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List of Examples
Everyone should take pencil and paper notes during lectures rather than rely on online materials. Write more detail about the topics you don't already know about. For things you do know, jot down the topic so you know that it was covered, but don't write down details. This way your notes will serve as a checklist to prepare for quizzes and exams. Review these notes first to ensure there are no major gaps in your knowledge. If you run short on time, you'll still be reasonably well prepared. Then review other materials to improve your knowledge further.
The act of writing or explaining something has a powerful effect on memory and understanding. Writing something once does as much for your memory and understanding as reading it ten times. Don't sit back and be passive about your education. That strategy will backfire. You'll learn much more with less effort by taking action.
Make sure you get off to a good start so the rest of the semester won't be a struggle to catch up.
If you do have a good start, don't fall victim to the common tendency to think you can coast for a while. Some topics will be harder for you than the ones you just aced. What's hard varies from student to student, so pay no attention to what others are saying about it.
In any case, don't stress about your past or future performance. Just be thorough about studying every topic throughout the semester, regardless of how you've done on previous topics. If you just do that, you'll do well overall.
Everybody wants a quality product, but what's the real motivation for creating them? Why should we write fast, reliable programs? Why design fast, reliable hardware? So the boss will give us a raise? Probably not. Most bosses wouldn't recognize quality work if it licked their face. So we'll be admired by our peers? No, doesn't really work. Most of them will just be jealous.
Think about how often you've wasted time waiting for something that seems inexplicably slow, or worse, breaks down so you have to start over. As a result, you missed happy hour, you kid's soccer game, or something else you were really looking forward to. Low quality products cause massive amounts of wasted time and aggravation. The best reason to do quality work is to help everybody (including yourself) get their work done quickly, so we can spend more time at the beach. Quality work makes everybody's lives better. This is how you will have a positive impact and garner real appreciation as an engineer.
So how to we get there? Some would say "take pride in your work". But this often backfires, because it depends on what makes an engineer proud proud. Many engineers are proud of how clever they are. While a normal person would say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.", many engineers say "If it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.". A clever engineer makes things needlessly complicated to prove that they're more clever than you are. A wise engineer makes things as simple as possible so they will be reliable, inexpensive, and easy to use. Remember this simple equation:
cleverness * wisdom = constant
Also remember to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). If you do, you'll be a top-notch engineer.
Most questions are short answer or diagram format rather than true/false or multiple choice. The act of explaining a concept goes a long way toward helping you remember and understand it, so writing out the answer in your own words is a far better learning experience than picking the answer out of a list.
In fact, you can help yourself understand the material better by explaining it to your mom, your cat, or anyone else with the patience to listen to nerdy ramblings about computer science. Best not to try this on your girlfriend/boyfriend if you want to keep them around.
Also, the real world is not multiple choice. Good luck finding a job where your boss solves all the problems and presents you with the solution alongside several incorrect ones. The real world is open book, but it also has time limits, so you do not want to rely on references entirely. You need some knowledge internalized in order to be productive. The goal here is to practice for that scenario.
To encourage students to read all materials with a critical eye, the first student to correctly identify each factual error in these lecture notes will receive 2 extra credit points toward their final grade. The first to report a minor typographic error will receive 1 point. Errors must be reported to the instructor via email to receive extra credit. Individual students are limited to a maximum of 15 points per semester.