EECS16A, Designing Information Devices and Systems I
All information regarding policies for the course are on this page as well as on Ed posts. We also have 3 special emails for various purposes. Where applicable, please use these emails so that all relevant course staff can view the message. Note that we prefer for technical or content questions to go on Ed and private/personal questions via email! Please make sure you have consulted this entire policies page before contacting course staff.
- eecs16a.homework@: for any homework-related questions or concerns
- eecs16a.lab@: for any lab-related questions or concerns
- eecs16a@: for anything else (including exam-related/administrative questions or concerns)
Please add berkeley.edu to the end of all emails!
Our objective is to help you become the best engineer you can be, and grades are not everything. The various components of the class -- homework, labs and exams -- are designed explicitly with this in mind. Every challenge is a growth opportunity. You will have the opportunity to gain points in the course through completing your homework and attending labs as well as through the exams. We will periodically update Status Check with your grades throughout the semester so you can keep track of your grades in the course and identify any grading issues.
This course is not graded on a curve. We will set absolute thresholds for performance that will map to grade boundaries. We encourage you to discuss the course material with each other and teach each other new ideas and concepts that you learn. Here is the breakdown for grading for this class:
|Category||Points (out of 300)|
|Midterm 1||55 points|
|Midterm 2||55 points|
Notice that you can get many points by being regular with your homework and the labs. Our goal is to help you learn the material as best as possible!
This course is not curved. As set by the university, you need a C- or better to pass the class if you take the class PNP and a D- or better to pass if you take the course for a letter grade (though please check for policies specific to your major). We define the following grading scale (in percentages):
Exam Clobber Policy
This course spans a fairly broad set of ideas and concepts within a short period of time, and hence sustained and consistent effort and investment are critical to your success in this class.
To give students a ‘second chance’, we will provide the opportunity to clobber a midterm to students who complete an optional midterm redo. If you do not complete the midterm redo, you will not qualify for the clobber.
For each midterm, if you complete the midterm redo, we will replace your corresponding midterm score with your scaled final exam score if it would help your grade (this is a "full clobber" of your midterm score with your final score). You are able to clobber both midterms with your final exam score if you complete both midterm redo assignments. We will use the following formula:
clobbered midterm score = max(original midterm score, scaled score on final exam)
For example, if you score 50% on the first midterm (0.5*55 = 27.5 points) and 80% on the final, then you midterm 1 score will be instead set to 0.8*55 = 44 points (as opposed to getting a 27.5).
Homework (HW) Party and Office Hours (OH)
Homework parties are your chance to meet and interact with other students, while also having the chance to get help from GSIs, tutors, and faculty. We expect students to treat each other with respect during homework parties as well as during all other parts of the class, including interactions on Ed, discussion, and office hours. Remember that each of you is coming into a class with different experiences and backgrounds -- use this as an opportunity to learn from one another.
HW party will be held each Friday from 9-11 AM in Wozniak Lounge (430-438 Soda Hall). Attending homework party is highly encouraged and is a great way to find a study group! Students are expected to help each other out and collaborate.
Office Hours will be held almost every day, as annotated on the course Google calendar. You can come to office hours with your study groups, or by yourself -- there will be one or more TAs there to help you work through the concepts or the homework! All office hours will be held in-person in Cory 144MA. During office hours, please put yourself on the wait queue available here oh.eecs16a.org (some TAs may not be using this wait queue if there are not many students present in OH, check in with the TA).
All homework parties and office hours will be held in-person, unless otherwise specified on Ed.
Homework and Self-Grade Submission
To receive any credit for homework, you must follow all of the below steps.
- Do the homework.
- Submit the homework by Friday night at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. You need to turn in a .pdf file consisting of your written-up solutions that also includes an attached pdf "printout" of your .ipynb code on Gradescope. In addition, Gradescope has an option to associate pages of your work to each homework problem. You must select the relevant pages for every problem. Any homework submissions that are turned in without the code “printout” (or screenshot) attached will receive a zero on the coded ipython notebook portions of the homework. Any problems without pages selected will receive zero credit. If you have any questions about the format of a homework submission, please go to office hours or homework party. We will provide HW accommodations for students who have letters of accommodations from DSP services indicating extensions on homework assignments.
