HES, CSCI E-15: Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Having finished up the final week of my first semester at HES in their graduate software engineering program in CS-15, I feel both relieved that finals week is over but also happy that my first semester was a successful one.

My background is not in programming (civil engineering major with 5 years of self-taught programming experience), so I had my reservations entering my first semester of an online program geared for professionals in the industry.

That said, I turned out to have a great semester and appreciated the following parts of the HES program and course which made it such a great experience:

  1. HES support staff and advisors are great – they normally respond to emails within 1-2 days and advisors are normally available my phone/email.
  2. CS-15 instructor, Susan Buck, was great – her lectures, assignments and course materials were thorough and well thought-out.
  3. CS-15 TA’s were helpful and were available for us during our weekly online section and answered offline, normally within 1-2 days.

Having the time and motivation to participate in the course is a big factor to success, both in terms of getting good grades and benefiting from all the course material and assignments. Although the workload is not overwhelming, one does need to steadily invest time every week in watching the lectures, attending section and completing assignments.

In addition, the following are definitely recommended for any prospective students out there considering this course:

  1. Prior programming experience in any language(s) is highly recommended since the the assignments will require web development, workflow/version control and deployment of websites to live servers.
  2. Basic understanding of relational databases will be useful towards the end of the semester in the context of building web applications, so it would be worthwhile to read up on data normalization and ERD diagrams.
  3. Participation in TA section and forums are a big help, especially for remote students (such as myself). The video lecture and notes are a big help as well, so be sure to review everything since they are a condensed version of official documentation.

In conclusion, I recommend the course and learned a lot from the detailed course material and assignments. That said, the course does require weekly participation and due diligence in completing lectures/assignments so be sure to set aside the time to do so in success with the course.

HES, CSCI E-15 Dynamic Web Applications

I am looking forward to the start of the spring semester at HES and the first of the 3 required courses for admission into the program. The course will focus on development using PHP and the Laravel framework, which feels (comfortably) similar to Ruby on Rails.

The course textbook comes from LeanPub, which is another pleasant surprise since they tend to offer approachable, hands-on publications. That said, I am getting a head start and pushing my commits onto Github and soon to deploy onto Digital Ocean (we will be using it for hosting our apps this semester).

HES & CS50 Final Project

As part of my preparation for the start of graduate studies in software engineering at Harvard Extension School (HES) this semester, I enrolled in CS50 via edX.

The course was great! edX did an awesome job of posting all the course material, which very closely resembled the same course offered at HES itself.

Otherwise, the lectures, homework and final project were challenging; for my final project, I implemented an AngularJS application inside my existing RoR app (StormSavvy).