Topics and Notes Summary (last update 12/2/2008):


Dec. 12 (Fri)

Last day of class!  Congratulations!

All groups meet in the REGULAR CLASSROOM (Wilson 1-132).

Presentation by Group M.

Self/Peer review sheets are due by the end of class this day.

The final group papers are due by the end of the day on MONDAY, December 12.


Dec. 10 (Wed)

Groups A, B, C,  G, H, I,  and M need to go to the REGULAR CLASSROOM (Wilson 1-132).

Presentations by Groups G, H, I.

Groups D, E, F,  J, K, and L  need to go DIRECTLY to Wilson 1-154.

Presentations by Groups J, K, L.


Dec. 8 (Mon)

Groups A, B, C,  G, H, I,  and M need to go to the REGULAR CLASSROOM (Wilson 1-132).

Presentations by Groups A, B, C.

Groups D, E, F,  J, K, and L  need to go DIRECTLY to Wilson 1-154.

Presentations by Groups D, E, F.


Dec. 5 (Fri)

Course wrap-up session.

Course overview and evaluation process.


Dec. 3 (Wed)

Group report PEER REVIEW SESSION in class.  Attendance is mandatory.

Groups A-G please go to the regular classroom (Wilson 1-132) 
Groups H-M please go directly to Wilson 1-154.

Groups B, and C must bring FOUR COPIES of your group's draft report.  All the other groups must bring THREE COPIES of your group's draft report.

NOTE:  The presentation schedule for next week is as follows:

Groups A, B, C,  G, H, I,  and M need to go to the REGULAR CLASSROOM (Wilson 1-132) on each day next week (12/8, 12/10, and 12/12).  Groups {A, B, and C} will present on Monday; Groups {G, H, I} will present on Wednesday, and Group {M} will present on 12/12.

Groups D, E, F,  J, K, and L  need to go DIRECTLY to Wilson 1-154, on Monday and Wednesday next week (12/8 and 12/10).   Groups {D, E, and F} will present on Monday, and groups {J, K, and L} will present on Wednesday.  These groups will all go to the regular classroom (Wil 1-132) on Friday 12/12.


Dec. 1 (Mon)

Guest Lecture:  Prof. Tim LeCain (History Department)
"The SUV and human views of the natural world"


Nov. 28 (Fri)

Thanksgiving holiday (no class this day)


Nov. 27 (Thur)

Thanksgiving holiday
The Thanksgiving Day holiday in the United States comes from the harvest festival tradition of 16th century agrarian Europe.

The traditional "first Thanksgiving" was held in 17th century America by the Pilgrims (1621).

George Washington instituted a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789, but the event did not gain widespread official acceptance until Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation on October 3, 1863, setting aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving.

Incidentally, this proclamation was issued just a few weeks before Lincoln gave his famous address at Gettysburg (November 19, 1863). 

Every president after Lincoln continued the Thanksgiving Day tradition, and Congress adopted the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday in 1941.

The fourth Thursday can be as early as Nov. 22 (like 2007), and as late as Nov. 28. Look ahead formula: to determine the date of Thanksgiving next year: subtract one from the day of the month this year; then if next year is a leap year, subtract 1 more. If that result is less than 22, add 7.  Example:  in 2008 the date is 27, so in 2009 (not a leap year) Thanksgiving will be on the 26th.

Nov. 26 (Wed)

In class activity and video: "space race" retrospective


Nov. 24 (Mon)

Innovation and Society: perhaps thinking about starting your own business?

(Guest Lecture by Prof. LeCain postponed)

Nov. 21 (Fri)

Guest Lecture:  Engineers Without Borders

Lecture:  Ethics and issues

Nov. 19 (Wed)

Oral presentation guidelines and tips

Team meetings during class time (if necessary).


Nov. 17 (Mon)

Preliminary reference lists (one per group) due at the start of class.

Lecture/discussion:  Engineering ethics

Team meetings during class time.


Nov. 14 (Fri)

Lecture/activity:  Technological Systems (cont.)

Team meetings during class time.

Reminder:  preliminary list of project references are due at class time on Monday 17 November (a hardcopy list of at least six references, three from print media, three from web; one list per group).

