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"OCW is definitely going to help me make decisions about what to study in the future."

OCW user Benjamin Goff.
Benjamin Goff appreciates the level of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences content on OCW.

Benjamin Goff, a 27-year-old software maintenance engineer, plies his trade at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a degree in aerospace engineering, Goff collaborates with a team of engineers to maintain aging software for the tactical electronic warfare systems on F-15 jets.

Goff is a serious weather buff, and he often searches the Web for meteorology resources in his spare time.

"There aren't many schools here in middle Georgia for technical subjects," Goff chuckles. "So I look to the Internet to find online schools and places where I can gather knowledge. I just happened to be surfing one day and I found OpenCourseWare."

Tackling homework assignments

Goff has explored many of the courses in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences area of MIT OpenCourseWare, such as 12.333 Atmospheric and Ocean Circulations. He tends to read the lecture notes for the courses, and then test his understanding of the concepts by working on the course assignments.

"I try to do the homework assignments based on the lecture notes," Goff says. "Sometimes I can do them, sometimes not. Sometimes I use other resources, since I have plenty of reference material right here. It depends on how hard it is."

Finding the middle ground

Goff notes that the high level of the material provided is very rare for Internet sites. "There aren't many weather resources on the Internet that are based on a post-secondary level," he explains. "Most of them are kiddie experiments... and on the other end of the spectrum, you can get plenty of white papers, but they're mostly over the heads of people who are trying to learn. So this type of learning experience definitely wouldn't happen without OCW, for me at least."

Though Goff has yet to use OCW materials on the job, he is definitely keeping that possibility in mind.

"I could certainly see occasions when I might use OCW for my job," he says, "if I had specific programming questions or things like that. I know that in the electrical computer section, there's plenty of information about circuits and programming languages, so certainly if I wanted to learn a new language, I would look at OCW."

Planning for the future

OCW may also help Goff make decisions about his plans after Robins Air Force base.

"I definitely would like to go back to school at some point," Goff says, "but I'm not sure what subject to concentrate on. OCW is definitely going to help me make decisions about what to study in the future."

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