Engineering is all about tradeoffs.

[crickets chirp]

Well, I guess that wasn’t too profound.  It is however, a core component of engineering – we juggle tradeoffs every time we evaluate a design, make a recommendation or implement a solution.  I think engineering is unique because of the explicit emphasis it pays to tradeoffs.

Now Waterloo makes you consider more than just design tradeoffs.  Every term I engage in the cynical exercise of time tradeoffs between subjects.  “How much time should I spend on course X vs. course Y?”  “What’s the incremental benefit of putting extra time into this exam vs. that one?”  I have to balance the time I have available against completing projects, studying for finals, doing my taxes, finding a job, finding a place to live, fixing my resume…  The list is endless.  I try to avoid choosing between subjects, try to avoid consciously letting one slide to boost the others.  I hate the thought that I’m not putting my best effort into a course.  But, truth is, that’s not always possible.

Now, with two days to go till my exams begin, I’ve already put one course on the chopping block – SYDE 348.  It’s going to get the short shrift.  There’s no way to equitably distribute my study time and something’s got to give…so this term it’s the Systems course.


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  • Try having ECE316 on Friday, ECE324 this Monday, followed by ECE332 and ECE342 both this Tuesday. At least you are in 4B.

  • Paul G. can testify that we’ve had ugly, ugly schedules like that. The department can be very cruel.

    Heck, I’m in 4B cause I suffered through the hell that was 3A. We all put in our time.