- Slip Day Policy + Late Submissions. Students in 16A will have 6 slip days they can use across the entire semester (3 slip days for EECS47D students). Slip days allow you to submit your homework past the Friday deadline on either Saturday by 11:59 PM PT (using 1 slip day) or on Sunday by 11:59 PM PT (using 2 slip days). Note that you may you at most 2 slip days for any homework assignment. You do not need to inform us that you are using your slip days as we will keep track of this internally based on when you submit on Gradescope. We have this slip day policy to account for situations out of your control that prevent you from submitting the homework on time. If you use slip days your assignment will be marked as late on Gradescope, but your grade will not be penalized for using slip days, nor will you benefit from keeping slip days at the end of the semester. Please budget slip days accordingly as no additional slip days will be provided. In no cases will we accept late homework beyond Sunday (beyond 2 slip days) for any reason. If you run out of slip days, please submit what you have completed by Friday night as we will not be able to consider homework submitted late once you run out of slip days. Note that we have homework drops available if you are unable to submit an assignment due to extenuating circumstances (see further below).
- Read the solutions. Official solutions will be released the following Monday morning.
- Do the self-grade. Grade your submitted work accordingly for every part of every problem in the
homework on a simple coarse scale as described in the table below. Enter your self-grades into the posted
self-grade form for that homework, which will generate a .txt file, and upload that .txt file to the
appropriate self-grade assignment on Gradescope.
Score Reason 0 Didn't attempt or very wrong 2 Got started and made some progress, but went off in the wrong direction or with no clear direction 5 Right direction and got half-way there 8 Mostly right but a minor thing missing or wrong 10 100% correct
Note: You must justify self-grades of 2, 5 or 8 with a comment. Grades of 0 and 10 do not need to be justified (you can just write "Incorrect" or "Correct"). If you are really confused about how to grade a particular problem, you should post on Ed. This is not supposed to be a stressful process.
Just like we encourage you to use a study group for doing your homework, we strongly encourage you to have others help you in grading your assignments while you help grade theirs.
- Submit the self-grade by the Friday night following the homework deadline at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. (For example: Homework 0 is due on Friday 1/20 at 11:59 PM. The following Friday, 1/27, at 11:59 PM, your Homework 0 self-grades will be due.) We will accept late self-grades up to a week after the original self-grade deadline for 75% credit on the associated homework assignment. If you don't enter a proper self-grade after one week, you are giving yourself a zero on that assignment.
In summary, you must do the homework, turn the homework in on time (using at most 2 slip days), read the solutions, do the self-grade, and turn the self-grades in on time. Unless all of these steps are done, you will get a zero for that assignment.
Course readers are going to be grading and sending you occasional comments. Your own scores will be used in computing your final homework grade for the course, adjusted by taking into account reader scores so that everyone is fairly graded effectively on the same scale. For example, if we notice that you tend to give yourself 5s on questions where readers looking at your homeworks tend to give you 8s, we will apply an upward correction to adjust (and if you consistently inflate your self grade scores we will apply a downward correction to your scores). This correction factor, called the reader adjustment factor, will be visible to you throughout the semester on Status Check. Any consistent discrepancy between your self-assigned grades and the reader grades will be flagged and checked for academic dishonesty, so please grade yourself appropriately without attempting to inflate your grades.
Reader grades will be released on Gradescope about one week after the homework deadline. Readers grade questions either on a “coarse” or “fine” scale for each homework part. Coarsely graded question parts are graded based on effort. Finely graded question parts are worth a total of 10 points and are graded using the same self-grading rubric above. Homework regrade requests are typically due on Gradescope within 72 hours of reader grades being released. If a regrade request is submitted for a part of a question on the homework, the grader reserves the right to regrade the entire homework and could potentially take points off.
Homework Effort Policy
Because the point of homework in this class is again to help you learn, not to punish you for making small mistakes, if your final score (after applying any corrections due to the reader adjustment factor) on any homework is above 8/10, your grade will automatically be bumped up to 100% (10/10). If your final score is less than 8/10, it will be scaled accordingly. For example 6/10 will result in 75% (7.5/10).
The following formula summarizes how homework scores are calculated:
We will automatically drop your lowest two homework scores (only 1 homework drop for EECS47D students) from your final grade calculation. These drop are meant for emergencies in which you are not able to submit a homework. If you have already used both of your homework drops we will not be able to provide any further drops for any reason.
Participation in Discussion
Discussion is a key component to learning the material in this class. Every week, discussion will be held on Monday and Wednesday. Different material will be covered on Monday and Wednesday, so you are encouraged to attend on both days. You may choose to attend any discussion section on a given day, and are encouraged to try out several different TAs’ discussion sections to find which one works best for you. All discussions will take place in person and material covered on discussion worksheets is in scope for the exams.
Discussion attendance is not part of your course grade, but we highly encourage you to attend sections as it's a great opportunity to learn and solidify course material is a smaller classroom setting.
