Honors tutorial: Engineering literacy for the 21st century

Syllabus- Spring 2008

HON 312

Meeting times: Tuesdays: 10:00-11:15

                          Thursday: 10:00-11:15

We will usually meet once a week with the rest of the time devoted to projects.

Instructor:  Emmanuel Boss, emmanuel.boss@maine.edu

Lab manager: James Loftin, James_Loftin@umit.maine.edu

Office hours: by appointment

Course goal: Introduce undergraduate students to programming, sensors and robotics through hands-on projects.

Student responsibilities: attend classes, be on time, maintain an active blog, provide feedback via blog and via discussions with instructor, read reading material, submit assignments.

Assignments: assignment consist of a series of project accomplished about every two weeks. Assignment will come with a rubric detailing what is expected of the students for a given grade. Extra credit will be awarded to projects that go above and beyond the rubric expectation.


Participation: 20%.

Assignments: 60%

Blog (weekly): 20%  (blog handout + rubric [PDF]). 

Reading:  Reading material will be provided as needed to feel in knowledge gaps needed for deeper understanding of concepts associated with projects and to expand our understanding of the larger issues associated with technology.

Syllabus, subject to change, (last updated 03/22/2008):




Assignment/ additional material


Jan 15

Introduction and course mechanics.

Assignment (for Fri, Jan 18th): set up a Blog.

Readings: watch the whole of Pausch's (last) seminar at Carnegie Mellon: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=362421849901825950&pr=goog-sl. Come to class ready to discuss it.

Jan 17

Begin programming with Alice.

Readings: Ch. 1 + appendices of Learning to Program with Alice.

Assignment (due Tue, Jan 22nd) [PDF]


Jan 22


Jan 24



Jan 29


Final Alice Assignment (due Tue. Feb 5th) [PDF]

Read for Thu. the introduction and Ch. 1 of Physical Computing.

class chat on artificial intelligence. See Turing (1950) [PDF]

Jan 31

Choose 1st sensor to build in sensor unit (so we can insure supplies are available).


Feb 5


Alice students projects: Gram Stain (project, writeup), Baxter park (project), Park ranger (project), Global warming (project) and CPR (project, writeup).

Feb 7

Scratch Assignment (due Thu. Feb 26th) [PDF]

Resources: http://scratch.mit.edu/pages/educators


Feb 12


Feb 14



Feb 19


Readings: http://tigoe.net/pcomp/basic elec.shtml - basic electronics

See also: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~elec201/Book/basic_elec.html.

Weekly task [PDF]
Sensor Assignment 1(due Tue. Mar 18th) [PDF]

Feb 21


Feb 26


Scratch project presentations.

Feb 28

Scratch students projects: Prey-predator game, simulation_1, simulation_2 (with schooling, related ppt),  epidemiological simulation, chemo and magneto taxis.

---------------February 29- March 17 spring break-------------


Mar 18

Programmable Sensor 

Sensors presentations. Programmable sensor assignment [PDF]

Mar 20

Programmable sensors presentations.


Mar 25


Mar 27

Readings from Science magazine (introduction, ethics)


Apr 1


Apr 3



Apr 8


Apr 10


Apr 15


Apr 17


Apr 22

Final robotics project.

Apr 24



Apr 29

Final robotics project. presentations

May 1

Text books:

Wanda P Dann , Stephen Cooper , Randy Pausch, Learning to Program with Alice, Brief Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2006

Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers, Dan O'Sullivan and Tom Igoe 2004, Thomson Course Technology PTR; ISBN: 159200346X


Alice. http://www.alice.org

scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/

Relevant courses on the WWW:

Computer programming 101 by Guy W. Lecky-Thompson: http://computerprogramming.suite101.com/article.cfm/computerprogramming101

Lecture on programming:  http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~exr/lectures/se/04/whyse.pdf

Alice Manual by Andreas Roseberg: http://www.ps.uni-sb.de/alice/manual/tour.html

Alice tutorial by Dick Baldwin: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm

Designing animation and game with scratch teaching site (click on English to switch languages): http://www.funlearning.de/

Physical computing at NYU: http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/Intro/HomePage

Other useful resources on the WWW:

Article on programming languages for Lego Mindstorms NXT: http://www.botmag.com/articles/10-31-07_NXT.shtml

Site to plot data in many different (and new) ways: http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/home

A language to program visuals: http://processing.org/

Lego project with additional sensors from Vernier: http://www.vernier.com/nxt/projects.html

A repository of NXT robots: http://nxtasy.org/category/nxt-repository/projects/

Another repository of NXT robots/projects, includes the programs: http://www.nxtprograms.com/

Boss, 2007
This page was last edited on 03/22/2008