Review Comment

[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

May 24, 2019

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[E1102] Art of Engineering (Gateway Lab) and [ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

Vallancourt is my everything. Kind, approachable, and in his own words, he doesn’t bite. Most know him from AoE, but I’d strongly encourage you to take his Intro to EE as well. He’s very open to feedback as to how to make the course better, and when the class needs it, or when we get ahead, will spend a half hour or so talking about the “philosophy” behind Engineering. He’s an extremely fair grader, who uses several different schemes to determine your final grade, assigns you the highest percentage, and then curves it on top of that. I believe half the class got an A- or above (and everyone gets an A in AoE). Super transparent, chill, and a pretty good teacher too, although you should absolutely work through the multiple (!) practice assessments from prior semesters he posts if you want to succeed.

Workload:

Extremely fair; weekly HW is challenging moreso than it is time consuming. Seldom did it take me more than 3 hours to complete. Weekly lab can be a lot, but it conversely is more time consuming than it is challenging; expect to spend another 5 hours per week on this, although it is much easier than the homework.

December 12, 2016

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

I have never done one of these Culpa reviews but I thought it was important to come on here and warn anyone considering this class. It has been my worst academic experience ever. I am an older student and I have struggled in classes before. I usually accept those struggles for what they are. But this was some other level stuff. His teaching approach is HORRIBLE. He does nothing to help non-engineering majors adjust to this class. I took it because I had an interest in digital information theory but this is just a flat out electrical engineering class. The class size fell by half and he had to cancel the homeworks and one quiz because everyone was struggling and complaining so much. This is not a bitter, mediocre student complaining. This is the reality of the situation. In quiz #2, the two long questions were worth the same 1 point as the 6 multiple choice questions. Simple things like that put a long term mark on one's transcript because of the teacher's poor judgment. And that was my experience this entire class, a teacher's poor judgment.

DO. NOT. TAKE. THIS. CLASS.

Workload:

5 Homeworks (because 3 were canceled due to panic)
2 Quizzes (1 canceled as well)
1 optional final
2 Special projects.

May 19, 2016

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

Vallancourt is one of the worst professors ever. I don´t know why people keep saying he is amazing. He is not amazing at all. All he does in class is talk about his cat, his life, or his past jobs. I think I only missed about 1 class, and the next class I didnt even know what he was talking about. It gets absurdly annoying that he doesnt use the book, so you cant really catch up because he doesnt even post notes online either. This is a very ineffective way of teaching. It makes me resent going to class. The quizzes were much harded than homework or class material. You usually find questions in the quizzes about material that was not taught during class. Do not take this course with Vallancourt if you easily dose off at a boring professor, because HE IS BORING. He can make jokes once in a while, but not everyone understands the jokes. Its not meant for everyone. Most of the time you would find about 5 people sleeping. Considering this class was at 4pm is a big concern. People shouldnt be dozing off at 4pm. I really did not enjoy my time during this class, and the labs are long and require much effort. They ran during the night, so you would be exhausted just getting there.

Homeworks are fair. Quizzes get more difficult over time so try to do well on the first ones. Final was bomb.

Workload:

3 Quizzes (only two of them counted)
10 Labs, 1 Final Project
8 Homeworks
Final Exam

January 13, 2014

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

LECTURE: Professor Vallancourt always rocks lecture. He's always eager to answer questions and makes the subject matter pretty clear. However, I find it quite easy to get lost in lecture fast so make sure you get everything you go as there is a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time.

EXAMS: They are dubbed quizzes and are supposedly 10% of your grade each. There are three and the worst is dropped. I find the quizzes are harder than the material covered in lecture and on par with the hard problems of the problem sets. Also grading is harsh with little to no partial credit so be careful.

LAB: 3 hour lab sessions once a week. The labs are boring and long and often not well explained by the lab manual. The lab also feels as though we could use 5 more TA's as everyone is asking questions at once. If you can, try to switch into a lab section with less students so you can ask a lot of questions instead of sitting there looking at your thumbs. The lab reports are graded graciously (All lab grades add up to 20% of your grade) There is a final lab project which is worth 10% of your grade.

HOMEWORK: There is a pset assigned every week. It can take a significant amount of time so plan wisely. Difficulty ranges from easy to very hard. Homework is 10% of your grade.

