Missed a day, but what the hey

I’m not too worried about failing to post yesterday. Sleep was more important considering the day I had today.

Woke up at 05:00 to get ready for the trip to Atlanta to check out the program at Georgia Tech. Made good time and arrived without incident and without getting lost or missing any turns. Found the building that most of the HCI labs are in and discovered that it’s actually more of an architectural nightmare than Haley. I suppose that it may be less confusing if you spend time in the building, but it’s basically a maze of corridors with no obvious visible landmarks. It also doesn’t seem to be symmetrical.

Anyway, the trip was good and the tour/orientation thing was also good. I met a number of other prospective students, and some of them were dang sharp. Good conversations were had with them. A lot of questions were answered about all sorts of things, which was nice and tremendously helpful. The only truly weak parts of the experience (at least from the standpoint of recruiting) were that A) the actual lab tour was terribly unorganized and sort of aimless, B) the classes we sat in on were so-so, and C) there was little direct contact with professors.

I still found the entire thing to be very helpful in working toward a decision between NYU and GaTech. The short version is this: both schools are serious, but GaTech is serious business and NYU is serious fun. Perhaps a bit more clearly stated GaTech is focused on industrial research and direct application while NYU is more exploratory and interdisciplinary. Needless to say that second approach draws me in.

Ironically I’m coming to believe that the lack of an ITP PhD is a huge point in the program’s favor rather than a disadvantage. I don’t know if this is the case, but there’s a strong sense at GaTech that the master’s students are sort of second class citizens. The real money and time and energy are spent on the PhD students. Which makes sense, I suppose. But it means that ITP, without that higher level to suck up time and energy from the faculty, has more of that time and energy to devote to the class of students I’ll find myself in.

The point of all this is that this visit was extremely valuable because it helped me get a feel for the program at GaTech and that helped me a bit with deciding that it’s probably not as good a fit as the program at NYU.

Now all I have to do is figure out this whole “money” thing.

Thomas

3 Responses to “Missed a day, but what the hey”

  1. museumfreak says:

    For CoC your assessment is right on the money based on my discussions with alums — I would NOT go to CoC as an MS student because 1) you’ll get ignored 2) there’s not much funding 3) let me repeat 1 & 2 for emphasis and 4) the reality is that sometimes their alumni *don’t* get jobs in spite of what they think. This is why I put off starting at GA Tech until 1) I was good enough to get admitted directly to HCC or 2) something came together (this is what Amy was saying about being happy for me and me saying it had been a long road).

    I’m going specifically to be Digital Media-based because their PhD program is very new (within the time I’ve lived in Atlanta, I think) and as a result they still take way more care of their masters students (it’s a smaller program in general too); also I’ve cultivated specific close relationships with faculty members. DM + DM-HCI last year managed to fund all but one of their MS students by the second semester: it is CC-HCI that has the lower statistics they talked about, and pretty much everyone we met but A and B was CC-HCI which explains the general feeling of dejection. I was really annoyed by the fact that they didn’t really allow DM-HCI or PSY-HCI any opportunity to sell themselves (there were a couple of other things that really annoyed me about that visiting day but I won’t get into them). DM is also a lot more creative and less about “serious work” — it’s not the freewheeling atmosphere of NYU, true, but there are some people there who are really fun and lots of people who are doing neat arty kinds of stuff. (A actually only looks buttoned up, incidentally — she’s way more fun in my experience than her sartorial choices suggest.)

    If the money thing fails for you at NYU or you have second thoughts about it between now and then, then I’ll be glad to introduce you to people; if you’re willing to work as a programmer (sounds like you do enjoy programming?) there is a really good chance of an GRA for you in DM. I am not necessarily trying to persuade you to come here — you do what’s right for you — but from the perspective of a quick assessment from someone who’s already kind of active in a lab, I think you’re good, and I’d like to see you come play with us. You would still of course be able to work with Amy, but you would also work with one of the faculty in DM who does ethnography.

  2. Auth says:

    I second Blinn Comb’s ceotmnms. I did an 8-week course at the Goethe Institut in Freiburg and it was truly first-rate. I could not have asked for a better instructor and the city was wonderful. I think Robert Johnson’s comment about Germans speaking English applies mainly to large urban areas like Berlin. It was my experience that very few Germans in the south had even conversational English (and even fewer the deeper one goes into Bavaria). This of course provides a distinct motivation to learn their language. In fact, I intentionally avoided Americans during my course because interaction with them was obviously quite counterproductive. It should also be mentioned that one will inevitably encounter students in these courses who are not really serious about learning the language and are enrolled for other reasons (establishing residency in Germany for other academic reasons, or because they see it as an economical alternative to backpacking). This is of course more common in the introductory courses, and in the larger urban areas like Berlin and Munich. But the educational experience itself was excellent.

  3. Pete says:

    I second Blinn Comb’s comnmets. I did an 8-week course at the Goethe Institut in Freiburg and it was truly first-rate. I could not have asked for a better instructor and the city was wonderful. I think Robert Johnson’s comment about Germans speaking English applies mainly to large urban areas like Berlin. It was my experience that very few Germans in the south had even conversational English (and even fewer the deeper one goes into Bavaria). This of course provides a distinct motivation to learn their language. In fact, I intentionally avoided Americans during my course because interaction with them was obviously quite counterproductive. It should also be mentioned that one will inevitably encounter students in these courses who are not really serious about learning the language and are enrolled for other reasons (establishing residency in Germany for other academic reasons, or because they see it as an economical alternative to backpacking). This is of course more common in the introductory courses, and in the larger urban areas like Berlin and Munich. But the educational experience itself was excellent.

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