The course comprises the following elements:
We will try to ensure that the workload is typical for a four-credit course: Namely, eight to ten hours per week outside of the lectures. If we do not succeed, please let us know.
We have structured the course so that spending an hour or two per day will maximize your efficiency. You will work this way in the real world—you cannot cram a three-month design assignment into the last night—so you may as well work this way now. Plus, you will understand the material better. If you leave the homework for Thursday night, then you will not have time to study for the quizzes, and you will not have time to ask questions when (not if) the software misbehaves.
Software tools frequently consume more time then they should. We have designed the assignments to get you up to speed gradually (over the period of a few weeks), but undoubtedly there will be some start-up cost. Essentially, you are learning a language, a compiler, and getting familiar with a process. Every tool imposes a certain model: Your frustration can be high until you assimilate that model and learn to use it. Be sure to use the tutorials, and do not spend countless hours making no progress. Ask for help. We will spend some of the office hours in the lab so that you can get immediate help.
Your assignments must be neat and legible. We will not spend time trying to decipher messy work. If we can't read your work, we can't grade it. As you learn the tools, you may want to use them to draw schematics turn in.
Your weekly assignments are due at the beginning of class on the assigned due date. Assignments handed in during or immediately after class will incur a 10% penalty. We will penalize your assignment 10% per day for each additional day late. Since the due date is almost always Friday, assignments handed in during the weekend will be penalized 20%, on Monday, 30%, etc. We do not accept partial turnins, i.e. assignments completed on the installment plan. See the class schedule for assignment due dates and times.
We will post solutions for the assignments in a timely fashion.
Please review the assignment solutions carefully before questioning a grade with either the instructor or the teaching assistants.
If you miss an assignment as a result of unavoidable circumstances, send the instructor a one-line email asking for an extension, the reason for your request, and the date you anticipate handing in the assignment. You know which circumstances are avoidable and which are unavoidable.
If you have a reasonable but avoidable reason for requesting an extension, send email to the instructor at least 24 hours before the assignment is due, citing a reason for the extension as above. Assume the extension is granted, unless the instructor responds to the contrary. Avoidable extension requests made after the assignment is due will generally be rejected.
We will compute your course grade as follows:
30%: Homework assignments
20%: Lab assignments
25%: Biweekly quizzes
25%: Final exam
Your grade will be determined by how well you understand the material as evidenced by the assignments and tests. I would like nothing better than to give the entire class a 4.0
Homework: Unless specifically stated otherwise, we encourage collaboration on homework, provided (1) You spend at least 15 minutes on each and every problem alone, before discussing it with others, and (2) You write up each and every problem in your own writing, using your own words, and understand the solution fully. Copying someone else's homework is cheating (see below), as is copying the homework from another source (prior year's notes, etc.). The quiz problems will be very similar to the homework problems; if you truly understand the homework, then the quizzes will be easy. If you have copied the homework...
Quizzes: A quiz is a short exam—no collaboration or discussion is permitted. If you have a question during a quiz, ask the instructor. Quizzes and exams will typically be open book, open notes.
Cheating is a very serious offense. If you are caught cheating, you can expect a failing grade and initiation of a cheating case in the University system. Basically, cheating is an insult to the instructor, to the department and major program, and most importantly, to you. If you feel that you are having a problem with the material, or don't have time to finish an assignment, or have any number of other reasons to cheat, then talk with the instructor. Just don't cheat.
To avoid creating situations where copying can arise, never e-mail or post your solution files. You can post general questions about interpretation and tool use but limit your comments to these categories. If in doubt about what might constitute cheating, send the instructor email describing the situation.