Most Helpful Review
If you are deciding between professors for PIC16A, Phil should be your choice. He cares so much about his students - both in whether you're grasping concepts and actually learning and in your mental health. His emphasis was not on grades but more on actually learning the material - he drops your 2 lowest homework grades, 4 discussion grades (which you complete with the same group of one to two people through the whole quarter), and 5 quiz grades. So if you're not doing too hot one week, don't stress.
I came into the course not too confident in my coding skills (I only took one PIC class before this) but I had all the resources I needed to get through this class. Challenging, but not to the point of insane stress. I really liked the final project we did surrounding data science and machine learning - you complete this project by week 10 and is done with the same group from your discussion. I like that the project was based on the students' interests that were surveyed at the beginning of the quarter. It seemed like a lot when we were first introduced to it but a lot of the work for the project is done in discussion and through homework already.
Campuswire was a huge helper for me in the class to ask questions about homework or other general questions. You could receive up to 2% extra credit from posting thoughtful questions and answers on there, and up to 3% through a short essay surrounding equity, justice, and algorithms.
Phil was always available and open for questions. He held office hours at normal hours and also later in the evening to accommodate for students in different time zones. If you emailed him he'd reply quite quickly and always obviously took time to respond thoughtfully. He also checked CampusWire frequently for questions to answer that other students couldn't answer.
The midterm and final did take much longer for me than the estimated time given, but I feel this is common for all 24hr tests at this point. He even emailed us after the final saying that he has heard this concern and would take that into consideration while grading (what a gem), and had a whole extra part on the final to explain your progress through this class as a way to give him more insight into you when he considers your final grade.
If you do take this class with Phil (which you should if you want to learn in a really engaging way), make sure to ask him for his memes.