kaiyen: pepper

the life and times of Allan Chen

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Review: Professor Oliver Yu, OMIS, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

This is the third of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business . There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. But only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.

The facts

I took Professor Yu?s OMIS (operations management and?something) 355 course in Spring 2008.  The course is designed around computer-based decision-making, though we do not use computers at all.  Professor Yu wanted us to understand how various computer programs that helped in decision-making were designed, rather than just sitting down with those applications and not using our brains.  I thought this was a pretty good idea.  The class section I took met at 5:30, Tuesday and Thursdays.  The course had 2 midterms, a final, and a group homework assignments (roughly 1 per session).  We also had a lot of extra credit opportunities and the professor was clearly determined to help us through the course.

Two caveats:  First, I was worried that I would not fare as well in 355 with other professors, and had heard about Yu’s extra credit and desire to help us pass the course.  Also, he has changed his curriculum a bit and now (writing in Summer 2008) has students do homework individually.  I believe the overall content is still the same, though.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.


The Conundrum of Protected Left Turns

The SF Bay Area (which includes all the way down to San Jose, yes), is the land of protected left turns.  Everywhere you go, there is a left turn lane, and a signal just for that lane.  People get used to it.

There are two problems with this.  First, it’s not really ‘everywhere.”  There are a couple of intersections here and there that don’t have it.  One in particular, Oak Grove and Middlefield in Menlo Park, is surrounded by protected left signals but does not have one itself.  The result is that everyone presumes they can blast through when they see a yellow, but that is precisely when someone trying to make that unprotected left has to try and zoom through.  Not a good combination.  I’ve been on the wrong end of that a few times, though have escaped unscathed thus far.

The other problem is when a light didn’t used to be protected, they’ve made it so, and done the related multiple-lane changes required.  For instance, at Washington and Lafayette here in Santa Clara, heading east-west, there was an unprotected left, and two straight lanes in either direction.  So you have just the one light that went for east-west, and those turning left just fended for themselves.  It worked just fine, I almost never missed making a left, though sometimes I had to wait a bit and yes, I used the yellow sometimes.

In particular, since I cross there when walking to work, the timing was very good and I never waited for long.

Now, however, they have made the right most lane right-turn only, the other straight lane straight only, and provided a protected left.  People aren’t running into each other like the Oak Grove example, but it takes forever to cycle through all the lights now.  Now it’s southbound-protected, then northbound-protected (this was as before), then westbound protected, then eastbound protected.  I want to cross on eastbound protected.  And I have to wait for the people turning on the protected left to turn first, then it says I can cross.  I seriously waited for 4 minutes the other day, and that is a long time at an intersection if you actually sit and watch the time.  The link above actually shows the new version of the intersection, by the way.

Hiking: Almaden-Quicksilver Park, New Almaden Trail, Mockingbird Hill Entrance

Well, this took a bit longer than expected. My first “major” hike through Almaden-Quicksilver Park in San Jose (location of trailhead) was via the Mockingbird Hill Entrance, from which I took the New Almaden Trail. The park map is very useful and detailed.

My actual path was to head southeast along the New Almaden trail, then south onto the Buena Vista trail, bearing left onto one of the branches that eventually led to the Randol Trail, then the Hacienda Trail back to the trail head. Total of about 4 miles. Most of my hikes are about this long, at least partly because I stop so often to take photos that I take a long time to cover those 4 miles. Trunk Stripped Bare.

This is a nice hike. There is alternating shaded and brightly lit areas (for example), which makes for a nice combination of hot and cool, which means you can go most anytime of day. The trails are not very steep. I chose the New Almaden trail specifically because it’s a hiking-only trail – mixed use trails, in my opinion, tend to be a bit too soft, even on inclines and declines, making it harder on the legs than if there were at least some rocks upon which to really get some traction. Actually, on the way back, along the Hacienda trail, which is mixed-use, I had a hard time dealing with what felt almost like loose sand as the path material. Next time, I’ll go the other way on the trail, heading over to the Norton trail instead. It’ll be about the same distance.

The only weird part is the Buena Vista trail. It?s narrow, very rocky, and sufficiently undeveloped (and therefore unhiked) that it felt like I had taken a wrong turn. I actually went back to make sure. The tree limbs were literally coming right over my head and wrapping around the trail. Very strange. By comparison, going through the “Capehorn Pass” off of the Randol trail didn’t seem like much of a pass. Buena Vista felt like it was creating a whole new path.

I intend to take this trail combination again, except going to the Norton trail at the end. I liked it much, and it was nice not going to the main Hacienda entrance that is most popular for this park. The photo ops abound all along the way, even in the harsh, dry middle-of-the-summer time of year . So keep some film or memory space left up until the end.