Disaster Averted… For Now
I mentioned the other day that my father and I had discovered a potentially fatal flaw in the network of dependencies that is the electrical engineering curriculum. We were looking over the sample curriculum and looking up some of the classes it predicts I’ll be taking in later semesters in the catalog, when we discovered that Introduction to Programming for Engineers (ECE177), slated for next spring, has Calculus I (MAT126) as a prerequisite – which is a problem, as I’ll be taking it that same semester. This is Not Allowed, officially, or else ECE177 would specify “or concurrently”. In a mild panic, I spent an evening working up a modified course plan that basically took me out on a year-long part-time loop in order to come back to spring 2012 with the prereq in place (since ECE177 is only offered in the spring semester). I actually rather liked the looks of it by the time I was done with it – it would have made for a much gentler reintroduction to the world of academic rigor than I’ve actually arranged for myself by just diving into the deep end of the pool – but it was still, indubitably, a WPI-style Five-Year Plan (only not taking half a semester’s worth of courses in spring and fall 2011 rather than, in the more standard WPI style, taking but not passing them). I didn’t figure my advisor would rate it too highly when I got in to see him this afternoon.
In the event, he was rather taken by it, but he also declared that it was moot. “We’ll just override that prerequisite at the spring semester faculty meeting,” he said. “Remind me around finals time to put it on the agenda.”
One thing he did concur with was that, since I care about succeeding in my precalc course as much as I do, I should absolutely drop Intro to Chemistry and pick it up again later, if that’s the only way to make the timetable work (and it is). I asked him why chemistry is on the curriculum – is it just the simplest (scheduling-wise) way to get the general lab science requirement, or is there something special about that specific subject that they want us all to have? He wasn’t sure, but wondered why I would ask, so I explained that, with Intro to Astronomy (in, er, 1993) and the Intro to Astronomy Lab (which I’m taking now), I’ll have the general lab science requirement already – so if that’s all CHY121/123 are for, I don’t necessarily need them at all. He said he’d look into that, but even if the curriculum committee came back with no, he needs chemistry, I’ll be able to take it in some later semester. I’ve got a few holes here and there where my old-timey credits have picked up several of the general-graduation-requirement elective slots that are in the sample curriculum. Heck, even if it turns out I don’t need it, I might take it anyway, ’cause that’s how I roll sometimes.
So at least that’s taken care of. Now I have to write nice notes to my chemistry prof and lab TA, just to let them know that it was a scheduling thing and not because of anything they said. I’m sure they don’t need my reassurance to validate their teaching careers or anything, but it’s only polite. I’ve actually had quite a good time in Dr. Rowe’s lectures. I’d keep going if I could keep the lecture without the lab, but, alas, it is (unlike with AST109/110) Not Allowed.