First-Year Course Sequence
Engineering and technology hold a possible solution to many of the societal challenges facing humanity today. Problems in energy and the environment, health, genetics, clean water, computer and information security can all be addressed with engineering. These courses will teach the fundamentals of math and physics in the context of these problems.
Our goal is to introduce students to engineering concepts early in their academic career. We offer a full suite of courses that satisfy SEAS first-year requirements and serve the campus more broadly.
Engineering, Math & Physics (EMP) Sequence
The primary goal of this integrated course is to give first-year engineering students a sense of the excitement of modern engineering and of the foundational roles that mathematics and physics play in various engineering disciplines. Engineering, Math, and Physics (EMP) was the first course sequence developed by the Keller Center and is a key part of the center's efforts to shape engineering education for the 21st century.
Our Integrated Approach
The first year is a critical time for students who are contemplating the study of engineering. Undergraduates lay the fundamental mathematical and physical foundations for their later studies, while making crucial decisions about the field in which they would like to concentrate for the following three years. Yet the conventional first-year curriculum gives engineers only a glimpse of the exciting work that this foundation enables. The integrated approach reflects the nature of much engineering practice and research today, which involves solving problems that cut across conventional disciplines. The three courses that make up the EMP series are taught by 10 faculty members from eight departments, who work as a team to introduce calculus and physics in the form of motivational examples and laboratory experiences that are relevant to all branches of engineering.
Practical Laboratory Projects
The labs in the first semester of the sequence revolve around a single project to build, launch, and analyze the flight dynamics of water-propelled rockets. The project takes students from building their own circuit boards with micro-mechanical accelerometers to a detailed study of the interactions of gravity, thrust, momentum, and drag. These tasks integrate concepts from mathematics, physics, mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science, engaging students in the lab experience in ways that conventional physics labs do not.
In the second semester, after a series of lectures on each engineering discipline, students work on three design projects, each based on a major theme: energy sources and the environment, robotic remote sensing, and wireless multimedia communication. Each project entails lectures on the technical background and hands-on work to apply the general principles of engineering to working devices. The sessions also include guest lectures that introduce societal, technical, and scientific issues related to the three major themes.