Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
This class was utterly brutal, and as the professor himself said, the hardest class you'll ever take in your life. It's a sick beast of its own, and will singlehandedly ruin your Winter Quarter. Don't take this as a tech breadth; the A/A- will not be worth the sheer amount of time and effort expended for this class.
The lectures were 2 hour slogs where you'd sit down and watch the professor write math down on the board. No really; Vasily lectured more on math, and esoteric technicalities of math rather than actual thermodynamics for the vast majority of the lectures.
The only reason to go to lectures is for the rare times when Vasily actually sets up a homework problem for you, or when he does an example problem that you can both understand and is relevant for exams. Unfortunately, you never know when the lecture is useful, but if it is, it can save you several hours on homework. Somewhat fortunate is that this guy is pretty funny at times, especially when he roasts electric cars, green engineering, chemists, and other stuff not directly related to this class.
Now the homework, something that could only have come from the DEPTHS OF HELL. Seriously. We got 4 homework assignments during the quarter, and each is a minimum of 20 pages long, typed in size 11 font. I took a grad level class, Bioengr C101 (taught by the hardest professor in the Bioengineering department), Tang's ChemE 45 class (another dreaded class), and MATLAB along with this class, and this class's demanded more time then those classes COMBINED. Also, while Diff Eqs are not a prerequisite for this class, they were still used extensively in this course, making the course even harder. The homework singlehandedly ruined my quarter. I know of people who did the homework WHILE consulting the solution manual. This class still demanded 20+ hours/week for them, despite them looking at solution manuals.
Take a light courseload when you take Vasily's class. While you absolutely have to take it Winter quarter Sophomore year (or if you're a transfer, your 2nd quarter here), you can control the other classes you take concurrently. In particular, taking this class ALONGSIDE ChemE 104a is a really bad idea.
I'll try to split my review into an objective part and subjective part.
Objectively, Vasili does not have the time for this course. He's a pretty prominent UCLA figure, so I can imagine that trying to teach such a demanding course is next to impossible without the time to do it. 90% of the course material is recycled from past years, some stuff is over a decade old. The other 10% is half completely new stuff, half old-stuff with a small revision or twist. Objectively, the homework is brutal. Even if you truly understand most of it, it is very tedious. One problem, as mentioned, was literally about 10 pages of equations. The tests are a bit strange themselves. The layout has been mentioned (the gimme problem, the tedious, the thinking)... to go into more depth--the gimme is a rehash of something done in class, typically a homework problem. Bring the right pages (you can use any piece of info on the tests, except for the internet) and it is a freebie. The tedious it just that--tedious. The thinking problem has some trick to it--some manipulation of old equations in the course.
Subjectively, this is leaps and bounds the worst class I have taken in my life. I have had professors with heavy accents, professors who put minimal effort, professors who make things unnecessarily hard. Vasili's class is a sick beast of its own. The man CANNOT teach. He showed up about 15 minutes late the first lecture. Not punctual. He simply told us to google how to perform a Laplace Transformation when it came up in the course. Not patient (LT is actually something you possibly haven't seen before this course due to the lack of course requirements for it). His mind is scattered, and he will not devote any time into the course outside of the 4 hours per week for the lectures. It truly is a skeleton of a demanding and tough class. You can see I have pretty strong feelings about the course-- mainly because I passed with a grade I didn't deserve because I didn't learn ANYTHING in the class. I answered a *piece* of 1/3 questions of the final exam, and get by with my grade? That's bull. Vasili is a smart veteran engineer with raw experience, but teaching what you know is a different beast than knowing it. He will not walk you through his thought process for a problem, more like just do the problem while narrating what he's doing. "Take this, perform Laplace Transform. Google if you don't know how to do it. Use Axiom 56 from my handout. This cancels. *writes on part of the board no one can see*. And there is your answer. *scrolls to next problem* Start with Axiom 34..."
