ASU Spring 2016 Session A Week 1 Update

My MAT 265 (Calculus I) and EEE 120 – Digital Design Fundamentals courses officially started up last Monday although the course content was available Friday 1/8 by the afternoon. I got started that Friday afternoon and have been glad for a few days head start.

This past week in MAT 265, the lectures have been focused on Limits. I’ve found the video lectures to be helpful and have been supplementing the lectures with Khan Academy videos. The math video lectures are longer than I’m used to usually with 2 videos per topic running anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Week 2 we move on to differentiation.

Homework is done through WebWorks for MAT 265. I have to say that I really miss the MyMathLab site from MAT 170. WebWorks is okay, but MyMathLab had an awesome “Show Me How” button where if you were stuck, it would walk you through step by step. In addition you were able to get a lot of math problem practice. Not so much with WebWorks. The syntax to enter answers is a bit different as well in WebWorks so that has taken a little getting used to. Hopefully WebWorks will grow on me. Rumor has it that is used for MAT 266 next session as well.

EEE 120 so far has been a lot of challenging fun. The lecture videos aren’t too long, but there are usefully a handful to watch each week. In addition to lectures, there has been sample practice problem videos where the instructor works through various problems.

Last week we were focused on Truth Tables and Logic Gate Circuits. This week onto Boolean Algebra, Equation Minimization and Karnaugh Maps. This week definitely got challenging! The lectures have been pretty good and I found a number of lectures by Jim Pytel out of Columbia Gorge Community College to be an awesome supplement. He’s got some great tips that he sprinkles in. I was struggling a bit on simplifying Boolean expressions late last week, but with Mr. Pytel’s videos, I’m much more confident. I’m convinced the more you practice with Boolean Equations and Karnaugh Maps the better off you’ll be.

Labs have been pretty straight forward for EE 120 so far. We’ve got 5 simulation labs and 5 hardware labs. Our first was a simulation lab and we were presented with a number of tasks to work through in Logisim that gave us a chance to explore the tools in Logisim we’ll be using for the rest of the labs. Gave a good foundation to build on but feels like we’ve barely just scratched the surface of the simulation program. This weeks is a hardware lab using our Digilent Analog Discovery kit, breadboard and an IC.

Instructors and TAs have been very helpful and pretty quick to respond to questions posted to the course Piazza discussion board for both classes.

Oh and a nice perk! Last semester we had to pay for exam proctoring fees through ASU picked up the tab for those this semester which is great! Saved closed to $60 bucks! Hopefully that continues!

Well, I better get back to the books. Until next time!

ASU Spring 2016

I made it through my first semester of ASU Online EE program and Spring 2016 I’m doubling the number of classes and will be taking my very first electrical engineering class. This semester I’m taking:

Session A
MAT 265 – Calculus I
EE 120 – Digital Design Fundamentals

Session B
MAT 266 – Calculus II
PHY 121 – Physics I

It’s been over 15 years since I’ve done any Calculus or Physics. Over the break I’ve been watching more videos on about Calculus. I haven’t done a lot of the exercises though so we’ll see how that works out.

On the physics side, I haven’t done a lot of prep work yet. I’ve got a little over three months until that starts up. I saw that Khan Academy has some videos on Physics and read that a former MIT professor named Walter Lewin has recorded his Physics lectures and those are supposed to be a good supplement. Not sure I’ll need those, but having multiple sources to pull from I think will be beneficial.

My professor for EE 120 sent out a shopping list of parts needed shortly after registering. On the shopping list we needed to procure the following:

  • Digilent Analog Discovery
  • Breadboard
  • Breadboard Wiring Bundle
  • 74LS00 (Quad NAND)
  • 74LS02 (Quad NOR)
  • 74LS04 (Hex Inverter)
  • 74LS05 (Hex Inverter O.C.)
  • 74LS08 (Quad AND)
  • 74LS11 (3-input AND)
  • 74LS32 (Quad OR)
  • 74LS74 (D flip flop)
  • 74LS112 (J-K flip flop)
  • 74LS126 (3-state buffer)
  • 74LS175 (Quad D Register)
  • 1K Ohm resistors

Rumor has it that the Analog Discovery All-In-One USB Oscilloscope and instrumentation system will be used in a number of upcoming EE classes. Digilent had some tutorials on the device so I started tinkering with a few of those.

Book wise, no textbook was required for EE 120, but I did pick up the one used in the campus course. The professor gave a number of other books that were available through the ASU library or for purchase so I started flipping through those.

Not too much else to report but will post updates as the courses progress.


Basic Tools for Success

When I first started college back in 1997 I had a desktop computer running a Pentium II processor with 32 GB of RAM, Windows 95 and a 4GB hard drive. I think it had Office 97.

Times have changed.

My computer of choice now is a Surface Pro 3 tablet with Windows 10 and Office 2016. I went with the i5, 256GB, 8GB model. Naturally Microsoft announced the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 a few months after I made the purchase but in all honesty the Surface Pro 3 is a great unit. I did pick up the newer Surface Pen and I really like it.

In addition to the Surface Pro 3, I have an older desktop setup with a 24″ monitor. I find myself pulling up assignments, slide decks or videos on the desktop and then using the Surface Pro 3 and OneNote to take notes with the Surface Pen. Having my handwritten notes on my computers and backed up helps me sleep a bit better at night.

All of my school files are saved up to OneDrive and sync across both devices. So far that has worked well.

There is a bit of fruit in my technical diet in the form of an Apple iPad but I find I don’t use it all that much short of checking email or catching up on a game via the WatchESPN app.

Other tools I use are your standard issue pens, pencils and notecards, file folders and binders and a backpack. I am trying to keep everything digital especially since all assignments are submitted online via blackboard.

For a calculator, I use a TI-84 Plus CE. On the iPad I do have the TI-NSpire CAS app but I tend to use the TI-84 unless I get stuck or have something with a radical in it that I want to double check how to simplify.

All exams to date are proctored via ProctorU and require a web camera. I have a small Logitech HD Webcam 310 attached to the desktop that does the job and came in handy for FSE 100’s video calls with my team members.

Believe it or not, I may be the only college student without a mobile phone these days. After my position was eliminated I gave back my company mobile phone and didn’t bother to replace it. My wife has a phone though so if I’m venturing into unchartered territory and she’s staying in, I just borrow her phone. So far that’s working out well for us and keeping expenses down.