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Friday, 6 January 2012

Back to school, and I hit the ground running

So, first week back, and already I'm working hard. I have the pressure of feeling like I'm behind without actually being behind schedule, so let's hope things stay that way.

Last term, I had 2 half-year classes and 2 full-year ones. As such, the marks have come in for the half-year classes and I am upset about one of them. Due to some miscommunication, a group project ended up becoming two individual projects which got recombined by the professors, and, unfortunately, we did not do so well. I am pretty upset about that, but it's over and there isn't much I can do other than learn from the incompetency of others. It sounds mean, directing the blame and responsibility elsewhere, but if you know about the situation, you'll know I'm not wrong in saying so.

Anyway, it's a new year, and a new term, so I have better things to do other than get upset. My first new class is Radio Science and Techniques for Space Exploration. While a lengthy title, the class looks to be most interesting. I've had classes which cover the techniques and science of radio transmission, but this one looks as if it will go more in-depth into the basics and science around communicating with satellites, rovers, and other man-made objects in deep-space. It looks to be heavy-math, but at least all within the scope of how it applies to actual space communications. The class is being taught by a Professor Bartel, whose website is here, Professor Bartel, but in case you're too lazy to read, he's done some very interesting work in the field of science. He was a major player in the Gravity Probe B satellite mission which involved testing Einstein's theories by placing a satellite in Earth's orbit, with 4 almost perfectly spherical gyros in near-weightlessness. Along with a lot of other work in radio astronomy, he once told me a story about how he needed to work with a satellite in orbit, but wasn't at his ground station, his place for working with and monitoring his satellite. Out in the field, needing to connect to his satellite, he realized that his laptop, an old model, had a metal plate on the back of the monitor. He then used his monitor and some software to establish a connection with his satellite! How cool is that?! Sounds to me like he MacGuyver'd his way there, but maybe I just get excited over the weirdest things. Also, Professor Bartel comes across as a German Leslie Nielson, which is pretty entertaining. Long story short, cool prof, looking-to-be interesting and tough class, so I'm looking forward to it.

My second new class is Introduction to Robotics, taught by a Professor Burton Ma. Contrary to most computer science professors here at York, Professor Burton Ma is an interesting, English-speaking, interactive professor who engages the student in the material, presenting it in a straightforward and well-paced format. Why am I writing his recommendation here? Because I have suffered through the trenches of computer science classes with teachers and teaching assistants who were none of the above. My worst university experiences have involved terrible professors in computer science. Anyway, this professor is pretty cool; young, easy-going, and seems to enjoy what he does. Most of his work seems to be involved with using robotics in the medical industry, such as robotic arms for performing surgeries and stuff, which is pretty cool. In this class, we will be using one of two robotic arms which move similarly to a human arm. I am not exactly sure yet, but it looks exciting. I mean, who doesn't love robots? know, the non-sentient, not trying to kill you kind.

My two full-year classes soldier on. This upcoming section of my Space Hardware class involves working with radio transmissions, so antennas, and stuff. Oh, I had to look this up, as I wasn't sure. Antennas refers to the hardware, antennae refer to the biological appendages, just if you've ever gotten that confused. So, more on those labs as they develop.

My Engineering 4000 class is what makes me feel like I hit the ground running. Things have been delayed, due to holidays, late deliveries, and hardware/software problems. We have been working hard, but we have a presentation this upcoming Wednesday which doesn't bode well for my weekend. On the plus side, we were given a special room to work in; it's nothing special, just some tables and chairs, but it was nice to have an area all our own in which I can leave my things between classes and where we won't be bothered by other people. I look forward to keeping a solid work ethic and getting this project underway. More on that as it develops as well.

And that's it, nothing too novel, just an update. Thanks for reading, and I'll try to make it more interesting next time.

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