29 thoughts on “Future Students

  1. Robert King

    Dear Future Student of MAE434W,

    Before I present to you the good, the bad, and the ugly, allow me to adorn you with some tips on surviving this apparent monolith.

    The first is that while it may be tempting to choose “the best project”, immediately disregard this instinct. It is in fact a red herring. The appropriate measure before taking this class is to be sure that you know all of the engineering professors, and most of your graduating year classmates. The reason for this is to be sure that you don’t get saddled with a faculty advisor for your project that you have a hard time meshing with. While all of them will try to be professional, it is simply a fact of life that you will have certain personalities that you find more easily to get along with, which leads me to restate how important it is that you know or have worked with your fellow classmates in some capacity. How well you succeed in this course absolutely hinges on working with people that you can get along with, and more importantly, how well you can work with them! If you can’t find some combination of those groups, then your struggle may engulf you and your progress on the project.

    Ultimately, the details of the project are secondary, unless of course you enjoy automobiles of every type immensely. In that case, go with either the Formula or Baja teams. They are well established projects at ODU and many of the guidelines have probably been already set for you by the previous teams and their successes or failures. If you love robotics in any way, shape, or form, pick the Autonomous Surface Vehicle team. It is likely that you will be exposed to a multitude of electronic systems in that project.

    For all other projects, it may be a crapshoot. You are basically tossing the dice and hoping for the best. In this case, go with the faculty advisor you think you will be the most productive with. This will distract your envy about how much progress other teams seem to be having.

    Unfortunately the huge caveat in all this is that if your writing skills are subpar, you will nose dive this course if you are unable to learn to write better on your own. If you have a checkered history of essay and paper grades, immediately seek out the writing center at Perry Library as soon as you can, and frequently. Remember, even though they are there to critique your writing, they are in fact helping you so don’t fight it. You don’t have to go into the course with the intent of loving literature, or becoming a William Shakespere against your own free will, but you have to perform. It is expected. You will write probably about fifty pages worth of double spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman text with one inch borders. I’m not even exaggerating.

    But look, don’t be daunted. Learning to communicate will take you far in the professional world. If you can’t convey an idea, and people don’t understand you, prepare for a difficult career ahead of you. There is a certain joy in being able to express exactly what idea you have come up with and having other people be sold on it. You may not discover this now, or five weeks into the course, but when you do, you will recognize the entire worth of this life experience you have gained. You might even thank someone for it.

    To recap:

    – The Good: you will develop real world skills that you can apply immediately to all of your peers, friends, loved ones, coworkers, “business associates”, subordinates and managers. They might even recognize that about you and respect your input.

    – The Bad: sometimes, you don’t get a choice of your team. Remember that everyone else is operating from the same level of motivation that you might be, which is to pick the most interesting project. You want to succeed with the people you know you can work with.

    – The Ugly: the amount of writing, and the quality expected from you is undeniable. This last semester (Spring 2015) the average final paper draft scores were in the 60s. For what it’s worth, human beings are terrible at taking advice, especially from other people that have already experienced that which they are trying to pass on advice from. Don’t succumb to the internal dialogue of “they don’t know what they’re talking about,” or “I’m sure this time will be totally different.” It’s not. Please, please heed our warnings. Get a good grade. You’ll thank yourself at the end.

    -Robert King

  2. Ben Weatherford

    This class wasn’t bad. The assignments aren’t too hard but keeping track of them is harder than I thought. Just stay on top of them and you’ll be fine. Make sure to start on your project early. Don’t wait until the middle to end of the semester to start.

  3. joshua mazzacua

    Dear future student,
    This class will seem like a pain throughout the semester but if you keep track of your assignments, you can easily get a good grade. You will only be able to submit assignments once so be sure to submit the correct files. The professor does not answer emails so you will have to speak to her in class or setup a meeting for office hours. Be sure to pick a project that interesting with the right group member in it. You want a team that can discuss topics and contribute somehow to the deliverables of the project. Meet regularly with your team instructor for regular updates and requirements for the project. There are a lot of little assignments that add up so be sure to stay on top of them. Make sure everyone is contributing somehow and be sure that progress is being made regularly. One more thing, take this class seriously! Good luck.

