Short Courses

Winterim 2016

Skills-based courses designed for students who will remain on campus during December break.

Exploration with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS)

Nov 29 – Dec 2 | Tue – Fri | 9AM – 12PM (lecture), 1PM – 5:30PM (90 minute team sessions)

Ever kick a shiny rock on a path and wonder what it is made of, been curious why a bolt on your bicycle snapped, or just wanted to see a bug really close-up? Come learn how to use Thayer’s Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with compositional microanalysis (“EDS” for x-ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy).

In the mornings students will attend short lectures and watch videos describing how an SEM and an EDS work, followed by discussion and training sessions on these systems. In the afternoons students will be paired-up to run the SEM and EDS systems on their own with help from the instructor as needed.

A number of prepared specimens will be provided, but students are encouraged to bring in specimens they think might be interesting—rocks, a broken piece of metal, dead insects, dried plant matter, coins, or even a paint chip from an art project to see if cadmium yellow really contains cadmium. Class will take place over 3 days, with an optional 4th day for more in-depth work on student specimens.

  • Instructor: Daniel Cullen
  • Location: MacLean 026 / MacLean 028
  • Student Limit: 6
  • Materials Fee: $50
  • Intended Audience: Undergraduate students and non-STEM graduate students.

Acoustic Instrument Design

Dec 5 – 8 | Mon – Thu | 10AM – 5PM

This four day long intensive course is focused on building a modular structure that will function as a musical instrument to be used by composer Molly Herron in a piece commissioned by the Hopkins Center for the Thayer School of Engineering’s 150th anniversary. Herron will have specific challenges and requirements that the group has to meet, but a high level of creative engagement and team problem solving will be required of all participants. Two percussionists will be guest visitors during the course, both instructing the group on acoustic principles and performance concerns, and testing out designs throughout the building process. The final instrument/s must work both sonically and as a structure and have an element of movement or parts that can be assembled live by performers. The work will premiere in May of 2017. No musical experience or prior knowledge of acoustics is required.

  • Instructors: Molly Herron, Vicki May, Ulrike Wegst
  • Location: Couch Lab, MacLean (Machine shop, wood shop, and jewelry studio as needed.)
  • Student Limit: 10
  • Materials Fee: $50

Biotechnology for Beginners

Dec 5 – 9 | Mon – Fri | 9AM – 12PM

This class will be a very basic hands-on introduction to and experience in modern molecular biology.  Are you interested in purifying DNA from bacteria?  Would you like to create a genetically modified organism (GMO)?  Do you want to play with green fluorescent protein (GFP)?  Then join me in the lab!  Over the course of the week, we will do the following:

  1. examine bacteria growing in our natural environment
  2. purify DNA from bacteria
  3. modify bacteria to get them to glow green with GFP
  4. purify the GFP back out of the bacteria
  5. cut up DNA and examine it on agarose gels
  6. perhaps a few other things as time allows
  • Instructor: Mary Kay Brown
  • Location: Cummings 124
  • Student Limit: 10
  • Materials Fee: $50
  • Prerequisites: Students with no prior experience in research labs who have not taken, and don’t plan to take, ENGS 35/160.
  • Intended Audience: Undergraduates who are not planning to major in, or modify a major with, Biotechnology or Biomedical Engineering. 

Your Research Identity

Dec 6 – 7 | Tue – Wed | 9AM – 12PM

In the digital age where everyone has a public identity by default, it is critical that you take control of that part of your public identity that reflects on your role as a researcher and scholar.  There are tools and services to help you ensure that you have a unique and unambiguous identity, connect that identity with your work, communicate about your work to the audience you want, and measure the impact of your work.

In this highly interactive course, you will learn about the options for making or modifying your public researcher profile.  You’ll use tools such as ORCID, ResearchGate,, Google, RefWorks, Web of Science, SherpaRoMEO and more, to make the best decisions for your own researcher identity. We will also address the role of social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs in the researcher identity ecosystem.

The instructors will guide you through a variety of decision steps, and you will use these tools as the course unfolds, so that you will have the researcher identity you want by the end of the course.

  • Instructors: Janifer Holt, James Fries, Emily Boyd
  • Guest Instructors: Barbara DeFelice, Jen Green
  • Location: MacLean 201
  • Student Limit: 10

Internet of Things

Nov 29 – Dec 2 | Tue – Fri | 9AM – 5PM

Get hands-on experience:

  1. programming inexpensive Raspberry Pi internet-enabled tiny computers;
  2. connecting these devices to measure and interact with the real world;
  3. monitoring and controlling these devices from the Internet (e.g. via web browser or smartphone).

This mini-course will help participants better understand, through hands-on experience, the technologies that make IoT devices interact with the physical world and communicate with the Internet, smartphones, and servers. 

We will guide you through the design, hardware and software engineering of an Internet-connected device project, and you will have the chance to enhance and customize this project further or even develop a follow-up project of your own design (individually or in pairs). In the process you will learn some basic Linux shell commands, get introduced to Python programming, experience simple hardware wiring and gain knowledge in network traffic and processes.

We will provide all equipment, software, and guidance.

  • Instructors: Corey Austin, Rich Crowley, Matt Dailey, Mark Franklin, Ben Servoz, Petra Taylor
  • Location: MacLean​ 132
  • Student Limit: 12
  • Materials Fee: $50
  • Prerequisites: Willingness to learn Python programming, basic Linux shell commands, simple hardware wiring, and perhaps HTML or other web publishing/programming tools. 
  • Intended Audience: Students with less programming and hardware experience will be given admittance priority. (More experienced students wishing to work independently are welcome, space permitting.)


Registration Form


Important Notes

AB Students​

MS and PhD Students