Topics and Notes Summary (last update 11/27/2009):

Dec. 11 (Fri) Last day of class:  Congratulations!

Group Oral Presentations by Groups G, H, I. (15 minutes per group; time limit strictly enforced) All other students provide presentation review ratings.

Project 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 14.

Dec. 9 (Wed) Group Oral Presentations by Groups D, E, F. (15 minutes per group; time limit strictly enforced)  All other students provide presentation review ratings.
Dec. 7 (Mon) Group Oral Presentations by Groups A, B, C. (15 minutes per group; time limit strictly enforced).  All other students provide presentation review ratings.
Dec. 4 (Fri) Course wrap-up session.

Course overview and evaluation process.

Dec. 2 (Wed) Group report PEER REVIEW SESSION in class. Attendance is mandatory.

Each group must bring FOUR COPIES of your group's draft report.

NOTE: The oral group presentation schedule for next week is as follows: Groups {A, B, and C} will present on Monday 12/7; Groups {D, E, and F} will present on Wednesday 12/9, and Groups {G, H, and I} will present on Friday 12/11.

Nov. 30 (Mon) Follow-up on several ENGR 125 class topics:  World Trade Center, Three Gorges Dam, etc.

Reminder that your group project reports and oral presentations must describe:

"...the development of a particular technology over at least the past 25 years, in terms of:

engineering innovation
social/economic influence and impact
health/safety/environmental influence and impact

The report must comment on the parallel influences of each of the three factors and draw a solid conclusion about the observed technological progress."


Nov. 27 (Fri) No MSU classes:  Thanksgiving holiday. 
Nov. 25 (Wed) No MSU classes:  Thanksgiving holiday.

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 2009 the date is 26, so in 2010 (not a leap year) Thanksgiving will be on the 25th.

Nov. 23 (Mon) Lecture/activity:  Moon mission video and in-class worksheet

Reminder:  Group Project written report mandatory peer review session will be held during class time on Wednesday, December 2.  Each group must bring four hardcopies of the draft report. 

Nov. 20 (Fri) Lecture/activity:  Engineers Without Borders
Nov. 18 (Wed) Lecture/activity:  Innovation and Society: perhaps thinking about starting your own business?

Discussion of group dynamics/issues.

In-class meeting time for project groups.

Nov. 16 (Mon) Lecture/activity:  Mission to Mars video and in-class worksheet (take 2)

DUE:  list of at least 6 authoritative references, one list per group, turned in via hardcopy at the start of class.

Nov. 13 (Fri) Comments and suggestions on oral presentations:  oral presentation hints.

In-class meeting time for project groups.


Nov. 11 (Wed) No MSU classes this day:  Veterans Day


Nov. 9 (Mon) Lecture/activity:  Mission to Mars video and in-class worksheet. --NOTE:  postponed due to audio playback trouble in the classroom system--sorry about that.
Nov. 6 (Fri) Group project details and team assignments.  IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL STUDENTS ATTEND CLASS THIS DAY!!

Here are the assigned topics:

Group A (Owen, Emily, Hunter, Jessica): Athletic Shoes

Group B (Matthew B., James H., Brittany, Amy):  Artificial Heart

Group C (Bill, Zak, Haley, Samantha):  Coal-fired Power Plants

Group D (Josh, Cole, James N., Garrett):  GPS Navigation / Auto-steer

Group E (Jack, Yevgenii, Jared P., David):  Nuclear Power Generation

Group F (Jake d., Tom K., Kurtis, Samuel):  "Smart" bombs with laser or satellite guidance

Group G (James E., Mitchell, Christopher, Tim):  Hybrid (gas-electric) passenger cars

Group H (Tom E., John M., Mikhail, Matthew V.):  Electronic financial transactions (ATM machines)

Group I (Matthew G., Jared M., John S., Ryan):  Alternative energy systems (choose one:  wind turbine, photovoltaic, fuel cells)


Nov. 4 (Wed) Lecture/activity:  Guest lecture by Prof. Tim LeCain

"The SUV and human views of the natural world"


Nov. 2 (Mon) In-class quiz on reading assignment.

Engineering problem solving:  "story" problem involving rate and distance optimization.

Assignment: Announcement of final team project.  Group assignments and further information to be provided on Friday, November 6, 2009.

Oct. 30 (Fri) Engineering disciplines homework due at the start of class.

In class Activity: Engineering problem solving

Assignment: For Monday 11/2/09, read Chapter 6 (Rachel Carson) in Cullen.

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


Oct. 28 (Wed) Lecture/activity:  Engineering now and in the future--the engineer of 2020.


Oct. 26 (Mon) Discussion of the social impact of compensation for victims of civil infrastructure failures, industrial contamination, and natural and man-made disasters.

In class writing assignment on liability and compensation.

Assignment: Handout sheet. Look up information regarding one of the major engineering disciplines (electrical, mechanical, civil, or chemical). Due at the start of class on Friday (10/30).

Oct. 23 (Fri) Discuss midterm course/instructor evaluation results.

