Arkin, A P on Ninja Courses

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BIO ENG 190D (Fall 2011)

Overall Assignments Exams Helpfulness Enthusiasm
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Comment: Class is cross-listed as a graduate level class (they have harder homework and higher expectations on the final project). Half is taught by Arkin, half is taught by Ron Weiss and webcast live from MIT. Both are insanely intelligent and very knowledgeable and among the tops minds in the field. Unfortunately, the lectures aren't very well-organized or -presented (very little context or explanation of why most of the material is significant - my friends and I spent most of the lectures feeling rather lost). Questions asked in lecture are either trivially easy or impossibly difficult, so nobody answers and there's just a 30-60 second period of nervous throat-clearing after each one is asked. Homework had very little to do with lectures (though in this case that's actually a good thing) and the exam was about 60% homework, 30% recent lecture material, and 10% very easy stuff related to neither (NOTE - Arkin's feelings on exam prep suggest that this is NOT a predictive observation, and your exam will probably be quite different in some way). Most of your grade is tied up in a final project for which you will receive pretty excellent support from instructors and GSIs. I honestly don't recommend this class to anyone who hasn't either done SynBio research in the past, or taken the other classes in this area (140L, 132, 135 - the list will grow with time, though).