I took Astro 3 with Professor Fitzgerald and enjoyed it. The class overall is mostly memorizing powerpoint slides for the tests. The class is broken up into 10% weekly reading quizzes (easy) 10%, Labs (tedious but easy) 20%, Midterm 1/Midterm 2 (Multiple choice and easy) 20% each, and a Final (Multiple choice and easy) 30%. I ended up with 92% on quizzes/labs, a 46/50 on Midterm 1, a 41/50 on Midterm 2, and a 101/110 on the Final and finished with an A+. I would recommend the class.
Fitz is way too busy on his other stuff. He did not grade hw and the midterm take him 4 week to grade. He will post all hw solution 1 day before the midterm and final, so you are on your own. The hw takes 10 hours to do and he never give example in class, he just lecture theory and prove. If you think you know the material, you can take him.
Professor Fitz likes to play football, but he is too lazy and busy to go to football field so he decides to tell his students to play football in the classroom. His students never has a chance to watch a football game before they are going to play with USC team. What is the probability that UCLA team can win USC team given that they take professor Fitz's class (Fitz graduated from USC)?
BEST CLASS EVER
He is really a nice guy and very helpful in understanding the fundamentals of communications. In fact, i would say he's been the best EE prof that i've had.
I'll tell you a lot of people will disagree with me as I've heard a bunch of complaints about him.
(A lot of people dropped halfway through the class)
The homeworks were rather challenging, whereas the tests are a joke if you understand the fundamental concepts. (but is'nt that better than the other way around?)
The course is far from a memorization course as other people had commented on. If you do the homework and understand the concepts there is very little memorization. One only has to "memorize" a couple of formulas, all of which we "learned" in EE102 and a few more that you will learn in EE132A (those are the formulas which you are expected to know, but it is not unfair- i.e. it's comparable to graduating from a circuit course without knowing ohm's law)
Also, although there are some typos in the reader. If you follow the lectures and work through the examples meticulously, you will able to spot them out with no problem.
Here's my take on the course:
TAKE HIM if you care about learning the fundamentals of communications and you are willing to put in some time and effort
DONT TAKE HIM if you're not willing to put in some effort
As other people pointed out, Fitz did try his best to teach his course. However, the numerous typos of his reader made the materials very hard to understand, and that's what make him getting such a low rating.
Throughout the whole quarter, I think there were at least 50 typos we've pointed out in his reader, not including those we've not discovered or didn't bother to tell him. Besides the typos, he sometimes used subscripts, superscripts or notations without defining them, and we've to guess what those notation actually meaned. I guess lots of people willa agree with me for the chapter on Ungerboech algorithm of stream modulation in frequecy selective channel.
So how should he solve this problem? I think that he should use a textbook instead of his reader before it is ACTUALLY ready. Sometimes I feel that the reason he's using his reader is that he wants the students to find the typos for him so that he doesn't have to find other people to correct them.
He does have some good points though. First, he checks emails very frequently. But I guess he's to do so, otherwise his mailbox'll be filled up with emails about his typos. Besides, he speaks clearly and loudly in class.
As a conclusion, if he's the one who's teaching EE230B, you still should take him, since the materials of EE230B is very important for a Telecomm student. However, do prepare for all the typos in his reader. I guess the situations will be better next year as we've discovered lots of them already.
I'd like to say that MPF tried his best to teach us 132a. But I think I understand him when he meant that he didn't want us to memorize formulas and just grasp the concept. I took that seriously and 132a became very easy. I even got 121/130 on the midterm, which was also very straightforward.
The problem with his homework is that he doesn't go over any sort of problem in class, even if it's remotely related to homework. I think that once he goes over the method, the homeworks become super easy. I guess they're just badly worded. Sometimes, you may go on deriving formulas when he only asks you one liners. It can be annoying, but I think he tried his best.
He should be less serious also. I think it was great hearing him give jokes once in a while. He is nice during office hours also.
If you want rigorous mathematical foundation for communications, go take Wesel. But if you're more of a concepts guy, I guess I'd somewhat recommend Fitz.
His notes and "book" are full of typos and errors. When the class complained he a) suggests we correct his mistakes for him b)makes fun of us. His homework is very difficult and time consuming. He does not allow cheat sheets on the tests, he says he wants us to understand conceps, not memorize formulas. But the only way to get a good grade on the tests is to memorize about 40 formulas. The week before the final I saw people in the library with FLASHCARDS memorizing fomulas. This doesn't lead to understanding, but their method leads to a good grade. He is very defensive about his class and method, he cradles his "book" to his chest as he lectures. I say "book" because it's a paperback bound collection of notes. The formula to text ratio is very high.
Bad Things About his class:
- He uses his notes, which are not finished and are full of typos and we have to be his debuggers. That is really hard when you are trying to learn something for the first time. You never know if you don't understand the notes or if there's some typo. His excuse is : Go and read Proakis !! Proakis is uses a complete different notation and organizes everything differently, so the mapping is sometimes difficult.
- Homeworks: Very long , also with typos so they day before they are due , you may learn that the problem you have to solve is actually different than what you already solved. I think that the only problems that we actually learned from are the practical ones with some numbers in them , and not the proofs and more abstract problems that take whole weekends to solve.
- He has a very bad temper that he should learn to control it in front of a class. He sometimes makes fun of students in class, but then he can't accept anything from the students. This happened in the two classes I took with him. I understand that he may get frustrated because of all our questions, but if he had better notes and he didn't make so many mistakes on the board, than our questions would be of a different kind.
- GOOD Things: ( There are many. He's a good guy and sometimes it's easier to notice the things you don't like , rather than the ones you do )
-He appears to be a good researcher, he knows what's hot and what's not in communications, so the thing he teaches you while surely be useful once you go to work.
His projects are interesting and you learn from doing them. I'm sure that once he solves the issue with his class notes ( and he's perhaps ready to publish them ) students will be able to learn much more from him.
The second half of the course, was much better than the 1st half. So don't be dissapointed by the 1st half, things will become clearer after a few weeks.