Most incoming engineers have to take Engineering 101 during their freshman year at the University of Michigan because it’s a basic introductory course to computer programing. It’s not an incredibly hard class (which is strange for Michigan engineering), but it does require a good chunk of time and effort. There are a total of 6 projects that you have to complete during the semester; that’s about 1 every two to three weeks. They’re not overly complicated, but they can be difficult, hard and a real pain if you leave it for the last minute. Follow these five easy tips, and you’ll ease through without breaking a sweat.
1. Make sure you at least understand the concepts
A bad aspect of ENGR 101 is that the instructors don’t do a great job of explaining things. Let me rephrase that: they teach functions and their usage, but not the science behind them. Because of that, it’s very easy to get confused with some of the topics. Go to office hours, check online, look for instructional videos… anything. Just make sure you get the concepts, so that you’ll be able to implement the function you learn in class in the projects.
2. Don’t leave it until the last minute
This tip is simple and straightforward. If you start your projects with time, your code will come out cleaner, your stress levels will go down, and you are assured a good grade. Also, if you go to office hours right after the project specifications come out, you won’t have to worry about waiting for an immoral amount of time.
3. At least read the lectures
There isn’t a grade for attending the lectures, so you can technically skip them. A lot of people don’t go because most lectures are at 9 am in North, and waking up for that takes determination. If you decide to skip, try to at least read the lecture PDF. They’re all posted on the Google Drive. If not, you can even see the lecture recording the day after the class.
4. Do the labs
Labs are probably the most helpful aspects of the class. In them, you practice what you were taught during the lecture and then have to implement in the projects. The MATLAB ones are fairly easy, but the C++ ones crank it up a level. They’re great practice and a worth a portion of the grade, so try to do them.
5. Go to office hours
Office hours aren’t usually filled up (unless it’s one or two days before a project deadline). Make the most of them. Go to them. The GSI want to see you succeed, not fail, so go and ask them any time of question you have (about MATLAB, C++… anything). They’re taking time away from their most probably very busy lives to help you. Take advantage of that.
Engineering 101 isn’t supposed to be a difficult or stress-filled course, so don’t make it that by procrastinating your workload. Be proactive. The projects take time and effort, so as long as you follow these easy tips, you’ll survive without a problem.