• A Broader Adventure Than Expected

    11/16/2017 at 07:59 0 comments

    When I first enrolled for classes at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, I was expecting a class experience similar to when I took Computer Science classes back in, well, a different decade. I was expecting a classroom environment for lectures, combined with some amount of individual medium-term projects for which we might self-organize and collaborate.

    On the first day of class, our instructor informed us that the way we will be proceeding through the quarter (pronounced "kwah-tuh") is that we will put in place multiple student leaders.

    The roles are not strictly defined, and that's part of the point. But we discussed this in general terms, and I came away with the key roles:

    • A TA (teacher's assistant) that works closely with the instructor to coordinate grades and scheduling for lectures and quizzes, as well as monitor the overall progression through the curriculum.
    • Team Leads that will have students on their teams and keep track of their progress, check homework, help out team members as required, whether with schoolwork or personal matters.
    • A Class Lead that bridges the gap between Team Leads and the TA. Leads a team if the Team Lead is unavailable, can help out with individual team members as required, assists Team Leads with questions about curriculum / schedule. Works with TA to create a schedule that's a good pace for the class and instructor, help collect grades and resolve administrative issues.

    The thing that was surprising to me was that there was so much effort put into self-governance and peer-to-peer management. I really wasn't expecting there to be much more than a student / instructor relationship where we get a lecture, we get some homework, we take a test. Rinse. Repeat.


    We were sent home on that first Monday with our first written assignment -- create a Letter of Intent for what position we'd like -- TA, Class Lead, Team Lead, Team Member.

    I was surprised by this. I didn't realize there was a ham and eggs consideration here, and now I realized I could get even more from the program by participating in the leadership.

    I readied myself for butchery. Just a little butchery. From the middle. Where I wouldn't miss it.

    The role that stuck out to me was the one of Class Lead. I like the idea of helping the Team Leads succeed and keeping things moving from the Teams to the TA. Either that or a Team Lead.

    So I wrote up a one-side-of-paper summary about why I thought I'd be a good match. The short version is that I was a Working Group Chair in the IETF for several years, and I think I was effective in that role, which demonstrated "cat herding" capability -- lots of people (cats) that we need to get from point A to point B, fulfilling the technical work for which we are chartered.

    The next day, we all turned in our letters and proceeded to read our textbooks and answer chapter questions while the letters were read and evaluated and the positions were filled.

    Multiple people were called out of the room to have a discussion. Nothing for me yet.

    One person came back and announced they were going to be operating in the TA role. OK, well good deal, that position is done.

    And then at the end of class, I got the call.

    Go in the conference room.

    "Hey, we'd like you to be Class Lead."


    Uh, I guess we're done here. They liked my letter a lot, not many questions to ask, we're all good.

    And thus the adventure broadened.

  • A Brief Introduction

    11/15/2017 at 21:29 0 comments

    Greetings and Salutations! I am Blake Ramsdell, an Electronics Technology student at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology

    As part of the work we do at the Institute of Technology, we create multiple projects over the course of each academic year. I plan to update this page with some of those fine projects, which have included a KiCad tutorial as well as a control system using a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) sensor.

    I need to get a picture of me in my lab finery. Hopefully an action shot using an oscilloscope with a waveform on it. Maybe with a thoughtful expression.