こんにちは！ジョシュアです！ Now that midterms week is well underway, I finally got to take some of my exams. I took two exams back to back today so I’m feeling pretty drained right now. Now I’m pretty tight on time, so I’m just going to go over what exactly a exam at Princeton might look like. Out of all my midterms this spring, I think the exam for my CEE (Civil and Environmental Engineering) class called “Structures and the Urban Environment” may be the most interesting for everyone. So how was the CEE midterm today?
To be honest, this class isn’t the most challenging of the courses offered here. There is a reason this is a popular class to take to fulfill either an LA (Literature and the Arts) or STL (Science and Technology with Lab) distribution! While I wasn’t expecting the exam to be too challenging, I also didn’t want to go in without going over the material properly.
The last class before the exam was a review session, so the professor and the preceptors went over the exam format, tips for how to take the exam, and any questions we had about the exam itself or the subject matter. I think some professors give you a really good idea of what to expect the exam to look like, which is really helpful when reviewing. This class is certainly one of them.
The Exam Format!
I took the exam during regular class time, which is 50 minutes long for this class. That’s not a lot of time for a midterm, so everything we learned had to be crammed all in!
The exam was worth 100 points with three sections: identification (25 pts), calculation (25 pts) and essay (50 pts). The identification portion required us to be able to identify 25 bridges we learned in class by their name, engineer and location. Now I’m not particularly good at memorizing so it was already a bit of a challenge, but the concrete bridges in Switzerland a) looks nearly identical and b) had difficult-to-spell German names! A good example of this is the Salginatobel Bridge by Robert Maillart and the Reichenau Bridge by Christian Menn. On the exam, we were asked to identify five randomly chosen bridges out of the 25 bridges.
The next part was all about calculating the forces on the various portions of a bridge. Technically this was still an engineering course, so there had to be some math involved! Over the past six weeks we learned how to calculate forces of tension, compression, etc, and how the dimensions of a bridge can affect the magnitude of the load a bridge could hold. Taking the class it has been really interesting to see how the designs of bridges closely reflect the forces that are acting on it!
The last part was the essay portion, where we were required to write two short essay responses to a prompt. The essay here was based off the lectures and concepts we learned in lecture and discussed in precept. For instance, we would sometimes look at how the style of an engineer would change over his career, analyze bridges from scientific, social and symbolic aspects, or compare various bridges with one another. Obviously everything we covered in lecture was fair game, so this was the section I was most worried about, especially since we only had 50 minutes to complete the entire exam.
After the grueling week that is midterms week awaits spring break! The problem is, it is still really, really cold. I remember March being more mild in Japan, with the sakura starting to blossom over the next couple of weeks. At Princeton the temperature is still in the single digits, with the occasional dusting of snow. I’m also staying on campus over the break to continue training partially because I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to do over break until it was too late, and partially because I want to keep training. I guess I’m going to have to wait a bit longer to have some warmer weather…
See you after Spring Break!