IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin

I thought Calculus III was the last math paper that I will need to take but as I soon realized, ASU requires me to take a couple more math papers. Enter IEE 380, probability and statistics for engineering. I had no flipping ideas as to what I am about to learn in this course nor do I have much interest in the topic of statistics.

But after completing this course, I kinda like statistics.

At a glance


The first thing to realize about this course is that it’s a 300 level Engineering course and while it is mainly an Industrial Engineering course, most of the students in this course are actually Computer Science and Computer Engineering majors because it is a required course in the major map. At first, I didn’t understand why statistics is even required for a CS degree but after completing the course,  I think I know why.

The same reason why Calculus and sciences are required for a CS degree is the same reason why Statistics is required for a CS degree. The reason being that these courses train our ability to critically think, something that is very important in solving complex computer problems. But in the case of this course (IEE 380),  I personally think it is more useful than calculus because the hypothesis tests taught in this course does have (useful) real world applications.

I still remember that one of the the first things that Prof Chattin noted about this course is that nearly half of the class will retake this course. That did scare me a little as I was taking 18 credits this semester but it also provided me with some motivation to do good in the course.

Speaking of doing good, one of the most important tools in this course is the Graphing Calculator. I always thought that graphers were only used for derivatives and integration but as it turns out, there is actually a lot of statistical formulas in the calculator too. So, get yourself acquainted with the graphing calculator. You’re gonna need to use it more than you did in Calculus III

While the calculator is indefinitely essential in doing the homework and exams, using the calculator is just part of the challenge. The most challenging part of this course is understanding the language of the problem and choosing the right formula to use. It gets more and more confusing over time as more formulas are introduced so, my advice for you is to practice as much as you can and try to understand how and why you use that formula rather than just memorizing the solution to that answer.

As this is a tough class by nature. There is a lot of help being offered outside of class. My advice, take advantage of the tutoring center and also try to visit Professor Chattin every now and then to clarify on anything that you are unsure of because everything seemingly builds up on each other. Before the first exam, I thought I could handle everything on my own but the exam proved me wrong. Didn’t get too well and given that there is only two exams throughout the semester (minus the final exam), getting a bad grade in one exam is not a good thing.

After that, I started taking advantage of the TA office hours. I tried going to the Graduate TA office hours first because it was closer to where I stayed but I soon realized that these graduate students have their unique way of explaining things. 2 hours to explain 3 homework problems to me. It was a slow and sometimes confusing process because the guy ended up giving me a backstory of why the problem uses this formula. So, if you are short on time or just want a straight-to-the-point explanation, just visit the tutors in the tutoring center or Professor Chattin.

But seriously, Professor Chattin is a very nice person in her office. Totally different from what she is in class.

After doing badly in the first exam, I spent most of my free time in the Tutoring center to understand the problems and to prepare myself for the second exam. And if you read my previous post, that didn’t end too well. Worked so hard for that second exam and ended up getting even worse(er) results. I felt completely devastated after that exam. Even without knowing the results of that exam, I knew I was doomed. During the second exam, my mind was like “I am totally going to fail this course“. I even started looking for the class times during the Fall to see how I can fit it to my schedule.

But thankfully, I didn’t fail the course. Honestly, after the second exam, everything started to become a little bit easier. That’s a good thing because that gave me the opportunity to work on assignments and papers for my other classes.

The last big thing before the final exam is the team project. The teams are randomly selected and we were tasked to design an experiment that uses the concepts learnt in the class. For me, the project is fairly simple and the hardest part is to actually collect the data and collaborate with my team members which I have never met before.

What I didn’t like

If your class is at Murdock Lecture Hall, I wish you all the luck. Prepare to face your doom during the exam. Especially if you are a lefty like me. The tables are so small and once you put the calculator and exam sheet on the table, you barely have enough space for your hand. It was tough to take the exam in that lecture hall.

Another thing that I don’t quite like is the WileyPlus system that this class is using for the homework and optional readings. The problem with the website is that the text is formatted like wikipedia. That means that the text flows from one end to another. It gets a little annoying especially when you attempt to read the textbook. Another thing about WileyPlus is that it times out the page script quite oftenly. So, don’t wander off to check out Facebook while doing the homework.

Is this course hard?

By nature, this course is hard mainly because majority of the material being taught in class is fairly new. You might have learnt about the normal distribution table or the method to calculate the probability in high school but this course takes it more in depth with additional concepts.

But with the right mindset and ample amount of practice, anyone can do it. Personally, I’m not very good in math myself but I managed to get a B out of this course. But seriously, like every math course, practising problems is key in understanding the material. Just work through the homework problems a couple of times and you should be set.

In terms of the work load towards the semester, I would graph it like the normal distribution graph. Meaning that around the middle of the semester is where you will need to spend the bulk of the time because that is when the hypothesis tests are introduced and the concept of the p-value and alternative hypothesis will take some understanding.

Don’t worry if you screwed up an exam, I screwed up and I still got a decent in this course.


I would say that this course exceeded my expectations. Initially, I had my doubts about the use of this course but it turned out to be pretty meaningful. Professor Chattin knows what she is teaching because she has been doing it for years. Definitely choose to take her IEE 380 class if you have the choice and I’m sure you will enjoy it eventually. Here are a couple of useful tips for you based on my experience:

  1. Pay attention to the lectures (it’ll be useful in the exam)
  2. Visit Professor Chattin during her office hours
  3. NEVER try to cheat in an exam (just don’t do it)
  4. Make sure you calculator has enough battery
  5. Complete the homework in advance

Insider talk

My course reviews for Spring 2016

  • FSE 100 with Professor Yinong Chen — An introductory engineering course that revolves around projects. Read this review
  • ENG 101 with Professor Ivan Wolfe — The first of two fresman level english courses that is required by ASU. Read this review
  • PHI 101 with Professor Douglas Portmore —  This is my first time learning about philosophy, it’s quite an interesting course I would say. Read this review
  • HST 109 with Professor Jonathan Barth — American history from the start till the end of the civil war. Read this review
  • CSE 120 with Professor Martin Reisslein — The basics of digital logic with both theoretical and practical work. Read this review
  • IEE 380 with Professor Linda Chattin — More statistical formulas and concepts than you can imagine. Read this review

I would  value your feedback on things that I may have missed in my review(s) and I would gladly update the review to include that information provided that your request is not too much in the future that I forget about the deep details about my experience in that course. Just hit me a comment below and I’ll gladly answer your question.



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