FINAL: The final is cumulative and can get difficult. Study hard and study well. Multiple choice is tricky. It's worth 30%

CURVE: At the end, Prof. Vallancourt takes into account the various scenarios and assigns you a grade the highest of the scenarios. For instance, if you did poorly on your final, he counts it a little less and counts something like the quizzes a little more.

Workload:

1 pset a week
3 exams
1 final

January 13, 2014

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

This is a superb course. Vallancourt has a talent with sparking people's interest in EE. Prior to this class, I had never fully understood how to construct a circuit on a breadboard, and I didn't have any idea what an op-amp actually was. This class changed has made me more competent in the language used by many computer engineers and electrical engineers alike. Material-wise, the course covers much of the same material covered in Intro to Electricity & Magnetism. However, it focuses on the practical applications of these concepts, and also introduces new ideas to the material from intro E&M. Non E&M concepts covered include the superposition principle, node analysis, op-amps, transformers, transfer functions, Boolean logic circuits, diodes, and transistors. Included with the class is the weekly 3-hour lab session. Each lab involves demonstrating or exploring concepts from lecture. You get used to building circuits on a breadboard very quickly, even if you have no prior experience. Labs range from taking current measurements that correspond to changes in voltage across a resistor to picking up an AC radio frequency and listening to it through a speaker. You complete labs and submit one lab report per week with your partner. The lab TAs are very helpful during labs and respond to email quickly. Labs are really interesting and useful because you demonstrate physically the theoretical concepts discussed in lecture. I would take this course again in a femtosecond.

Workload:

The workload is moderate. Vallancourt has a cool grading scheme that considers a series of scenarios for each student (for example, counting the final less, excluding homework, or not dropping any quizzes). This means there isn't one consistent grading scheme for each student, and is intended to give students the best possible grade.There are roughly 8 homework assignments, which are generally fairly short and straightforward if you take good notes in lecture or read the textbook. The textbook can be very helpful, especially when covering topics not in E&M, such as op-amps and transistors.
Grades are computed from the following:
~8 homeworks
weekly lab reports
3 quizzes, 1 is dropped, the last one is take-home
a cumulative final exam
a final lab design project of your choice

May 18, 2013

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Take this class! This is one of my best classes at Columbia so far. Vallancourt is an amazing professor who will make you love EE. He isn't a researcher, only a lecturer, so clearly he does his job because he loves teaching and not because Columbia's forcing him to. He has over 15 years of industry experience and tells us about the real world applications of everything he teaches in class in his humorous anecdotes.

He's also great with grades. He has multiple grading schemes to maximize your final grade. He provides plenty of previous sample quizzes so you can prepare well for his tests. There are three quizzes instead of a midterm, which count for 10% each, so it's less stress.

My only gripe about this class was that the labs were for the most part boring and long. Some of the experiments Apart from the actual class, you have to spend 3 hours in the lab and spend about an hour writing a lab report every week. Make sure to get into a group with team mates of equal caliber so you can split the work. Lazy team mates who don't do any work make the labs time consuming. The final project was really fun though. If you're creative, you'll use this opportunity to make some really cool stuff.

This is hands down the best pre-professional course, so take it if you can. You will learn a lot and enjoy it.

Workload:

3 Quizzes
1 Final
1 Final Lab Project
Weekly problem set + lab report

January 07, 2013

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Vallancourt is definitely a very personable and friendly professor. He's easy to understand and you can tell that he loves to teach, making jokes he must have done for years with the same enthusiasm. Additionally, if you have any questions, he doesn't mind answering them. He even moves around exams and quizzes if it's inconvenient for other students. I would encourage buying the book, but it can be very difficult to understand at times. He writes most of his notes on the blackboard and doesn't put them online, so going to class is encouraged. I believe the labs were the most difficult part of this class because we had to build several types of circuits which weren't explained very well in the lab manual. However, the TAs are very helpful if you just ask them. The lab reports are also not graded harshly.

