I have been getting some great feedback regarding the last couple Arizona State University posts. It has been exciting to tell everyone all the great things that have been happening over the past year while attending ASU’s online Electrical Engineering program. I hit that first year hard and was very successful. If only it could always be that way. I’m still charging away into my EE program, but not all has been smooth sailing. I have officially even failed my first college class. Let’s start from the beginning and go from there I guess.

So, the beginning of 2015 brought with it the spring semester. During this semester I decided to cut back on my course load a little, knowing I would have less time to commit. I decided to sign up for Physics II Electricity and Magnetism and the associated lab during the A session. I also signed up for Physics III during the B session of the same semester. I was very excited to get started in this course content as it seems very interesting. However, I fell victim to my own over confidence and lack of respect for the class.

For all those doubters out there that think all online classes are a breeze to get through, let me just say you should try Physics II at ASU. I seriously underestimated this class from the start. It seemed like it was going to be pretty easy. There are some pretty good video lectures, they again used the Master Physics website, and the syllabus looked good to go. I decided to take on some additional tasking (remodeling the kitchen) while taking classes and of course all the usual day to day stuff. Ultimately, not having enough respect for the class did me in. I ended up not putting enough time into the practice problems and was seriously unprepared for what should have been easy multiple choice test problems.

Like a lot of people, I was sure that I could pick up the material quickly and not have to put a lot of time into the daily work. I have done this dozens of time before in many other classes. So why didn’t it work here. True fully, I think the issue stems from a difference between the Mastering Physics assignments, the lecture content, and ultimately the tests themselves. It wasn’t until much further into the class that I realized I should be putting more effort in the practice problems identified in the book. The video lectures were on par with most of my other classes. I honestly can’t complain about the instructor at all in this case. The video did a fine job of giving an overview of the material, but I definitely should have put more effort into reading the book.

Since failing the class, I have received great support (almost to a fault) from my advising team and support coach. ASU genuinely wants to see you be successful. They have helped ensure I had all the information I needed, explaining that I can retake the class this fall and ultimately replace my failing grade to help get my GPA back up where I want it. There are some limitations on how many times I am allowed to retake a class, but hopefully this will be a onetime thing.

I am planning on retaking Physics II and III this fall (only 5 weeks away). I fully intend on pulling a solid grade this next time around. To prepare for taking the class again I have purchased a physical copy of the book (I had a digital copy before). I have also been watching additional video lectures. I have found that the lectures by former MIT professor Walter Lewin are very entertaining and educational. Walter Lewin’s YouTube channel is: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyQSN7X0ro2314mKyUiOILaOC2hk6Pc3j. Last but not least I have been working on memorizing all of the standard formulas used in the class. The instructor provided access to these formulas the first day of class and I wasn’t smart enough to commit them to memory last time.

On a lighter note, I did just complete my summer semester with a “B” in EEE 120 Digital Design Fundamentals. This was a great class and I learned a lot about 74 series logic design. For those who don’t know what logic design is. You can think of it as the foundation of a microprocessor. In fact one of the final projects of the class is building a simple microprocessor that can add numbers.

For anyone that is looking to take this class, I would recommend that you get as far ahead as you can in the material early on. The first few weeks don’t require a lot of work, but the second half of the class is very intense. The final projects take a considerable amount of effort and so getting started on them early will go a long way.

Anyway, that is all for now. I will let everyone know how this fall semester goes.

  • Hi guys – I am thinking of enrolling into this program. Can someone tell me if books are included in the tuition or is that an added expense. Also, can someone shed more light on how the labs work? What is the work-around (if at all) for all the expensive equipment a typical EE program would employ? Also… what is everyone’s background? I have a B.S. in Business and I worry I may become overwhelmed by this major since I know it could be a challenge and I work full time.

    • Brad Henson

      Books are not included in the cost of tuition. However, you will find that not all classes require you to purchase a book, or perhaps one book may be used for two or three classes. I only needed to purchase one book for all three calculus classes and the same goes for physics as well. To be completely honest I have only had one class so far that had direct assignments out of an assigned book. For the most part I find that the books are complementary to the lessons and not so much a hard fast requirement.

      When it comes to labs, that seems to be a popular question. I will try and do a blog post in the next couple days detailing my experiences so far. The short version is that each class requiring a lab is a bit different. We have done a lot of simulations through different web sites and software applications. We have also been responsible for purchasing required material and test equipment (at a very reasonable price) to accomplish physical labs at home. In the case of electronic labs, I have used the Analog Discovery kit as the primary piece of hardware. The Analog Discovery kit can operate as a basic oscilloscope, function generator, power supply, and more. I expect that this will get used more in the future classes.