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Tufts University: Karen Panetta - Electrical Engineering - Professor ratings, reviews and much more | JumboAccess
Karen Panetta | EE014 - Microprocessor Architecture and Applications| Electrical Engineering2005-12-10

First of all, you might notice that there are a number of positive reviews of Panetta praising her enthusiasm and care for students. These posts have a grain of truth. However, I must respectfully disagree with the overall picture of Professor Panetta's teaching capabilities.

Panetta is, quite simply, the worst professor I've been forced to deal with at Tufts. It's almost ridiculous how bad she is. First of all, she's pretty dumb, especially for an Engineering professor. She'll make subtle errors in her work on the board that you'll only notice when you're being quizzed on the material or have to do a homework on it.

For a concrete example, she told us in class that the ORG statement won't take up memory on the 68HC12 -- which is correct. Then, she asked a question on the quiz the next week involving this -- and most of the class got it right. When she went to the board to explain the problem, however, she had no clue what the right memory map of the assembled program should be. (If this doesn't make sense, it will if you have to put up with her for EE14). Another time that really pissed me off was when she apparently spent about 3-4 minutes hastily writing up a homework assignment that was based on an exercise we went over in class. When you looked at the exercise in the notes and the problem she assigned, you could tell that, not only did she not have any idea what exactly we'd gone over in class, but that she'd also made subtle mistakes in the exercise given in class. It's hard to learn stuff this way, and this sort of crap happens all the time, and it's simply unacceptable in a class as rigorous as EE14. To be a good Professor, you HAVE to be on top of the material you're teaching, PERIOD.

I don't think I'll ever get over my anger about the f***ing final project she assigned. Basically, her chief-annoying-TA, Cedric, made us code the game "Pong" on the 68HC12. Problem is, none of the TAs bothered to actually code the program themselves before assigning it to us (they used a slightly different microprocessor last year). A week or two before the thing was due, we get an email basically saying "Whoops.. didn't realize there's only 500 bytes of RAM to fit the whole program in". Instead of admitting their mistake, and either expanding the memory available, or significantly reducing the amount of features we had to code, they basically told us "Tough shit.. make your code super efficient to make it fit, and, since I'm so nice, I'll knock off one minor feature implementation". Everyone who coded the project now knows significantly more about assembly coding on the 68HC12 than any of the TAs (actually, there's one smart one out of four or five...) because we had to figure out so much on our own during the course of the project. I'm not sure where she got some of these TAs, but some were absolutely, completely useless. And, of course, while we were spending hours upon end in that despicable lab trying to make the program work, Panetta was nowhere to be found.

During all this, of course, Panetta would be going over the most inane crap in class. While we were spending hours upstairs in lab figuring out how to squeeze extra instructions into memory (one I'm fond of is using movw to write 16 bits into D instead of LDAA, STAA, LDAB, STAB .. and you can overwrite the D-BUG12 code at $0b1e for extra variable space) we would be going over the most mind-bogglingly stupid crap in class... memory maps, timing diagrams, and some other very simple stuff.

Basically, in my opinion, Panetta doesn't have the capability to teach first-grade, arithmetic, much less an undergraduate engineering course. I'm pretty sure the Deans don't give a shit what we write in the class reviews, so I thought I'd at least spread the word in public. Not that anyone who should care will, but it feels good to vent after a year (ES4 + EE14) of terrible instruction, hateful labs, unavailability for help, and a phony sense of care for students (She'll act nice to you if you're a total suck-up). My hope is that she'll actually read bad reviews like this herself and lose some of her hyper-inflated ego.

Labs SUCKED. The homework was hastily written up. E.g. "Do All the problems in chapter 8" . Or "Finish the program we went over in class (which, of course, would have errors) and make it better". She could be a total bitch about grading exams.. especially since she would make all sorts of errors on the board during class, but if we made any slight slip-up on an exam (like not labeling a wire whose function is obvious) it's automatic point deduction.

Overall, we learned some useful stuff, but only because of work we did on our own.

professor rating: | course rating: | major: Electrical Engineering

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