Blog | Admin | Archives | Random | Recent | Thanks
    • Commute
    • Meat, bread, and succotash.
    • Happy Easter from the Isle of Wight!
    • Martenitsas for Spring

Not Attending Last Day of Classes

Today is my last day of classes this quarter. However, my first class was canceled and the second happens to coincide with my Dad’s retirement party. As this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, I don’t mind missing it just once.

In other news, Joel and I just spent the last hour or so on a crazy run up to about 4 million acres in Warbook. It was a lot of work, and very intense. I can see how people get addicted to this game. As if I didn’t already know…

Capstone Ruminations

First, an email I recently wrote:


I have been planning to take the Robotics Capstone this spring, although I have also been paying attention to this year’s 477 capstone because of my interest in the hardware-software interface. However, because of my rather full schedule, I thought it unwise to take the two lead-up classes to 477 (they would have pushed me to 19 and 18 credits, respectively), so I stuck with the Robotics plan.

Looking ahead to next quarter, however, I am wavering on my commitment. There is a Bioengineering class that I am interested in taking as my final Bioengineering senior elective and it happens to conflict with the Robotics capstone. In the interest of exploring all possibilities, would there be a problem with me taking the 477 capstone even though I am tentatively signed up for robotics and I haven’t taken either of the two lead-up classes?

Please let me know if this would cause any problems, or if it is even possible at this juncture.


~Ryan McElroy
Computer Engineering and Bioengineering
University of Washington

The “final senior elective” I refer to is Systems and Synthetic Biology, taught by Herb Sauro. If I ever get the proper credit for Neural Engineering, I don’t technically need another senior elective, but I’m here at the UW to gain interesting and useful knowledge, not just to get a degree, so I am still interested in taking it.

All this thinking about next quarter also led to a rather improbable thought: What if, instead of slacking off next quarter, I decided to go for broke and took an additional 9 credits of research, allowing me to graduate with distinction (departmental honors) from the CSE department (I am already on track to do this in Bioengineering, where the requirements are not quite as demanding as in the CSE department).

To do this would require that I find a professor willing to put up with me doing 9 credits of research in one quarter, but I know at least one professor who might be crazy enough to consider the idea.

Last Sleep

Well, last night was all-nighter #2. I struggled at time during the day, but now I seem to be rather awake, and I just finished my computational biology project with an hour and a half to spare!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get a little ahead of the wave and surf rather than my current state constantly almost drowning. Probably this means WoW and life will be put on hold for a few weeks.

This should be the last hardcore quarter, though — both of my Bioengineering petitions were approved, which means, as soon I as get credit for my Neural Engineering class and finish up my capstone, I will have no more Bioengineering classes left that I have to take. I repeat, after this quarter, I have no more Bioengineering classes left to take.

All that being said, I may still end up taking (or at least attending) Synthetic Biology, because it sounds like it might be a cool class.

That, and the CSE capstone. Maybe EE 233. And another CSE elective too, perhaps? Hm, maybe Spring will be intense too?

A Wee Bit Early

Sure, I expected all-nighters, just not this early in the quarter.

I must become more efficient during the week-ends, I guess.

How To Petition the UW Bioengineering Department

Currently, I am petitioning to have two of my CSE classes this quarter, Neurobotics and Computational Biology, count towards Bioengineering Senior Elective credit. If successful, and assuming that I finish my capstone this quarter, I will be done with my Bioengineering degree and I will not have to take any additional Bioengineering courses. That sounds like a mighty fine goal to me, so I put a little bit of heart and soul into the petition I prepared:

Petition Document Screenshot

While I don’t know if this will actually work, I did get this response from the academic advisor:

This is very good! I think you just set a new bar for petitions with the color-keyed flow chart! Thanks. –KJN

We’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE: Success! See comment below.

Ryan’s Theory of Grade Points

Yesterday at work after discovering the last of my grades, I came up with what I think is a reasonable way to think about grades, at least for me. By taking the 0.0-4.0 grade as an exponent of 10 provides a number that seems to me to be about equivalent to how well I actually did in a class. For example, I feel that my 3.9 is Computational Bioengineering was about 10 times better than the 2.9 I got in BioChem. Similarly, the 4.0 I got in 467 was about 1.25 times better than the 3.9 I got in my BioE classes.

This paradigm translates fairly well to letter grades as well: Each half-letter grade (ie, A to A-, which is equivalent to 4.0 to 3.7) represents a 2 to 2.5 multiple of the “grade goodness.”

B+ = 3.3 -> A- = 3.7 = 10^3.7 / 10^3.3 = 2.5x difference
B- = 2.7 -> B = 3.0 = 10^3.0 / 10^2.7 = 2x difference

I’m not sure how well it translates to very low grades, but it seems to work well down to my lowest UW grade — a 2.4 — where the system tells me that I did about 40 times worse than I could have, which certainly feels about right.

Autumn 2007 Grades

Looks like predictions were just in the nick of time… Grades began to be posted today. The Capstone grade is preliminary — the grade I get at the end of next quarter there determines my grade for all three Capstone quarters.

I will fill in the rest when they are posted.

Course Course Title Credits Grade

Looks like the Dean’s list is likely (Yup); With a good grade in 499, I can even maintain my hard-fought 3.7 GPA average (Yup). Stupid Biochem (Yup).

Graded Credits
Grade Points
Grade Point
Total Credits
18.0 66.80 3.71 18.0