teaching marketing, business operations, and other similar things. The product didn’t matter quite so much in that one as the business did.

One final class: CAD/CAM. This wasn’t quite what was advertised–you had to do a fair bit of CAD, but most of the course was on Design for Manufacturing. Dr. Dolan (who also taught the previous course pair) would go over GD&T, and how to think about tolerancing and set it up to make the technicians’ lives easier. That’s another class that I might not use every day, but I use the principles a lot.

One final note: I kept all my engineering textbooks instead of selling them back. The most useful one–Machine Design 1 & 2–is in my office at work because I’m referring to it a LOT. That was a very interesting course pair, and I refer to the book on a regular basis to look up things like how to calculate gear tooth stress or (this week’s check) “what was that buckling equation again?”, or look up the material reference in the back. For anybody in the engineering field, I’d recommend doing something like that, particularly for advanced but “useful anywhere” topics. (I will say that the Machine Design textbook has occasionally disappeared to a coworker’s office for a few days…)

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Hort 270, Flower Arranging and Indoor Plant management was phenomenal at Purdue. Of all Math and Computer Science classes I’ve ever taken, no compared to the the breadth and depth of that class.

The curriculum is broken into two separate parts. The flower arranging part is we learned design principles and elements. Construction of different designs and occasions, and a huge section of wedding things. We also learned how to be a smart consumer, make our arrangements last weeks instead of days, and create lot of fun bows and wreaths. Every lab we got to take home a fresh arrangement.

The indoor plant part gave tons of information of how to take care of indoor plants, identify them, propagate them, and treat disease and insects. We got a little baby plant to take care of at the beginning of the semester, and how final report was on how we took care of it (or killed it). Favorite part of the class? The professor saying, “If you’re really into this, we will give you a spotted lily. If you have 21 credit ours, we will give you a cactus.”

I really loved that class, and it’s given me a chance to connect with my mom a lot more. I also have the confidence to wear flowers in my hair now too! If you want to see pictures, they are below!

Pictures








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For me - Architecture Studio at IIT, was both my most hated and loved class. (If you study Architecture, you’d understand). It’s insanely difficult, entirely subjective, you end up staying awake 58 hours at a time to get the work done, but it’s where you do all your creative work, it’s the main event in Architecture school, and it’s also a lot of fun, when you’re awake enough to enjoy it.

Outside of that, I think I quite enjoyed my IPRO classed at IIT, I had a good professor, who was relaxed enough, but we still did good work I think, and I got to spend a whole semester on one model my second IPRO. Before that I was making models in a week or less only in Studio, but having the time to spread the work out over a whole semester for one model, that made the model making actually fun, we could take the time to do a really good job we could be proud of.

Business classes were also fun, I minored in Business - those classes were like going on vacation for me. I thought it was really funny - all the business students were complaining “ohhh soooo much homework” blah blah blah, I was like - 1-2 hours of homework a week!!! SCORE!!! This is vacation! … Architecture is incredibly difficult folks.