The joys of studying at WTFU



  • Boy oh boy oh boy. Where do I begin.

    It was a dark and stormy night. The third lecture on Computer Systems Architecture was coming to a close. The first two were pretty basic stuff - some insight on x86 instruction set, RISC and CISC architecture, differences between Von Neumann and Harvard - everything you would expect. The labs were fun too - if "punching machine code into a 8080-based Frankenstein monstrocity, where you directly address memory by flipping switches and oberve the outputs of each pin" is your definition of fun. We thought this one will be too, and it was, until...

    "Oh, and as your assignment - you're going to build an LPT-driven line following robot. Due a month from now. Goodbye, and remember - your main goal is to have fun!"

    Wait, what? A robot? On a major that has nothing to do with robotics? Yes, why not. We had zero experience with electronics, most of us have barely known what a resistor is, and maybe 2 or 3 out of a hundred people have had the slightest idea about actually designing a robot - finding right engines, right gears, sensors placement, you name it. But, of course, we're going to learn progressively how to do that, right?

    Wrong. The course went its own way, the labs and the lectures shifted from learning x86 instruction set by heart to learning 8051 and 8052 control words by heart, and we literally never heard anything even remotely useful for the assignment. But we're big kids now, we can do this, but at least the WTFU will supply the parts, right?

    Wrong again. Each 6-people group has spent a non-refundable $100 or so (which in Poland is actually a lot - think $300) on this robot, and we've often been sitting with a soldering iron and a bunch of wires till 4am or later. And we still had to study the actual course, and about 6 or 7 others, which means half of us were tripping on caffeine the whole time. But in the end, our duct-taped monstrocity was born, it managed to follow the damn line, and that was the end of it, right?

    You guessed right. "This time, you're going to use the uC, and I want it on an etched circuit board". Cue another $50, another month spent on learning how to etch a PCB, how to wire up the damn thing, and how to program it - again, with no input from the course whatsoever. At least we didn't have to resort to using Turbo C++ and MS-DOS, because it was the easiest solution to directly access the parallel port.

    We did it, and that's where TRWTF begins. After showing mr. Suckadick the robot, the 60-page documentation and the movie (with an explicit requirement that his face was somewhere in it, so that he can put it on his website and show off to the dean), we've learned that we're to organize the RoboDay - a great convention with guests from various high schools, media coverage, presentations, and a line follower competition. His input was making sure that every slide of every presentation has his name on it, and everybody talking to the media mentions "the great guidance we've received from mr. Suckadick". Really, all the previously mentioned things were organized by us, from the competition to calling the local media.

    And the final straw that broke the camel's back? One could get an exemption from the final exam by having an A or B+ from the labs. Most people - even those whose GPA clearly had them eligible for B+, got Bs. And a mail some 2 or 3 days later, which read:

    Good morning,

    You're eligible for a B+, if you do the following tasks:

    1. Translating the ECTS document regarding my course to English. Polish version attached, along with other helpful things, such as a template for an English version, an example of a document from another course. Due "yesterday", no later than June 23.

    2. Searching the literature and the Internet for fireman schools and informations about them (eg. fire brigade departments, executive directives) - procedures, methods, etc., practical methods of research and analysis of fires by the fire brigade and police. Due September 1st. Would be nice to find not only Polish (necesssarily), but also other countries (Germany, France, US, etc.). Translate to Polish.

    Greetings,
    Mr. Suckadick

    So yeah, basically, after the whole semester of discreetly pushing all the work on us so that he could impress the dean with his organization skills, he decided to go full-blown and impudently ask us for doing his completely unrelated work (that he gets paid for) in exchange for an exemption.

    Oh, and the $1000 worth of robots is "left to the university, to serve as displays for future conventions".



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    which in Poland is actually a lot - think $300

    That's enough to buy a black market Polish liver! (I should know!)


    Okay, I don't get the fireman schools thing. Is he trying to become a fireman?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Maciejasjmj said:
    which in Poland is actually a lot - think $300

    That's enough to buy a black market Polish liver! (I should know!)

    Just how many livers have you already gone through?

    Okay, I don't get the fireman schools thing. Is he trying to become a fireman?

    Your guess is as good as mine. I'm suspecting he's working on some paper about applications of IT in that area, or something like that. Or maybe he just likes to watch things burn and wants to know when they'll get to him, I don't know.



  • From this experience you learned a lot more than average students. The guy also taught you about quid pro quo in the real world. Granted he's an asshole but still you should be thankful, not a bitter wuss. Not all teachers are reading poetry standing on their desk, yet it does not mean you can't learn from them.



  • @Ronald said:

    From this experience you learned a lot more than average students. The guy also taught you about quid pro quo in the real world. Granted he's an asshole but still you should be thankful, not a bitter wuss. Not all teachers are reading poetry standing on their desk, yet it does not mean you can't learn from them.

    I'm not denying that I've learnt something valuable, but I haven't been taught anything valuable. I started to like electronics along the way, and it was quite fun to watch our badly-geared robot struggle with the line. But I reserve myself the right to be bitter - because counting each asshole that will sign his name under your work as a valuable experience doesn't make them any less of an asshole.



  • If it were me, I'd have forwarded that email to the dean to see what he thought of it.

    I'd probably also have tagged along with organising RoboDay, but at the last minute switched shit around and tell everyone there what a nutcase he is.



  • @Salamander said:

    If it were me, I'd have forwarded that email to the dean to see what he thought of it.

    I'd probably also have tagged along with organising RoboDay, but at the last minute switched shit around and tell everyone there what a nutcase he is.

    Only thing worse than an asshole is a snitch and party-pooper. Maciemsjjdjdejoixjpoqxmp acted like a stand-up guy in that situation even if he got all teary-eyed wussy in his later retelling of the story.



