Sunday, 11 October 2015

28th Sept and 5th Oct: Groundwork

These weekly updates are starting to get more like fortnightly, aren't they? Well, such us the way - especially in the first few weeks of teaching. There's never a time that's not busy, of course, but this time of year is particularly hectic. Lectures have to be delivered, projects allocated, detaiks checked. Lecture Capture isn't available in the lecture theatre I'm teaching Mechanical Systems in this year, so I'm trying to make last year's lectures available through our virtual learning environment. Doable, and worth doing, but it's never trivial.

Likewise, I've been grappling with LabVIEW's simulation and control module. A great system, but apparently corrupted on my version of LabVIEW 2013. After much ado, I installed LabVIEW 2015, and that's working a treat.  Also, trying to sort out an external live brief has been hard work. Companies tend to assume that your time is free, while theirs has value - so will merrily chop and change things, then complain when you won't rearrange the timetable at the last minute, despite the fact that this has enormous repercussions for admin staff, lecturers and students who don't stand to benefit. Sometimes you have to stand your ground, even if it makes you unpopular.

Technical difficulties and a couple of days of sick and carer leave aside, work has been mostly good, if rather routine: we're just getting to the stage where we're moving from introducing, setting up and clarifying to getting to the interesting stuff: solving problems and reviewing designs.

Two high points have  been writing an exam (I enjoy finding practical case studies of mechanisms and posing myself the questions), and preparing to act as external examiner for a PhD viva. Reading a thesis is always thought provoking, and gets you thinking deeply about a subject.

So, lots on - and it's all good stuff,  even if the main achievements are things like "Set up the VLE", " Set assignment", "delivered introductory lecture". None are ground breaking, or exceptional - but you get nothing done if you don't do these first.

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