Actual Wisdom: David Vallancourt

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he looks a little like socrates

David Vallancourt

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Actual Wisdom time. Take a well-deserved study break to enrich your brain with some erudite knowledge, passed down from Columbia’s very best and brightest. We’ll be sharing some real wisdom every day for the rest of finals, so you can count on your daily dose of smarts and clever answers to our oral sex/cheese question. In our first Actual Wisdom of the season, Circuits & Systems Senior Lecturer David Vallancourt doesn’t want to give you any advice. 

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I had no choice in the matter; existence was thrust upon me. I think.

What is your claim to fame: I usually can explain tech things in a way non-tech people can understand, and I don’t bite.

What’s your most valuable or unexpected college experience? Most unexpected and valuable as a SEAS undergrad: meeting my future wife in Hewitt Cafeteria on Halloween morning, 1978. Also, my whole career was really set into motion by certain professors I had, which was essential as I was clueless coming in. Most of my courses were valuable too, but I expected that.

As a SEAS teacher: students surprise me all the time. In a good way.

Back in my day… No guy willingly removed all the hair from his head or drew on his body in permanent ink.

What’s the craziest student excuse/extension story you’ve heard? I’m kind of loose with extensions, so students don’t have to invent wild excuses to get them. As for the craziest excuse about anything else, there was the time a student handed in a final exam with all the correct answers—to the final exam I had given the year before. When I confronted him he claimed I must have given him the wrong exam, while giving the other 90 students in the class the right one. He’s not here anymore.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Oral sex, because who wants to just talk about sex? Wait, that’s not what “oral sex” means?

Three things you learned at Columbia: Honest answer: the USA isn’t the only country in the world; there’s always someone smarter than you; given the proper circumstances, cars are completely unnecessary.

What’s your advice to students/academics/the human race in general? Don’t take any advice from me, I’m making this up as I go along.

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  1. LOVE

    Vallancourt is the best. Serious SEAS cred.

  2. lowly first-year

    I really want to take Digital Information Age with him next year for science core but I'm really bad with science... can anyone recommend his class?

  3. DO IT  

    One of the best classes I've taken, and I'm the worst at science and math. TAKE IT.

  4. Anonymous  

    It's pretty darn cute that he still remembers the day on which he met his wife

  5. SEAS '15 EE Major  

    I want to be Professor Vallancourt when I grow up.

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