Introduction to Systems Engineering – F14

This is a first year experience course to help new students get a taste of college. It introduces some of the thought processes associated with engineering design.


Mid-term Grades … circa Oct. 3

Fall Break … Oct. 13, 14

Withdrawal Date … Oct. 16

Thanksgiving Holiday … Nov. 26-30

Last Day of Classes … Dec. 8

Final Exam Period … Friday, Dec. 12, 10:30-12:30 … Robotics Competition … EIT Auditorium

Robot report and Experience Report due Tuesday, Dec 16 at 12:00 to Dr Wright’s office.

Grades due, Friday, Dec. 19 at 12:00

10/15/2014 … PERFORMANCE DAY!!!

10/8/2014 … end of day (5:00): Final script is due for grading.

  • Criteria: Is the engineering problem and solution a good future challenge?
  • Does the story explain the problem and solution in a clear, interesting way?  Does it evoke sympathy in the listener as to the importance of the problem and the relevance of the solution?
  • Are the grammar and spelling acceptable?
  • Does a red shirt die?  Does this death advance the seriousness of the problem or challenge?

Lab for 9/24/2014 … break your group up into smaller groups (2-3 people).

Sub-group 1 (2 people):  write a first draft of the plot of your script.  A 20 minute performance should have about 3-4 scenes (opening and introducing the problem, 1-2 scenes illustrating the conflict between points of view, final scene to resolve the conflict, maybe a coda at the end wrapping things up).  This treatment should be about 2 (dense) pages long.    This is the framework in which your research will lie.

Sub-group 2, 3 (2-3 people per group):  pick a specific aspect of your technical problem to perform in-depth research.  What is your problem? It has to be specific enough that it can be developed in a short play. What are possible solutions?  Again, these need to be specific.

For instance, if your problem is an energy shortage due to depletion of fossil fuels, your alternative should be something like biofuels or wind power or solar panels or nuclear fuel (or all of the above).  How much energy is needed?  How much energy is available from that source if it could be extracted with 100% efficiency?  What are societal barriers to choosing this alternative?  (e.g., they don’t want to use nuclear fuel because of a religious barrier stemming from a nuclear war in their past)

Focus your research to grab the facts that support the argument that you’re making in your play.

The deliverable for the first Robotics challenge will be a brief report (as an individual). Pictures, data, and some boiler plate may be shared between reports. First Robotics Report Format [PDF]  Robot report is due 9/24/2014.

The deliverable for Future Challenges will be as follows:

1. A brief (two-page) brief detailing your research and your proposed idea (as an individual)
2. Your final script (as a group).  Here’s a detail on how to write a Star Trek script. Here is a detail of the Tropes for Star Trek. Specific tropes will be required for full credit. For instance, you MUST have a Red Shirt die
3. Your group’s performance

Future Challenges Reading/Viewing Assignment Report Due Date (counted as homework)
Report format:  This is a 1-2 page report detailing your assessment of the “future challenges” problem presented in the story.  What problem was presented?  What was the cause?  What, if any, solution was presented?  How could an engineer contribute to developing the solution?  How likely or unlikely is the source’s prediction to come to pass? Have elements already come to pass? What factors might make the predictions more or less likely to reach fruition?
City on the edge of Forever on hulu  August 27
 Return of the Archons  on hulu  September 3
 Mark of Gideon on hulu September 10
 A Taste of Armageddon on hulu  September 17
 ”The Martian Way” by Isaac Asimov (SFHoF, v2B)  September 24
  • “The Marching Morons” by C. M. Kornbluth (SFHoF, v2A)
  • “Twilight” by John W. Campbell (SFHoF, v1)
 October 1
 ”A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny (SFHoF, v1)  October 8
 ”The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin (SFHoF, v1)  October 15
 ”The Ballad of Lost C’Mell” by Cordwainer Smith (SFHoF, v2A)  October 22
 ”Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes (SFHoF, v1)  October 29
 ”The Roads must Roll” by Robert Heinlein (SFHoF, v1)  November 5
 ”The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells (SFHoF, v2A)  November 12
 “Rossum’s Universal Robots” by Karel Capek  November 19
 No assignment  THANKSGIVING
 No assignment  December 3

The deliverable for the second Robotics challenge will be a longer report (as an group) than the first report. Format will be forth-coming soon.

The Experience Report will be due at the end of the semester. Experience Report Format

Date Textbook Reading Assignment Quiz Material
  August 27  Chapter 7, Chapter 16,
Lecture Notes (Units)
 Chapter 7
 September 3  Chapter 6, Future Challenges  no quiz
 September 10  Chapter 19, Campus Experience  Chapter 19
 September 17  Chapter 16, Units Chapter 16 (units)
 September 24  Chapter 17, Math and Hand-out And Class Notes  no quiz
 October 1 More math  no quiz
 October 8 This will be it for math for now  no quiz
 October 15 vectors (need to prepare a hand-out)  Chapter 17 (math)
 October 22 vectors no quiz
 October 29  Vectors
 November 5  Chapter 18, Engineering Fundamentals (focus on 18.1, 18.2) no quiz
 November 12  Likely another hand out on statics Chapter 18.1 (statics)
 November 19   More engineering fundamentals … application (gears and motors) Likely another hand out requiz on statics
 November 26  Thanksgiving!  No Class no quiz
 December 3 Future Challenges Book Reports
Homework Due Date
 None  August 27
 Units Homework: 16.3, 16.4, 16.6, 16.8, 16.9, 16.12, 16.24  September 3
 More Units Homework  September 10
More units homework (for next year’s class)  September 17
 17.1, 17.5, 17.6, 17.8, 17.9, 17.12, 17.14, 17.36, 17.37, 17.38  September 24
  17.30, 17.31, 17.33, 17.34, 17.35  October 1
Adding vectors [PDF]  October 22
 18.1, 18.2, 18.13, 18.14  November 12
 Moments & Gears [PDF]  December 3


Succeeding in the Classroom
History of Engineering and Engineering Disciplines
Problem-Solving and Brain-Storming
Project Management

If you want to look at the default code for the Vex Microcontroller, it can be downloaded from

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