EE431 Scores

updated May 1, 2017

This is a list of scores in descending numerical order. Absolutely no names, codes, or any identifiers will ever be used that could link a score to a particular student.


March 1, 2012: Important!  I just found out that the ABET files require that all labs be individually done -- so no lab partners and no group lab reports.  I hate this as much as you do but that is the way it is.

Here are the scores for Test 1, 2016:

100, 100, 98, 96, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 91, 91, 91, 90, 90, 90, 90
89, 88, 88, 86, 86, 86, 85, 84, 84, 82, 81, 81, 80
78, 78, 77, 77, 76, 75, 75, 75, 74, 73, 71
67, 61
58, 57, 52

Answers to Test 1:

1.  -400, 0.802, 0.301, 0.075, 0.86, 5 kHz (rounded), 20 MHz
2.  2.784
3.  6.25K, 5K, 2.5K
4.   3, -4.67
5.  167 (rounded)
6.  8.75 V, -3


Here are the scores for Test 2, 2017

97, 97, 96, 96, 95, 95, 95, 95, 94, 94, 94, 93, 91, 91, 91, 90
88, 88, 88, 85, 83, 80
78, 76
69, 67, 61,60,60
59, 56, 52, 46, 23

Answers to Test 2:

1. 161n, 41n, 288n, 1.8u, 612n, 2u, 2.8u V/rt-Hz, 443 uVrms
2. 20 kHz
3. 4.8mV, -35
4. 50
5. 9947 ohms
6. 22K, 75K (I accepted 68K and 82K depending on roundoff errors)
7. 9. 5, Exact: 8.78, 4.6
8. 2.7nF, 8.2K


Here are the Final scores for Spring 2017 (EE431 only): All finals are kept for records and are not given out.

The scores on the final exam and distribution of grades in the class will be posted approximately around the time students can receive their grades from the UAB system. This is because from past experience, students worry too much about their grade and are in too much suspense until they receive their official grade - as if there is anything that worry could do about it. Therefore, I find that it is better for students not to know the scores and grade distribution until after they have received their official grade. Please do not email or call me for your grade - I can not give it out. You will find out soon enough through the normal channel. You should have a good idea anyway.  I do not post answers for the final.

100, 97, 96, 96, 94, 94, 93, 92, 92, 92, 92, 91, 90, 90
88, 87, 86, 86, 86, 85, 84, 84, 82, 81
79, 79, 78, 78, 77
69, 65, 64, 61, 61
53

Grades for Spring 2017:

A: 18
B: 10
C: 7
D: 1

Comments for Spring 2016

There were a number of tests that were excellent -- neat, easy to follow work, clear evidence that the students had studied and knew what they were doing. These students will clearly be the movers and shakers of tomorrow. But sadly, they will also have to bear the burden of supporting students of the following -- there were other tests that demonstrated the exact opposite -- sloppy work, even illegible, no organization, and worse -- no clue as to the meaning of milli, micro, or nano. Some students have little clue about Ohm's or Watt's law. That is a trend that is getting worse and worse I have been observing for years.

Comments for Spring 2015

Many students scored higher on the final than their test average -- in that case the final counted 80% and the test 1 and 2 average counted 0 as that helped some people cross the threshold for a higher letter grade.  Three points were added as scaling adjustment to everyone's final grade.  In general students performed well on the final -- they were much easier to grade than some past courses.  I have made notes of some common areas of weakness and will focus more on that next year.  I would say that this was an above average class.

Comments for Spring 2014

The final exam scores were among the worst I have seen -- although there were some stellar tests as can be seen from the scores above.  I suspect as usual that senior design projects and other demanding course work took its toll.  The two lost weather days may have been a small factor although if one does not routinely attend class anyway then those lost days made no difference.  Class was poorly attended and that showed on the tests -- those that attended class regularly tended to have the highest test scores -- wonder of wonders.

