Heat Transfer

May 2016

I should begin this review by saying that Arvind is clearly a brilliant researcher and very hard working man. However, I think there is a baseline level of organization and preparedness which is missing from Professor Narayanaswamy's class. The files and lecture slides he posts are very disorganized - they often repeat things, have material that was never covered in lectures or homework, and have file naming conventions that are very confusing. It makes it a struggle to even teach yourself the material after you're not able to follow the lectures. Arvind clearly knows the material by heart, and is very excited about it, and even makes a sincere attempt to teach you the real-world applications. That's nice and all, but alltogether the lectures are often unclear on what you'll actually need to take away or write down. The homeworks appear to be written by Arvind himself, which is a nice gesture, but it ends up causing a nightmare of corrections on problems that do not provide complete information or state what assumptions need to be made. On multiple occasions, corrections were made on the day before (once even the day) the assignment was due. You might learn to put it off until later in the week, like I did. The tests are very similar to the homework. I didn't think they were terribly unfair, but they were still sometimes unclear and many problems did not provide pictures or diagrams to make clear what was going on. Some of them are very math-heavy, but others have been purely conceptual. The averages are very low and the standard deviations very high. You probably won't have much choice in what Professor you have for this course, but you might consider trying to make an extra effort to keep your notes organized for this class, because by the end of each topic (and especially by the end of the semester) you will have a huge mess of scattered material, and only the homeworks will make clear what you actually need to take away.

Aug 2015

This course is really really hard. It kills the meche class. That being said, Arvind made the topic interesting and cared about the students. Many times I ran to his office hours and he would help through the topics, and give me the encouragement I needed. He can be a bit of a hard ass, and sometimes doesn't realize he is a lot smarter than most of his students, but he is fair for the most part.

Jun 2015

Best mechanical engineering professor in Columbia. Period. Cares about his students, and makes certain that no one is left behind in every lecture. He even told us one of the final exam's questions so we could work on it at home! It doesn't happen very often when intellect meets clarity, but all will experience those qualities in every lecture Prof. Narayanaswamy has to offer. I highly recommend Arvind! It pains me that he doesn't teach more classes-take and prioritize every class he has to teach!! His notes are also extremely well thought out. All of them are organized neatly and uploaded on Courseworks. Given his extraordinary organization and delivery, students have only themselves to blame if they do less than well in his class. I would not change a thing about him or his class.

Jun 2014

Heat Transfer stood out as one of the more interesting classes the semester compared to the other MechE class I had because of the clear real-world applications it has. While thermodynamics was often very abstract, Arvind (everyone calls him by his first name) eagerly seeks actual situations where Heat Transfer is used. Though the class notes can sometimes be difficult to follow, most of the material is in the book, and the professor is usually willing to answer good questions. This is one class that I was able to engage in and occassionally even searched for relevant material outside of the required coursework. Assuming this is a required class for you, it's actually pretty interesting.

Jul 2011

Narayanaswamy is pretty good during class. His boards are fairly well laid out, he mostly stays out of your line-of-sight, and he requires a middling amount of audience participation (which passes the time). His handwriting's size and legibility are generally unimpeachable. For a non-native speaker of English, he is very intelligible. However, during office hours, he is extraordinarily hostile, and obviously wants you to leave him alone, ie. leaves his headphones in, doesn't make eye contact, and gives brief, grunt-like replies to questions. He is also quite a quick mathematical study, and has very little patience with those who need more explanation than he. The tests were pretty soft and were therefore graded with vast harshness in order to create a curve. A small math error would cost you 20% or more on a test. If you grade grub even a little, the TA's will give points back. In practice this means that the average floats upwards in the weeks after a test, which is very unpleasant.

May 2011

This class starts out with some unfamiliar concepts, so it can seem a bit challenging at first. It is very important that you ask questions and make sure you understand everything for the first midterm, because this is the hardest part of the class. If you understand the new concepts from the first month of the class, the rest of the class will be a breeze. Arvind is very organized and a very good lecturer. Go to class because if you don't, for every hour of class that you miss, you will spend 5 hours at home trying to make up for it, and because the material can be difficult and confusing, your efforts might be futile. He goes over things slowly and makes sure everyone understands everything before he moves on. Pay attention to the examples he does in class, because he assigns homework that if very similar to those examples, and can sometimes repeat class examples on exams. The first half of the class is the most dynamic, so he can come up with a variety of questions. However, the second half is so complicated that he sticks with a few examples, and doing the problems comes down to identifying the type of problem and then just following the protocol that he assigned in class. The only problem I had with him was his arrogance. He insisted on going over specific concepts from calculus and diff. eqs. and if we did not remember them, he would be very condescending. Also, although he would encourage questions, if someone asked a "stupid" questions, he would make sure to let us know that it is a "shame" that we still do not understand the given topic. His tests are fair. Again - if you do the homeworks and look over lecture notes, you should do fine (getting scores in the 90s is normal). If you put in minimum effort, you should be able to beat the mean, as it can get very low. I'm not sure why this is the case, but his tests seem to be either hit or miss, and it seems that a lot of people miss so the mean can get as low as the 50s.

May 2005

Prof. Wong is a great guy and a great professor. He's a very good lecturer, not amazing, but definitely very good. More importanty, he seems to actually care about the students more than any other professor i've had in any department in three years here. If you go to his office hours, he's amazingly helpful and patient. He also actually responded to the mid-semester evaluation. Most of the students must have pointed out the the problem sets were too hard (not whining, they were significantly harder than problem sets in any other engineering class) and he started giving more reasonable homeworks. Then after the final he sent out an email telling us he liked teaching the class and he seemed to mean it. To be entirely honest, I'm not writing the review for students because, for the most part, if you're signing up for a SEAS class, it's a requirement or you know the prof, I'm writing this in the hopes the Professor Wong sees it and knows we appreciate him.