  • @Salamander said:

    If it were me, I'd have forwarded that email to the dean to see what he thought of it.

    I bet the Dean would say:

    @Some Polish Dean said:

    He only sent the Firefighter requests to B students? We need to open our firefighting educational center post-haste! Get him to send it to the C students, too!

    This prof wouldn't be corrupt unless he was already under a corrupt Dean.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Okay, I don't get the fireman schools thing. Is he trying to become a fireman?
    Cue scene from Help!

    Ringo: The fire brigade once got me head out of some railings.
    John: Did you want them to?
    Ringo: No, I used to leave it there when I wasn't using it for school.



  • @Ronald said:

    From this experience you learned a lot more than average students. The guy also taught you about quid pro quo in the real world. Granted he's an asshole but still you should be thankful, not a bitter wuss.

    The point of assholes is that while they can teach us lessons, we don't have to be grateful to them for doing so.

    I do agree with you though, there is a lesson to be learned about employers who will just squeeze as much of everything as they can out of their workers.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    I'm not denying that I've learnt something valuable, but I haven't been taught anything valuable.

    QFT. That pretty much describes my entire educational experience.



  • You had the correct approach to the problem. Even though the guy was a royal ass, you needed the grade. Digging in wouldn't change his behavior, but could have cost you your degree. Only thing I would have done differently would be to leave with the robot. If they complained, I'd offer to sell it to them for the cost of materials plus labor, plus "reasonable" profit.

    I don't know if it works the same in Poland as in the US, but here you get to look forward to your university pestering you for donations for the rest of your life. It's odd, I spent enough $$$ there to buy a very nice car and never felt like an appriciated customer. Years later, I donate $50 to a memorial scholarship fund for a friend's deceased sister and the U sends me a pretty calender.

     



  •  You're lucky.  Most people have to go all the way into graduate school before they realize that most of their colleagues are complete loonies who only keep their positions because it's impossible for them to get fired.

     



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    2. Searching the literature and the Internet for fireman schools and informations about them (eg. fire brigade departments, executive directives) - procedures, methods, etc., practical methods of research and analysis of fires by the fire brigade and police. Due September 1st. Would be nice to find not only Polish (necesssarily), but also other countries (Germany, France, US, etc.). Translate to Polish.
     

    1) Find a language that you speak but he doesn't.

    2) "Translate" literature into the language. Include plenty of politically incorrect opinions. Possibly link the Fire Brigade to Polish Death Camps.

    3) Let him publish the opinion under his own name

     



  • @Salamander said:

    If it were me, I'd have forwarded that email to the dean to see what he thought of it.

    I'd probably also have tagged along with organising RoboDay, but at the last minute switched shit around and tell everyone there what a nutcase he is.

    No you wouldn't. Nobody wants to be a whistleblower just to teach a lesson to some asshole who he's probably never going to see again anyway. Especially if doing so would mean meeting him next year.

    All in all, we were (and still are) royally pissed at the guy. But we could either cry about how the world is so unfair and nobody appreciates us, or just move on and have a bit of laugh about the sheer absurdity of the whole situation. We mostly picked the second option, though at some moments each of us wanted to go to the guy and punch him in the face. Mine was when I saw him say to the camera "these robots are simple, really low-cost and are made in about a week".



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @Maciejasjmj said:
    I'm not denying that I've learnt something valuable, but I haven't been taught anything valuable.

    QFT. That pretty much describes my entire educational experience.

    Every day I become more assured that my decision to drop out of school when I realized what a joke it was was the right one.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @mikeTheLiar said:
    @Maciejasjmj said:
    I'm not denying that I've learnt something valuable, but I haven't been taught anything valuable.

    QFT. That pretty much describes my entire educational experience.

    Every day I become more assured that my decision to drop out of school when I realized what a joke it was was the right one.

    Except that in Poland you can get a master's degree at every corner, so good luck applying for any job without one. We have the biggest rate of masters in the whole world, nevermind that they're mostly given out like toilet paper by various Universities of Silly Majors.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Except that in Poland you can get a master's degree at every corner, so good luck applying for any job without one. We have the biggest rate of masters in the whole world, nevermind that they're mostly given out like toilet paper by various Universities of Silly Majors.

    We have a lot of TP degrees, too, but the smart companies (i.e. the ones worth working for) don't give a shit, they just care about what you know.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Maciejasjmj said:
    Except that in Poland you can get a master's degree at every corner, so good luck applying for any job without one. We have the biggest rate of masters in the whole world, nevermind that they're mostly given out like toilet paper by various Universities of Silly Majors.

    We have a lot of TP degrees, too, but the smart companies (i.e. the ones worth working for) don't give a shit, they just care about what you know.

    Ours haven't quite realized that yet, as far as I'm concerned. Most internships require you to be at least at the third year of your college (which sucks for me, since I'm only finishing my second and the only job I can reasonably find for the holidays is McDonalds), and actual jobs almost universally state higher education as "welcomed", i.e. if you don't have it, there are ten people who do in your place.



  • Don't you have Facebook groups and shit to get together? If all the students built an "I'M NOT BUILDING A FUCKING ROBOT" sign instead of a line-following robot, maybe he'd have to resort to another option. Assuming the rest of the chain was already corrupt, of course.



  • @spamcourt said:

    Don't you have Facebook groups and shit to get together? If all the students built an "I'M NOT BUILDING A FUCKING ROBOT" sign instead of a line-following robot, maybe he'd have to resort to another option. Assuming the rest of the chain was already corrupt, of course.

    As we've learned in the previous term, some lecturers don't particularly care about failing 95% of a year on the first approach, and over 50% on a second. Neither does the rest of the chain.

    Plus, failing a course means you have to pay the university money to try again the next year, and at least some people would have to drop out completely, so... you know.


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