Naas Energy

The Official WorldWideWeblog of Corey Naas

semester end.

This post was originally published on on 7 December 2017.

The fall semester of my senior year here at LeTourneau has just finished. Finally. Now I have thirty whole days to dedicate to browsing dank memes. 

This semester went pretty well, academically. My final grades aren’t confirmed yet, but I’m looking at A’s in Into to Microcontrollers and  Electrical Machinery and Controls, B’s in Software Engineering II, Networks and Data Communications, and Physics II lab, and a C in Technical Design Elements.

I know, I know. I think I said I was shooting for all A’s at the end of the summer. However, the nice thing about being a senior is that while it is harder to bring your GPA up, it’s also harder to bring your GPA down. I didn’t slack off too much this semester. I realized about halfway though that I was going to have to pick and choose which classes I was going to focus in on at the expense of others, or else I was going to burn myself out trying to ace all of them. I chose Introduction to Microcontrollers and Electrical Machinery and Controls over Technical Design elements and Software Engineering II. Sorry Mr. Johnson and Dr. Baas.

Now’s the part I try to remember what happened this semester. I went to Houston. I went to a Network Security conference in Dallas for the third and final time. I registered for a school trip to Germany and Poland in the spring. Oh, and I went solo in Microcontrollers lab and was still the best in the class by a large margin. Actually, I’m going to take a minute and gloat. I think I deserve it.

I’m pretty freakin great at Microcontrollers. I solo’d the normally two-man lab assignments after the first couple, and I was definitely the only A in the class. I’m glad I understood most of the stuff pretty well, because there was no one I could have gone to short of the professor if I didn’t. I worked my butt off for that A. Not to say that my classmates didn’t. I think this is one of those times where I’ll just take the complement of “you’re smart” instead of correcting it to “nah, I just worked hard.” Because yeah, some of the stuff was hard, but I never didn’t understand any of the fundamental concepts. And I’m a pretty great programmer when it comes to embedded C hardware stuff. I actually enjoyed programming for the first time since freshman year.

Unfortunately, my success in Microcontrollers was as the expense of two other classes, but this kind of stuff is pretty much what I want to do, so I decided it was a justifiable trade. Speaking of what I want to do…

This is my plan. I’d bet 10,000:1 that it will change, but I don’t want to graduate before having a general idea of what I want to do for the next 50 years of my life.

My end goal is to work in the aerospace industry. But I don’t want to just work there. I think I can do better. I want to be one of the Ph.Ds, one of the guys doing the nitty gritty boring research that gets us where we want to go.

Unfortunately, I’m not really interested in Computer Science (which is what I’ll be graduating with in the Spring, Computer Science and Engineering Technology), and since the degree is technically a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, it won’t count for what I want to go towards, which is Computer Engineering or Systems Engineering. So the general plan, subject to change because life happens and I’m not the only person on the planet, is this: work for a couple of years, pay off my current student debt, and then go back to school and get a (likely cheaper) degree in either Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering. Work a couple more years after that in a field closer to my end goal (because of the new engineering degree), and then pursue my Master’s and ultimately a Ph.D in Computer Engineering or Systems Engineering. After that, waltz right into NASA or JPL and get a cushy post-doc job. At the end I’ll have 10+ years of industry experience and 15+ of academia, which will make me happy because I like being a well-rounded individual.

Next semester is going to be perhaps the most exciting semester yet, which is good because I’m starting to run out of semesters. Only one of the five classes I’m taking is something that I’m required to take. Everything else is for fun or for finishing out my cognate course requirements.

Program Translation. The one class that I’m required to take. Two years ago, a friend told me explicitly, “Whatever you do, don’t take Program Translation.” Well, Alex, Programming Languages conflicts with one of my other classes so I’m sorry I failed you. Hopefully it won’t be too bad because compilers are low level and the lower the level, the more I enjoy it, but I purposefully haven’t looked inside the textbook because I’d like to enjoy my winter break nightmare-free.

Digital and Microcontroller Design. A continuation of Intro to Microcontrollers, I think this class will be focused on real-time applications of microcontrollers and more broadly the design behind other concepts like FPGAs and VHDL. I know I’ll be able to do it based on my experience in the last class, but that won’t make it any easier. Nothing gets easier. You just get better at it.

Electronic Communications and Processes. I like radio, and I crammed for the ham radio license test in like, eight hours, so this was a no brainer.

Differential Equations. Oh boy. This class is going to be such a trip on my ego, because on one hand I’ll probably be the only upperclassman in the class, but on the other hand I’m just a tech, so not only is this class not required for me, I originally chose my major in order to avoid any extraneous math classes. Freshman me would be horrified.

I decided to take differential equations because in the future I want to go back to school and get a proper degree in engineering. I’m going to consider this class to be the final test of whether that will actually work. Ms. Knouse, the professor who taught my technical calculus classes last year and singlehandedly changed my perspective on my ability to do math, is teaching Diff. Eq. this spring, so if I can’t do differential equations after taking her class, I’m not sure if I’d ever be able to do them. And at this point I’m academically experienced enough to know how to pass classes, so if I don’t do well in this class it won’t be because I shrugged it off. Which means I need to do well. Nay, I need to do the best.

Spacecraft Design and Operations. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s going to be awesome. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up that I can’t actually take it. It’s a 4000-level mechanical engineering class, with Dynamics and Mechanics of Materials as its prereqs. I was able to register for it online because the prereqs aren’t there, but I talked to the professor about it and he said that I’d probably be fine, so I’m thinking the prereqs are there mostly to weed out underclassmen. I was going to try to keep this semester light because it’s my last semester, but after not being able participate in the cubesat senior design project I was not about to pass this opportunity up.

And that’s what next semester looks like. I’m ecstatic.