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

And thus my undergraduate years at Purdue University come to an end. It has been a long and challenging road, filled with some disappointments, a lot of fun, and more learning than I'd initially care to admit. This semester, at least academically, "took the cake" so to speak. It was by far the best and most challenging school experience that I have ever had.

EE 477e - Digital Systems Senior Design

Truly hands down amazing. That's what first comes to mind when I reflect back on this class. I never thought that a class was capable of sucking up so much of one's life while at the same time being so much fun. I spent record amounts of time working on the project for this class, not to mention more "all-nighters" than I care to admit.

Our particular group decided to make a "Digital Picture Frame" device. Essentially we used a Rabbit Microprocessor interfaced with an Epson graphics controller to allow one to turn an old VGA device (ie, CRT monitor, LCD monitor, etc) into a picture frame. The pictures were loaded over Ethernet using TCP/IP and then displayed on the VGA device. Sounds simple, right? Hah. Not even close when you consider that we basically built it from scratch (did I mention it also supported an IR remote, allowing one to place the device in a relatively inaccessible location?).

From ensuring all of the components interfaced properly to the Schematic, to the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout, to soldering the components on the PCB once we got it back (after screwing it up once), to replacing components that were fried due to "accidents," to writing the software and finally seeing something show up on the monitor, this project took up almost my entire life. It was the only class where, after getting out of lecture (for any class) I could think to myself "you know, I should wander down to the Senior Design Lab and work on the project for a bit," and then end up spending the next 8 hours in there.

Truly, unquestionably amazing. Dr. Meyer, the professor in charge, made the experience all the better. We had lecture once a week, where he'd cover all sorts of design considerations and just about anything else you could want to know about designing a microprocessor-based system. And he did it well. Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to have him as my professor for EE 362 and 270, but I'm glad I got him at least once. If every professor in our department tried to model themselves after Dr. Meyer, we'd instantaneously become the best school of ECE in the country. I'm serious, Dr. Meyer is the most knowledgeable and dedicated professor that I have ever met in my entire life, and I can honestly say that I don't expect to ever encounter anyone better. So, if you ever happen to stumble upon this page someday, thank you Dr. Meyer. You're the best!

EE 469 - Operating Systems

As I indicated in the introduction, this was my best semester academically. It wasn't just because of Senior Design. All of the classes, with the exception of EE 400, were great this semester. Surprisingly, this course ended up being taught by a CS professor. Which, unless you are familiar with the way things work at Purdue, might not seem to matter. Ultimately it really didn't, but the engineers and CS people tend to, shall we say, mock each other. The professor for EE 469 was no exception. He started off the semester making some choice, funny jokes about us, and we proceeded to retaliate throughout the semester (although never quite as well as he did). The joking aside, Professor Brylow did an outstanding job. This class just helped make it all the more clear to me how much I enjoy dealing with "lower-level" material with respect to computers. From virtual memory to filesystems, to interprocess communication to scheduling. You name it, we covered it. We covered it well. We even got to implement some of it (granted, it was on probably the crappiest hardware simulator you've ever seen, but it was still great). I once again managed to learn so much from this class that it's almost frightening.

EE 495e - Fundamentals of Computer Graphics

On to even more fun (and work)! This class was also incredibly interesting, albeit somewhat more challenging in terms of having to think. We started out covering some basic graphics concepts, how graphics hardware and software has evolved over the years, as well as what's to come. Then, we started doing some really cool things with OpenGL, ending with a full-fledged (but still relatively simple) raytracer. It was spectacular to feed in a scene description and see a beautiful 3D scene be generated by a program that I had written. Sadly, I did struggle a bit more in this class, mostly because I'm not a big fan of Geometry, and well, since we were drawing shapes all over the place, we used a lot of it. Regardless, it was another great class. Did I mention that although the class met ludicrously early, the professor managed to keep me awake for (almost) every lecture :). (The ones where he failed were a result of a distinct lack of sleep courtesy of 477E).

EE 400 - Undergraduate Seminar

Ah but of course it wouldn't be EE if there wasn't at least one class where I stopped and thought to myself "what the %$#@!?." This was it. A one credit hour waste of time turned evil. So apparently during previous semesters 400 had been an attendance-based, boring lecture class...just like EE 200. Sadly, this semester, they decided that it should be something more. And to make things worse, they picked a professor that they knew students liked to try to fix it. I guess they figured maybe it would go over better. Hah. Instead of just being attendance based, we now were given the "privilege" of writing 3 pointless papers discussing things that, one would hope, we might have already learned during our previous semesters here. Yes, yes I think I'll stop now. I could rant some more, but it's just going to make it look worse. It was one credit hour, it didn't take up a large amount of time, and it was stup^H^H^H^H educational.

BAND 117 - Concert Band

Four years at Purdue, and miraculously, four years in concert band. All I can say is I'm glad that I made it into this band every year. It's great having Dr. Leppla as a director, and it doesn't hurt to be surrounded by people that are actually interested in (and good at) playing music. We had our traditional concerts as to be expected and played some great music. Always challenging, always fun. Undoubtedly another thing that I will miss about this great University.

The End

And that's it! The past four years have been some of the best years of my life (if not the best). Surprisingly, one might expect me to talk about what I'm taking away from here as I continue on that wondrous journey called life. As it turns out, my journey shall continue here at Purdue for at least another two years.

I enjoy teaching people and helping them learn so much that I'm relatively certain that I want to be a professor. Of course, one of the first steps in that direction is to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy Degree. And, generally, the prerequisite for that is a Master's Degree, which I am currently pursuing at my Alma Mater.

Words fail to describe how happy I am to be able to stay here longer. Purdue University is really a first-class institution. It has it's flaws, mostly in the administrative realm, but my experience here has been nothing short of profound. I have learned so much, and the friendships that I have made with fellow students and faculty alike will undoubtedly last a lifetime. It is because of this, and a myriad of other reasons, that regardless of what I do during the next few years, decade, or perhaps longer, I hope to ultimately end up back here, "close by the Wabash, in famed Hoosier land."

Purdue University has a wonderful atmosphere that encourages learning, friendship, and fun. The campus itself is beautiful and the activities one can participate in (both academic and extracurricular) are large in number and second to none in quality. Of course, Purdue also has great research facilities and one of the highest ranked Computer Engineering programs in the nation. Thrown all together, Purdue is the only place at this time where I could see myself spending the rest of my life. Moreover, it has provided such an experience for me, that I would honestly feel guilty for not trying to give something back, and I believe the best way to accomplish that is by becoming a faculty member myself.

We'll see how that goes :-) For now, I'm just happy to be able to stay here a little bit longer. Of course, more summaries will follow, probably more pictures, and a lot more work. But in the end, I know it's worth it.

To anyone reading this who may be trying to figure out what university they want to attend, be sure to add Purdue to your list! And if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to try and answer them for you!