2010 Fall Term in Review

It’s time again to write about my last term of studies and the courses I took. This is my first term as a grad student and I managed the survive the term… barely. As a grad student, I didn’t need to take as many courses as an undergrad, but the courses were still handful on top of project work I have to do. I took three courses last term, and here are my thoughts on them:

Power Electronics
One of the power courses that I avoided taking in my final year of undergrad was power electronics, mostly because the schedule was horrible (was basically a night class) and that I didn’t like electronics all that much. That decision led to me having to take power electronics this term, and as expected it was a fairly challenging course. The course was all about converters: AC-DC, DC-DC, DC-AC and the concepts and math can get a little bit complicated. I found AC to DC rectifiers to be the hardest part of the course just because the math involves a lot of integrals, and I (and probably most people) don’t like integrals very much. I didn’t do too well on the homework, but I think I did pretty well on the tests that counted for most of the grades, so overall it ended up being okay.

Power System Analysis
I already two terms worth of power system analysis in my last year of undergrad, but I had to take power system analysis again as a graduate course just for good measure. Even though this is just one course, it covered more topics than what I had previous learned, but still I already knew around 70-80% of all the material. Because the course moved so quickly, I don’t think I was able to understand much about the “new” topics that I haven’t seen, but I’m sure later courses will remedy that if needed. The material might be difficult sometimes, but the exams were mostly not too bad. I probably didn’t do as well as I liked to in the final, but I ended up with a decent grade so can’t complain much. Knowing 70-80% of the material before hand did help a lot.

System Analysis
A graduate level control system course about how to deal with systems in state space representation. I haven’t taken control since my third year, but this turned out to be a pretty straight forward course, with calculations that mostly involved basic linear algebra/matrix math. Some of the stuff that we learned in the course is pretty neat such as the Cayley-Hamilton theorem, which among many other uses makes computing polynomials of matrices so much easier. Overall this was a decent course.

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That’s all for my first term as a graduate student. My new school doesn’t give percentage grades, but I got A’s for all three courses and I feel fortunate about those grades. I know I didn’t do as well I should have on two of the finals, but it was three finals in two days and my brain was pretty much fried after the first day. Overall, my first term at my new school wasn’t too bad. From a numbers perspective, course load was much lighter than undergrad (where I averaged about six courses per term), but graduate courses seem to be a little tougher, and of course I also had project work to tend to. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my grades up for the upcoming term and for the rest of my graduate career.

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