Workload:

If you're taking this for a professional-level course, I would suggest taking another course because the workload is quite heavy.
Weekly problem sets (from the textbook)
3 quizzes (1st one was in-class, 2nd was take-home, 3rd was online and all multiple-choice)
Final (cheat sheet allowed)
3-hour lab each week (Brief lab report)
Final lab project( create your own)

July 01, 2011

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Vallancourt gives fantastic demonstrations, such as encoding the audio signal from a student's ipod on a laser beam, shooting it across the room, reading it with a photoresistor, and using it to drive a speaker. He'll also dunk integrated circuits in a water bath and watch their transfer characteristics on an O-scope. He's super friendly and encourages questions at office hours, and he'll let you ask him things even if it's not "official" office hours. I can't say much about his board skills because I never really went to class. He speaks native English and gives reasonable practice quizzes/tests. The homework is out of the book and is pretty fair. The lab is a bit time consuming but is graded very, very softly, and if you get the dinnertime lab, you're allowed to bring food.

Workload:

Fairly light homeworks each week, a time-consuming lab, 3 tests and a final.

January 11, 2011

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Vallancourt is a a phenomenal professor, easily the best I've had so far at Columbia. His teaching style, and pro-student attitude make him popular among all his students. The material is interesting and relevant, but pay attention as it's easy to get lost if you miss a lecture or two. The workload isn't difficult, although there is a good bit of it. Homework assignments are manageable and to the point. There is a 3 hour lab session every week, but you can easily finish in half that time. The quizzes get harder as time goes on, but he does drop the lowest grade. I would recommend Professor Vallancourt to any engineer, even if you're not interested in the major, fulfill your pre-professional requirement with Intro to EE.

Workload:

Weekly homework assignments, 3 "quizzes" (one is take home), final, weekly lab, and a project/report (created during last two lab sessions)

December 29, 2008

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Very good class and teacher. Professor Vallancourt definitely knew his stuff when it came to EE, but he made it simple for the class to understand the basics. At first the material was really easy, covering stuff like resistors which most people had already done in physics. But beware, only the first two weeks are really easy; new material will eventually come and it is probably new to most students. People didn't go to class after those first couple of weeks and suffered as a result on the first quiz. Material is fine if you go to class, just phasors can be a kinda tough. I found out there was a lab after I joined the class and sometimes it felt like a separate class cause it was 3 hrs. long and had its own homework through lab reports, so keep that in mind. Grading seemed to be very fair; Vallancourt said he had like 4 different schemes/curve methods, where he would inflate either your quizzes, or final, or whatever you did best in. Final material felt maybe a little rushed. And the last week ended up being so much work for some reason, the final lab, its report, a take-home quiz, and the previous lab report. Overall, easy class, but it had its work.

In regards to the textbook used, Vallancourt gives homework from the book but gives numbers from all the editions, so get the cheapest edition you can find.

Workload:

Weekly homework set, weekly lab report due, lab mini-project mid semester and final lab project at the end; 3 quizzes (essentially midterms, but worth less) which were fine if you looked at the practice ones, one final (kinda tough)

December 30, 2006

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Best. Professor. Ever.

Made the material interesting, valued student participation, was very funny, always helpful in lab sections and the like. Gave a great introduction to what EE was all about.

I cannot find a single bad thing to say about his teaching. Anyways, I recommend taking this class because all engineers have to take one pre-professional class anyways, plus this class works its way into the requirements of other fields of engineering too. (BME has this as a req, as does MechE I think).

Workload:

Several problem sets, about 3 quizzes, 1 final.

December 27, 2006

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Professor Vallancourt is perhaps the best professor I have had at Columbia. Firstly, he really cares about teaching and his students. As a professor who is here to teach--not to use the university's name for his own research interests--he is devoted to not only lecturing, but having his students actually understand the material. Moreover, Professor Vallancourt brings real world ndustry experience with him, something that is valuable and refreshing in Columbia's almost entirely academic environment. He is very friendly, understanding, and easy to approach. He never belittles students or leaves a question unanswered. Moreover, since students' experience with electrical engineering is widely varied, Professor Vallancourt lectures at an effective pace, and maintains a healthy balance between more difficult material and easier, introductory material.

Most of all, the class is actually interesting. In addition to a number of example problems, Professor Vallancourt uses real world examples and ties the coursewell to practical applications very well.

