Tag Archives: pdeng

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

PDEng 35: Turn for the Better

You’ve heard me complain about PDEng over and over again through the past couple years. I still stand by what I said about the program. In fact, having seen the changes being enacted in PDEng 35, I share those sentiments more than ever. PDEng 15 and 25 were pointless exercises in fancy writing and rounds of ‘make-believe’. One assignment after each pointless module had to be written by me, graded by the marker, more often than not, rewritten by me, following the exact deficiencies outlined in the comments, and remarked for a pass. The whole idea behind the program – ethics, professionalism, defensible decision making – were all lost in the jumble of words and half-truths. I hated the time I had to spend on PDEng and looked forward to each due date with remorse.

But I think the program has taken a turn for the best. I can’t say if PDEng 15 or 25 have been modified, but from what I can see in PDEng 35 (wow, my third work term already?) it’s manageable. The assignments following each content module in 15 and 25 have been done away with (they felt more like make work projects for both the writer and the marker) and instead, larger, more encapsulating assignments have taken their place. Instead of doing 8-10 assignment each work semester, there are only 3. Each one encompasses several modules and the written assignments are less about giving what they want to hear, but actually writing defensible decisions. For example, the previous assignment I just handed in (number 2) involved writing an opinion piece on a choice of three topics. I’m fully capable of doing that, and I believe it means much more than a prime example from previous PDEng courses, write about which animal you would be and why…

It feels almost blasphemous as a student to say this, but the first assignment of PDEng 35 was almost enjoyable. I was required to come up with an ethical dilemma to place a fictional character in and then attempt to come to a decision regarding the situation by weighing the outcomes. It actually required genuine thought and analysis of all angles of the problem. I’m sure the markers didn’t get a ton of cookie cutter responses to that assignment, which makes life a little more interesting for both parties.

Professional Development for Engineers. I would grimace every time I heard those words or any variation of PDEng. Now it doesn’t seem so bad. I can only hope that these changes are the result of countless complaints from students. I do urge them to continue improving the program as I believe it has merit, just not with the previous implementation.

PDEng Begins Again

One of the most hated parts of my (relatively) enjoyable work terms is upon me again. PDEng 35 has begun. Luckily the first week’s work consisted of clicking two ‘I Agree’ buttons. The first true assignment’s due next Tuesday so I’ve got some time yet.

Prepare for complaints about the program throughout the semester.