Carnegie Mellon, MISM

MISM – DMUU (Decision Management Under Uncertainty)

As a part of my monologue on what happened at my master’s program, today I am writing about a core subject that I took in 2011 Spring. It’s a 6 unit, 1/2 semester long course taught my a well-known professor, Roehrig. As we began this course, it took more than 2 weeks for us to understand what’s going on. At the outset, this course is very similar to Linear Programming concepts that we studied in our undergrad back in India. However, this one is a whole new ball game with MS Excel put in the mix.

I personally liked this course, the challenges it put forth in every assignment and the way concepts were explained in the textbook. Having just finished this course with my grades out today, I can tell you with vivid details that the textbook for this course is one of the best, which is why the professor announces everyone to buy one. Sadly though, it costs just about half your rent if you are sharing with someone here in Pittsburgh. I managed to study with the book I borrowed from Hunt.

The Good:

  • Makes students think like managers; studying requirements, understanding how to take decisions
  • Mastery in Excel to solve business problems is assured
  • Opens up a completely new face of Excel that we have never been exposed to, with Crystal Ball and Solver

The Bad:

  • As Professor Roehrig is well known to put in his favorite topics in Java such as genetic algorithms, he puts in some concepts on heuristics. These aren’t just for information. They come in finals!
  • Assignments are time consuming and sometimes puzzled. Be sure to read the questions in time so that you can at least run behind a TA to get some assistance

The Advice:

  • Watch out for blackboard discussion especially before the exams. These nerds put some pretty intriguing questions, I tell you! 🙂
  • Do the homework and be aware of all the concepts even if your partner does the other half. Technically, my partner did most of the work, so I shouldn’t even be advising this!
  • In finals, there will be a question from every topic (there are about 6-7 topics). Don’t spend much time on a question if you cannot solve it. Move on. We had a weird one on crystal ball that I left

Finally some ratings like those movie critics on rotten tomatoes! Here they are:

  • Time consuming: 4/5
  • Hard Assignments: 2.5/5
  • Course usefulness: 4.5/5
  • Teaching: 3.8/5

Here is an useful link that I found just 1 hour before the exam. Sadly, I couldn’t make much use of it. For those of us who do not own the textbook, we did not have the data CD that comes with it. This CD consisted of all the example Excelsheet documents that were very useful, especially for finals. These links have got most of those excelsheets:


Carnegie Mellon, Daily Log

Resuming my thoughts

Although I have never been a frequent blogger, I had almost stopped blogging for a few months. Looking back, these were the good months when I should have blogged more than ever. I moved from east to west, joined a college for masters degree, met tons of new people and had tons of “let me blog about this” moments in these few months. Nevertheless, here I am writing yet again. Before I jump on explaining the recipe of my life, a lot of interested streetwalkers ask me about my course, coursework, subjects and so on. So for those of you, who are looking for the same, I have decided to put review of my course right here in the nest few blog posts.

Carnegie Mellon

Day 40: June 19, 2010

What an eventful day! Oh my god. I woke up this morning at 7 minutes past 9 and I realized that I have my “Clay” class at 10. I rushed to my bus stop, as usual, and luckily got a bus just in time. Out 15 last week, only about 6 turned up to the class this week. We walked all around the Ceramic section in Carnegie Museum. Brendon, our instructor from last week, explained all the different show pieces and the processes to create each one of them. I must say, it was an interesting and a very insightful tour. Soon after this, we went back to our dungeon in the basement to work on our Clay creations.

As I walked near my table, for a minute I could not find my clay creation, “The Mask.” I thought that it must have blown up in the flame owen or something. But to my surprise, it was just right there, shrunk. I wondered, “Oh Cool! Now I have a mask for Robin, Sorry Batman.” Brendon gave us a brief introduction to different glazes lying there.

