Author: salustri

Making exams easier on my knees

If you’re an engineering student, you’ll probably have to write more more than a few exams at the Mattamy Centre, and you’ll know what it’s like having to find your seat in the long rows of tables and chairs set…

Colourless peripheral vision? Yup.

Did you know you have no peripheral colour vision? Look straight ahead. Without moving your eyes, take note of objects in your peripheral vision. You will see them in colour, right? But that’s an illusion. You’re thinking: WTF? Well, yeah,…

You should watch this movie

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana You may think things are pretty messed up these days, but in many ways they’re actually better. We have gotten kinder and less violent, for instance.…

The art of taking notes

To my students: Taking notes by hand (i.e., with pen & paper) has been shown to correlate strongly with better learning. Just to show you what notes can look like, here’s some of my notes from high school. And just…

Why the “Oxford Comma” matters

When you write a sentence that includes a list of items, the last one typically starts with “and.”  A question that has been vexing people for centuries now is whether that last clause should start with a comma – i.e.,…

How they sell condos in Milan

I was recently in Milan for a conference.  One day, while walking around one of the suburbs, I saw a new condo development. Near the street was a large billboard advertising the condos that were being built. Here’s the billboard.…

The importance of composition

Some students quibble with me about the weight I give “composition skills.”  This usually happens at the end of the semester when I grade the team design reports. Composition is more than just spelling or grammar.  These days, a computer…

English is funny

There is no egg in the eggplant, no ham in the Hamburger and neither pine nor apple in the pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England; French fries were not invented in France. Quicksand takes you down slowly, boxing…

Who says academics don’t have a sense of humour?

I.J. Good was, despite the name, a real person who worked with Alan Turing and researched the logic of evidence for decades.  He also had a great sense of humour. http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/12/24/anyone-who-doesnt-agree-must-be-a-marxist-plus-bans-decibans.html And if you’ve had the misfortune of never being…

Find what you love to do

Recent research suggests strongly that the odds you’ll succeed improve if you’re intrinsically motivated; that means you want to do something for its own sake, because you feel a deep desire to do it. Extrinsic motivation – wanting to do something for some other,…

Why Solidworks?

Some students ask why we use solidworks in our programs.  The answer is simple: It’s the most affordable general CAD package for us; It’s well-known to be particularly easy to learn compared to most other CAD packages; It’s very popular…

You’re not studying enough

MacLean’s published an article by Stephanie Findlay in 2010 that highlights a basic problem with University students: they don’t study enough anymore.  Students generally spend 60% as much time studying now as they did 50 years ago.

So, what is Wikipedia?

Ever wonder how we got to have Wikipedia? CBC has a great episode (I think) of “Ideas in the Afternoon” on encyclopaediae and Wikipedia in particular.  It goes into the history of Wikipedia, its structure (not software, but the organization),…

Life lessons by Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin was recently awarded an honorary doctorate.  Here’s his address to the other recipients of PhDs from the University of Western Australia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyBvbot3emM. Listen carefully: he’s completely right about all of it.  Thar be wisdom ‘ere!