Grading the labs was a chore -- I went through every page.  I saw some great reports.  I saw some poor reports.  Although I did not take off points, a big problem on a number of reports was poor formatting of the graphs -- axis swapped, wrong units, poor presentation.  Other reports had excellent graphs.  I will give Sandra the ABET samples in the near future.  If you want your reports back -- send me an email and I will hold those until we work out a time/place.  I will not be back on campus until August.  Most labs received a grade of 100 -- basically did you do the work.  For several people in the class it was the lab scores that got you over the F hurdle -- a number of Ds could have been Fs and a number of Cs could have been Ds.

Comments for Spring 2013

The final exams were a big disappointment -- I suspect the time spent on senior design was a major factor.  That has always been the case for EE431 and grades are often not as high as they could be.  It is a calculated sacrifice that one has to make in life.  I understand and know that a number of you could have earned a higher grade -- but could have does not count for anything.  Keep in mind that I can only report the grade you earn -- I cannot give grades.  To help things out I changed the weightings to Final: 40%, Midterm: 35%, and Lab: 25%.  Also, a significant scaling factor was added to everyone's final average.  I did as much as could possibly be done -- grades could have been significantly lower -- many D's and F's -- so if you are not happy with your grade then keep in mind that a lot was tilted in your favor.  It was nice to see that some people earned A's without any scaling.  There are always excellent students in every class.  Read the comments below concerning the 2011 class -- not everything applies to this class (particularly concerning labs) but those comments are still good to be aware of.    


Comments for Spring 2012
The class did quite well.  If your final exam score was higher than your test average then it counted for all the tests.  I also added a scaling adjustment to the resulting total score.  I was much impressed with the quality of lab reports this time.  The first four labs were in general excellent.  The last four had decreasing quality (the top students still wrote top quality labs) and some were really slopped together (and there was some copying that I did not like) -- although even most of the poor ones were a significant improvement over previous years.  I know the month long illness I had had negative effects on the results so I graded the labs very leniently.  No doubt the labs would have been much better if I had been my normal healthy self.  The final exam scores were some of the highest I have seen in many years -- no very low grades.  The final was a challenge and I was impressed that many students were able to actually solve real engineering problems.


Comments for Spring 2011
Comments for EE431 (does not apply to the EE531 group as they did excellent work) for Spring, 2011 (and some of these are memory jogs for myself for next year):  I was disappointed in the results.  A number of you probably are disappointed too.  The key reason the final exam scores were so low was that it is clear that many people never did the derivations I kept telling you to do and never worked some of the homework.  Many problems on the final were left blank that at the very least you should have been able to make a credible start if you had ever worked essentially the identical problems that were in the homework and labs -- that is where some of the problems came from that were left blank.  Because things were so bad I did something that I have not done in a long time -- if your final was higher than your test average (1 and 2) then it counted for 80% (normally it is more like 65%) and the test average (1 and 2) counted zero.  Otherwise the final counted its regular factor.  Even with this I had to add a large scaling factor -- probably way more than I should have because I really believe that the raw results on the final were an accurate and disappointing representation of what students knew -- I could not have made the test any easier.  Two people technically failed but I rounded them up to a D -- it is pointless for them to take the class again -- they are never going to do real engineering anyway.  This makes me guilty of perpetuating the problem that led to this situation -- some people should probably have flunked out of the program some time ago -- but nobody left behind is in vogue -- not a good concept. When does it end?  The three remaining 'D' students should strive to improve you may make it yet.

Several people have questioned the limited equation sheet I supply and why it must remain attached to the test.  I understand and sympathize with your issues but those policies plug loopholes that enabled some students to cheat in past terms.  Speaking of cheating -- there was a possibility on one of the finals that some kind of electronic communication across the room took place.  An investigation of the source was inconclusive and I decided not to look further because the grade was so low anyway -- if it really took place then it did not help.  Although it is not a proof of cheating, it is very suspicious when someone uses the wrong equations but obtains the right answers anyway on multiple problems.  Starting in the Fall I will revise the test policies to plug two more loopholes that could lead to this.  This one possible exception was minor -- the test went very well and I was glad to see essentially the entire class perfectly following the rules.  That proves it can be done.