A glaze is paint for clay. There are 2 types of glazes, under glaze and over glaze. As the name suggests, under glazes can be painted over with another glaze. Over glaze has to be coated 2-3 times and they don’t have much gradient or exhaustive range of color choices as under glazes do. Hence I decided to paint my model with an under glaze as I had to get some fine gradient on my model. Once painted the clay model is heated to about 1800 degree Fahrenheit to get different surface finish that we desire. Although interesting, his brief description was too exhaustive, enough to confuse me for the day. Nevertheless, I decided to paint my model with 2 contrasting colors. After painting my choice of colors, I painted a layer of glaze (ceramic finish) to get a glass like surface on it. At half hour past noon, I was out of there contended with my work so far.

The next 3 hours went in relaxing and having my super powerful nap. I watched about 2-3 videos of Randy Pausch, a famous professor of Carnegie Mellon, before I slept. This wasn’t the first time I watched these videos and this certainly will not be the last. He inspires me every time I watch him speak of life, dreams and goals. It’s like a battery recharge for me, whenever I am distracted in my life.

At 5 I went to college to study and finish some of my assignments. Although I dint accomplish much, I realized that I haven’t studied anything at all. I started studying Financial Accounting until 1 and reached home to sleep. Carnegie Mellon has one of the best Escort Services which drops us home anytime during night with a frequency of half hour. Both Rocky and I were really happy to know this, as we can now study in the campus as much as we can.

With a combination of Art and Engineering, my day was pretty interesting and eventful. In a way, I achieved the combination that was dear to Randy. To sum up, I am happy to check this day as a success in my books J

Carnegie Mellon

Day 39: June 18, 2010

We have our exams coming up next week. We have Statistics, DBMS, Financial Accounting assignment submissions along with Financial Accounting, Organizational Management, Statistics project submissions. All these are apart from the actual exams of statistics and Financial Accounting on next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. All in all, we are expecting quite a showdown. I started this day with a Bread Upma and Fifa Worldcup 2010 match between Serbia and Germany. Although Serbians were outstanding, I wanted Germany to win. I guess it’s the usual bias towards underdogs as they were only 10 on the ground.

As I finished watching my first match, I rushed to the college as I was already late for my project meeting. I had a Skype conference call with the team in UPenn or elsewhere that I am not aware of. We discussed some important aspects of the project and we came to know some startling revelations about the project itself. Nevertheless, we were really excited to jump onto the project. Since I will be looking into client aspect of the project, it’s time for me to get back to XCode and start some iPhone programming. It has been a while. I have to start some serious PHP coding from next week as I want to implement a slick facebook application and a tool for my other project. But both these plans are long term ones in this short duration.

As of now, I need to finish all my assignments and study for my exams. I have spent the last 4-5 hours in this project room pretending to be studying, where in reality I was asleep for 2-3 hours. I was looking for a quiet place to study all this while in the campus and I have finally found one. I am not able to scribble my thoughts today fluently for some reason, I guess it has to do something with England drawing their yet another match in the worldcup ;). Mind you, I am not a fan of England, I just found another way to blame it on them.

As of now, I am off. I will discuss my life much better tomorrow. I hope.

Carnegie Mellon

Flashback: Day 34 – June 13, 2010 ** Bike Excursion

Background Song: Swallowed by the sea (Coldplay)

Last Sunday we spent our weekend finishing some of our assignments when Rocky found some available Cycles on Craigslist. We decided to buy one for each of us instantly and went after them. We got dressed up and went to “South Dallas St.” through a PAT bus. From there, we walked about a mile and a half to reach a park. We met Jamie somewhere there, who sold her bike to Rocky. It was a nice mountain bike with a crick sound in the handle. Once we bought our first kill, we planned to reach out to this other seller and get our second kill.

As we reached Murray at Hobart, I realized that I din’t have any money. I rode the bike all the way up to our house and picked up a $100 bill. I reached the destination in the next 15 minutes and we made an offer. The seller agreed and we had our second bike. Once we bought the bikes, we were so excited that we went cycling towards Schenley Park. We had no idea where we were going to but as we reached the Park and the golf course, we were dumbfounded. This park had one of the best sceneries I have even seen and it had one of the best cycling track as well. We cycled until that night taking pictures on our 2 MP mobile cameras.

