So, May has been a good month for me. I have completed my first semester at Arizona State University (ASU) in their online Electrical Engineering program and turned 33 years old. I told something of a joke to a friend the other day. I said when I graduated high school back in ’99 I had a few options, as most of us do. I could go straight into the work force, go to college, or join the military. I did like so many others and set out on my own in the real world. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had to do something more with my life, and considering 9/11 had just happened, joining the Marine Corps in March of ’02 fit the bill. Don’t get me wrong, enlisting in the Marine Corps was probably one of the best decisions I ever made; however, after getting out I realized I still had to go to college. It’s funny how that works out.
I have a bit of experience with both traditional and online schools over the past 7 years. I received an Associates of Arts from Trident Technical College (local) in 2009 and a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology from American Public University (online) in 2013. However, I had always wanted to pursue a degree in engineering, but was never really able to due to location. Then in the fall of 2013, shortly after completing an undergrad program, I found out that ASU had started offering an Electrical Engineering program 100% online. It took me a couple months to get things into place, but I was able to get started the following spring semester (2014).
ASU’s classes have been set up fairly similar to other online programs I have taken in the past, but the rigor required to do well has certainly been different. The similarities include assigned reading from the course book, discussion post with follow up post, and the normal online layout. However, I was surprised when starting my first few classes how much group work there was and that most of the instructors took the time to provide specific video lectures targeted to the current material being studied (though this was not always the case). Another interesting requirement for almost all of my final exams was the need for a proctor. Understanding that this is a 100% online school, these exams can be proctored through an online service called ProctorU.
Labs have been interesting as well. In an Intro to Engineering class we used small electronics kits to build simple circuits for labs and there was a group project were we had to build musical instruments. These instruments had to be presented to the class via video/Power Point presentations as a group. These classes also seem to make great use out of Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Hangouts.
Here are the classes taken to date:
ASU 101 – The ASU Experience (super easy, but gets you used to environment)
FSE 100 – Introduction to Engineering (conceptually not difficult, but a lot of work/group assignments)
CSE 100 – Principles of Programming with C++ (great foundation course in C programming)
FAS 331 – Marriage/Family Relationships (don’t ask, I need an upper division social science)
MAT 170 – Precalculus (it is amazing how much math you can forget over the years)
My experience with ASU so far has been very positive and I’m looking forward to starting MAT 265 Calculus for Engineers I here in just a couple weeks. I can say that so far everyone at ASU has been very helpful and they generally seem interested in your success. At this point I would definitely recommend the program to anyone considering it.
Here is a video from my Intro to Engineering class. Each person in my group had to design and build a musical instrument using the formulas taught in class. They were graded on build quality, pitch, and presentation. This video was combined with videos from my two team mates to create our presentation to the class.