Every professor will know your name - even the ones who's classes you aren't in. Students study or work on homework almost daily. Class participation is extremely necessary and therefore skipping class is a rarity. Since the classes are SOOO hard, students are really non-competitive and work together on every homework assignment or project. The engineering major in particular has a very hands-on curriculum. Starting freshman year you are receiving projects to design and build things that have applications in the real world. You will not do any "busy work" at Mudd. The professors are there because they LOVE to teach and they want you to understand and love their subjects as much as they do.
Academics is an important topic at Harvey Mudd. All the classes require an extensive amount of work, but I feel that in the end, it helps the students master the material that much more. Since the college is so small, the professors know most of the students on campus and are always willing to help. It's also nice to never have a TA lecture a class. The total education at mudd is one of the best offered in the nation, and I feel that it sets students up extremely well for industry.
The most frequent complaint is that there is too much work to do. But really it's all manageble. The gradings hard but also doable. First semester is pass fail which helps a lot. All of my professors know who I am. I think Harvey Mudd prides itself on how much Professor student contact there is. I go to lunch with some professors and do all of that kind of stuff.
Academics at Mudd are top notch. There is very little competition, mostly because professor encourage you to work together in groups. Tests are often pretty laid back (sometimes takehome, sometimes open book). Upper devision classes are often based on student presentations, so they first few years the professors work to encourage in class participation.
The professors have sheets printed out before the school year begins that has your name right underneath your picture. They learn your names before you get there :-) Spending time with professors is the key to success here. Asking for help is the greatest thing I have learned.
Least favorite - a class which was taught by a visiting CGU prof. Students aren't very competitive - it's a supportive atmosphere. Professors all get to know you, even outside of class sometimes. The education is geared towards learning for its own sake.
The community is very small, so yes, all my professors know me by name. In my opinion, the education at Mudd is geared towards learning.