As for labs -- there were some good ones (particularly the EE531 group) and I could tell that some of you tried hard to make everything work and to write a presentable lab report -- that gave me hope.  But many were unbelievably bad and reviewing them was real torture.  About all I could do was give a grade of present -- meaning if I saw some minimum stuff then you got a 100 (I should note that some 100s were truly earned -- you know who you are).  It pained me to put a 100 on a crap report but it was all I could do.  Otherwise your grade would have been only a few tens at most and a number of people would have failed the course.  Nothing personal -- it is not really your fault -- it appears that no one has ever shown you how to write real lab reports.  I wish I had the time to show you but that is just not possible.  For next year I am going to try to figure out some way to teach this important subject.  This problem has been getting worse over the years and I feel frustrated because I am powerless to change things.  I have thought about writing a how to manual but it would be in the ten to twenty page range and few would read it.  There was a lot of copying labs and data but I just ignored it -- I could have made a serious academic misconduct issue of it .  This problem is getting worse and worse and maybe next year there will have to be a major crackdown.  I sometimes wonder if the labs are an aid or a detraction to learning the material.  They take up quite a bit of time and they can only be worth a small amount of the final grade.  Without a lab instructor to guide you it is possible to do things completely wrong and really learn nothing.  I can tell that some people do benefit from lab.  But I have the feeling that for the rest it is a waste of time.  Maybe the concept is becoming antiquated and we need to rethink things.  I am thinking that perhaps next year the lab will just be a basic specification or goal and the student will have to design what is required.  Then the lab report will be the design document with data at the end showing how the system worked. 

I wish the lab equipment was more intuitive to use.  But those days are gone for good.  We are stuck with confounding menu driven stuff.  I keep hoping that there will be a revolution for simplicity someday.  The automation of the equipment hides important details that you should be in control of.  I try to tell you how to set the equipment but there are more wrong ways than I can imagine.  I think the automation of the equipment cheats you out of understanding.  This is detracting from the lab experience and I am trying to figure a way around it -- I am afraid there is not one.  In the old days I could tell students what equipment setup to use.  That does not work now as there are submenu settings that can circumvent whatever I tell you.  If you knew more about the equipment that would help.  But the usual problem is that you do not have time and there is no one to show you.  I do not have time to show everybody all that they need to know.  It is hard to review a lab report where the student did not have a clue about what they were measuring -- all they can report is that the thing had these numbers on its display.  Don't feel too bad -- that equipment slows me down too and I am an equipment expert.  It is good equipment though -- the best the school has ever had.  But the operational issues dominate and you do not get to experience what the equipment is truly capable of.

Another issue with labs (again not your fault) is that you have never been shown how to construct circuits such that they work correctly.  Circuit layout is very important and in a number of the labs I could see the evidence in the scope photos of poor layout.  It would be a big help if the lab had real scope probes -- what you have to use for probes is awful and causes bad results -- but real probes are expensive and fragile and students tend to break them -- thus the crude system you have.  Although the concepts are not hard, it takes time to teach someone how to do this.  This is time we do not have.  For next year I am going to try to write a paper on how to do this.  But the problem is that it will be in the ten to twenty page range and few students have time to read it -- like other notes that are on my web site.  Starting next year I am going to have to be ruthless when it comes to triangle waves -- year after year I keep explaining it and students keep using sawtooth or ramp waves instead -- and get the wrong results.  Starting next year such an error is going to cost a lot of points -- that is about the only way some people learn.