Nov. 12 (Wed)

Quiz on reading assignment (Carson and Water).

Project teams finalized and topics assigned.


Lecture:  Technological Systems

Nov. 10 (Mon)

Group projects assigned this day.  Be sure to be in class!!


Nov. 7 (Fri)

Lecture/activity:  Engineering now and in the future--the engineer of 2020.


Nov. 5 (Wed)

In class Activity: Engineering problem solving.

Assignment: For Monday 11/10/08, read Chapter 6 (Rachel Carson) in Cullen, and Chapter 8 (Water and Society) in Petroski.

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 6, Rachel Carson, pp. 85-100 (Environmental awareness; pesticide overuse).

Reading: Petroski, Chapter 8, Water and Society, pp. 141-159 (Water supply and removal, sewers, design problems, reference to Louis Pasteur and Rachel Carson).


Nov. 3 (Mon)

Lecture/activity:  Mars science and engineering video and in-class worksheet.


Engineering disciplines homework due at the start of class.

Oct. 31 (Fri)

Lecture/activity:  The engineering design process as a creative enterprise.  Example:  mission planning for sending a probe to Mars. In-class activity.


Oct. 29 (Wed)

Quiz on reading assignment (Banting and Oppenheimer).


In class writing assignment on liability and compensation.

Lecture:  History of engineering as an academic and professional discipline

Assignment: In-class handout sheet.  Look up information regarding one of the major engineering disciplines (electrical, mechanical, civil, or chemical).  Due at the start of class next Monday (11/3).


Oct. 27 (Mon)

Review results of midterm course/instructor evaluation.

Discuss reading assignments and the "4 C's" (context, contribution, controversy, and connection) as applied to Banting and to Oppenheimer.

Begin discussion of the social impact of compensation for victims of civil infrastructure failures, industrial contamination, and natural and man-made diasters.


Oct. 24 (Fri)

No class meeting this day:  instructor out of town.


Oct. 22 (Wed)

Midterm course/instructor evaluation (in class)

Activity:  experience with engineering expression via writing task instructions. 

Assignment: Read Chapters 4 and 5 of the Cullen book.  Quiz in class next Wednesday.

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 4, Sir Fredrick G. Banting,, pp. 49-66 (Discoverer of insulin).

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 5, J. Robert Oppenheimer, pp. 67-84 (Construction of the first nuclear weapon).  Was Oppenheimer using the methods of a scientist, an engineer, or both?  What motivated the Manhattan Project staff?


Oct. 20 (Mon)

Organizational Breakdowns:  Discussion of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report (in-class exercise).

Mid-term essays returned in class (30/42 students received a 3 or 4 grade:  very good work!)


Oct. 17 (Fri)

Topic 1:  Discussion of the Skyscraper series.  Some scenes of World Wide Plaza from 2007.

Topic 2:  Discussion of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report. What does the Columbia accident and its subsequent investigation teach us about technology and society?  What are the categories of organizational breakdowns?


Oct. 15 (Wed)

Mid Term Essay is due at the start of class.

Lecture:  conclusion of video presentation of "Skyscraper," part 4, with in-class worksheet.

Reading Assignment for Friday:  Excerpts from the Columbia Accident Investigation:

History as a Cause
Implications for future space flight

Oct. 13 (Mon)

Midterm essay MANDATORY peer review session.

The midterm essay mandatory peer review process will be held during class time on Monday, October 13. Your essay grade will depend upon your active participation in the peer review.

Bring TWO COPIES of your draft midterm essay.

Students with last names A-Kwill report to the regular classroom (Wilson 1-132).

Students with last names L-Z will report directly to Wilson 1-154. Do NOT go to the regular classroom first.

Please pass the word to any of your classmates who missed class on Friday.

Reminder:  the final copy of the midterm essay is due at the START of class on Wednesday, October 15.

Oct. 10 (Fri)

Discussion of video presentation, reading assignment, and mid-term essay progress.


Cost-benefit ("utilitarianism") concepts.


REMINDER:  the mid-term essay peer review will be conducted during class time on Monday 13 October.


Oct. 8 (Wed)

Lecture:  video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 3, with in-class worksheet.


Oct. 6 (Mon)

NO CLASS MEETING THIS DAY (instructor out of town).