Labs this semester will be held in-person, except where otherwise stated on Ed. Labs for this class are not open section, you must go to your assigned lab section. Lab assignments will be determined at the start of the semester.
Credit for each lab is based on completion and checkoff with a member of lab staff during your assigned lab section. In a checkoff, you will demonstrate your work from portions of the lab and answer conceptual questions related to the lab. You should aim to get checked off by the end of your lab section. If (and only if) you attend your lab section for the whole duration but do not finish in time, you may get checked off at the beginning of your next lab section before starting the following lab. We have the following grading policy for labs: If you complete all the labs, you will receive full lab credit. If you fail to complete one lab, you will receive almost full 54/55 lab credit. If you miss two labs, you will receive 52/55. If you miss three labs, you will receive 28/55 (half credit). If you miss four or more labs, you will get an F in the class.
|Number of Missed Labs||What Happens?|
|0||You get full lab credit - 55/55|
|1||You get almost full lab credit - 54/55|
|2||You get most lab credit - 52/55|
|3||You get half lab credit - 28/55|
|4 or more||You Fail the class - final letter grade: F|
Some lab sections are “buffer labs”. These are held during a week-long period at the end of each lab module in which no new labs begin.
You may get checked off for only one missed lab per lab module by attending a buffer lab for that module. No other labs can be checked off. If you have already completed all labs for a particular lab module, you do not need to attend a buffer lab for that module.
Students must sign up for a buffer lab before attending. Please note that not all regularly scheduled lab sections will be run as buffer lab sections. Further details will be shared duly on Ed.
Wires on lab breadboards must be planar. All students will receive a lab kit to use during lab sections. Lab staff will ask students to redo their circuits before debugging them if the wires are non-planar. The definition of planar wires on a breadboard is shown below:
There are two midterms and one final. All exams will be held in-person. The midterms will be held on Wednesday, March 1st from 7:00pm to 9:00pm and Monday, April 17th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm (NOTE: these midterm dates are not yet finalized by the department and are subject to change. We will keep everyone posted once we have finalized midterm dates). The final will be held on Monday, May 8th from 11:30am to 2:30pm.
Makeup midterms and final exams will not be scheduled and there will be no alternate exam times. Please contact us privately if you have any concerns.
In case of an emergency on exam day, please email the Head GSI at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible and provide details of your situation. Emergency exam conflicts will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Exam conflicts originating from a lecture conflict will not be accommodated.
Regrade requests are open for a few days after exam scores are released. Late regrade requests will not be considered for any reason. If a regrade request is submitted for a part of a question on the exam, the grader reserves the right to regrade the entire exam and could potentially take points off.
Exams will be completely open-note and open-book – you are allowed to bring any hard-copy resources with you to help you on the exam. However, while you can bring other materials with you to the exam, you are strongly encouraged to make a condensed cheat sheet of only one or two pages ahead of the exam, as the process of creating a cheat sheet can be a great way to study for an exam. No calculators, smartwatches, or other electronics will be allowed during the exam.
We treat all our students with utmost trust and respect, and expect students to return the same trust and respect. In EECS16A we will have zero-tolerance for academic dishonesty. There will be dire consequences for students that violate that trust and the Berkeley code of conduct. Both professors Waller and Muller are committed to enforcing academic honesty, and dishonesty cases will be punished in their fullest -- no excuses or special circumstances will be considered. Always seek help, never cheat.
Exceptions and Exam Accommodations
Any requests for exceptions should be emailed to the Head GSI at email@example.com. Email the exception request as soon as possible (before any deadline), as retroactive exceptions will likely not be approved. Exceptions will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Since there are two homework drops and a slip day policy, homework extension requests will almost certainly not be approved. Examples of situations that merit an exception are medical emergencies and family emergencies. It will be easier for us to grant an exception if you have a doctor’s note or other documentation, so please send those along with your exception request. No exceptions will be granted after final exam scores have been released.
Accommodations will be provided to students who have letters of accommodations from DSP services and students facing hardships. Student hardships may include family/medical emergencies (please provide documentation for your records). Please contact the Head GSI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The instructors and TAs will post announcements, clarifications, corrections, etc. on Ed. So, you must check the EECS16A Ed page frequently throughout the term. (You should already have access to the EECS16A Spring 2023 Ed. If you do not, please let us know.)
