Wednesday, December 9, 2009

After All This, Did I Really Learn Anything?

The semester is coming to a close, so this will be my final blog post relating to ICS 613 - Software Engineering. I have verbally committed to a Master's project/thesis with Philip Johnson, so posts on this blog will in all likelihood continue. I also tell myself that I should record some thoughts relating to work on other projects (like my iPhone applications), but we'll see if I ever act on that. Perhaps I'll update my Twitter more often (@keokilee). I'll have more time after this semester since the Master's project/thesis is all I need to complete to graduate. No more classes!

On the very first day of class, Philip pulled me over and told me that he was concerned that I wouldn't learn anything. After all, I had taken the undergraduate version of the class 3 years ago and most of the content is the same. Admittedly, I knew that and still took the class because I know that I want to graduate and go into the industry and find a software development job. I wanted my resume to say that I took a graduate level course in software engineering. So I was a bit selfish, and I feel a little bad about that. Only a little because despite knowing most of the content, I still had to do the work. And there was a lot of work this semester.

One thing that has changed is the "professional persona" component of the course. During the first month, I set up this blog, created a new resume, and set up a Google Site for employers to look at and see my accomplishments. I also set up my LinkedIn and TechHui memberships, both of which I hope to spend more time on now that the semester is ending. At this point, I haven't heard anything from potential employers, but I hope it improves my chances of getting a job.

What I had somewhat forgotten is how important it is to meet regularly when you're working in a group. This isn't to put down my group members, because I think we cranked out some awesome applications. It's just that at the graduate level, it is common to have a part time or full time job while taking classes. It's more difficult to get people together since people can be so busy. I had often made the comment that 613 students have the leg up on 413 students because grad school is our life. But perhaps it is the other way around; that 413 students have the leg up because we tend to have life (aka time-consuming jobs) take up our time.

But the most important thing I got out of this class was the chance to work on new and interesting applications. The projects (save for Robocode in the beginning) were significant and are definitely things to be proud of. These things are definitely going up on my Google site as soon as I have the time to create the screenshots and do the write up. And I mentioned the Master's project/thesis, which will involve further work on Philip's sustainability research. These opportunities alone make taking the class more than worthwhile.

What made the class even more enjoyable was my fellow classmates. I think that we became a pretty tight knit group (which also happened when I took 413). Many of us hung out and tossed around ideas outside of class, even if we were in separate groups. So shout-outs to Aaron, BJ, Dean, Lyneth, Wahib, and Yichi.

And with that, I bid 613 a fond adieu. I wish my fellow students who are working on extra credit all the best and I hope they do well.

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