Obviously, others had a better time in this class than I did. Maybe he was funny during lectures, but I stopped going after the first 5 or so. Those 4 hours are a precious resource for completing the homework. If you're an absolute genius, maybe you'll learn a lot from this course--you could impress people by deriving some fundamental equations using math alone (which, by the way, is the focus of the class. I felt that seldom we would actually show how the stuff we're learning applied in the real world--we would just derive an equation graph it, and be done). Me, as an average joe, did not gain anything from this class, save for some coding experience in Excel. If possible, do not take this course.
This class was by the far the worst class I have ever taken here at UCLA due to lack of structure and care of the professor. The only reason any of us survived the class was due to the amazing TAs that went above and beyond for us.
However, Vasily was a terrible professor in so many ways. He lacked any organization in his lectures and would spend very unequal times covering topics. The homeworks were pointless. Easily spent 12+ hours on each homework, just typing time-consuming equations that were not necessary in learning the fundamental concepts of thermo. He once assigned a homework problem that even he and the TAs could not solve and didn't revoke it until a couple days before the due date. He cares more about the class reputation rather than whether or not students are actually learning.
At the end of the day, I learned NOTHING about thermo from this class. If I did learn anything, it was about chain rules and partial derivatives. Although this is helpful, it is a thermodynamics class and I kinda wished I learned at least some thermo.
Avoid this class with him at all cost. It is worth rearranging your entire year schedule to avoid him.
Many people hate this class, overall I had a good time and did not spend much time on the HW or studying.
Most important note do not get the book or even read a page of it. It is all a waste of time, Vasili makes all his own problems. Also go to discussion they are not graded, but TA's give out HW answers and explain why the answer are true to save time on the HW.
HW (4 assignments, each 8.75%): 35%
Midterm: (Only one in week 5): 30%
First off each HW is over 30 pages of typed math equations, so learn math type and key board short cuts for math symbols at the beginning of the quarter to save time. He has not changed the HW problems for the last 4+ years and gives a PDF solution manual after they are due. Many people chose to find someone who took the class and download all 4 solution manuals in the past to get the manuals from them. Because so many people have the solutions you need to get almost 100% on all HW assignments to compete with the curve. If you do not understand a step in the HW it probably doesn't matter half the HW would never be on the test either way focus on getting the good HW grade, but if u want to know ask the TA's not him. I did the HW during TA's OH so every time I had a question I could get it answered right away and made sure I was going down the right path. By doing this I only spent 10 hours on each assignment which is only 5 hours per week cause each assignment is 2 weeks long. Also being good at MATLAB saves a lot of time and you should take M20 as a co-req for this class.
As for the midterm all test are open note so you can print all the handouts and HW you completed and use them on the test. The midterms are three questions an easy, a thinking, and a tedious. The easy one you should get if you understand the most basic concepts of Thermo, the tedious was seen before on a practice test he gave out so make sure you do the practice test, the thinking one is just pure luck, it will look like a lot of math but some trick will allow all equations to cancel and it become very easy. Make sure you look at all the constraints and what is physical possible to eliminate a lot of equations to start with. By doing this and a lot of luck I got 100% on the midterm.
The final was much harder than the midterm. The easy question was a HW problem and because I brought all my HW to the test I got that one. The other two I spend the next 2.5 hours working on and wrote 11+ pages but it could have all been wrong, the key is to find what equation he is looking for and then just take a best guess and write a ton cause if anything looks correct they give out partial credit.
Overall by doing well on the HW and midterm and winging the final I got an A+. As for studying spend less time on the HW (Just get it done however you chose) and make sure you know when to use each equation because by choosing the correct equation you can at least get partial credit which will make or break your grade. I loved my winter quarter and had little work, so despite the rest of the reviews I enjoyed this class especially in the last 3-4 weeks. This is because after the midterm the HW is mostly crazy non-sense so
the TA's gave out almost all answers because they felt bad for us and you don't really need to attempt to understand the HW.
Vasili, great guy, super funny, very insightful. But this class was demonic. If you don't have to take this class, do yourself a favor and don't take it. I think it's pretty clear from the reviews that 102A homework will become your absolute worst enemy. The tests, I felt, sometimes had little to do with material actually taught and I found myself asking, "Would I have gotten a worse grade if I didn't study?" and answering that with, "Probably not". If you do take this class, prepare to be completely lost in the material and where you stand in the class. This class was something of a twisted psychology experiment and I'm sure you will find your true friends at the end of this journey lol.
