Engineering Sciences 21



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2012 Schedule



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Introduction to Engineering


The student is introduced to engineering through participation, as a member of a team, in a complete design project. The synthesis of many fields involving the laws of nature, mathematics, economics, management, and communication is required in the project. Engineering principles of analysis, experimentation, and design are applied to a real problem, from initial concept to final recommendations. The project results are evaluated in terms of technical and economic feasibility and social significance. Lectures are directed toward the problem, and experiments are designed by students as the need develops. Enrollment is limited to 64 students.

Prerequisite: MATHEMATICS 3 or permission of the instructor.

Distributive: TAS


William Lotko (lead)  
Office: Room 217b, Cummings Hall  
Telephone: 646-3485  
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment  


Peter Robbie  
Office: Room 115, MacLean Hall  
Telephone: 646-9396  
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment  


Ulrike Wegst  
Office: Room 106, Cummings Hall  
Telephone: 646-3148  
Office Hours: Open, anytime or by appointment  


MWF at 10:00-11:05, plus Thursday (X-hour) from 12:00-12:50. The x-hour will be used for regular meetings during the first half of the course. The course also requires development of 4 project milestones - some of your presentations will need to be scheduled outside the normal class time.


This course does not use a textbook, but some useful reference books are listed at the end of this page.


ENGS 21 does not have homework assignments or examinations in the usual sense. Your grade will be based on the performance of your project team, as evidenced by four written reports and three oral presentations (white paper, project proposal, progress report, and final report) and the design and development of a prototype of a novel device, system, or process, which addresses a demonstrated need consistent with the course theme. Additional information about the milestones and the course objectives can be found in the circular "ENGS 21: Objectives and Expectations".

Support & Resources

As described in the circular, "ENGS 21: Project Support Services", you will have access to the multitude of technical and administrative support services and facilities available at the Thayer School, plus a $500 discretionary budget to complete the project. Your team will also be assigned an experienced teaching assistant, who will help keep the team on track and who understands the ENGS 21 project experience.


More information about this course, including guidelines and rubrics for evaluation of the four project milestones, handouts, and links to useful information, is available at the ENGS 21 Blackboard site. You can login to Blackboard using your DND username and password. If you have registered for ENGS 21, you will see a link in your "My Courses" list.


Johnson, "Where good ideas come from", 2010 liquid networks, "chance favors the connected mind", Stuart Kaufmann's "adjacent possible".
de Bono, "Lateral Thinking", 1973 the quintessential guide to effective brainstorming.

Adams, "Conceptual Blockbusting", 4th ed., 2001

how to transcend limiting thought patterns.

Norman, "The Design of Everyday Things", 2002 (reissued)

"Anyone who designs anything to be used by humans--from physical objects to computer programs to conceptual tools--must read this book" (Sequel: "The Design of Future Things", 2007.)
Christensen, "The Innovator's Dilemma", 1995 introduces the concept of disruptive technology and how it creates an entirely new value proposition, primarily from a business perspective. (Sequel: "The Innovator's Solution", 2003.)
Gold, "The Plenitude" Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff, 2007 from the seemingly contradictory but complementary perspectives of the artist, scientist, designer, and engineer. How can we in good conscience accept the pleasures of creating stuff that only creates the need for more stuff? "We should be careful to make the world we actually want to live in."
Drucker, "Innovation and Entrepreneurship", 1999 the classic reference and gold standard for innovation and entrepreneurial strategies.
Dominick et al., "Tools and Tactics of Design", 2000 all around excellent textbook on team-based engineering design.
Finkelstein, "Pocket Book of Technical Writing", 2nd ed., 2005 useful guide to the art and form of technical writing.
Maxwell, "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player", 2002 how to be a better team player.
Maxwell, "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader", 1999 a practical guide to leadership.
McDonough & Braungart, "Cradle to Cradle", 2002 "a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design"
Okala Ecological Design, "Course Guide", 2010 a course guide to sustainable design. Click here for a pdf preview.