“One of my team members hasn’t done anything yet!”
“We have so many labs I can barely keep up!”
These are both sentences I am yet to mutter. Is it because I magically had great teams and I love labs? Nope, it’s just because semester one of Computer systems is approx 95% theory.
Semester one of Compsys doesn’t really reflect what Compsys is like, given that we share the same courses with Electrical. Regardless, I’ve outlined below an idea of what semester one is like for us Compsys students. If you’re not that into the electrical side of things, don’t let it deter you – once Part II is over, the courses are more Computer Systems related with a lot more programming. Although, If you’re anything like me and solving circuits alone in your dimly lit room sounds like a dream, semester one will be a blast.
Compsys 201 – Fundamentals of Computer Engineering
In this course, we actually get to do some computer systems things. It’s mainly theory, where we learn some fundamental concepts that build on logic gates (from 101) which we connect to VHDL, a ‘hardware description language’. VHDL allows us to write code for a circuit instead of drawing it, great for those of us who are less artistically inclined. In the 2nd half, we learn how to program microcontrollers using C (the programming language you learn in 131). A cool way to see if you’d like Compsys 201 is to have a look at some Arduino projects (please ignore the site name) https://howtomechatronics.com/arduino-projects/.
ELECTENG 202 – Circuits and Systems
It turns out all you need to solve any circuit is V=IR and a bit of math, but who’s got time for that? 202 has you obsessing over the most efficient way to solve a circuit. Math lovers rejoice, as the second half of this course is quite math-heavy. On a side note, the emphasis of the lecturers of the beauty of graphs makes the math enjoyable to anyone, so do not fear! If you’re curious as to what I mean by this, check out this post of one of the concepts we learn in 202 http://www.jezzamon.com/fourier/
ELECTENG 210 – Electronics 1
This course covers basic electronic devices. My favourite that we learn about is the transistor. You may have heard of Moore’s law, which is ‘the principle that the speed and capability of computers can be expected to double every two years’ aka why our computers get prettier and faster. This is actually because of the decreasing size and increasing ability of transistors. We puny Part II Compsys students have the privilege of learning how these revolutionary devices work on an electrical and chemical level. In case you couldn’t tell, I quite like transistors.
What we learn in 211 connects very well with 202, our course on circuit analysis and power systems. Because of this, you get plenty of practice applying the tools you learn in 211, which makes life a lot easier.
If I were to describe the courses for Compsys students like restaurant courses, ENGSCI 211 would be the entrée, ELECTENG 202 and 210 the main, and COMPSYS 201 the dessert. I wouldn’t rate myself highly on my ability to make analogies, but as you’ve seen above, the breakdown makes sense for a Compsys student. In my upcoming posts, I’ll introduce Compsys semester two, and we’ll explore the current bane of my existence – finding an internship.