December 26, 2009

Billinge, Simon
[MSAE E3111] Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Not a very good professor. He shows little interest in the class, he is always unprepared and very disorganized. On the syllabus, he stated that he would assign problems every friday to be due the following friday. However, he almost always posts the problem set three days late but still expects us to turn them in at the original due date. Worse, he often assigns problems that are on topics the class hasn't covered yet. After you spend hours bashing your head against it, he sends out an email the night before its due saying that the problem shouldn't have been there and that it won't be graded.

His lectures are torture. There have several occasions where he goes up on the board to do a derivation and gets stuck half way through. He brings his notes to class but he often deviates away from them, getting himself and the class lost in the process.

Apparently, there is also very little communication between the professor and the TA. There have been times when the TA has no clue about what is going in the lecture. The TA also took more than two months to return some of our problem sets.

The thermo class itself is actually pretty good. You get a very broad exposure to thermodynamics both from the classical and statistical perspective.

Workload:

Problems sets every week. For our class, they were assigned fridays to be due the following friday. Usually 5 questions, not very difficult but he often posts them a few days late (in our case, as late as the following Tuesday) and expects you turn them in at original due date. HW is 10% of your grade.

2 midterms (25% each) and 1 final (40%). Not impossible but he does have a penchant for throwing curve balls. Doesn't matter much because he curves.