Newly Grad III

I finished my thought piece on buying software and it’s in the Thoughts section.

In other news, I’ve made the arguably irrational decision to take the Ph.D. qualifying exams. In the minute probability that I pass (which can be considered a random process)… well, let’s not count the chickens before the eggs hatch.

Rumor has it that some professors won’t even talk to you about hiring you if you haven’t passed Quals. And my stockpile of gold is ever diminishing.

I’ve been hearing about Quals ever since undergrad. It seemed so far away then. Hard to imagine that in three months, my plans about graduate school may have to change.

For the curious, I will have to pick twenty-five professors, five in each of the four subjects I want to be tested (not that I want to be tested), and five for backup. In my first subject, I will be assigned four professors from my preferences; in my second, three; in my third, two, and in my fourth, one. If for some reason a professor cannot be assigned from my preferences, one will be chosen from the last set of five. I will find out what day my exams fall on and the professors assigned to me the Friday before the week of the exams.

On the day of the exam, I have to visit the 10 assigned professors for 12 minutes each, during which time I may be given a written “quiz” or an oral exam. Within the allotted time, I have to explain my reasoning, and any hints the professors give count against me in their scoring. In the end, the scores of a professor are normalized (maybe for that particular day), and all the scores given to me will be added. Then a big list of people and their scores is compiled, and the bottom 50% majority gets chopped off. If I fail the first year, I get a second chance (which is 2008 if I fail this coming year). This is one of the reasons I’m taking it early. If I take it for the first time in 2008 and fail, I have to wait around a year to take it again, and by that time I will have been done with my Master’s degree.

If I fail the second time, I can either leave (with a Master’s) or appeal. The fail rate is not small.

As for courses: I’m taking EE201A (seminar), EE212 (VLSI Technology), EE216 (Semiconductor Device Physics), EE222 (Quantum Mechanics), and EE261 (Fourier Transform). On top of church activities, cooking, exercising, and studying for quals, this load may prove to be too near-impossible. Pray for me. And pray that I will not neglect praying.