Prof. Robert C. Maher


529 Cobleigh Hall (southwest corner of 5th floor)


Office:  994-7759
Home:  587-5925 (but please do not call me at home)


[email protected]

Class Page:


Office hours:

Monday 10-11AM
Thursday 9-10AM
Drop-in questions at other times are always OK if my office door is open.

See course notes for updated schedule information.

Textbooks and Materials

  1. Petroski, Henry, Invention by Design, Harvard University Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-674-46368-4.
  2. Cullen, Katherine, Science, Technology, and Society: The People Behind the Science, Chelsea House Publishers, 2005; ISBN: 0-816-05468-1
  3. Winston, Morton, and Edelbach, Ralph, Society, Ethics, and Technology, 3rd Ed., Thomson Wadsworth, 2006; ISBN: 0-534-52085-5

Class Objective

  • Raise student awareness of what engineering is and what engineers do in the context of science and society.
  • Increase student understanding of the methods engineers use to create knowledge and to innovate--and how those methods may differ from the traditional methods of scientists.
  • Help students appreciate the connections between science and engineering and the problems of everyday life.
  • Raise student awareness of the nature of engineering creativity and design.
  • Help students understand the role of ethics in engineering decisions.
  • Identify and investigate the connections between engineering and cultural values.
  • Encourage critical thinking about engineering solutions, taking into account cultural values and other constraints.

Course Outcomes

At the conclusion of ENGR 125CS, students will be able to:

  • Identify the features of engineering creativity and design, and explain the similarities and differences between engineering and science.
  • Discuss, in written and oral form, a complex technological issue in contemporary society and critically consider the constraints and alternatives involved.
  • Explain the ways in which scientists and engineers work together to solve problems.
  • Communicate an understanding of the societal and cultural context of engineering and engineered systems.
  • Work with a group of students to trace the historical development of a specific technology or technological problem, synthesize a variety of points of view, and explain the current and future implications of this technology.

Course Grading: 

Homework and essays: 25%

→ Homework will be required periodically.  Homework is due on the due date at the BEGINNING of class.  No late homework will be accepted.

In-class quizzes: 25%

→ Weekly quizzes covering the assigned readings and other topics as announced.

Mid-term assignment: 25%

→ A WRITTEN REPORT is assigned during the semester.

Final Project and  Presentation:      25%

→ Final written and oral group presentations are due the last week of class.


Grade guarantee: 

course letter grades may be higher (but will not be lower) than indicated by the following scale:

A- = 90%
B- = 80%
C- = 70%
D = 60%
F = 59%

A grade of F will also be given automatically if a midterm and/or final exam is not taken, regardless of the student's aggregate score total.


  • All students must have an electronic mail address listed with the MSU My Info system.  Announcements and reminders for EE417 will be sent occasionally via email.
  • You are responsible for all material covered in class and in the textbook reading assignments.
  • There will probably be several guest lectures and presentations scheduled during the semester.  Although it is not reasonable for me to make out-of-class events mandatory, I do expect the students to take advantage of all learning opportunities provided in the course.
  • Unless group work is explicitly assigned, homework and exams must be prepared individually. Submitting the work of others is dishonest and grounds for dismissal from the course.
  • Late submissions of assignments (homework and reports) will not be accepted. Plan ahead and notify the instructor prior to justifiable absences, or if a bona fide emergency prevented you from attending class.