We're a little crazy, about science!

Surprise teaching, seriously.

Well this is awkward. My main-PI just asked me to teach a course on MATLAB to our new summer interns. Most of them have never used MATLAB before and those that have probably know very little about it. To fix this my main-PI told me that I was going to teach a course on it. At first I thought it was one, but it turns out he want’s four classes (two hours long each) on it. I was trying to have a light summer, but that doesn’t look like it will happen.

Last summer I went a little wild with my teaching. We had a lot of people (25+ students with us virtually) and I needed to teach one of my undergrad mentees how to use Solidworks, the 3D modeling software of choice for most mechanical engineers (at least from my experience). To make it more inclusive and a little less one on one I offered my class to a handful of students who I thought would benefit from it. That was a ten week commitment that I made and I even took the additional steps of making the course available here for everyone to learn. Moreover I doubled the work for myself by using both Solidworks AND the free online version of Sketchup (Those courses here FYI). It took so much of my time to put all that together, but I did it for them and for all of you.

On top of that, I taught a 3D printing class, where I went over the technology and it gave me a good excuse to 3D print my own spinal column using CT scans of my back because I’m an old man in a slightly younger mans body (seriously, see below). Which was a lot of work on top of everything else, but hey it was one class no biggie.

It’s full sized and I still cant figure out where to store the damned thing, but I love it.

Needless to say I REALLY didn’t want to do a lot this summer. I was already burnt out from class and need about three years or so to recover, but I would gladly take a few weeks. Honestly last summer wasn’t too bad. I got a lot of stuff done around the house made a lot of progress on a woodworking project that I basically finished over the winter break (here) and plan to finally put it all together and install this summer. It turns out stuff costs money so I had to wait to get the stuff I needed for finishing, stain, sealer, hardware for the doors, etc.

The difference is this year I was hoping to have as few commitments as possible. I plan on spending basically all month working on tying up some loose ends and that would have let me have two months with the minimal amount of work possible. Last summer it was reversed and for about a month I had nothing going on then I was flooded with stuff. So when my main-PI told me he wanted me to do this, I was more than just a little surprised. I wasn’t expecting it and we had already outlined the teaching assignments for the term so this was out of left field, even for him.

I’m torn now because usually when I teach I add the information here so others can find it helpful. I may do that for my MATLAB courses since learning to work with it can be a challenge and the course will cover the basics, but that’s so much work!!! I’m going to do it, because I want to help others. On the bright side it means I have topics for the days I teach (or more likely the day after).

So why am I bothering to share all this? Well that’s grad school life. I mean one minute you’re getting ready to have a slow, but productive summer, the next you don’t know how you’re going to manage to get all the work done you need for the surprise class you’re supposed to start teaching in just a few days. Oh and the homework! I need to create some homework assignments for the class. This will be an interesting thing since 1) I’ve never made a homework assignment before and 2) I don’t feel like making sure all 25 or so people did the work. Instead I’ll probably just make a way for everyone to share what they did.

The stuff I need to do now is to figure out the order of things I want to teach, write some example scripts, and more generally, come up with the lesson plan. Four classes isn’t a lot, but it isn’t nothing. I want to make sure the students get the most out of the time with me, so I’ve got some work ahead of me.

It could be worse, but as long as nothing else comes up I should be in the clear to get a good amount of time off just for me to do whatever I want.

He said, as if he really believed it.


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