== My Picasa Web Album of my first ever Pitts Cycling ==

Finally, at 7 it started raining cats and dogs during which we waited at a beautiful bus shelter at Wightman. Once the rain stopped, we cycled back home really tired and hungry. If you are guessing that we must have gotten in our kitchen hogging some food, you are wrong. We cycled back yet again to Starbucks to have a pair of Cookies each. We cycled back home this time to hog some food.


Just a fun cycling day that I am looking forward to after this mini

Carnegie Mellon

Day 38: June 17, 2010

Background: 21 Guns – Greenday (I wish I was special … J)

I wanted to write a blog-Journal entry everyday as it occurs but as you can see I haven’t gotten around achieving it. Yet! Anyways, I just wanted to mention that if I die this very minute I won’t be disappointed in me. This was one of the goals I set myself as I embarked upon this journey and so far, I must say, that I am very happy to be on the right track. I have taken up every course that I wanted to study; I am doing the projects that I love; I met very amazing people in my class, and all around me, some of whom I wish to see leading the best organizations in the world in future.

I had an Organizational Management class today. This is the second last class as I am about to finish my first mini next week. This is what I have to say about this class. I have told most / some of you that I have been draining most of my loans and my parents’ money to come to Carnegie Mellon. I am spending a fortune even by US / Dollars standards, let alone by Rupee standards. But, I must say that this class is worth every penny/ paise that I have spent so far. This is one of the classes that’s superior enough to be held anywhere in the world from Harvard to Princeton, places where my Adjunct Professor, David Lassman has graduated from.

If you are one of the prospective students of MISM, Carnegie Mellon, reading this, I suggest you to take this course (although you won’t have a choice as this is a mandatory course). If you do take, make sure that it’s Prof. David Lassman’s class because you won’t find a better professor than him.

My case study for today’s class was about the one he has written himself from his past experience at E-L Products. You can obtain the case by Googling yourself. It was a case with an open ended question which we analyzed in the class. We got to be in his shoes for those 2.5 hours and study the business from his point of view. We got to be the Operations Manager that he was and understand the decisions that he took and why he took those decisions right from the person himself. Some of the key lessons / words of wisdom that he shared with us that will truly go a long way for everyone were so inspiring that I decided to blog about it this night (1:30 AM) before I sleep so that I don’t use any fillers later as I forget the original content with every passing hour.

  1. Don’t do business with close relatives. It is one acceptable thing to develop a friendship / relationship with a person you met through a business perspective but do not fall into the pits of involving yourself into a business with someone who you are closely related with. You are likely to spoil your personal relationship with that person and as he appropriately said, that would be a “shame”.
  2. Geography matters, just like cultures in companies do.
  3. Have a mentor as early as you can in your life. Someone who you can talk to without hesitation. Someone who is intelligent enough to give you her/his words of wisdom. In Lassman’s words, “someone to whom you can bounce your ideas back and forth.”
  4. Best way to learn anything is to learn things from other people. You will be choosing the best of everyone else’s life.
  5. It takes time to learn things. Nothing happens instantly.
  6. Successful People: The happiest people are the ones who are “Open” to learn from others and who are always willing/trying to learn new things.
  7. Failed People: The ones who think that they control their lives themselves. “Luck doesn’t matter, I control everything.” They live for tomorrow, not today.
  8. Physical fitness is important to be young. Youth isn’t related to age as much as it is related to one’s thoughts.
  9. One of the important jobs of a leader is to Manage By Walking Around. E-mails from cubicles isn’t as effective as you think it would be.
  10. As a leader, you need to ask the right people, the right questions. Pointed questions to pick the right knowledge from their brain is important for a leader

4 weeks back I was wondering what US is, what Org Management is and now, I have come to miss that class. One of the lessons of life is that we need to learn to let things go. By letting this mini course go, we have learnt that as well.