Another factor that has been getting worse over the years is the inability to work basic Algebra -- at least efficiently -- and there seems to be a new concept of avoiding algebraic strategy and solving problems in a brute force manner.  This method is certainly simpler to teach -- especially with compulearning but results in the most difficult and time consuming approach to simple problems like what we have in EE351 and EE431.  That is hurting you.  Strategy plays a big part in the solution of math.  You need to learn strategic thinking and the modern compulearning approaches are limiting your thought.  I show math strategy on the board in derivations and I think perhaps you have been conditioned by the system to not consider that.  Some of you seemed to have escaped the computer approach and were able to work math efficiently -- that proves it can be done.  I think I know the reason for this and there is nothing I can do about it.  I suspect that many of you went through math courses doing everything on a computer and without classroom instruction and solving problems on the board.  This is known as compulearning or edutainment and I have always been against it.  For a number of courses it is rampant in school systems and IT DOES NOT WORK!  There is no substitute for learning math the old fashioned way with pencil and paper.  But you do not have a choice.  If the course is taught via computer then that is all you get.  My thought is that you have been cheated -- you are the victims of total incompetence -- I do not care how many clueless "PhD. experts" claim that studies indicate that compulearning is superior -- all of that is bull shit.  If one does a bogus study then one will obtain bogus results.  Ask yourself, "How many points did that system cost me?"

I consider modern calculators (i.e. the Casios that most everyone uses) to be junk that costs you a lot of points on tests.  Over the years there has been a lot of evidence on tests that students are not able to interact correctly with their calculators.  Students spend (waste is the proper term) too much time entering equations using the editor.  I see this because it takes a very long time for students (compared to students years ago with older, non-graphical calculators) to calculate results for in-class problems and they run out of time on tests and make weird calculation errors.  The better calculators (non-graphical) of years ago are no longer available.  The only calculator I know of that can be used in the old-fashioned way is the HP33S if used in the RPN mode rather than equation mode like the Casios.  I do all my calculations that way.  It is not hard to learn RPN and it becomes highly intuitive and enables one to quickly solve chain calculations without error.  By the way -- the electrical engineers who designed the first scientific calculators (for engineers and scientists) chose RPN because of is computational efficiency. But marketing sells people on "the easy graphical way" -- it is really the hard way -- don't be gullible.  I am considering outlawing calculators on tests and going to symbolic answers based on deriving something.  That will force people to practice derivations and also solve the calculator problem -- but given the Algebra situation that may turn out to be a disaster.

Another thing I do not like is that it seems that there are too many activities for students that end up stealing classroom time.  School should be about learning, not social activities.  Valuable time is lost because engineering open house is during a term rather than between terms like it should be.  Various organizational memberships pull students from classes that they should be attending.  No doubt this costs the students points -- perhaps a letter grade.  These things did not used to happen years ago.

One factor that has always been an issue is that projects for other courses come due and there is little time and something has to be sacrificed -- i.e. EE431.  I am sure that cost some students a letter grade in EE431 but that is a judgment call and trade-off you have to make.  There is nothing I can do about it.  I see situations where I know a student could have done better but I can not grade on what they could have done -- only on what they did.

Enough ranting -- let me close on a positive noteFirst note that in almost all of the above my complaint was against the educational system, not you -- re-read if necessary.  There are a number of you (even some 'C' students) that clearly have a future in engineering -- I have been in this business for over thirty years and I can see it.  I have been teaching for 23 years and in every class I see students who are going to be the movers and shakers of tomorrow -- they are not all 'A' students (I was not either).  I don't teach for the money and would quit if I did not see those aspiring students as I make a lot more money on Wall Street with only a tiny fraction of the effort required to teach.  Practically one hundred percent of what I teach is what I taught myself, not what I learned in school decades ago.  What I did get out of school from many excellent professors was the knowledge and skill of how to learn.  Even if you made an 'A' in my class with a 100 average you only were exposed to a tiny amount of what you need to know.  You will have to teach yourself the rest.  The reason I focus on derivations is because that is how you can explore new knowledge.  The key thing that I hope you learned was how to use math to your advantage -- or at least to have realized that it can be used to your advantage if you become more proficient.  Engineering is applied physics and math.  Engineers solve problems that a computer will never be able to.  Keyboard operators can be down sized or outsourced easily and stay unemployed a long time.  The world will always need real engineers.  Aspire to be a real engineer and you will always be in demand regardless of the economy's ups and downs.
 

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