Advanced Honors Seminars
DESMA 189 was one of the most fun, engaging classes I have taken at UCLA! Professor Gessler\355s course is innovative and distinct, combining programming (Borland C++) with arts/media design as well as social science. One of his class demonstrations, for example, included little human figurines mounted on stepper motors, which were programmed to \354meet and greet\356 each other. In fact, I looked forward to going to every lecture because he would have a different demonstration each time, ranging from a wind chime that would *ping* when hit by solenoid rods (it could actually play the scales) to a telephone that would display the photo of whichever student\355s name was being dialed up on the computer screen. In addition to each demonstration at the beginning of every class, Professor Gessler would also eagerly introduce us to new mediums\363like fiber optic cables, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and many other devices we could potentially use in our own projects. And, I really enjoyed the demonstrations on cellular automata and the video in which various computer generated organisms evolved. Not only are subjects, which Professor Gessler teaches very unique but so is his approach. He gives his students a lot of freedom to be creative, yet provides enough guidance to ensure the student is not lost, helping each student find and develop their own interest (I considered an incredibly refreshing break from the typically rigid social science classes). In the very first class, for example, Professor Gessler made clear that the structure of the class was flexible and would be adjusted to accommodate our interests. Further, Professor Gessler is exceptionally understanding, generous and patient. As a Political Science student, I had no idea how to program when I entered his class. But, Professor Gessler devoted a great deal of time and patience to me. He spent roughly one to two hours with me each week outside of class to help me learn C++ and figure out very basic things\363such as how a stepper motor works. And, I feel the evidence of Professor Gessler\355s excellent teaching is evident through the finished work of his students, which included a fern that would seek light while unrolling its leaves to Christmas lights that would flash at different speeds depending on how it was approached and\363not to forget my project\363a fiber optics flower that would spin at various speeds and directions and change colors depending on one\355s distance to the infrared sensors. And imagine\363I had no previous programming experience! I strongly suggest you take at least one class with Professor Gessler before graduating at UCLA. I guarantee a wonderful, fun learning experience!