If you have a question, your best option is to post a message on Ed. The staff (instructors and TAs) will check Ed regularly, and if you use Ed, other students will be able to help you too. When using Ed, please avoid off-topic discussions, and please do not post answers to homework questions before the homework is due. Also, always look for a convenient category to post the question to (for example, each homework will have its own category, so please post there). That will ensure you get the answer faster.
If your question is personal or not of interest to other students, we encourage you to email us (see the top of this page for all the course emails) rather than making private Ed posts. If you wish to talk with one of us individually, you are welcome to come to our office hours. Please reserve email for the questions you can't get answered in office hours, in discussion sections, or through Ed.
For any exceptions that are of a personal nature, please contact the head GSI at email@example.com. Technical and homework questions are best resolved in homework party, Ed, and during office hours.
It can be challenging for the instructors to gauge how smoothly the class is going. We always welcome any feedback on what we could be doing better.
We encourage you to work on homework problems in study groups; however, you must always write up the solutions on your own. Similarly, you may use books or online resources to help solve homework problems, but you must always credit all such sources in your write up, and you must never copy material verbatim. Using previous EECS 16A homework, exam, and lab solutions is strictly prohibited, and will be considered academic dishonesty. This is not how you want to start your career as an engineer.
We expect that most students can distinguish between helping other students and cheating. Explaining the meaning of a question, discussing a way of approaching a solution, or collaboratively exploring how to solve a problem within your group is an interaction that we strongly encourage. But you should write your homework solution strictly by yourself, and you are not allowed to give your homework to other students to copy. You should never possess a copy (written or digital) of another student’s work. You should acknowledge everyone whom you have worked with, or who has given you any significant ideas about the homework. This is good scholarly conduct.
16A Study Group Formation
To help encourage collaboration and make it easier to meet new people in the class, we have designed a system for study-group formation where you can request study partners just by submitting a simple Google preference survey. This survey is part of the first homework, and while optional, we highly encourage you to fill it out, because having people to brainstorm with on homework can be very helpful and improve your learning.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Are you struggling? Please come talk with us! The earlier we learn about your struggles, the more likely it is that we can help you. Waiting until right before an exam or the last few weeks of the semester to let us know about your problems is not an effective strategy - the later it is, the less we will be able to help you.
Even if you are convinced that you are the only person in the class who is struggling, please overcome any feelings of embarrassment or guilt, and come ask for help as soon as you need it -- we can almost guarantee you're not the only person who feels this way. Don't hesitate to ask us for help -- we really do care that you thrive! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or email / talk to any TA at any time -- we’re happy to help.
If you have COVID symptoms, please do not attend in-person activities. Instead, keep up with the class by watching the lecture recordings. We will post PDFs of each discussion worksheet on the course website, and post detailed solutions the next day, so you can follow along with discussion asynchronously. If you miss a lab section, you should try to make up the lab during buffer week. However, if you would miss multiple labs or miss the buffer section due to illness, please email email@example.com, and we will do our best to accommodate you. If you have contagious symptoms or COVID please do not attend the exam in person and reach out to us well ahead of the exam time (we will handle these situations on a case-by-case basis).
If you have a medical emergency that would prevent you from keeping up with the class asynchronously or would prevent you from attending class in-person for a longer duration, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are committed to creating an environment welcoming of all students where everyone can fulfill their potential for learning. To do so, we intend to support a diversity of perspectives and experiences and respect each others’ identities and backgrounds (including race/ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, language, religion, ability, etc.). To help accomplish this:
- If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by a lack of inclusion, please contact the instructors, an academic advisor, or the departmental Faculty Equity Advisor (https://engineering.berkeley.edu/about/equity-and-inclusion/faculty-equity-advisers/).
- An anonymous feedback form is also available at https://engineering.berkeley.edu/about/equity-and-inclusion/feedback/.
- If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class (e.g., family matters, current events), please don’t hesitate to come and talk with the instructor(s) or academic advisors in Engineering Student Services. We want to be a resource for you.
- There is no tolerance for sexual harassment or violence. If your behavior harms another person in this class, you may be removed from the class or the University either temporarily or permanently.
- If you have a name and/or pronouns that differ from your legal name, designate a preferred name for use in the classroom at: https://registrar.berkeley.edu/academic-records/your-name-records-rosters.
- As a participant in this class, recognize that you can be proactive about making other students feel included and respected.
Berkeley Honor Code
Everyone in this class is expected to adhere to this code: “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.”
We honor and respect the different learning needs of our students, and are committed to ensuring you have the resources you need to succeed in our class. If you need religious or disability-related accommodations, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with us, please share this information with us as needed. You may write to the course email address email@example.com and please also see DSP and CAPS under “Resources”.
