Looking Back…my best courses at UCF

Well, my final semester is fast approaching at UCF…amazing how fast that went.  Filling out the intent to graduate was an interesting tidbit, it really makes you think about what you learned!  I thought it would be a neat blog post to link to when some friends who are up and coming at UCF ask me “Which courses should I take!?!?”.

Computer Science 2 (COP3502) – I won’t even lie, I struggled in this one.  If you’re not a Computer Science student, stay away!  The course is currently being taught by Ben Douglas, and focuses on algorithm analysis.  The course starts off really easy, and after the first exam it gets incredibly hard.  The course is designed with a recitation, and I really think that most people who fail it, do not attend.  Ben is one of the most knowledgeable professors I’ve had at UCF, but sometimes that comes at the expense of him talking over your head in class.  If this happens, be sure to have the TA go over it in recitation, as topics build on each other, and the tests are near impossible to guess on.  Topics in the course include backtracking, sorting algorithms, brute force, object oriented programming, graphs, and many more.  All tests and assignments are Java based.  Tests are closed notes & closed book.  The course does not have a set grading scale, the final grades are determined by the overall class average after the final exam.

Digital Investigative Technologies (CET4885) – (Click for syllabus) This course isn’t terribly difficult due to the fact that Dr. Philip Craiger has really taken his time to produce a very thorough selection of course materials (no book required), but it does take a lot of your time to complete the projects.  The course begins by teaching you how to take a digital clone of a hard drive to avoid messing up the “evidence”, and explains data collection methods to ensure that your investigation will hold up in court.  After that, the course will teach you how to modify the access dates of files and recover deleted files in Linux by hand using only tools freely available online. Once you understand how these tools work, the course then introduces a few professional tools that you will need in order to complete the final project.  One of the most hands on courses in the UCF Information Technology curriculum, I recommend this course to any student.  One final word of advice…do not ask a question answered in materials already given to you, and don’t ask something that’s easy to find out with a Google search.  Dr. Craiger really forces students to seek out answers on their own as a first option just like you will have to in the real world when you get a job.  He’s not someone who got a PhD and never had a real job outside of teaching, so his methods are different than professors you might have had before.

Database Concepts (CGS2545) – Database Concepts is taught by Robert Koeneke, but the most useful portion of the course (the lab) has projects and slides developed by Dr. Mark Llewellyn.  The slides teach you all of the basics on creating a Microsoft Access database, starting from modifying existing databases, creating queries, reports, new tables, and eventually developing your own database.  The step by step instructions are great, and the pace is very good as well.  A final project in the course is worth a large portion of your grade.  This course is very hands on as well, and after completing it, I feel that I have the knowledge to create a database for anything that I currently have a need for.  My only complaint is that the course spends a bit too much time on database planning, and too little time focusing on combined/advanced queries, as these felt very rushed to get in before the final exam.

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