CAIB recommendations:  connections to "organizational breakdowns" cited by the Board (in class worksheet).

Excerpts from the Columbia Accident Investigation:

History as a Cause
Implications for future space flight

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


Oct. 21 (Wed) Midterm course/instructor evaluation(in class)

Organizations and organizational breakdowns.

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?

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


Oct. 19 (Mon) Midterm Essay is due via D2L by class time this day.

Lecture/discussion topic 1:  The concept of "utilitarianism"

Lecture/discussion topic 2:  Review and discussion of the "Skyscraper" series (including contemporary photos of the site).

Assignment: Read Chapters 4 and 5 of the Cullen book, and Chapter 1.3.1 of Winston and Edelbach.

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?

Reading:  Winston & Edelbach, Chapter 1.3.1, "Philosophy and Human Values," by Ian Barbour, pp. 113-120.  Note how Barbour describes the role of obligations in ethics, and the connection to the obligations described in your midterm essay assignment.

Oct. 16 (Fri) Midterm essay MANDATORY peer review session in class.

The midterm essay mandatory peer review process will be held during class time on Friday, October 16. Your essay grade will depend upon your active participation in the peer review.

Bring TWO PRINTED COPIES of your draft midterm essay.

Reminder: the final copy of the midterm essay is due electronically via D2L at the START of class on Monday, October 19.
Oct. 14 (Wed) Lecture: video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 4 (conclusion), with in-class worksheet.
Oct. 12 (Mon) In-class activity:  Three Gorges Dam in China.  Considerations from the point of view of an environmentalist, an economist, a sociologist, and an anthropologist.
Oct. 9 (Fri) NO ENGR 125 CLASS THIS DAY (instructor out of town)


Oct. 7 (Wed) Lecture: video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 3, with in-class worksheet.
Oct. 5 (Mon) MID TERM ESSAY ASSIGNED IN CLASS.  Discussion of topic, format, grading, peer review plan, etc.  The peer review session will be in class on Friday, October 16, 2009.  The final copy of the essay is due electronically via D2L dropbox by class time on Monday, October 19, 2009.  Midterm essay assignment handout.

Lecture:  Powerpoint presentation on Technological Systems.

Oct. 2 (Fri) Discuss video and HW essay #1 results.  Quiz on Cowan essay from assigned readings.

Technological thinking and writing exercise:  write in words only the rules for tic tac toe and the procedure for tying a shoe lace.  It is hard without diagrams or a demonstration!

Sept. 30 (Wed) Lecture: video presentation of "Skyscraper" part 2, with in-class worksheet.


Sept. 28 (Mon) In class discussion of reading assignment (likely will be a quiz on Friday).

In-class activity:  engineering analysis using climate data.


Sept. 25 (Fri) HW Essay #1 is due at the start of class (electronic submission to the D2L dropbox, and bring two printed copies to class).

In class peer-review of essays.

Discussion of Skyscraper video.

Assignment: For next week, read essay 1.1.2 of the Winston and Edelbach book.  Note what Cowan means by the technological system concept. There will be a discussion and reading quiz next week.

Reading: Winston and Edelbach, Chapter 1.1.2, Industrial Society and Technological Systems, pp. 38-54.


Sept. 23 (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. 21 (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. 18 (Fri)

Working within constraints: finding the optimum solution to a need while balancing cost, safety, efficiency, availability, etc.  Use hypothetical Mars mission as an example.  Students write ideas in their notebooks.


Assign first essay:  fame and fortune motivates invention?

Assignment:HW Essay #1, due at class time on Friday, September 25, 2009 (D2L dropbox).


Approach to writing and how essays will be graded.


Sept. 16 (Wed) Finish disaster discussion. 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

WTC 7 collapse.

Paper clip experiment and considerations for engineering uncertainty.

(note:  there will be an essay assignment distributed on Friday)


Sept. 14 (Mon)

Quiz on reading assignments.  

Disasters and safety responses: the role of engineering.

(In-class assignment)


Sept. 11 (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?

Discuss essay 1.1.3 of the Winston and Edelbach book.
Assignment: Read Chapter 7 of Cullen. Quiz on Monday.

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

Sept. 9 (Wed)

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

(Video worksheet filled out and handed in during class)

Sept. 7 (Mon)

Labor Day:  No class this day (University Holiday)


Sept. 4 (Fri)

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: For next week, read essay 1.1.3 of the Winston and Edelbach book.  Consider how the global trends follow an engineering process.

Reading: Winston and Edelbach, Chapter 1.1.3, The Shock of the Old:  Production, pp. 55-66 (Technological life cycles; examples of technology in use, and the resulting influences).

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE WAITING TO PURCHASE THIS BOOK:  here is a scanned pdf version of the reading.


Sept. 2 (Wed)

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 Friday.  Examples: "Hurricane Bill looms in Atlantic at Category 4""S. Korea aborts rocket launch minutes before liftoff ""Indictment of card hacker unlikely to end thefts."

Aug. 31 (Mon)

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 Wednesday (9/9), 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).