professor
Alvin Wald

Mar 2007

The structure of this class makes for a very manageable A. Guest lecturers generally lecture at a high level and it's tough to stay awake, so most people figure out that it's pointless to go to lecture. Just find the good TA section and write down every single word and diagram the TAs put on the board and make sure your homeworks reflect what they tell you. The review sessions prior to the midterm and final are extremely helpful. I did a lot of Wikipedia research for this class and printed a lot of material from it for the midterm and final and it was helpful to me. The most helpful thing, though, is to have tidy recitation notes and papers and psets that are at least an 8/10, which can be hard at times. I did all the homeworks the night before and it was totally manageable. If you are spending more than 2 hours on a homework you're spending too much time. How to study for the midterm and final: Go to the review sessions, and for the day of the test bring a binder with all your notes and graded homeworks and all of the supplementary material that Dr. Wald posts on courseworks. Often he takes some questions from the supplemental essays and papers but the answers aren't so hard to find. Just be organized. I learned a lot of really interesting things about BME and just Medicine and Surgery in general in this class but it was more of a fun class for me than a serious one. Take it and enjoy your good grade. People who did not get at least an A- simply slacked off on the homework or were in the bad TA section.

Jan 2007

My advice; take this class if you don't want to work too hard or need to fulfill a requirement. Do not take it if you want to learn or experience the field of BME. The general consensus about Professor Wald is true; he appears to be a nice guy but is extremely boring, seems to be oblivious to what is going on, and drones on pointlessly for the first 45-60 minutes of class. The TA's essentially run the class, and it is their recitations that matter. For the weekly homework, simply regurgitate what the TA's tell you, add a fair bit of your own work (wikipedia will do the trick), and make sure its not too short. This may just be a personal opinion, but I found most of the guest lectures to be boring, as well. They were too topic-specific, and only gave you an idea of a specific project, not the opportunities of the field or the exciting research being done. Finally, although the midterm and final were not difficult, per se (they were both open-note), they included a lot of minutiae that were at best mentioned in passing. Bring as many notes and printouts as you can, and you'll do okay.

Dec 2006

Professor Wald was sweet but senile. His lectures were boring, but some of his obscure facts actually showed up on the finals. The guest lectures, while some were interesting, were basically pointless as for grades -- the recitations were what made up the course. For the homework essays, repeat what the TAs said word for word, plus a small paragraph of wikipedia research and you'll get a 10. (Don't worry about the word limit)

Dec 2006

Don't let the older reviews fool you. This class is no longer quite so easy. The final and midterm may be open note but they are still pretty difficult. The averages are upper sixties or low seventies if you need proof. I went to the lectures and recitations and it seemed to be that many of the questions had never been covered. And as for the TAs not reading the papers and basing the score on length... I wrote one that was 3 and a half pages and got a 7.5 out of 10. Although I eventually figured out that I needed to include every single thing my TA said during recitation to get an A and did get 10's on most of the weekly papers, some of my friends struggled and never got better than an 8.5. New this year, the TAs now require extra research on every single paper to get full points. With that aside, this class was extremely interesting. A wide variety of topics were covered and the guest lectures were usually interesting. I probably learned more here than in any of my other classes.

Dec 2006

Prof Wald has nothing to do with this class. The lectures, midterm, and grading are all outside of his control. The class is interesting. Every week there is a guest lecturer who speaks about a topic in Biomedical Engineering. The TA's write the tests, grade the tests, write the homeworks, and grade the homeworks.

Dec 2005

This class rocks, I mean it's really boring sometimes, and some of the guest lecturers suck but most are really good, once you learn to write the essays, you're golden and the midterm and final are tough but the curve is general...and it's open notes, definitely take this class

Jan 2005

Easiest A you'll get! Deciding whether to take this course or Physics of the Human body? This course is as easy as they get for SEAS students. TAKE IT! The lectures are SOOOOOOO BOOOORRRRIIIINNNNGGG. Spare yourself the pain and skip Wald's 45 minute drones and only go to the guest speaker lectures you won't miss anything. Wald has the curse of redundancy; in 45 minutes of lecture, he will have explained nothing at all. Ask your TA's which lectures to attend, becasue out of 11, I would only recommend about 3. GO TO THE RECITATIONS - that's what will get you the easiest A in Columbia. The TA's are sophomores and juniors, so you can approach them as friends, and they'll give you honest advice. In conclusion, you won't have to open a book EVER for this class, or use your brain for that matter..... TAKE IT, great GPA booster!

Dec 2004

His 45 min lectures at the beginning of class are boring and pretty much useless, so show up late. The guest speakers talk next and they are very interesting. Then go to the recitaion where they TAs tell you exaclty what to put in ur paper and this class is easy to get an A in.

Jan 2004

This class is really interesting. Some of the guest lecturers were really boring, but there were some real gems in there. Wald is a really cute old man, but his 45 minute lectures at the beginning of class are pretty dull. The easiest way to get 5s on your lectures is to go to the recitations...the TAs tell you exactly what they want to see in your paper. You could just not go to the lecture, but you'd be cheating yourself by missing out on some really brilliant people.

Dec 2003

if you have to take this course, don't worry. it's easy and sometimes really interesting. although prof wald's one hour lectures before the guest speaker can be EXCRUICIATINGLY boring, many of the guest speakers are really good. of course, some aren't, and then those are when most of the class takes naps in the dimmed down lighting... the most important thing to know about this class: if you are too slackerish to go to lecture (although you really ought to go) you MUST at least go to a recitation section.

Dec 2003

just wanted to disagree with the other reviewer. the TAs definately read the papers and you don't just get a 5 on every paper...i got a mixture of 4s and 5s when i put the effort in but the week that i just tried to hand in crap i got a 2 and it was probably deserved...you do have to try in this class but it really is damn easy and you'll do well...for sure the easiest of the pre profs, compared to what i've heard

Nov 2003

Great class. By far the easiest Pre Prof course you could take. Kinda long lectures, but u may atcually learn something. all the notes posted online. Highly recommended

Jan 2003

You go to class and a genius lectures you on why they are a genius. Then you go home and write a paper explain why they are a genius. The TA's "read" them and grade them....It took me about 2 classes to realize that there are too many papers for the TAs to actually read, so they basicly just look at how long it is. If you write 3 pages each week, you will get a 5 (of 5) on every paper- no matter how bad it is. There are recitations and office hours, so you don't even need to go to the lectures to write the papers, although it makes life a little easier. This was the easiest A I have gotten thus far in my Columbia career. Plus, if you care, you can learn quite a bit. As for Wald, he's a nice old man who knows what he's talking about.