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Details of EN1 for Fall 2019


Introduction of various concepts in engineering. Emphasis on project work, engineering ethics, and engineering design process. Discipline topic areas vary each term. Limited to first-year students.


Section 01: Introduction to Computational Design

With the availability of increased computing power, many engineering disciplines now rely on utilizing computation to explore different design options. We will learn how that is done — how to model a problem with math, and how to use computers to optimize a product using that model. We’ll optimize all sorts of products from different disciplines, and finally make soft-bodied robot caterpillars crawl as fast as possible (or faster!). We will learn to program in MATLAB, and then use it to learn fundamental concepts such as a solution space, design-decision variables, constraints, optimal points within the design space and searching a design space using efficient algorithms.

Section 02: Music and the Art of Engineering

Physics of sound, audio engineering, and electronic music synthesis. Pitch, tone, filters, distortion, noise, amplification, sampling, and digital filtering. Introduction to electronic components, oscilloscopes, function generators, and electrical diagnostics. Introduction to MATLAB as a computation tool for engineering problems with examples focused on the digital synthesis of sound. The final design project may combine both hardware and software approaches to music synthesis. Discussion of engineering ethics in the context of audio electronics and digital music. Overview of the engineering roadmap and the electrical and computer engineering curricula.

Section 03: Introduction to Renewable Energy

We will examine renewable energy generation technologies with a critical eye; including, the examination of the way the media portrays energy technologies. While going off the grid sounds like a great idea, it is a complex problem to be solved. Solar and wind energy sources require a lot of land; additionally, they are not constant with time, and efficient energy storage technology does not exist. We will explore the renewable energy technology of today as well as future prospects. We will look at the natural resource requirements of energy systems as well as their environmental and economic impacts. Labs will give the student a hands-on sense for the energy generation process and its complexity.

Section 04: Simple Robotics

Introduction to robot construction, programming, event-based programming, artificial intelligence, and elementary controls. Basic principles of robotics for students with minimal or no prior programming/building background. In‐class laboratories and hands‐on group projects emphasizing engineering design using the LEGO MINDSTORMS platform.

Section 05: Innovation in Biomedical Engineering

The course focuses on current topics in biomedical engineering related to the discipline, perspectives on technology impact in society, and concepts and problem-solving teamwork by the students. The goal is to utilize big picture themes to gain insight into the current state of technology related to human health and well-being in the future. Primary goals are 1) to expose students to science and technology involved in the field of biomedical engineering, 2) to look into the future with problem solving and impact on human health and society; and 3) to work in teams to challenge limitations and future opportunities empowered by the field of biomedical engineering.

Section 09: Climate Change Engineering

Climate change is one the great environmental challenges of our times. The central question is this: can we slow the rate of climate change enough to give emerging solutions a chance to be effective? This course examines the role of engineering and technology in both contributing to and mitigating climate change and its effects. Coverage will be given to fossil fuel combustion, energy consumption, greenhouse gas generation and accumulation in the atmosphere, alternative fuels, energy efficiency, carbon sequestration, climate geoengineering, sea level rise, coastal armoring and retreating as well as other topics. The goal of this course is to introduce the process of engineering design as applied to climate change – from problem definition to consideration of alternative solutions to the design and implementation of specific technologies. Broad exposure is given to the interdisciplinary nature of the problem and potential engineering solutions. Laboratories include corn ethanol production, solar panel efficiency, windfarm siting analysis in GIS, and droning. Project-based learning is emphasized.

Section 10: Coffee Engineering

An introduction to molecular engineering concepts, including: mass and energy balances, driving forces for molecular motion, and physical chemistry discussed in the context of brewing coffee. The course includes an integrated series of hands-on, experiential learning activities that will culminate in a final coffee brewing design challenge. Planned additional topics will cover coffee economics, caffeine biology, data representation, and engineering design subject to real-world constraints.

Section 11: Civil Infrastructure

An introduction to civil infrastructure with a focus on its transportation, water, energy and waste management components. Both technical and professional aspects of these components will be explored. In addition, elements of the Lean Start-up process; specifically, customer discovery and value proposition development/validation, will be used to explore how innovations in civil infrastructure can be developed and implemented. The ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ may provide a more effective alternative in conceptualizing infrastructure (re)development. Though technical content and entrepreneurship are emphasized, the course also explores ethical issues and broader impacts of civil infrastructure with an emphasis on the political aspects in finding acceptable and appropriate solutions.

Section 14: Inventing Smart Toys for Kids

We will spend the semester learning how to design, fabricate, test, and commercialize toys for kids. Our goal is to make sure all students leave the class understanding how to see the world through the eyes of children, be able to design something children will find compelling, be able to build it and then understand how to commercialize it. We will also dress ethical issues around toy design and highlight the different engineering disciplines required to successfully develop the toy. This course will be largely project-based and will make extensive use of Nolop.

Section 15: Engineering Human Movement

While the goal of technological advancements is often to make life easier, perhaps a richer purpose of technology is to help us learn. The aim of this course is to explore engineering approaches for improving human motor capabilities. We will study basic concepts in biomechanics and neural control of movement, focusing on the human arm but also briefly discussing locomotion and balance. We overview instruments and techniques to measures and evaluate the body’s performance, such as joint kinematics, muscle activity, and force production. We will also discuss the design of therapeutic and assistive devices in human movement. Students will conduct in-class experiments to measure patterns motor exploration, the influence mechanics, as well as muscle strength, and fatigue. A final group project will also be assigned which involves capturing body’s motion during object manipulation, reaching, or balance tasks. A major motivation of the course is to evaluate ‘augmenting dynamics’, or altering the effective biomechanics of the human body can stimulate desirable changes in habitual movement patterns. The ideas presented could inspire novel solutions for rehabilitation for motor impaired individuals, as well as motor skill training for athletes, surgeons, and pilots.

Section 16: Bridges and Resilient Cities

We will use the semester to understand the interaction of bridge design and resilient cities. Bridges play a significant role in urban design as they connect populations and often provide a significant architectural contribution to the cityscape. As a major component of a transportation network, bridges also play an essential role in creating resilient cities and ensuring that transportation networks remain functional in an emergency. We will study bridges in three major cities to learn about engineering design, city planning, and natural hazards with a focus on the creation of resilient cities. Students will learn engineering design of bridges and will access and map geospatial terrains.