FAQ: Friends Answer Questions (Episode I)

Monday, November 11, 2013 by Ji Su

Hey everyone, I hope the past two weeks for you have been going well. As for me, I’ve been thinking of ways to bring a greater variety of student experiences to this blog, other than those from just us five bloggers. So I asked five of my good friends to answer some questions that prospective students often ask. They’re all from different places and have different interests – they also appreciate different things about Mudd. As a result, I think that their responses paint a much more comprehensive picture of the Mudd culture than I myself can do on my own.

Without further ado, here’s Cody, Michelle, Amanda, Stephanie, and Arthur answering some frequently asked questions :)

Cody in Australia! He is doing research with Prof Bassman, who took her entire research team to Australia for the summer where she is working during her sabbatical.
Cody in Australia! He is doing research with Prof Bassman, who took her entire research team to Australia for the summer where she is working during her sabbatical.

Cody Crosby, junior engineering major
Hometown: Born in Mountain View, CA, lives in Los Altos, CA
Enjoys: backpacking (Cody is a proud Eagle Scout), golfing, aquariums

What surprised you most about Mudd?
The aspect of Harvey Mudd that surprised me the most was the complete lack of a competitive, grade-driven atmosphere. Here, very few of us know each other’s GPAs, and the class ranking is a complete unknown. From experience, we have learned that by helping one another with classwork or other assignments, we often learn the material that much better. As a matter of fact, we have a group of students (Academic Excellence), who donate their time to tutor in subjects that they have taken before. Coming from a competitive high school, this was a bit of a shock, but I have to say it’s definitely a more welcoming environment.

Which 5C resources do you take advantage of the most?
The history department at Pomona is amazing (my humanities concentration is history). I also use the Honnold Mudd Library often for my engineering research group – the library grants online access to a whole host of journal papers. Chaplain’s Office is also a great resource (I’m Catholic).

Michelle at her favorite place at Mudd – a small garden area next to Olin

Michelle Wei, junior engineering major
Hometown: Arcadia, CA
Enjoys: shopping, Snapchat, traveling/exploring, collecting stickers

Why did you choose Mudd?
I chose Mudd because it is close to my home and I heard Mudd students make a lot of bank. I like its tight knit community and its quirkiness. It’s also always nice to have more than 5 dining halls – got to have that variety. And I like the idea of being able to take classes from other colleges.

What’s the ‘quirkiest’ thing you’ve seen at Mudd?
Just last Friday, Dean Q decided to host an event called “Shred your fears” in order to enforce the fact that there are times when we simply need to let go of our fears or stress. He had students write their fears on to a sheet of paper and then asked them to shred their fears by “feeding” it to a gigantic blown up black cat with big eyes and paws. (They were actually destroyed by a paper shredder right underneath the blown up cat.)  He was also giving out really cute stress balls.

StressBalls

What surprised you most about Mudd?
I am always surprised at how friendly and social Mudd professors are beyond academics. It is often rare to see any type of casual interaction between professors and students at any other colleges, but here at Mudd, it is essentially a norm. The professors here act like students themselves; they love to joke; they love to chat; they love to learn. They are very easy to talk to.

Amanda at Fruizen, a dessert shop across the road from Mudd. Amanda and I spend too much money at this place.
Amanda at Fruizen, a dessert shop across the road from Mudd. Amanda and I spend too much money at this place.

Amanda Bennett, junior engineering major
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Enjoys: hunting, fishing, sewing, iced tea, country music & Big Bang

Why did you choose Mudd?
I wanted a good engineering school that was still small, so HMC seemed like a good choice.

What about the 5C (Claremont Colleges) Resources?
I enjoy the 5Cs because it adds diversity and eases your workload. I just like it because you get to escape from the Mudd bubble, whether that’s going to a different dining hall or a different class. And the landscaping is different for each campus so you actually feel like you’re in a different place.

Favorite class or professor?
I just think CS5 with Dodds was fantastic. It was a perfect match between the professor and the course.
(CS5 is the introductory computer science course that most freshmen take in their first semester at Mudd. It is taught in Python, which is a relatively readable computer science language. Prof Dodds is the professor who teaches the Gold section, which is the section for people with no prior experience in Computer Science).

Stephanie with Ginah Han '14 at an APISPAM event (Asian Pacific Islander Support Program at Mudd). They are two of three coordinating head sponsors APISPAM this year.
Stephanie (left) with Ginah Han ’14 (right) at an APISPAM event (Asian Pacific Islander Support Program at Mudd). They are two of three coordinating head sponsors of APISPAM this year.

Stephanie Kong, junior applied and materials chemistry major
Hometown: Shenyang, China
Enjoys: strawberries, GD from Big Bang, singing, shopping

What’s the best class you’ve taken so far at Mudd and why?
Physical chemistry and physical chemistry lab. Really comprehensive class and is well organized – it introduced so much useful material. One class pretty much covers everything or at least all the basic terms in two engineering classes – totally worth it. The lab really helps to establish connections or bonds between the faculty and chem majors because it takes so long, haha.

And your favorite professors?
Prof Karukstis and Prof Van Hecke. They have the coolest initials (chemistry majors often call Prof Karukstis K^3 since all three of her initials start with K, and Prof Van Hecke is usually referred to as, simply, VH). I also learned a lot from the classes they taught: Physical Chemistry and GQ&S (Group Theory, Quantum Chemistry, and Spectroscopy – see details here). Their one-problem final is amazing – one problem covers everything we learned throughout the entire semester. After the final, I felt like I just retook the whole class in four hours. Just amazing.

2013 Arthur Chang Bern-1
Arthur in Switzerland!

Arthur Chang, sophomore Joint Chemistry/Biology major
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
Enjoys: Snoopy, baseball, classical music, good Asian food

What surprised you most about Mudd?
Everything. Prior to orientation, I had never visited campus before. But one thing that stood out was how effective and influential the Honor Code is in both academics and student life. It’s one thing to read about it and hear about it, but it’s another thing to see it being upheld day in and day out.

Favorite class or professor?
CS 5 Gold, taught by Professor Dodds. There are classes that interest you, there are classes that make you want to learn more about the subject, and then there are classes that make you seriously reconsider your intended major. CS 5 was definitely course that put computer science on my radar: it changed my impression of computer science from being a tedious, time-consuming chore that requires staying up till 5 AM every day to being a powerful, creative skill applicable to virtually every field.

How much do you make use of 5C resources and for what?
Unfortunately I haven’t been using 5C resources as much as I’d like, but I’ve visited the Honnold-Mudd library more than a few times this semester to to do homework or take midterms. Also, the International Place of the Claremont Colleges offers tons of resources for international students like myself: from managing personal finances to immigration affairs, or from free food to just a space to have fun. They also host a separate orientation specifically for international students prior to the start of the school year.