James Drake

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Chemical Engineering Laboratory I See Full Profile

Overall 2.8 Easiness 1.0 Workload 1.2 Clarity 2.3 Helpfulness 2.8

Most Helpful Review

Likes to pretend he is very strict and is teaching us something about reality that no other class in the country can offer. Always talks about how engineers should be super attentive to detail, and then sends an email full of grammatical errors and confusion. Always talks about how engineers should be able to follow strict formatting guidelines, but is never clear on what those guidelines are. He promises to email certain things to help us on lab reports and/or projects, but rarely follows through. He misplaces things that you hand to him, which is probably why you will receive a grade for an assignment, but never get it back. He asked half the groups to resend him project proposals because he lost them.

He talks about past examples of how students improved from 37% on a lab report to high 80's, but then cuts down the total number of lab reports to 3 in the entire quarter because he can't seem to find time to correct them all. So you basically have 2 chances to learn exactly how a perfect lab report should be before your final report is due. Even the grading scheme is arbitrary, about 50% of the points on a given report are given or taken away without telling you why.

Out of all the assignments of this class, I saw my scores of one homework, one oral presentation, and one lab report, and he didn't even bother to post the rest onto myUCLA. and bam, 2 days before the next quarter begins, a letter grade is posted out of no where, a B. Not that I'm complaining about the B, but he gives no justification for the grade and could be giving out grades completely at random for all I know. I can say with confidence that I did not learn anything from this course. Maybe you need to kiss up to him to get an A, that way when hes randomly distributing letters to your gradebook, there is a higher probabilty of getting an A cuz he knows who you are. You have to keep pestering him to really know what he wants, and he'll keep telling you 'you know everything, you just dont know it yet' or '42'.

Unless hes become a slacker cuz hes near retirement...in which case I would probably do the same in his position. its all good.

(March 28, 2010)
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Laboratory I See Full Profile

Overall 2.4 Easiness 1.4 Workload 1.2 Clarity 2.4 Helpfulness 2.2

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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Laboratory II See Full Profile

Overall 2.5 Easiness 1.3 Workload 1.2 Clarity 2.5 Helpfulness 2.7

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He's had a reputation for being harsh, sarcastic, unfair, etc. Here are some factual tidbits about him: he was coerced into reassigning the grades in 104AL in W08 when he gave out only 1 A and 2 A- to a class of 49 (avg grade C+; the new grading scheme still only had one A); the highest grade he gave out the next quarter was a B+.

My experience with him wasn't all that bad. Writing a lab report for him is like walking into a minefield; any slight wrong move can cost you big. He'll tell you that shorter is better, but I've found that this is bad advice because then you'll just get lazy and leave out important details. Basically, the trick is to cram in as much important, meaningful, and relevant analysis as you possibly can into the page limit. Also, be as quantitative as possible, be perfect in formatting, and make your writing very concise. Put a lot of meaningful plots/visuals. People in my class started figuring him out by the second report (5 of like 50 people got 90%+, a figure thought nearly impossible to reach). It's also essential to really understand the experiments because a lot of them have tricks (or design flaws, possibly intentional) that you need to figure out to do well on the reports/presentations (but he won't tell you that).

And these rumors that he's subjective/arbitrary in the final grades may be a bit wrong. He reassigned our grades in 104B and admitted that he accidentally didn't include our report scores when calculating our grades. I bet this isn't the first time this has happened, and that no one had really bothered/had the guts to approach him about it. He's an old dude, really smart but nevertheless makes mistakes like any old guy. He's pretty nice and I'd use this class to make your writing and presentation skills better. He grades you as if you were his employee so I'd get used to the criticism and use it for improvement/prep for the real world.

(July 7, 2010)
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