Posted by Joel Low on 11 August 2013 | 2 Comments

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I've taken the liberty to expand the scope of my first post; I don't think "what I hope to learn" cuts it, especially not so for this kind of module.

What's CS3216

For the uninitiated. I can't assume that only Colin's going to be reading this, right? :)

It's one of the modules (colloquially referred to the 'Facebook module') taught at SoC. Its official course title is "Software Development of Evolving Platforms" but hey, it's more than just that (I'll elaborate later.) It's not just another software engineering course that we get at SoC, it's actually pretty darned epic (in my opinion anyway); here's why: the information sheet actually states the teaching philosophy to be

Let’s be realistic here, are we really capable of teaching this bunch of really talented and creative students to be even smarter? Who are we kidding? Let’s just stay out of their way and try not to make them STUPID. :-P

That should have caught your attention. This is the place I want to be. Though I can't necessarily guarantee that after this semester I'd want to live through it again. Hopefully I would, that might actually be a better outcome, but I don't know.

Learning should (is?) completely independent of teaching. You can learn without being taught: as a matter of fact, learning in this manner would be a higher achievement than learning while being taught. I'm not against teachers, professors, and lecturers here; but surely the student who has the ability to learn independently, to think for himself, to come to his own conclusions given proper information has to be better than a student who is merely a sponge? The philosophy of this module really sits well with me.

The set-up

CS3216 is also a cross-faculty module. We'll have brave souls from the likes of Business and Arts taking it with us. The rationale? It takes more than just programmers to deliver a product. It's true, believe it or not, that as much as one likes to believe he's a true godsend, that's just narcissistic. At the same time, students from within SoC have to apply for taking a module. That's weird for a course, you think?

The (hopeful) result: you get the brightest of minds together and they solve the world's challenges. Or maybe create a new problem while they're at it.

So what?

The module has been touted as tough. I like a challenge. I'd naturally take it. Call me suicidal.

People do not like taking hard modules. They're more likely to want to do what is required and then graduate with the barest of minimums. Probably with a decent GPA while doing so. Why? Society emphasises academic performance over the process of education (hell -- what constitutes being educated?) Naturally the people who then show up for CS3216 would therefore fall into two categories: so good at what they do that nothing poses a challenge, or they really want to work.

Both groups of people are groups of people to work with, because what your horizons grow further. Your glass ceilings shatter. You go places. You get the drift.

It's easy to list the tangibles out of this next semester: I'd probably have learnt a new framework. Maybe two. A new language. Gotten a grade. Five more modular credits to my degree. But that does not do justice (at all!) to the work and effort which this module demands of me. This module has to offer so much more than this.

Working with the best takes people out of mediocrity that we find ourselves entrenched in. I won't deny that I'm perfectionist. I do things because I can, and I drive myself to do what I do well. I hate submitting things half-baked, something that I am not proud of calling my own. Being around with the best provides that encouragement to achieve so much more than what I am capable of. In this case, I hope it would drive me beyond what I thought my limits were.

It extends what we think we are capable of doing by cross-pollinating ideas and concepts. Greatness rubs off people. Passion is contagious. I want to gain insights into the minds of how -- not just engineers, which I count myself among them -- think.

It forms friendships. I get to meet new people. People perform or flounder under pressure. This is the acid test as to the true ability of my peers. At the same time, it demonstrates the true nature of people, to weed out the fakes from the genuine article (I hope everyone's genuine!)

Ultimately, I hope to be a better person after this. Being competent in a craft is one, but as above, the acid test is how people perform under pressure. I hope this pressure would be the fire which would train me for what life has in store for me.

Here's to a great (tough!) semester ahead, folks!

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.