Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thermo is cooler than it is scary.

The problems that we see in the thermodynamics class ,just like physics, are all based on a couple of laws (equations). Everything we do for homework is based on manipulations of those few equations. We just got into the second law of thermodynamics which, to me, is like the first law of cynicism. Not really, but it does give an equation that defines the absolute most efficiency that is possible. How depressing. Truthfully, even that is practically unattainable. This guy Carnot was the first person to put this idea together, and so now we know we'll never have the perfect engine. Bummer. In the lamest of layman's terms, if the hottest you can get is the melting temperature of the material out of which you build your engine, and the coldest you can get is just a few degrees below 273 Kelvin, then you'll never get 100% out of your engine. Oh yeah, you'd also have to eliminate friction and a host of other impossible things. On the other hand, this all implies you have some moving parts. What if you had no moving parts...

Monday, February 23, 2009

I kicked Thermo's Butt!!

Here's the update on my Test Wave #1. We're still waiting on the Circuits grade, the EGRM 215 test is Wednesday, and Calc III test #2 is next Tuesday. Calc III test #1: 91% - A, Deformables test #1: 93% - A, Thermodynamics #1: 87% - A. I've been sweating over that class. It's the "weed-out" class. When Dr. Tepper showed up today to return the tests, he looked sad. He began to go over the spread of grades and told us it was the worst average he's ever seen. I wrote down the spread because I was terrified. 3 students >90, 4 students between 80 and 90, 6 students between 70 and 80, 9 students between 60 and 70, 10 students between 50 and 60, 17 students between 40 and 50, 22 students between 30 and 40, 26 students between 20 and 30, and 8 students below 20 (including several students who scored in the single digits). I included the entire spread here to explain why I have never been happier to receive an 87. Huzzah!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Exams: First Wave

Exams always come in waves. ...Horrible Tsunamis of Pain ...or no big deal. I've been keeping up with my work, so I guess I should be prepared. I already got my Calc III exam back and I got a 91. I lost points because I couldn't remember the equation of a sphere. ...stupid, stupid, stupid. That was the easiest part! Anyhoo, an A is good by me.
I have my Deformables test Thursday, and I have a little bit of studying left. I should be fine. Monday I have Thermodynamics. The professor has a funny habit of calling every exam a "midterm." How many middles does this semester have?! I've been keeping up with the work, but this class has so many brand new concepts. I guess nothing is really brand new, but I've never really seen problems worked this way. The good thing is that everything is pretty logical. oh yeah, the test is open book!! Sweet. That scares me; you know the test is going to be extra hard if it's open book.
Friday, Feb 20th I have Circuits. The test starts at 7:30 am. I need to wake up at 5:30. Ick.
Wednesday, Feb 25th is Engineering Computation and Design.
All in all, they did a better than average job of staggering the tests. I've had two in one day before, and I wanted to die!