Marcus Michelen (BSE ‘14)
At some point in the semester, a schedule for the upcoming semester is released. We usually don’t think much of it; we figure out what classes we want to take, put them into a Google calendar or Excel Spreadsheet and hope the gods of Registration and Datatel are kind to us. Last week, I sat down with Professor Vito Guido, the man who makes the engineering schedule each semester to get insight into his process. He gave the Pioneer the following statement:
Each semester, in the Fall and in the Spring, I send an email to the seven department chairs in the engineering school. So let’s say for this particular Spring semester, for registration for the Fall: back in late January, early February I started requesting to have the information back by February 14th so I could start making the schedule, because invariably there are going to be changes made in the schedule and we would like to have them completed as soon as possible before registration.
So what do I include in that email? A request from the department chairs saying what courses are going to be offered in the fall semesters; who’s going to teach those courses; what special requirements they have. When we were in 51 Astor Place, not all the rooms were smart classrooms. Here they all are, so that’s not a problem.
If it’s an adjunct, I need to know what special hours they need, because they work in industry. So maybe they can’t be here during the day. If they teach somewhere else, they have to make sure their schedules mesh with our hours here. So those are the kinds of requirements I get from the department chairs.
Then I look at an overall master schedule, which I work on, to try to make sure that you’re not going to have any conflicts. You don’t want, say, a senior ChemE course conflicting with a graduate level ChemE course, because there may be some seniors in ChemE that want to take graduate courses. So we have to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.
It’s not always 100% foolproof.
The other thing is, in this building we have to be conscious of how many students are registering for classes because not every classroom has the same number of seats. So that’s another thing I request from the department chairs: what are their estimates of how many students should be in a class. If it’s a junior level required class, say, in EE, they’ll know more or less how many students they’ll have. If it’s an elective, they may give me a range because then, when you’re making the schedule, you also have to pair the time with an available room. On the fifth floor, 502 and 503 have 30 student limits, but 504 505 and 506 have 40 student limits. So it may be silly to put a class that may only have 12 in a room that can accommodate 40 students, and vice-versa. So that’s another thing we have to look at.
It’s like a big puzzle, putting all the pieces together. One of the major issues is Humanities. I also have to fit them into the schedule. I basically assign rooms in 41 Cooper Square. Foundation building [assignments] are under architecture [direction] and some are under art. Occasionally we switch back and forth, but I try to keep most of the engineering classes in this building, 41 Cooper Square.
It’s a thing that evolves. For the Fall Semester, it evolves over the Summer. When they assign freshmen to a section in August, things may change. An adjunct may say, “Oh, I can’t teach anymore” so we have to get a different adjunct and find if his hour mesh with where the course is already in place. So that’s why it keeps evolving.
For the math classes, basically all the freshmen and sophomores take the same classes. For math electives, professors will usually indicate to me to make sure that it fits in the EE schedule, because they have some required math courses in their curriculum. And if those spots where we put it fit in for other students to take them, then that’s it. Sometimes professor Agrawal will say to may, “well I have some students that want to take this but it conflicts, can we see if we can find another time?” We try to do that. Sometimes we’ll put it at 8 in the morning, from 8 to 10 or 8 to 9, so there’s never any conflicts because there are really no scheduled classes
at 8 o’clock.