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Posts Tagged ‘Waterloo’

Fourth Year Systems Design Engineering Project: My uwaterloo classes

Posted by Steve on October 26, 2008

A little background is in order for those unfamiliar with engineering at waterloo. First off is to explain this whole fourth year project business. In not too much detail, the project is done in the fourth (and final year) of engineering at Waterloo and is something that is done by all all engineering departments. The project spans the last two school terms (8 months) and the only requirement is that it has an acceptable amount of engineering content.  Now as a student in Systems design (SYDE for short) I have already done two projects similar to this, the only real difference is that they only lasted 4 months instead of 8. The project is usually done in groups of at most 2-3 but I am going at my project alone.

The main problem that I have chosen to tackle revolves around the information that is available to students when they are attempting to find information on different classes that they could potentially take at UW. I have come up with a problem statement, which is part of my Design Plan , it is as follows:

Students at the University of Waterloo are subject to an undergraduate class system that is less
than ideal; information is disjoint, there are no reviews for classes, there is no search feature,
rendering it difficult to plan out a university career. A successful solution will allow a user to
easily and quickly ascertain the quality of a class and enable them to plan their university careers
such that a university student requires reduced effort in choosing courses.

I have told quite a few people about my project, and the first response from those outside of Waterloo is surprise at how inadequate the current system is. I personally have had tons of trouble with finding classes that I want to take. The only hard information that is offered is the schedule of classes that tells you when classes are and the undergraduate calendar which provides you with an at most 4 line description of a course. In my experience a four line, antiquated description of a course is not nearly sufficient when I am selecting a class that I am paying close to $1000 to take. This is jus the tip of the ice berg to the problems that are with the current system, for more details read over my design plan, or leave me a comment and I will be more than happy to elaborate.

The solution that I am planning to implement is another web based application, but one that addresses the major difficiencies that I see. My web application will allow users to: rate classes, upload course informaion, view the schedule along with the description in a single location, plan out their whole university career and search the database of classes. These are the main areas that I am focusing on for now, if I finish faster than I anticipate, then I will be tackling a few other issues that I have identified!

The plan is to create the web application using the Django framework, so it will mainly be python based. For scripting needs I will most likely be using Ruby because that is where I have the most experience. For database needs I anticipate using MySQL. I have actually already scraped all of the information that I require from the current uwaterloo pages and placed into an excel table, just until I get the MySQL database setup.

I will be making posts here and there about the project, the first most likely being on the scraping script as I feel some of the things I learned from it might be useful to others!  If you want more info check out my Design Plan.

–Steve

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It’s only a job title… right?

Posted by Steve on May 15, 2008

I have recently been putting quite a bit of thought into job titles and have come to somewhat of an impasse. Recently I said I would help revamp a job posting for the test coop position, and one of the road blocks that I have hit is what to put in the title. The posting is for the waterloo coop system and it would be an understatement to say that the system is less than ideal. There are two things about it that make a title so important:

1. The time window that a job posting is up is about 3 days and there are LOTS of jobs, enough that you cannot see them all in that short time period, thus the job title has to catch a potential coops attention if you want lots of applicants.
2. The only real way to do a search on the jobs is by job title; it is not possible to search what the actual posting says, thus the only way to try and pinpoint jobs you might want is by title

Well it’s just a title right? It shouldn’t be that hard to make one that is appealing; in most cases that might be true, but because this is a test position it is a little more difficult; unfortunately, especially in the coop program, Test (or QA) has a very bad rep, and rightfully so in some cases. I personally have worked a terrible Test coop job, we were glorified typing monkeys, I was given a very rigid test plan to go through that consisted of about 200 tests, and by the end I had done some of them up to 30-40 times! Furthermore creativity was also pretty much discouraged, going outside of our area was frowned upon and to top it off developers didn’t think much of testers, that basically saw us as a walking, typing monkey. So because of this experience I can sympathize with those who fear that testing job, because it is difficult to know if it will be good or not.

In getting back to the job title, I was considering if there was a way to put less emphasis on test in the title, so that people will actually look further into the job, and not disregard it simply based on the fact that the word test is in the title. I thought about it for a while, and decided that there would be no real way to represent this job properly without having test in the title, but I did come up with an idea that would actually represent the job better and might appeal to more people,

Software Testing and Development Specialist

Now the specialist might not be in the final rendition, but I think the development is actually an important thing to put in the title. The job definitely has room for development, and it something that seems to interest a lot of people and it demonstrates that the job is multi faceted.

I was contemplating putting this up or not, simply because it’s a very specific problem for me, but I figured heh why not!

An annoying problem can often be seen as an interesting challenge, as with many things in life, it’s all about perception.

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