Oct. 3 (Fri)

Lecture and in-class activity:  engineering data analysis using climate data

Assignment:MID-TERM ESSAY is assigned this day.  Peer review final draft due Monday, October 13; final paper due Wednesday, October 15.


Oct. 1 (Wed)

In-class Activity:  Three Gorges Dam (in class group work).


Sept. 29 (Mon)

Lecture:  video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 2, with in-class worksheet.


Sept. 26 (Fri)

Essay #1 is due at the start of class.


In-class peer-review of essays.


Discussion of "Skyscraper" video.

Assignment: Read Chapter 6 of the Petroski book.  We will discuss this later in the course.

Reading: Petroski, Chapter 6, Facsimile and Networks, pp. 104-119 (Facsimile (fax) machine, telephone networks, socio-cultural factors).


Sept. 24 (Wed)

Lecture:  video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 1, with in-class worksheet.


Reminder: essay #1 is due at the start of class on Friday.


Sept. 22 (Mon)

Patents and intellectual property.  Link to the US Patent and Trademark Office and to the Google patent search site.

U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

In-class group exercises on patents.


Sept. 19 (Fri)

Quiz on reading assignment (paper clips and William Shockley).

Working within constraints: finding the optimum solution to a need while balancing cost, safety, efficiency, availability, etc.

Assignment:First homework essay was assigned in class (due Friday 9/26/08 at the start of class).

Sept. 17 (Wed)

Continue discussion of disasters and safety response.

World Trade Center:  investigation of the collapse circumstances, and the implications for technology and society.

Information from NIST WTC website :  FAQ documents (123) and videos


Sept. 15 (Mon)

Paper clip experiment and considerations for engineering uncertainty.

Disasters and safety responses:  the role of engineering.


Sept. 12 (Fri)

Discuss WTC video:  what did the World Trade Center represent as an artifact of technology?  What did it represent as a social/political artifact?

Discussion and in-class writing assignment on "Zippers".

Assignment: Read Chapter 2 of the Petroski book and Chapter 7 of Cullen. Be ready to discuss next week on Wednesday and Friday.

Reading: Petroski, Chapter 2, Paper Clips and Design, pp. 8-42 (Material properties, forming wire into clips, function and competition, patents).

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 7, William Shockley, pp. 33-48 (Transistor Co-Inventor).


Sept. 10 (Wed)

View in-class video presentation:  "World Trade Center Requiem"

(Video worksheet filled out and handed in during class)

Sept. 8 (Mon)

Discuss questionnaire results.

In-class quiz on reading assignment.

Discuss newspaper headlines.

Continue on the "scientific method" and the "engineering method"

Portrayal of engineers in popular media

Assignment: This week, read Chapter 4 of the Petroski book.  Consider how the development of zipping fasteners follows an engineering process.

Reading: Petroski, Chapter 4, Zippers and Development, pp. 66-88 (Incremental improvement of hookless fasteners, plastic zippers, Velcro, and zip-closed plastic bags).


Sept. 5 (Fri)

Work on "First day" questionnaire

What is the difference between science and engineering? Is this distinction important to society?

The "scientific method" and the "engineering method"

Assignment:  Look for headlines in the newspaper or on the web that have a connection to the engineering field, and bring to class on Monday.  Examples: "Tropical Storm Fay Arrives in Florida""House to Rethink Drilling, Pelosi Says""Student Files Are Exposed on Web Site."

Sept. 3 (Wed)

First class meeting at 2:10PM in Wilson Hall 1-132.

Course introduction and overview.

Consideration of how the engineering field (and engineers) are viewed in popular culture.

First day "speed dating" exercise

Assignment: Between now and the start of class on Monday (9/8), Read Chapters 1-3 of the Cullen book.  Think about whether you would consider Pasteur, Curie, and Marconi to be scientists or engineers.  Why do you think so?

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 1, Louis Pasteur,, pp. 1-18 (Co-credited for the germ theory of disease and developed first vaccines).

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 2, Marie Curie,, pp. 19-32 (Discovery of the elements Radium and Polonium).

Reading:  Cullen, Chapter 3, Guglielmo Marconi, pp. 33-48 (First transatlantic radio transmission).