Physics for Life Sciences Majors: Mechanics
Durian is a good professor and extremely smart, don't expect to get through his class without a challenge. He doesn't expect this class to be easy, is very much approachable, personable in his way, and is often available outside of class. You have to attend his office hours, working with others is a huge benefit. If you talk to him he will work with you, he will consider improvements for the final grade. Homework is difficult and takes a while to figure out, pay attention to labs for the final. His class is not for coasters, it is as difficult as a class at a highly regarded university is expected to be.
I took El-Alaoui for 6A Summer 10 and 6C Spring 11. He is a pretty good professor. Sometimes his lectures are not very clear, but he's really nice about answering questions in class. His exams are similar to homework and he has review sessions before each exam which helps a lot to summarize the material and to ask more questions. He doesn't post old exams, but he does post hmwk solutions as well as practice problems (w. solns) for each chapter. Study these and you'll be fine.
Professor Gutperle is a brilliant man but I think he just needs to get used to teaching. His lectures are a bit unorganized so topics kinda just blend together, but you can tell from his demonstrations that he is really trying hard. The TA's definitely help a lot- Dave Brown and Gabe Plunk (?) are the two really good TAs- they help summarize the important information and organize your thoughts. Homework isn't so bad because you are given the answers so you can make sure you figure out how to do the problems and understand the concepts. What I didn't like about the class was the reading quizzes and integration of the lab with the course. The quizzes were just kind of annoying but not too difficult (10 pts each), and the labs covered information not learned in class yet- which did little in reinforcing the concepts. No outside work for the labs though- you can finish during lab. If you took AP physics and did fairly well, you'll do fine in this course (and skip lecture a couple times even)- you might even want to try the honors course- I heard the professor was great. Finally, the professor's tests are fair- just watch out for the concept questions. I found that the quick quizzes in the book help you study for that as well as the online quizzes. Other than that, just do the homework problems along with some of the "blue" hard problems in the text. Just to give you a little about my background, I took AP physics my senior year of high school, and took this class as a sophomore. I got As on both midterms and thought the final wasn't bad. Hope this helps!
Prof Huang is really funny prof even though he probably doesn't try to be. Its probably because he's asian and the simple jokes sound REALLY funny coming from him. He's a good lecturer but I could see that a lot of times he would derive shit on the board (all the equations and stuff) and everybody would get really lost. But have no fear because you will never get tested on the derivation of anything. Neither will you ever have to use calculus in the problems. READ THE BOOK AND DO THE HW. He takes a lot of test problems directly from hw problems but with numbers changed around or very slight modifications. And the hw problems come directly from the book hw problems which I have a solutions manual too. (email me at ************* if you want the solutions manual for the whole book) Yeah, the class definately would be harder without the solutions manual. The solutions manual was almost like a teacher for me because Huang didn't go over enough examples in class. Oh and I forgot to mention that you get a double sided paper to fill with whatever for all the tests. Awesome class. Take it with Huang.
Dr. Huffman is my favourite professor at UCLA. He is not only a good teacher who uses a lot of examples, but he has a really good heart. He genuinely cares about people, and I think that is really rare. His office hours are amazing and he is very open to not just talking about physics, but also his hobbies, other physical theories, and all sorts of neat things. He also has a terrific sense of humour and is great fun...who else dresses up as a wizard for Halloween and tells scientific scary stories? It's fantastic. His tests are very fair and his study sheets that he provides are incredibly helpful. If you do not take Dr. Huffman for physics, you are definetely missing out.
He really seems to care that the students learn it. I never saw him make anyone feel stupid for the questions they asked, and he's very, very approachable in his office hours. He's a cute ole man, and there's moments in his lecture when his humor comes through. Most of the time though, his lectures are a little dry, and a lot of the difficulty of the class is just in doing enough problems. Still, he's clear on what he wants you to know. This is another of those classes where it's important not to fall behind. (If you can fit the PDP workshops into your schedule, they're really helpful! Highly recommended.)