The tests were very fair, with a good mix of easier and more challenging questions. The homework problem sets were very manageable as were the attached labs (some of which were actually fun). Surprisingly, the lab reports were very painless, and all of the assignments reinforced the lectures very well.

Overall this was a good choice for a pre-professional course with an outstanding professor.

Workload:

Three tests and a final.Homework problem sets, spread out, probably averages to about one every two weeks.Weekly lab, 1-2 hours long plus a short write up.

overall very manageable.

December 01, 2006

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Vallancourt is awesome. He is extremely responsive to the students. His lectures are clear and enjoyable. At times he moves a bit too quickly and has an annoying habit of simply erasing a small piece of the circuit design on the board to replace it with something else to demonstrate a particular concept, not realizing that the students need a second to re-draw the entire circuit. Also, the textbook is a somewhat awful, but Vallencourt makes up for this. Aside from this, this class was very enjoyable.

Workload:

Somewhat heavy. Weekly homework assignments from the textbook. Three "quizzes" that are essentially midterms. One is dropped. A lab with required lab reports. A final.

May 05, 2006

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Easily one of the most enjoyable classes so far in my experience at Columbia. David is an incredible instructor and amiable guy in a multitude of ways. As you might read in the other review(s), he has a LOT of experience in his field, and it definitely shows. He can answer practically any question thrown at him that is in any way related to electrical engineering, whether it's computers, iPODs, or even medicine.

He explains things very clearly, and has an uncanny knack for engaging with the class, using his wit and humor to keep everyone interested. He often goes off on tangents that seem almost irrelevant (he calculated the time it would take the whole to say each bit of an iPOD hard drive once, and that's just one of many @_@) but it only ADDS to how incredibly funny and interesting the class is.

He responds very quickly to emails, and tries his best to stay on very good terms with his students; he's highly flexible with his schedule, and he shows compassion for students who might be struggling and is always willing to help them out.

I would definitely recommend this class to anyone, even if you aren't necessarily majoring in something E.E.-oriented. You'll learn ALOT about the way practically anything electronic works just through the fundamentals taught in this course.

Bear in mind that I'm writing this review two days before the final for the class (I should be cramming, shouldn't I?). I don't have a grade yet, and even if I were to score an excellent grade on the final, my grade wouldn't be particularly impressive (B-B+?). Just to show that there's no grade bias here. He really is an amazing guy.

I might have forgotten to mention some things. I'm sure someone else will get to it in another review; I doubt anyone *truly* dislikes David.

Workload:

1 relatively simple problem sets (4~8 questions) each week except weeks of quizzes of about 1-2 hours each. 3 quizzes, comprised of half very simple conceptual questions and half "in-depth" problems (which still aren't difficult if you know what you're doing). Samples posted for quizzes and finals, and recitation times galore before each quiz.

January 26, 2006

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Prof. Vallancourt is intelligent and funny (true, his engineer jokes are not lame at all!) with over 20 years of experience in Electrical Engineering field, as a professor at Columbia and an engineer for HP. I had him for Intro to EE (E1201) last semester, and this semester I am taking his E3331.

In E1201 he starts off slowly, going over stuff such as voltage, current, ohmÂ’s law. If you did AP Physics E & M you donÂ’t have to go to the first 5 lectures. But if you havenÂ’t, donÂ’t worry, guy explains stuff in detail and answers your questions crystal clearly. Later in the class, stuff gets a little complicated, but if you show up and pay attention every time there should be no problem. Or you can always go to the office hour, which really helps.

He also feels for his students. For example he provides us with 3 different lab sessions and 2 recitation sections trying to fit everyoneÂ’s schedule. And even if you still canÂ’t make it to the recitation, you can always send him emails about whatever questions you have, to which he replies by noon on the second day. Also on the quiz if you misunderstood a problem and did the problem as you understood it, heÂ’ll try look at the problem your way and see if you get it right. Therefore I still got full credit on the 2 problems I misunderstood in a quiz.