Policy on Course Content
You are free and encouraged to use course materials for personal use (in collaborations with other students, in your research, etc.). You may NOT post HW/Exams/Solutions anywhere on the web because this could encourage cheating down the road. You are expressly prohibited from uploading course materials to websites such as coursehero.com or chegg.com, which distribute and monetize content without compensation to the University. Course material, including all video, is copyrighted and reposting to third party sites or any other form of redistribution is prohibited.
For academic performance:
The Center for Access to Engineering Excellence or CAEE (227 Bechtel Engineering Center) is an inclusive center that offers study spaces, nutritious snacks, and tutoring in >50 courses for Berkeley engineers and other majors across campus. The Center also offers a wide range of professional development, leadership, and wellness programs, and loans iclickers, laptops, and professional attire for interviews.
For disability accommodations:
The Disabled Student’s Program (DSP 260 César Chávez Student Center #4250; 510-642-0518) serves students with disabilities of all kinds, including temporary disabilities. Services are individually designed and based on the specific needs of each student as identified by DSP's Specialists. If you have already been approved for accommodations through DSP, please know that DSP is ready to quickly adjust your accommodations if your situation changes.
For mental wellbeing:
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Counseling and Psychological Services is available as part of University Health Services (the Tang Center). Services are offered at many locations, including on-site in the College of Engineering. CAPS services are available to all students, regardless of insurance, and initial visits do not cost anything. CAPS has expanded allowing students to receive help immediately with same-day counseling (510-642-9494), online resources, and a 24/7 counseling line at (855) 817-5667. Short-term help is also available from the Alameda County Crisis hotline: 800-309-2131. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing an emergency that puts their health at risk, please call 911.
For recovery from sexual harassment or sexual assault:
The Care Line (PATH to Care Center) (510-643-2005) is a 24/7, confidential, free, campus-based resource for urgent support around sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, stalking, and invasion of sexual privacy. The Care Line will connect you with a confidential advocate for trauma-informed crisis support including time-sensitive information, securing urgent safety resources, and accompaniment to medical care or reporting.
For solving a dispute:
The Ombudsperson for Students (102 Sproul Hall; 642-5754) provides a confidential service for students involved in a University-related problem (academic or administrative), acting as a neutral complaint resolver and not as an advocate for any of the parties involved in a dispute. The Ombudsman can provide information on policies and procedures affecting students, facilitate students' contact with services able to assist in resolving the problem, and assist students in complaints concerning improper application of University policies or procedures. All matters referred to this office are held in strict confidence.
For basic needs (food, shelter, etc):
The Basic Needs Center provides housing, food, transportation support, among other support needed to thrive at UC Berkeley. Specifically, the UC Berkeley Food Pantry (#68 Martin Luther King Student Union) aims to reduce food insecurity among students, especially the lack of nutritious food. Students can visit the pantry as many times as they need and take as much as they need while being mindful that it is a shared resource. The pantry operates on a self-assessed need basis; there are no eligibility requirements. The pantry is not for students and staff who need supplemental snacking food, but rather, core food support.
The following tips are offered based on our experience.
Do the homeworks! The homework is explicitly designed to help you to learn the material as you go along. There is usually a strong correlation between homework scores and final grades in the class.
Keep up with lectures! Discussion sections, labs and homeworks all touch on portions of what we discuss in lecture. Students do much better if they stay on track with the course. That will also help you keep the pace with your homework and study group.
Take part in discussion sections! Discussion sections are not auxiliary lectures. They are an opportunity for interactive learning. The success of a discussion section depends largely on the willingness of students to participate actively in it. As with office hours, the better prepared you are for the discussion, the more you are likely to benefit from it.
Please come to office hours! We love to talk to you and do a deep dive to help you understand the material better.
Form study groups! As stated above, you are encouraged to form small groups (two to four people) to work together on homeworks and on understanding the class material on a regular basis. In addition to being fun, this can save you a lot of time by generating ideas quickly and preventing you from getting hung up on some point or other. Of course, it is your responsibility to ensure that you contribute actively to the group; passive listening will likely not help you much. And recall the caveat above that you must write up your solutions on your own. We strongly advise you to spend some time on your own thinking about each problem before you meet with your study partners; this way, you will be in a position to compare ideas with your partners, and it will get you in practice for the exams. Make sure you work through all problems yourself, and that your final write-up is your own. Some groups try to split up the problems ("you do Problem 1, I'll do Problem 2, then we'll swap notes"); not only is this a punishable violation of our collaboration policies, it also ensures you will learn a lot less from this course.