IT’S A MONTH NOW !!
Yes Indeed. It is a month now. My International orientation was held on 14th of August and the classes kick started on the 23rd of the same month. And it was good so far. The Classes, the assignments that come and go, the learning, the experience, everything seems to be going on track. Every department and the specific area of study have certain requirements for the successful completion and award of degree. The requirements are defined in terms of the number of units completed. This is nothing but the number of courses that needs to be completed, with most of the courses being worth 3 units and few others being 4. In my case, that is Industrial and systems Engineering 30 units have to be completed and all in the courses in my department are 3 credit courses. Other departments may have slight variation in the requirements; say for instance the CS (Computer Science) and EE (Electrical Engineering) have 27 units and the bio-medical department having 28 units as the requirement for successful completion of the program. Course selection is left to the discretion of the students with some constraints, given the availability of the course. Every department have 2 or 3 compulsory subjects and some constraints on the Electives. In my case, I have 2 compulsory subjects and five categories from which I have to choose at least one subject. The remaining 3 subjects can be chosen even from other departments after getting the approval of the graduate advisor. Graduate advisor is someone who monitors the academic performance of the students and takes care of their academic needs and concerns. Having said that I can take 3 electives outside the department, I have another condition laid out in the form of a deficiency course. A deficiency course is something that a student hasn’t done previously and is required for the course he has taken. For me this happened to be Engineering Economy as I haven’t done any economy or finance related paper in my under-graduation. Now I feel that I should have taken either Financial Engineering or Financial Management elective during my final year of under-graduation. This may have helped me to waive of this requirement and would have provided me with another slot for choosing an elective of my choice. But I also feel that it is better that I am doing Engineering Economy as I feel it will really come in handy. Indeed I am kind of feeling good about doing this subject. Apparently there are few others who have to do even Probability and Statistics as a deficiency course. Having come from the Electronics and Communications stream I got to study this subject in my under-graduation and it is waived of for me. This course also happens to be a pre-requisite for few other subjects and it is good that I completed it in my under-graduation. Another positive about coming from Electronics and Communications stream is that I have completed Linear Algebra which satisfies my pre-requisite for another course that I wish to take in later semesters.
I have taken 3 courses namely Engineering Project Management which happens to one of the two compulsory subjects, Enterprise-wide Information Systems and as I said earlier Engineering Economy. Engineering Project management deals with the concepts that are involved in managing any project and is done along with the usage of MS Project, a project management software from Microsoft. We are supposed to take up a small project as part of the curriculum and implement the techniques and steps that are learnt in the class. This is indeed a nice way of learning as we are put through some simulation experience. And this is a team activity and we get to work in teams which in every case happens to have people of more than one nationality. So this is an opportunity to get used to working with people from different background. Further the subject also includes its own dose of theory about various aspects and techniques involved in a project management task. The professor for this subject does speak slowly in a rather suppressed tone, but he does talk sense. He does have some good industrial experience to his backing which is evident from the occasional practical examples he cites from his own experiences. If he did have tone that is lively enough, then he would appear a better teacher to his fellow students. As far as I have seen him, he is kind of liberal with the students.
Talking about Engineering economy, I don’t know how far it goes into economics but is currently talking about financial ratios, interest values, time value of money and few other numbers. In the past one month, I did realise that numbers indeed talk a lot and are very important. Comprehending what numbers tell is what that matters. Among my 3 classes this one has the largest number of students as this is open to under grads from all engineering discipline as well. This of course is an under graduate level course, but graduates electing 1 or 2 under grad level course is quiet common. The reason may vary from being a deficiency course as in my case to being pre-requisite requirement for some other courses to being worthy enough of taking up for the content it offers. The air-conditioning in the hall is something that I dread about this class. I even went and told the guy who operates the video recording for the class, but still there is no reprieve from the freakishly cold air conditioning. Air conditioning should be used to serve its actual purpose of making people comfortable, not to put them in an uncomfortable state. The situation is so worse that people have started bringing jackets especially for this class. Talking about the Virgil Adumitroiae, the professor for this subject, he is from the aerospace engineering background and has worked in NASA and currently I think he is with JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), a predecessor to NASA in American space research, but still involved in active and high-quality research. He talks with a drunken accent and is expressive in his own way. Jeans and a jacket over a shirt or T-shirt make up his attire and he is does look knowledgeable.
Enterprise-wide Information System is a course under Information Systems category of electives and is one of the sought after course here in the ISE department of USC with students even from outside the ISE department also opting for this course at times. It deals with enterprise resource planning (ERP), a smart way of integrated process management in Industries with a focus on SAP software. By integrating all the process steps in an enterprise, it helps in improving the co-ordination of various departments, makes the information available to almost everyone in the industry thereby improving decision-making, imparts a better task managing capability and much more, thus helping in enhancing the quality of functioning of the enterprise. SAP (pronounces by calling out the three alphabets separately and not as “sap”. This was one of the very first thing told by my professor in the class and he added it is in some places in India that they resort to the practice of calling it as “sap”) is the pioneer in ERP system software which can be appreciated by the fact that Microsoft uses Sap for their ERP, though they have their own ERP system software running in the market. Oracle happened to find that a considerable share of their sale was a result of it being purchased by SAP for implementing their system. This made them venture into that market but in spite of many other players entering this market SAP still leads and is expected to dominate at least in the near future if not longer. The course gives more focus to learning SAP and the ERP concepts are taught along with that. If it turns out to be really interesting and worthy, I might go for other electives that come along with SAP. This will help in getting an SAP certification which in today’s industrial environment carries a great value. I even heard someone say that it takes almost 5 lakhs to get an SAP certification in Chennai and if people are ready to spend a sum as high as that just for a certification then it isn’t “just a certification”. There is a group of universities that come under SAP’s university program and of course USC is one among them. As a result I have very good offers financially when I take up any SAP certification examinations. Talking about SAP, it is a mighty ocean. Someone who has an SAP certification doesn’t mean that he knows the left and right of it. You can get an SAP certification for various specific specialisations and completing one specialisation itself is a mammoth task. I do have to say about the Professor for this class. He does have a good lot of experience working with SAP and has a very good relation with the company itself. People say that his reference does carry a lot of value. His assignments so far are designed in such a way that we get some nice hands on experience working with SAP and at the same time learning how the business process steps are carried out using SAP.
So having to complete 30 units which will happen by taking 10 courses I am now thinking of whether I should go for 3-3-3-1 or 3-3-2-2. And I also have to set up a clear academic plan as far as what are the courses that I am going to take and also the back-ups if things do not go as planned. Its 4 weeks now and screws have started tightening up a bit. This was expected and I do not feel anything bad or pissed about it. I do have to manage my time more efficiently and find time for doing stuff other than the curriculum. As a matter of fact it took me more than 5 days to complete this post, with the second line of the post initially typed as “it’s almost a month now” before I changed it to be realistic with the time and I couldn’t complete as many pages in the book I am reading as I did 2 weeks ago. Things are different now, let it be different and yeah it’s different.
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