  4. Nurettin Yigit Gultekin

    A typical engineering student will always face the same struggle. He/she is good with math and science but bad with writing skills. MAE 434 is an extremely important class that will enable young engineering candidates to improve their communication skills. When you start the class, you will be asked to choose you project. There are a lot of different options.The options are Baja, Formula, Ship Draft , Blade less Turbine and many more . My best suggestion would be that ,you should choose a project that really excites you. Because at the end of the semester , you do not want to be overwhelmed with the assignments.

  5. David Mann

    For future students of Old Dominion’s MAE 434W, you should definitely take the course with Dr. Ringleb. Dr. Ringleb will not hold your hand as you go through your project, but she will work with your group and faculty members to ensure that you have all the resources you need to tackle your senior project. The project list for this past semester included: Baja, Formula, Sounding Rocket, ASV, Tesla Bladeless Turbine, and Ship Draft. None of the groups were confined to a specific number of people, so some groups such as Baja or Sounding Rocket only had two members. If you work best by yourself or in a small group setting, you may be interested in one of these smaller groups. On the other hand, you might be interested by working in a much larger group such as Formula. The major benefit of working in a large group is that having 16 people makes short work of all group assignments. The number one rule in choosing a group is to pick a project that interests you. As for me, I chose the Ship Draft project. This was a brand new project that was proposed by Newport News Shipbuilding and focused on designing a new system for draft measurement on aircraft carriers. I was intrigued by this project and it was interesting to be a part of it as our project scope evolved throughout the semester. The project is propelled along by regularly intervaled assignments that force the students to define the project for themselves based on interactions with customers, faculty, or experts in the field. My main tip for you is to keep on top of not only these assignments, but your project as a whole. I know that engineering students are very busy, but you will have to make time for your project. You should spend about three hours on your project every week for this semester, and about six hours for MAE 435. If you don’t stay on track, you will quickly fall behind on your project. Since you are partially graded based on how much work is accomplished (in reference to how much work you pledged to finish), you will receive a low grade for failing to finish your project on schedule. That’s why its so important to balance your project scope between having a challenging project and one that will give you just the right amount of work to accomplish. It has been said that if you finish your project even a week early in MAE 435, it will look extremely bad to the professor. My last tip to you is to work on your interpersonal skills. Your grade depends on your group members, just as coworkers depend upon each other in the real world. Dr. Ringleb will send out a CATME survey twice during the semester in order for students to anonymously rate their teammates. Work with your teammates, be friendly, divide the work, and meet regularly in order to ensure a positive group environment. All in all, MAE 434W is a very fun course that allows you to apply the knowledge learned during the rest of your schoolwork.

  6. Edward Conley

    This course will help you become a better writer and researcher. This class is better than most the professor is easy to talk too unlike many of the other professor at ODU. This class is not about what you are doing it is about you. If you work full time join a bigger group. Join the right group with the right people. If you join a group of two be prepared to do all the work. Research everything you can and write an introduction and methods as if you were doing it alone. Your team will make or break you. If your team falls apart before finals tell your pillow talk to you later. If you know a faculty advisor will give you a hard time avoid that professor and students that you know won’t give the effort. The weekly assignments can be hard to manage don’t ever be late or it’s a zero! The ugly part is how the projects are managed nothing like a job. A student project manager and people who are just going to take the opportunity for you to be pushed and have to deliver. I do not like the fact that my project is not a stand-alone project. I thought the whole point was to deliver something. It is more of a formality and just go through the process the cream will rise to the top. Don’t stress the small stuff think about your own ideas and design your own parts IE gear box if you want. You have the formal training so be creative and chase your dreams. This project will come and go the important part is to get a good grade and keep it moving. Use the writing center and talk to Dr. Ringleb about your assignments all you have to do is make your advisor happy and work hard with the assignments do it her way. Pick a project you are interested in, and a faculty advisor that you would like to work with.

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