I’m Free!

I don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch, but I’m Free! Free for the tyranny that is PDEng!

I submitted the final assignment for PDEng 55, the final PDEng course of my University of Waterloo engineering program. The last assignment, a written piece on undergraduate intern engineering experience is marked only for completion, and having passed the summative assignment prior to that, I feel like I’m home free. *knock on wood*

I’m going to put this harrowing experience behind me and hope that one day, the program will either be removed or at least improved.

PDEng 55: Auto-Fail

I’m not sure which better defines which. Does auto-fail define PDEng 55 or does PDEng 55 define auto-fail?

I’ve failed all three initial assignment submissions this semester, and it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort. To put this 100% failure rate in context, 3 friends also share this identical failure rate. Discussion board postings criticizing the quality of marking and mundane reasons for the failed grades have been met with draconian responses or have simply been removed. How ironic for a program that touts its goal of professional education. The atmosphere feels more like the Apple support forums than an engineering education board.

PDEng has always been about referencing and citing supporting information. I try to pretend that I’m writing the assignment for the most inquisitive, impatient 3 year old on the planet. Think something should be common knowledge? Think again. Reference that shit. Think the marker can read past a statement in one sentence and find the supporting evidence in the next? Think again. Make it a run-on sentence if need be, but whatever you do, don’t use a period before finishing up that nukebomb-proof thought.

As an example, let me provide you with just one of the few reasons I failed the latest assignment. It was returned with some rather humorous comments. Among them was the highlighting of a passage and this gem of a comment, ‘Why is this bold?‘ Hmmmm, that’s a really tough question. Not. I didn’t realize using different font effects required explanation. From the comment, it appears as though I need to provide justification for bolding words. I promise I’ll provide explanations for such mind-boggling actions in the future, honest…

PDEng has failed in its objectives. The failure isn’t due to an altogether poor idea or motivating factor. It is very commendable that the University of Waterloo forged ahead to enhance an aspect of the engineering program that isn’t thoroughly taught. However, the execution has meant that any possible benefit of the project has been squandered. Instead of truly educating engineers-in-training and encouraging thoughtful responses to assignments, the tasks have turned into mostly fruitless attempts to appease power-hungry markers. I deem any course where the overarching goal is to write what the marker wants to see, rather than actually learn, a complete, utter failure.

If the University of Waterloo really wants PDEng to be viewed and, more importantly, result in real professional education for engineering students, it must organize the program so that students don’t view it as a form of punishment. Make the assignments actually educate students on the professional and ethical aspects of engineering. Perhaps provide case studies that encourage students to think and analyze, and not simply write the things that will earn them the required ‘Competent’ rating. As it stands, you could fully understand and even convey all the concepts that PDEng attempts to teach, yet still fail assignments due to reasons like the one I mentioned earlier. That sort of ‘incentive’ isn’t conducive to a real effort at learning.

And as a result, I will continue to preach the failures of the PDEng program at all my places of employment. And since I want to inflict maximum damage on the program as it is currently executed, you can be absolutely certain my arguments aren’t in the form of ‘it just sucks’. My personal experiences and reasonable complaints will do far more in any employer’s eye. My only ray of hope comes from the fact that PDEng 55 is the final iteration of the punishment.

PDEng 45 – The Worst Yet

I have a prediction. PDEng 45 will be the worst PDEng course thus far – reason being that it’s group-based. That’s right, a group-based PDEng course. I can sort of understand why they decided torment us so. After all, the course is called ‘Leadership‘. It’s a little difficult to lead when you’re a team of one. Nevertheless, if most students do PDEng as I and my friends do, it’ll get shoved to the last possible minute. Have you ever tried cramming a group project just before it’s due? It’s not fun. Inevitably one or two people end up doing all the work.

And I guess that may be why this is the perfect chance to learn about leadership – how to motivate everyone to not fail miserably at PDEng. Truth be told, regardless of what the material and projects actually consist of, I have no doubt that getting the people together at the same time to work will be the most difficult part. When everyone is so unmotivated to do a PDEng assignment, it’s really like asking who wants to lead the troops down Death Row. You know the end result won’t be pleasant.

So with a grimace I face this new course. I’ve filled out the two mandatory conduct forms, which state I the requirements to pass the course and how to act in an online course. Next, I get set up with my group members. Cross your fingers.

Oh Good, I’m Competent.

I passed PDEng 35. The course wasn’t completely pointless like the first two PDEngs I’ve had to suffer through. I much prefer the smaller number of assignments but larger assignments, which prove to be a little more practical and applicable assignments, instead of the mostly pointless writing assignments in the previous two iterations of the course. In the 35 course, you were actually encouraged to think about engineering issues and give your opinion, as opposed to merely writing what the course coordinators wanted to hear.

Lookit! I’m ‘competent’.

PDEng 35

Another University of Waterloo work semester and another PDEng down. Only two more to go. The next big step to the end of this semester will be the work report.

Feeling Guilty

It seems like I can never find time to work on this project I’m helping out with. The thing is, if it were something on my own (such as my site designs) I wouldn’t even care – I’d be the only one losing out. But this is a team effort and I feel like I’m letting everyone down. Weekends were once in my mind full of free time. Now it seems like they’re more busy than the weekdays.

If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about and I’m sorry for dragging my feet. I promise to finish the work by mid-week. I’m sure I’ll be able to find some time between editing my PDEng assignment that needs to be resubmitted…

/sigh