Anonymous said: what's the engineering c++/matlab course like?

Dear Anon,

I loved it. I’m also studying computer engineering so it kind of just makes sense that I loved the programming class. I have another friend though that was interested in the bio-chem field and she loved it too. The reason is that although the class is programming, it’s more about thinking. It’s about being given a problem and working towards the solution. It’s a very engineering oriented class. Using your brain to creatively design a solution is nothing like getting the answer in physics or calculus class… that’s why I used the word “creative.” (Disclaimer: Obviously there’s creativity in physics and calculus as well, just not typically at the freshman level.) So what’s the class like? It’s awesome.

-Ben Brady

Anonymous said: What other schools did you turn down for neu?

Hey Anon,

I’m going to spin this question a little bit. I looked at a lot of other schools but when it came down to crunch time for a decision the two other schools that I was most interested in were Rochester Institute of Technology and Case Western Reserve University. Both are great institutions but I decided they weren’t for me. They had the academic programs I was looking for as well as strong co-op opportunities. The reason I chose to attend Northeastern and not those schools was because I felt really at home on the Northeastern campus. It’s just a gut feeling in the end sometimes.

-Ben Brady

The Doctor is Back and So Am I

I apologize for not being very active for the past few months. Good news though: I’m back on campus and ready to get the ball rolling again. First things first: I’m going to be answering those message y’all have been so nice to send me. 

If you’re new to campus and looking for some helpful advice about all things Northeastern, hit me up.

-Ben Brady

happyhealthydaysss said: Hi Benjamin! It's me again.. You wrote a superlong post a while ago answering my questions and I appreciate that! I was wondering about the meal plans.. Would you suggest a 10 or 15-meal plan? I know it's about preference and such, but did you get a 15-meal plan your freshman year and was it ok?

Dear Happy and Healthy,

I got the 15 meal plan and that’s one I would make a general recommendation for unless you’re a pro at making your meals with a microwave and that’s what you want to do. 15 meals is still 6 shy from the typical (for me at least) 21 a week and making up those 6 meals wasn’t too hard, but it took effort. I can’t really imagine trying to find 11 more meals a week without a kitchen and without a budget. So you’re right, it’s down to preference, but if you’re looking for my opinion; I really liked the 15.

I hope your summer is going spectacularly!


For You Northeastern Engineering Freshman

  1. Mac vs. PC: It doesn’t matter. Either one is 100% acceptable. I’m really biased so I’ll just leave it at that.
  2. We have at least 10 3D printers for you to use. Use them. Be awesome.
  3. The First Year Engineering Learning Center (FYELC) is a beautiful place to go when the stress kicks in. 
  4. Don’t Cheat.
  5. Collaborate.
  6. I promise the stuff you learn in Eng. Design is useful, even if you’re just an intern at an engineering company. (I’m speaking with experience.)
  7. Research is there for you. Seriously. If you really want it, go get it. The best first stop is your professors.
  8. Don’t be afraid to commit to something for next summer. Summer classes, Dialogues of Civilizations, or Summer Research (REU) opportunities are abound but you need to be proactive. Ask your Intro to Engineering professor for some information if you’re interested.
  9. I recommend breaking the engineering stereotype and explore the other fun and exciting things college has to offer.
  10. Don’t Panic. Because there’s really just no need.

Anonymous said: can you take notes on a tablet in the college of engineering or are those kinds of devices prohibited from class?

Hey Anon,

It can depend on the professor and the nature of the class. For example, in my science classes, the professors didn’t care how students took their notes. In my art class, my professor encouraged tablets/laptops because we could then pull up the slides of the art right on our own devices. My math professors were very against any electronics in class. If you’re thinking about buying a tablet for college, it’s really not necessary in my opinion. If you already have one, I say go for it. The professor isn’t going to take it, give it the principal, and put you in detention. They’ll just not say anything or ask you to put it away and that’s that.

Anonymous said: do you think it will be necessary to buy a laptop lock? is theft prevalent on campus?

Hey Anon!

Answer to the first question: No. Mostly because you’ll either have your laptop with you or in your very secure room. You’re more likely to lose your laptop than have it stolen from one of those places.

Answer to the second question: It’s not quite as simple. In residence halls and school buildings and such I would be comfortable saying theft is negligible. I don’t worry about leaving my backpack by my chair in the dining halls. On the other hand, our campus is very much within a city and that does mean we students have to be cautious. When you go out, it’s important to keep track of your valuables. As long as you stay smart though, you’ll be just fine.

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

For You Northeastern Freshman

I wrote down some tips I figured might be helpful for college freshman in general before, now it’s time for some Northeastern specifics.

1. Rebecca’s. It’s the best place to use your meal swipes hands down. It usually takes freshman a few weeks to even know it exists so you’re welcome for letting you in on the secret now. Disclaimer: It WILL be packed around 11:30 and 1:30 when class is in session.

2. Get your Charlie Card during Welcome Week. Boston’s subway/underground is called the T and rides are $2.50. OR you can get a FREE little plastic card (the Charlie Card) you can load money onto that you use exclusively for T rides. It has the nice benefit of keeping your T funds in one place…and oh yeah, it knocks .50 off every ride. The trick is they don’t have them at any of the Northeastern T stops (there are 4) so you have to make the trip to get one.

