Posts Tagged ‘BYU

Cooking on campus

Posted in Funnyon Dec 8, 2011

I saw this from a BYU Police Beat:

Oct. 4 – A woman was reported grilling chicken in the library. She said it was for a project requiring students to break a social norm.

I have to say, that is a little better than the time that I baked bread in the Computer Science T.A. offices in the basement of the Talmage building. I had everything measured out in a bread maker. Brought it all in and plugged in the bread maker, and had bread a couple of hours later.

Balloons without water

Posted in Educationon Jul 22, 2011

I read an article today about how a big water balloon fight at BYU was cancelled:

Norm Finlinson, executive director for Student Academic and Advisement Services (SAAS), said attempts were made to have a water balloon fight this year, but it was impossible to get everything together.

“We had fully intended to do it this year, but things didn’t work out,” Finlinson said.

I understand that things don’t always work out, but I read a little further into the article and I think I understand why things didn’t work out:

This year, SAAS wanted the engineering department on campus to have students create various machines which would fill up the balloons. Last year volunteers spent weeks filling more than 120,000 balloons.

I’ve seen too many activities at BYU and also at church that fail because the plan was to have someone else do the critical and complicated part.  I can imagine in this case a student activities committee was discussing how to organize the filling of a 1/8th of a million balloons, and realized that getting volunteers to fill balloons for weeks wasn’t the best idea.  Someone problem expressed a wish for machine to automagically fill up balloons, with of course the engineers on campus being the only ones smart enough to come up with such a machine.

I imagine the destruction of their wishful thinking like this:

  1. The engineers decided that they would rather build human powered drills to make water wells in Africa
  2. The engineers were confused why they should spend weeks to build devices for a social event that they wouldn’t even attend.
  3. The engineers, studying as much as possible, were trying to set the curve on the next exam with a 70%.
  4. The engineers thought that it was a good idea to take a 5 credit hour class during spring term.
  5. Every time the engineers started working the plans for a water balloon filling machine, a cute girl in the apartment complex would come over and beg them to fix all the spyware and viruses on their laptop.
  6. Really though, the engineers probably didn’t really ever want to build a water balloon filler; they didn’t volunteer for such a task, and just because they might be the most capable on campus doesn’t mean they have the time or motivation to help with every available project.
I think I might be coming off a little sour, so let me skip to the conclusion:  It is probably best to have a plan B when you are asking busy people to volunteer lots of time.

That chair is worth how much?

Posted in Educationon Jun 9, 2009

From a recent BYU Police Beat:

June 2: An office chair was taken from the Faculty Office Building. The chair is valued at $900

The real shocker here is that BYU is paying $900 for office chairs. That does sound like theft.

BYU’s supercomputer is too slow

Posted in Technicalon Nov 18, 2008

Twice a year a list of the top 500 supercomputers is released.  BYU’s supercomputer, named Marylou4, was once ranked as high as 45 on the list.  As of last June, Marylou4 fell in rank to 274.

The most recent listing doesn’t even include a BYU supercomputer.  Marylou4 is too slow to make the list. 

So there you have it: BYU no longer has a top-500 supercomputer.

A WIRED.com post (also posted to Slashdot.org) gave 5 reasons why it stinks to be an engineering student. I’ve decided to list each reason and give a letter grade to BYU on how they appeared to do while I was in the program. If you want to rant about your education, here is your chance. Higher grades indicate a better student experience.

5. Textbooks Quality: B-. I’ve had some great textbooks which the professors used well and still are used by me today. I also had some classes where I was provided only with an electronic copy of a manuscript that the professor was putting together.

4. Encouraging Professors: C+. The WIRED post presented the problem as, “A professor that would rather be tending to his research will walz up to a blackboard or overhead projector and scribble out equations for an hour.” About half of my professors seemed to do this to some degree, and several of which had severe problems with this. There were a few professors who seemed burdened to be having to teach an undergraduate class, they would rather be working on research, and you would never see them attempt to interact with students outside of the three lecture hours a week. However, there were some professors who made every effort to get to know their students by name and do whatever it took to help them succeed.

3. Quality Counseling: B+. I found that there were many great counselors who were very skilled, approachable, and available. I only gave a B+ grade because in my experiences, I found that these counselors did better with course work academic counseling and were not so pro-active at personalized career counseling. I also didn’t give an A grade because those seem to impossible to earn at BYU.

2. Reasonable grades: C-. Engineering classes are just plain harder than classes in other majors. I always found it amusing when taking a class from a different department (not math) and was able to put in less work for a better grade when compared with an engineering class. Anti-grade-inflation tactics are well employed in engineering classes, where students compete harder for lower grades than students in other disciplines.

1. Interesting assignments: C. The complaint being, “Every assignment feels the same.” Homework assignments were often many page, green engineering paper, math problems. Varied labs and coding assignments made things interesting sometimes, but it seemed like the hard work-out problems from the text book were never-ending and downright miserable compared to the homework I saw my non-engineering friends do.

Bonus reason, girls: D. I’ve been in classes where there were no girls at all, and I’ve been in classes where the only girl was my sister. On average, there might be one girl to twenty guys. Without even touching on the limits this puts on dating, having fewer girls around just adds less excitement and variety.

Overall GPA: 2.17. If these grades get any lower, engineering classes would have to be put on academic warning status. These grades aren’t to say that engineering is bad, or to discourage people from entering an engineering field. Its just illustrating that engineering is hard. BYU’s use of student teaching assistants could especially be a source of many problems, especially as these TAs create an inappropriate buffer between the students from the professors.

Today at work, my boss told me about some new student employment policy changes coming into effect for Winter Semester 2008. I haven’t been able to verify these, but student employees at BYU should inquire if they think these changes will effect them.
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BYU continues to block YouTube

Posted in Educationon Oct 16, 2007

Brigham Young University‘s Internet filters continue to block the popular video sharing website, YouTube. BYU blocks the site completely “because it allows inappropriate sexual media throughout its URLs,” according to an article in the student newspaper. I appreciate that BYU wants to block inappropriate content, but YouTube contains so many videos that it is unreasonable to block all of YouTube content because there might be a few bad videos. Likewise you could argue, that BYU should block the whole Internet because there are a few bad sites.

By blocking YouTube, BYU is prohibiting students from accessing great video content. For example, recently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sponsoring organization for BYU, has published public affairs videos on YouTube that show Church Leader Elder Ballard explaining church beliefs. Students trying to access this content from BYU campus Internet are blocked from the site.

BYU blocks YouTube

Other educational materials are also on YouTube. Recently, UC Berkeley started posting full lecture videos online. So far, they’ve posted over 300 hours of video taped lectures online for free access to the public. These lectures could help BYU students supplement their own studies, except that BYU blocks the UC Berkeley’s YouTube site.

BYU’s efforts to block video content come in addition to Google’s own safe-search program anyway, which limits access to inappropriate “adult” material. Why does BYU feel they need to be extra restrictive about YouTube? When does blocking bad content at the consequence of blocking good content go too far?


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