So, Coronavirus is still around. Students can’t go to class and labs in person. Zoom fatigue is real, and it’s definitely a drag. But life must continue on! Everything is virtual, and education is continuing even though everything is virtual. Technically, I’m still doing all my senior year activities, but what is it actually like??
Well for starters, senior year is supposed to be a very pivotal year. Technical classes are ramped up, machines and experiments are supposed to be designed in labs. Friends are turning 21 which is a very important milestone. But ALL of this is now online ofc. But these things still are gonna happen, so let’s take a deep dive into how it’s like:
For starters, virtual classes are a little better than last semester. Last semester (Spring 2020), professors barely had any time to react to classes being virtual, so the quality of what was taught was lowered, projects had to be canceled or drastically cut down. People definitely weren’t used to online classes (including me), so it was harder to absorb material than in person. In comparison, this semester started completely virtually, so professors had time to properly adjust classes to be virtual. For some classes, this was a successful transition.
My Materials Behavior and Processing class (MASC 310) would definitely be stronger with a lab component, but the professor has done a good job of showing us media that explains topics well in addition to her lectures.
My Solidworks class (AME 408) has been pretty solid as well, especially considering that the class is mainly just teaching how to use a software. The virtual machine’s that USC provides to students do a great job of running the computationally intensive SolidWorks CAD program.
My Engineering Design and Methodology (AME 410) class has had great lectures so far, but the virtual component of the class makes it tough to collaborate with other students. The majority of work outside of class is group work, and zoom fatigue is real when you’re collabing with 4 other students on one assignment for hours. Group Work is much better in person, where we can all communicate more effectively.
My Mechanical Design class (AME 305) is also not too bad online. It’s just a theoretical lecture class with individual weekly homework assignments, so not too much is compromised by being virtual.
My senior design class (AME 441) has been the hardest hit class by being virtual. Our group worked all summer to propose a senior design project that had a significant hardware component. We thought classes would at least be hybrid, so we could assemble our designs in the labs on campus. Sadly, that didn’t happen, so we had to transform the bulk of our project to be computational and analysis based :(.
Outside of classes, recruiting for professional opportunities has been interesting. All interviews are over the phone or through a video conferencing software, which has its pros. But networking sessions have diminished in quality since you can’t meet someone face to face, or hand them your resume directly.
In conclusion, online school sucks and I can’t wait to be in person again 😞 .