29 February 2008

Another geeky success

This week, I squeezed in my third adventure in oilfield engineering education. The adventure began as the previous ones did: Instructor goes through the class roster, sees female person from -- what the hell? -- the advertising department, assumes she is going to be a dunce, places her on the front row in the center so he can give her extra attention, which clearly she is going to need, right?

I have to admit that despite my previous success with these classes, I was nervous about this one. The head of engineering training told me that the last two sessions of this class had a 50% failure rate. In English: half of the class failed. Part of the reason for that is that my company holds its engineers to a very high standard: You must achieve an 80% average to pass. The other part is that this class is the first one most of our fledgling engineers take, and some are ill-prepared for the work.

So I went in with a bit of a fear factor. The math for this class was said to be the most intense of all our introductory engineering classes, and math scares me. On the first day, I could barely keep up with the instructor on some of the calculations, and I got very frustrated by my slowness.

These classes are five days long, with a test every day, and total brain stuffing. The first day has a pre-test, just to gauge your knowledge. I got a 47, but that's ok because it doesn't count for anything, and it showed that my brain had plenty of space. Tuesday through Thursday tests measured our ability to use information we'd learned the day before. My scores were 98, 98 & 90, respectively. 

The Thursday test was a big deal because apparently it's the one that caused most of the failures in the previous classes. It put a number of my classmates "on the bubble," as well. I felt good about my 90 because all of my wrong answers were due to my own carelessness -- not my lack of knowledge. Carelessness I can deal with. Being stupid, not so much. 

Thursday night homework didn't go well because I didn't feel well. Maybe something I caught from a classmate who felt poopy on Monday & Tuesday? Seriously medicated myself for Friday. Upon checking homework on Friday morning, I found I'd totally messed up a page of calculations. Took me 15 minutes to find my error, but I did. Stupid carelessness!

For the 80-question final exam, we were allotted 3.5 hours. The exam was 60 1-point multiple choice & then 20 two-point calculation questions of the type where if you get one wrong, all the ones underneath are also wrong. You calculate one thing, which you use to calculate the next, and then use one or both of those to calculate something else. Carelessness = high failure potential.

Friday's instructor was not the guy we'd had earlier in the week. I finished in 1.5 hours and the instructor gave me a look that might have been either, "Did you just give up?!" or "Holy shit, you're done?!" Then he graded it and grinned. I got a 96. I can live with that.

But this flu/cold/poopy-feeling thing is not so good.

1 comment:

Goat Mom said...

Congrats! Big pat on the back, from one who is math challenged...

That's why I majored in Spanish. :D

I bow to your math greatness!