Physics Laboratory for Scientists and Engineers: Mechanics
Spring 2020 - The class ended up not being too tough, but it did feel like a lot of work for not too impressive of a result. The pre-labs and post-lab analysis are mostly just about following directions, you barely even need to know any of the physics that are being discussed since they basically hold your hand through everything, including giving you all the Arduino code that you need to work with. The lab reports are, as advertised, a pain in the butt. They take a good amount of time if you want a good grade, and everything feels really vague in terms of requirements, since there's no clear rubric – you're kind of stuck guessing in the dark for what kind of analysis they want you to make. They do make up a substantial portion of your grade, so make sure that you get a good group, since those reports are enough of a pain with a group working on it, let alone doing it on your own. Not a big fan of the class, but it's also not exactly Professor Arisaka's fault. It's a good introduction to how to write lab reports, but unfortunately, that's all I really got out of it.
Fall 2017 - I actually had Physics 4BL with David Bauer, but he is by far the best TA I've had for any physics class. Most of the time I sent him an email, he replied within the same day, sometimes within an hour. Also, his grading is actually fair and reasonable. For 4AL, I had Eric Kramer, who was nice enough but his grading was absurd. If you want a good grade on your lab with Kramer, you HAVE to finish it early, go to his office hours, and let him correct it for you. I had a conflict with his office hours, so I missed out on this one-on-one correction. I was only marked down on the actual content of my lab maybe once or twice; a majority of what I was marked down for was "incorrect line spacing" or "not enough tick marks on the graph". I ended up with a B- because Kramer didn't like the style of my reports. This is why Bauer is MUCH better. For one, he provided us with a style guide to follow, thus avoiding these issues in the first place. Also, whenever I asked him about the formatting issues, he response was typically "___ is what you should do, but I won't mark you down for something minor." Long story short, 4AL and 4BL are difficult classes, expect to spend about 8 hours a week on your lab report, but if you have a chance to take it with Bauer, do it.
This class has been the bane of my existence and it's only two units!! There is a lab report due every week and they take HOURS. Worse than that, this is the only class I've ever had where the curve will actually hurt you: if everyone in the class gets above a 90 and you get 90, you're screwed. Luckily, the professor only gives out As, Bs, and Cs. The professor insists this is the best way to run the course, but I call bullshit.