Workload:

1 problem set every week, consisting of 3~5 problems, usually takes about an hour.
A 3-hour lab every week. Everybody finishes in at most 2 hours.
3 quizzes, on the third one he gave us 40 pts worth of bonus points.
1 final

December 22, 2005

Vallancourt, David Gold_nugget
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Prof. Vallancourt not only knows his stuff (with many years of experience in the field, not just teaching), but he also has a very friendly and personal manner of presenting the material (incidentally, even his more "technical" jokes are actually funny). He is able to supplement (and sometimes even supersede) material from the textbook with industry "tricks" and real-life examples, which makes going to class fun and rewarding. Finally, Prof. Vallancourt is always willing to take the extra step when it comes to giving his students additional help: he is very approachable not only in office hours, but he will also go out of his way to help at other times if necessary; additionally, he always makes sure to schedule any supplementary events (i.e. review sessions or lab time) in such a way that EVERYONE can attend, even if that means that he ends up having to lead a lot more sessions than are typically held. Overall, I get the feeling that Vallancourt genuinely cares about his students learning the material, and is willing to go out of his way to make sure that it happens.

Workload:

One problem set a week, usually not too time consuming. Three midterms of varying difficulty, but with generous curves when required. Three hour lab session each week, with short lab reports for each. The final seemed very fair.

May 19, 2004

Cowan, Glenn (TA)
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

He's not a very good teacher, although he does try hard. The notes that he gives in class are somewhat useful, although the book gives about the same type of examples and a decent explanation. Unfortunately, he's really boring and there's little incentive to pay attention in class. The exams are much much harder than the practice tests and the hw. If you go to office hours you can usually get great help and in depth explanation, but lectures can pretty much be skipped if you're willing to study from the book.

Workload:

Lab every week which is a pain, small number of problems every week which are easy, three midterms one dropped, one final and one final project. The curve is not that good in this class

May 05, 2004

Cowan, Glenn (TA)
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

GENERAL COMMENTS

I've really been impressed by this class. It's a very well taught course. The lectures are clear (and funny at times) and well presented. The course is well organized and well run overall. It's really been excellent.
Although this is a subtle point, I've been impressed with the pedagogical tone of both the instructor (Glenn Cowan) and the TAs. It's a little hard to get at, but for instance it made an impression on me at one point when the grading process for the exams was being discussed, and the emphasis in grading was on understanding the concepts, and making minor math errors was not penalized. I may not be explaining this well, but what this represents to me is a sincere desire to *assist* the students in learning and help us along, as opposed to just evaluating our performance. Maybe my example does not seem to really illustrate this clearly at all, but anyway my point is that the impression that I have had as a student is of a very supportive learning environment, and this impression has come across in multiple interactions with the TAs and instructor.
The instructor has been quite responsive to feedback & suggestions from students. Also, he has been careful about preventing cheating on exams, which I think is important for fairness. He and the TAÂ’s have been very professional about how they have handled themselves throughout the course. In particular the instructor has struck a nice balance of being very serious about the running of the course and at the same time made the course material enjoyable and fairly entertaining.
I think itÂ’s good that the course uses a textbook that isnÂ’t always coming out in new editions. It makes it possible to save money by buying a used copy.

ABOUT THE TA'S

I've been quite impressed by all the TAs uniformly for this class. They have been very helpful in the labs; and have also expressed an *attitude* of wanting to be helpful, that this is what they want to do. I'm speaking about both the grad TAs and the undergrad TAs. I've also had some electrical engineering questions outside of the lab material, and in particular Nebojsa went out of his way to find information about this for me.
In particular, both Nebojsa and Brett have been very available and forthcoming with help in the labs. Jerry and sometimes Scott have also worked at my lab session, and have been quite good. Ali was not the TA for my lab, so I can't comment about him.
About the labs: The equipment and materials that we have needed have always been available and in good condition. I think this may be a sign that there is plentiful funding for equipment, but also I think that whoever has been in charge of organizing the equipment and supplies has done a really good job. The additional information on the whiteboard during the labs has been helpful and sufficient.

Workload:

The course did not seem hard to me, although I already knew some basic electricity before I took it.

May 08, 2002

Eleftheriadis, Alexandros
[ELEN 1201] Intro to Electrical Engineering

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

Professor Eleftheriadis is a very good teacher, but he tends to spend too much time teching the wrong subject. An expected lecture period will consist of fifteen minutes of EE, followed by forty-five minutes of basic algebra, such as solving a system of two equations by graphing.

Workload:

Several homework sets, lab every week

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section