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Purdue Senior Year ('03-'04) - Semester VII

How time flies. It really doesn't seem as though I've been at Purdue for four entire years now. My plans as they stand now are to continue attending here, as a graduate student. That of course is dependent on me being accepted. I really, really hope that I am. Spending four years here has taught me a lot, and it's also allowed me to discover how much I want to be a professor. I really enjoy teaching students about computer-related topics, as well as doing research in computer-related fields. Regardless, I've made it through my first semester of my Senior year here, so as usual the summary follows.

EE 437 - Computer Design & Prototyping

After last semester I decided that EE 459d was the best class that I had taken during my academic career. As it turns out, this one managed to top it by quite a bit. The professor for this class was decent, aside from a little quirk where most sentences were post fixed with "right?" We basically discussed many aspects related to microprocessor design. As the semester progressed, we developed a 16-bit multicycle CPU followed by a 5-stage 16-bit pipelined CPU using VHDL. The best part was the fact that we actually programmed an FPGA with our design to ensure that it physically worked. It is unquestionably courses like this that make me realize how much I would have missed out on had I gone the computer science route. Software is great but hardware is definitely more fun in my opinion.

EE 462 - Object Oriented Programming in C++ & Java

Not having taken a "higher-level" programming course for many semesters, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to throw another one into my plan of study. Besides, I got to learn Java and, more importantly, C++! The professor for this particular course was great, and I learned a great deal. That said, I'm still a fan of C. Object-oriented stuff just doesn't interest me all that much. Perhaps I like working with hardware too much, I'm not sure :). Regardless, this was definitely a worthwhile class and I'm glad that I took it.

EE 490 - Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)

I would really like to try to say something nice about this particular course, but I can't think of anything. As a student in ECE I must take at least 3 credit hours designated as "Senior Design." Basically that leaves me with two options, take EE 490 for two semesters, which is perceived as the easy and less stressful way to go; or, enroll in EE 477E, digital senior design for one semester. To test the waters, I took 490 for 1 credit hour this semester. The experience, unfortunately, was far too disappointing for me to partake in again. I learned absolutely nothing and found far too much of my time wasted maintaining a foolish "design notebook," which as it turned out, was nothing like the design notebook maintained for 477E. That one is actually somewhat useful. To top things off, our particular faculty advisor spent more time explaining what his roll was with respect to the course than actually helping us accomplish any particular task. So, I consider this class to have been a complete waste of my time (especially since the one credit hour counts towards nothing in terms of graduation requirements).

ECON 251 - Microeconomics

Well, as I needed another general education elective, many of my friends informed me that this was the second-best class to take (next to PSY 120, taken previously). Similar to PSY 120, I just barely managed to pull off an A. Granted, also like PSY 120, I failed to read the book (aside from the chapter summaries) and did none of the assigned homework (which luckily wasn't graded anyway). Incidentally, despite lecture being held in the brand new management building, the room was not equipped with a microphone. Of course, we also ended up with a professor who failed to speak loud enough for even half of the class to hear. That turned out to be, to an extent, a good thing. It allowed me to nap, surf the Internet via 802.11b, and work on other homework without much distraction. The other mildly entertaining aspect of this class was its attempt to avoid the use of any Calculus like the plague. Instead of utilizing derivatives, we ended up doing simple slope calculations at particular points. I found it incredibly disturbing. Apparently many other people hadn't even heard of a derivative in that class. *shudder*

BAND 110 - Marching Band

One of the first things to come to an end as I approach graduation, marching band has unquestionably played an enormous role in my life over the past four years. Just like last year, I was once again an Assistant Section Leader in the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band. It managed to once again bring a few unexpected situations with it. Nevertheless, it was worth it and I'm always proud to serve with the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band.

This year we traveled to Michigan for our away game. That was a debacle in itself, especially since I originally hail from Grand Haven, Michigan. In spectacular fashion our team rolled over and died, making the trip all that more interesting. Throw in a "cool" dinner in a tent in the rain and it was quite an experience. Thankfully everyone made the best of it and it turned out to be relatively fun despite the conditions.

This being my Senior year, I should mention that I was given the privilege of hitting the Big Bass Drum along with all the other Seniors during the final home game (against IU - and yes, IU does still suck). What an experience!

Moving on, we once again finally went somewhere other than El Paso! Not that I'm was still fun, but the second time was pushing it. This year we headed off to the Capital One Bowl, somewhere in Florida.

Following tradition, I had yet another arguably disastrous start to another bowl trip. It never seems to fail, the luck that I have during the beginning of these trips. Mostly it was just feeling sick this time. I felt okay the first day, although I suspected something bad was happening in my right ear. As a result, I began taking Zinc and some other weird herbs that Shelley (my beautiful girlfriend) got for me in an attempt to postpone whatever potential illness I had contracted until after the trip.