But Vasili... hilarious, genius, fantastic person, if you can get to hear a few things he says, consider yourself blessed.
I took this class and got an A. Super challenging class. I changed majors however and the 102A did not cover the thermodynamics requirement for my biochemistry major. I tried emailing the professor to get the old syllabus so that I could petition the class to get credit however he is not responding. If anyone remembers their TA's or their emails I would greatly appreciate trying to get in contact with them so I could get the syllabus. Any help appreciated! CCLE doesnt allow me to access the class websites of old classes...
Look, Vasilios is a nice guy. He's pretty funny, and his lectures are entertaining, but most of the time you're just copying down needless notation. I like his sass. The class is curved well, and the midterm averaged a 60 (even though it's open book open note and 40 points of it were basically copy paste from the HW, so it was pretty chill). However, I don't recommend him at all. We were saved by our TA Kelly, who made things semi-understandable. Otherwise, go to Vasilios for help on HW and you're out of luck. He just makes everything way too mathematical and confusing. We're chemical engineers, not mathematicians! No need to make things so complex. Often, he pulls problems form the book, and I look at his solutions and compare them to book solutions. There's just no need for so much math notation.
Also, Homeworks are absolutely brutal. 150+ pages throughout the quarter of typed equations and formulas for this class. Also, the final was destructive. You don't need to study for the final because it won't help you anyway. He gives an "easy", a "thinking" and a "tedious" problem on each exam. The easy and thinking problem on the final were fine, but that tedious problem was soooooo long. I used 15 pages on that final (only front side but still - it took forever).
Overall, you can't avoid him, so just enjoy the ride! He's funny, I always enjoyed lecture, the homework sucks and is infinitely confusing and tedious, and the exams will leave you feeling empty inside. But then you get an A+ and it's all okay :)
Also, he took two extra weeks past the deadline to put in grades, so just a heads up. Overall, I'll give him a 3 rating. Not very clear, very difficult class, not very helpful, but at least it was fun. I also feel pretty solid on the material I learned from his class (solely because I had to teach myself a lot of it, and the material is pretty fun and interesting).
Vasili is an awesome professor. You don't have to take notes, he posts handouts of the lecture, so you can just focus on listening and understanding the materials. He is a very intelligent person, and he's the only Chem-E professor who actually cares about his student's learning. His homeworks are tough and take forever, but you learn a lot while doing them. Definitely form study groups to do the homework together. They are all typed, so you type all the proofs on mathtype, but this is good because you can copy and paste them. Also either invest in a good printer or know where the ones on the hill are, you will be printing probably 2-3 inches of paper for the final. Tests are open note, open book, basically bring anything you want, including homework solutions. You can't get less than a C on the midterm, they made 30% and lower a C. He curves to the lowest student so make sure you help each other out!
Vasilios is a very nice man who seems to know a ton about Thermodynamics. The problem is he is not able to relay his knowledge to his students well. The homework sets take forever and tend to be very difficult and long. I did well grade-wise in the class, but I feel as if I did not learn a single new thing. I feel that anything I could do in that class was from prior knowledge (i.e. integration, ideal gas law, etc.). He seems like he really wants us to succeed, but everything started off as confusing and never reached a point where it made a great deal of sense. I liked him as a person and he would probably be a great mentor, but I would not take him again as a professor.
Vasilios Manousiouthakis is an incredibly intelligent professor. While his homework sets were full of the hardest problems I've ever done in my life, I truly feel like I learned something in this class. Even though each homework set would take well over a week (with some problems takings well over a full day to complete), he was fair with extending each set based on students' needs as well as fair grading on exams. The one huge downside of this class is if you hate spending hours of your time on a single line of equations. In the end, however, if you put in the work and time, you will absolutely learn something and be rewarded for it.
Lectures are important to go to because even though he does like to ramble on about random stuff, there is important information you'll receive at some point.
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