3. Get to know campus with a buddy. During Welcome Week (seriously guys, such a useful time) walk around and try and find all of your class buildings. Maybe do it with someone in your major so you’re looking for the same buildings, or perhaps an entirely different one so you can check out all of campus. A few building are hidden away a bit, so don’t be afraid to ask someone for directions!

4. Check out our a Cappella scene because we’re awesome. When does Pitch Perfect 2 come out again? Doesn’t matter, we’ve got our own version.

5. Go to Mike’s Pastry once. After that, Modern Pastry Shop is just as good and there’s not a ridiculous line. Trust me, this is important.

6. The Prudential Center is your new shopping mall (and visual guide to getting home at 2am) go check that too!

7. With your meal plan you get X amount of Dining Dollars too. These can be used at certain food locals on and off campus. More importantly, they can be used at Shaws, the grocery store over at The Pru (the place I just mentioned.) It’s a limited amount of funds, so if you don’t mind a bit of a walk, Shaws might be your best choice for wise spending (as opposed to Popeye’s or Taco Bell.)

8. While we’re on the topic of food, I can’t forget Outtakes. It’s a little store by the Stetson West dining hall you can use your meal swipe at for things like chips and pop. It’s an easy way to turn a meal swipe into some snacks for the room. 

9. Yes, I called it “pop” (you may refer to it as “soda”). Chances are that within a few days of arriving on campus, someone is going to point out that you said something a way they found weird. Don’t be offended, be excited! It’s cool to discover what different parts of the world…or country…or state call things. Here’s some vernacular that threw me for a loop upon arriving at Northeastern: A bubbler- A drinking fountain. A trolley- A shopping cart. On line- In line.” An elastic- A hairband. Also, you might not think you have an accent… but you do.

10. Get involved! Even if you’re not sure what kind of clubs or groups you want to join, there are always events going on that you can participate in. As long as you’re open, you’ll find where you belong. Shameless plug- go to everything RSA related because we’re the coolest. 

I’ll probably keep making posts like this as my brain keeps thinking of more helpful hints. Help me know what types of tips you’re looking for by asking my questions!

See you in the Fall!

Benjamin P. Brady

P.S. Do me a favor? When you get to your orientation, find the Orientation Leader named Justin Hewitt and tell him you want to be a part of #SomethingAboutWaffles. Then deny knowing me. Thanks :)

Anonymous said: do you know if the syllabus for general freshman engineering classes stays the same over the years? i'm starting to look at textbooks and was wondering if they changed for you or not. thanks!

Dear Anon,

Yes and no. The basic classes for Freshman Engineering don’t change drastically from year to year. Most every engineering freshman takes 2 Gen. Eng. classes, 2 Calculus, and 2 Science classes. Then add your Arts + Humanities class, Writing, and any Honors related courses if you have them. That’s the first two semesters in a basic nutshell. It really varies from freshman to freshman based on what classes they skip. It’s very easy to have two engineering freshman have entirely different schedules. 

That being said, the individual classes themselves also don’t change. Now that being said, the books do. Here’s the trick, colleges everywhere like having up-to-date books and the book writers create new editions every year or so that are barely different than the old version, but different… 

If you can find last year’s copy for a lot less than this year’s, you’d probably be just fine. The pages might not line up, but you can always reference someone else’s book to figure it out. Now, I do warn that older copies may have different questions in them. So any class that involves answering book questions, you might be out of luck. Fortunately, you’re in luck, because the Northeastern Library (open 24/7 all year) has a copy of every class’s textbook. You can use your cheap copy to study and the free library copy to do weekly assignments! 

Honestly and truly, it’s a total guessing game where the best solution is also the most expensive. Lots of students don’t buy textbooks until a couple weeks in so they know what they need, others buy early to avoid the potential shortages. When it comes to books, my best suggestion is to buy what the list says your first semester (and rent when possible), and then develop your own strategy after that. 

Best of luck to you and have a great summer!

Anonymous said: hi! i'm an incoming freshman in the COE and i just got back from orientation yesterday. i am currently trying to decide if i should retake calc 1 & physics 1. i felt that i did well in ap calc at my high school, but some people are recommending that i retake it just to get a really solid foundation in calc because i'm in engineering. in physics, looking over the syllabus i feel that i know them all at least adequately, and i'm afraid i'll regret retaking it just for slight reinforcement. advice?

Dear Anon,

It’s really up to you. Putting it simply, are you willing to handle the extra challenge of progressing to the next level classes to create more room in your schedule. 

With the newly revised curriculum for Engineering, I would say you don’t need to worry about creating more room in your schedule unless you are pursuing multiple Minors, two Majors, or you’re doing the 4 year program. Even in those cases, you should still have a few electives to keep you satisfied. (You’ll soon discover there’s about 34871935 different curriculum tracks, so I apologize for not having specifics.)

I was in a similar position one year ago but decided to take the entry level classes. I certainly don’t regret the decision (especially during Calc 2), but perhaps I would have been fine starting at a higher level. At the very least, my foundational understanding was strengthened and a few A’s added to my average didn’t hurt.

So I’ll reiterate, if you’re questioning it, you’ll probably do fine in the higher classes with perhaps more effort than the other freshman in the base classes. If that extra effort won’t drag you down, the benefit of extra space in your schedule can open up a lot of opportunity.

In the end though, it’s your decision and your college career. You are the only person whose opinion matters here.

Hope that helps and have a good summer!