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Frequently Expressed Student Concerns

"The three-quarter MS program is a myth."

In fact, taking 45 units in three quarters is a very challenging task. Many students decide to spread their units out into four or even five quarters. Statistics show that about 50 percent of the MS students finish in three quarters. There are many students from each group who will insist they made the right decision.

Reasons to spread it out :
"There is more time to learn and enjoy the material being offered."
"15 units is an unreal workload if project classes are included."
"TA or RA opportunities cannot be fit into three quarters."

Reasons to finish in three quarters:
"Money."
"There are great job opportunities in the spring."
"Sure, 15 units was a lot of work each quarter, but it was manageable."

Final comment: No advisor can tell you if a three-quarter program is better for you than a four- or five-quarter program. You have to experience things for yourself and decide which is best based on your experiences. The best advice is to keep your options open and decide on a path after you've had a little experience with our program. About 50 percent of the MSME students do finish in three quarters.

"You should not take more than one project course at a time."

Many students follow this advice, and many others do not. You can find past students who enthusiastically defend both sides of this position. It is true that project courses tend to be more "open-ended" than normal classes, and that it is possible to spend infinite amounts of time on project classes. However, you are not required to spend infinite time on these classes, and part of the content of these classes is learning how to contain the effort and not impact other things in your life. In recent years, there has been much discussion of this problem among the faculty, and we have agreed to design the specifications of projects in these classes so that they may be completed within a reasonable number of hours given the units for each class. You may choose to spend excessive time in these classes completing extraordinary designs. However, the faculty teaching other classes are not going to accept this as an excuse for not completing assignments in their class.

ME300AB (CME200/204) is not a requirement for the MS, and there are other options available.

From Mark Cutkosky:
"For students interested in robotics, state-space controls, vision and graphics, good alternatives to ME300A are CS205A Mathematical Methods for Robotics, Vision & Graphics or CS205B Mathematical Methods for Fluids, Solids and Interfaces."

From Allison Okamura:
"For students who are interested in controls and have a good foundation in undergraduate linear algebra, the class EE263 (Introduction to Linear Dynamical Systems) is an alternative to ME300A."

From Tom Kenny:
"If you find a class which seems like it should satisfy the math requirement, and it also fits your program plans in a unique way, you should contact your advisor to see about getting it approved. Nothing outside the rules is ever easy, but most things are actually possible."