The morning after arriving in Florida, we woke up ludicrously early (around 6am) and had breakfast. It really wasn't too bad, consisting primarily of sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits; donuts; and orange juice. Challenges followed, at 8am. One of the few perks about being a student leader, I didn't have to march. On the other hand, I did have to tell people that they didn't get to march during the bowl game. Ugh. At the time I suspected that I wouldn't be making any changes to my rank for various reasons.

Regardless, the flight the day before was fairly uneventful; although it was delayed from the expected departure time. Going through security, or whatever that was supposed to be, was stupid. Homeland Security. Bah. Regardless, we ended up arriving around 11:30pm (the first flight arrived around 10:15pm). We had a meeting at 12am, and then headed to our rooms.

Returning to the next day, Disney was a blast. We rode Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion. I hung out with Matt and Chad the entire time, which was all fairly entertaining. The entire time Chad continuously spoke movie quotes. He finally pretty much went nuts at the end and restrained himself from talking anymore. We stopped at a really interesting cafe for lunch, with an animatronic piano playing alien. The funny thing there were the idiotic parents that let their children climb over the metal "fence" surrounding the stage, tripping the safety device and shutting the thing down. The parents, instead of being concerned, told the children to "get closer so I can take a picture!" Ugh. Another kid was crawling around on the ground by the side of the stage, where there were a bunch of power cords (big power cords). I was waiting for a blinding flash of light, but nothing happened. At some point I also became obsessed with eating a Turkey Leg. I finally got one, and it wasn't too bad. All in all it was a really fun time, although the park was insanely packed (and people kept ramming into me with strollers). I really enjoyed it.

The following day we marched in the "23rd Annual Progress Energy Orlando Citrus Parade." That was tiring. It was neat though. I found it to be incredibly reminiscent of the Rose Bowl, playing Final Countdown with the sun on my face and staring at the "Purdue" across the back of the person-in-front-of-me's uniform.

After the parade, we returned to the hotel, got some food, and headed out to the parking lot field for practice. Incidentally, since three of the individuals in my rank failed to show up on time for Challenges, I now had three new people in my rank with two rehearsals to learn the show. Surprisingly, however, rehearsal wasn't a complete disaster. The alternates picked things up fairly fast, and we seemed to get everything pretty much set.

After practice we had an hour to change and then we were off to Universal CityWalk. That place was really interesting...there were all sorts of things happening and all kinds of lights. We ate at Hardrock Cafe, which was really cool, and then went to a Jazz Club. That was fairly interesting as well, although the band wasn't playing Jazz. Anyway, the day was fairly exhausting and I went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel. Thankfully, we got to wake up a little later the following day.

The next day was also a blast. We went to an interesting and chaotic (as usual) pep rally after a great morning rehearsal. Doc decided to cancel rehearsal the following morning, which seemed to make most people quite happy. Following the pep rally, we waited about 45 minutes and then headed off to Universal Studios. At that point we gave another concert for a smaller group of people. It didn't last that long. Once we were done with the concert, we had free admission to both parks. This was of course after the miniature disaster. One of the freshman was severely dehydrated (which we didn't know at the time) and almost passed out. Upon dealing with that, I (and the small group of people who waited for me) were able to continue on to the park.

Anyway, the park was great for the first hour or so we got to spend in it. We grabbed a bite to eat and then wandered for a few minutes. Unfortunately since the person mentioned earlier was in Pep Band A and now sick, I ended up going to the performance. Another alto, Michelle, also had to go along. It was alright, and we got back in a reasonable amount of time. As soon as we got back, we caught up with the rest of the group and went on The Hulk rollercoaster, just in time. We were the last group to go before they closed it for the fireworks at midnight. After that we went and watched the fireworks show, which was quite interesting. I liked it. Once that was over we shoved our way to the exit as fast as possible and on to the bus. Then we waited an extended period of time and, upon arriving back at the hotel, finally returned to our rooms.

Then game day arrived, and wow, what a game. We started out just like the Sun Bowl last year, sucking horribly. Then things got better fast, and it looked like we might end up winning like last year. But no, we went into overtime and lost. The team put up a great fight once they woke up, though.

The plane ride home was uneventful, aside from the fact that it took off about two hours later than anticipated. The story seems to be that either the airliner that transported us or the airport was supposed to provide us with some security supervisor dude, but they didn't. So, we had to wait for them to bring one in. Not that it really mattered, our baggage wasn't scanned, and the hand searching (they didn't use X-Ray machines) that was done was so sad that I could have probably fit a small nuclear device in my carry-on. Heh. Although they did make sure to go over all of us with that magic wand, so any metallic based explosive (or more likely, detonator) being carried in clothing would have been noticed. Again, though, had it been placed in a carry-on, it would have made it on the plane. Anyway, best to avoid ranting about Homeland Security again.

The Capital One Bowl was officially over and with it my Senior year as a member of the best damn band in the land. As always I'm taking away many great memories. I will undoubtedly miss all of this once I graduate. I'm missing it already, to be honest. Nothing can describe how honored, and proud, I am to have been able to be a part of such a great organization.