This week, I want to discuss my experiences with my professors while at Viterbi.
As a freshman coming into college, I was very intimidated by my professors. I knew that the Viterbi professors were extremely qualified and knowledgeable in their fields, and I was worried that if I didn’t understand something, they might think I hadn’t been paying attention.
I had been told in freshman academy and other new student events/activities that it was perfectly fine to talk to professors outside of class, and I was encouraged to do so even if there was nothing wrong with my grades or understanding of the material in their classes. In fact, one of our assignments in freshman academy was to set up an appointment with a Viterbi professor or attend office hours and ask him or her about any research they were doing.
In my ISE 105 class, we took 3 tours of manufacturing plants. On the bus rides, Professor Rakhshani took a couple of minutes to talk to each of us individually about our progress through the class. I was really surprised at how friendly and encouraging he was! These short meetings really took my fear away.
I started being less intimidated by my professors. Not only did I start asking questions in class, I also started going to office hours. Now that I’m a junior, I talk to my professors all the time. All of my professors this semester know my name, and are more than willing to help me when I don’t understand something.
That’s the great thing about Viterbi professors. They REALLY want their students to succeed. More so than my professors from GE’s or other classes, my Viterbi professors have always been very accessible. If I can’t attend their office hours due to another class, they are always happy to set up another appointment to meet with me. If I haven’t done as well as I liked on a homework assignment, they will go over what I got wrong with me until I understand it. They have been through engineering school before, they know it can be challenging, and they want to help their students get through and excel in it!
However, I have found that talking to my professors isn’t just about solidifying my understanding of the material in their classes. I feel that I have learned a lot through them besides that. For example, last semester I needed to do a term project with an outside company. My team didn’t have any connections to nearby companies, so we asked our professor, Dr. Placencia, for suggestions. He put us in contact with a nurse at CHLA, and that became our project. I have even been able to continue doing research there since the class ended. Through this experience, I have learned that I have a strong interest in healthcare. The Viterbi professors have all kinds of relevant personal and professional experience that they can share, as well as colleagues that they can point you to if necessary.
In sum, I feel really lucky to attend a school where the professors are so enthusiastic about helping me understand the material and find my own interests.