First-Year Seminars

Spring 2020

AERSP 1 Aerospace Explorer;  Section 001, 11340, M 3:35-4:25 pm; Section 001, 26584, F 2:30-3:20 pm

This First-Year Seminar introduces you to the world of vertical flight.  You will be introduced to the vocabulary that is unique to helicopters, will discuss the several vertical flight configurations, and will assess the strengths and weakness of those configurations. These discussions will be led be an experienced helicopter test pilot.  You will have the opportunity to fly a helicopter simulator and will visit a Life Flight helicopter facility, get hands-on with their helicopter and be briefed by its crew.  You will, in addition, discuss goal-setting, time management, resume-construction, character development, library skills, and other topics intended to assure success in your studies at Penn State.  

AERSP 97.001, 11341, R 6:00-6:50 pm: Hands-On Helicopters

The Hands-On Helicopters First Year Seminar will introduce first-year students to the fascinating world of vertical flight. Students will visit a helicopter hanger, see a radio-controlled helicopter demonstration, and participate in several activities to learn about the engineering properties of rotary-wing aircraft (helicopters and tiltrotors). Each meeting period (8 periods total) will include a 75-minute instruction period followed by a 90-minute lab session.


Structures — what are they made of? Why are they constructed as they are?
Aerodynamics — how does it actually stay up?
Directional Control — how does a helicopter fly forward?
Engineering Software — what software do engineers use?
Noise — why does a helicopter go "wop-wop-wop"?
Autorotation — what happens if the engines fail?
Stability — what is it and how can a designer avoid instabilities?
History — how have these helicopters been developed and where do we go from here?

AE 124.002, 11654, R 10:35-11:50 am: Orientation to Architectural Engineering

Designed for students intending to major in Architectural Engineering (AE), this course is an introduction to AE with emphasis on relationships with the building industry.

BME 100.001, 11336, M 12:20-1:20 pm: Biomedical Engineering Seminar

A first-year seminar designed for students interested in pursuing a career in Biomedical Engineering. Through a series of lectures, demonstrations and problem-solving sessions, the multifaceted world of biomedical engineering will be explored. Students will be: 1) introduced to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of study and research with an emphasis on Biomedical Engineering 2) acquainted with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State 3) given an opportunity to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students interested in Biomedical Engineering 4) acquainted with their responsibilities as part of the University community 5) engaged in discussion about Biomedical Engineering and possible career paths that are available to Biomedical Engineering graduates.

CHE 100 First-Year Seminar in Chemical Engineering; Section 001, 11380, TBA; Section 002, 11381, M 10:10-11:00 am; Section 003, 11379, R 9:05-10:20 am

Designed for students intending to major in Chemical Engineering (ChE), this course is an introduction to ChE. Discussions with faculty and visiting engineers on job selection, patents, licensing, and professional ethics. 

CMPSC 111 Logic for Computer Science; Section 001, 11303, T 1:35-2:50 pm; Section 002, 11304, R 1:35-2:50 pm; Section 003, 11731, W 2:30-3:45 pm

This course examines the role of logic in problem-solving and its application to computer science and computer engineering. Example problems will be drawn from a variety of sources, including brain teasers, puzzles, and mathematics. We will show how these problems and their solutions apply to real problems involving computers. We will also explore a number of important areas of computer science and computer engineering including Boolean and Digital Logic, Designing Arithmetic Hardware, Cryptography and Security Programming Languages, Networking and Wireless Communication, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Ethics.  Students will be assessed through class participation and assignments.

EDSGN 11 (Multiple sections – SEE SECTION-SPECIFIC TOPICS BELOW.): Explorations in Design First-Year Seminar

Engineering Design is a diverse field of study with many emerging topics and applications. The goal of this first-year seminar is to introduce students to a particular topic or set of topics related to design. The specific course topic, chosen by the course instructor, may vary each semester.  Some current topics include sustainability, global awareness, community engagement, humanitarian engineering, critical thinking, additive manufacturing, and ethics.  

Section 051, 11798, T 3:35-4:25 pm; Section 052, 26417, R 3:35-4:25 pm: Humanitarian Engineering

Humanitarian engineering is the development of product and services that directly improve the well-being of poor, marginalized, or under-served communities, namely through improved access to basic human needs (e.g., clean water, clean energy), an improved quality of life, or improved level of community resilience (e.g., disaster mitigation, economic resilience). In this course, we will explore how humanitarian products and services are developed and see examples of successful solutions from around the globe. We will also see the important impact of community understanding, social entrepreneurship, and human-centered design in these successes. 

Section 169, 11641, T 1:35-2:50 pm: Engineering in China

In this First-Year Seminar, you’ll learn about Chinese engineering education and practice using case studies of some big engineering projects in China such as the Three Gorges Dam, Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and the Yangshan Port. Students are assigned into teams for a team project: “profile an engineering firm in the United States that has a huge investment in China”. Some Chinese cultural issues will be discussed in class as well. Up to six students might be selected from this course to go to China for an internship.

Section 173, 26420, T 10:35-11:50 am: Additive Manufacturing

This is a First-Year Seminar (FYS) based on the method of Additive Manufacturing (AM). Helpful methods and resources for class work are described along with details of university assets such as libraries, study spaces, websites, etc. Student clubs and other organizations that promote awareness and involvement with Additive Manufacturing are highlighted, including contact and location information.

The evolution, current condition and future trends of A.M are covered, along with basic configuration of the process and all steps in the creation of parts or assemblies. The impact of this manufacturing method on engineering design is emphasized and demonstrated. Working in small teams, students learn basic theory of the method, using the Solidworks CAD program to create computer-generated models and building parts from those models on machines such as Makerbots and Rep-Raps. Students identify, design, fabricate, and write reports about an object that is suitable for AM, explaining why additive is the preferred method to make the chosen object. For example, AM is often driven by the need for customization, rapid cycle times, small lot sizes or economic efficiency.

Professional-level technical communication is emphasized, including project presentations and reports and engineering ethics, from the canons of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) to the requirements of Penn State academic integrity, is covered in light of the capabilities of this emerging technology.

ENGR 97 (Multiple sections – SEE SECTION-SPECIFIC TOPICS BELOW.): Engineering First-Year Seminar

Section 150, 12045, T 3:05-4:20 pm: Engineering Professional Development for International Students

This seminar is for first-year international students in the College of Engineering. This course covers different topics each week that will help students to identify the best resources for success both at Penn State and in future careers. There will be a series of speakers to cover a variety of topics geared towards helping students succeed at Penn State and familiarizing them with U.S. university culture. Students will be assessed on participation in activities inside and outside of the classroom as well as on a series of reflective assignments throughout the semester.

Section 172, 26463, T 12:20-1:10 pm; Section 177, 11777, R 12:20-1:10 pm: Sustainable State

This First Year Seminar explores the meaning of sustainability and its relevance to the work of engineers. In this class, we will explore and deal openly and honestly with the following: core principles of sustainability; Penn State’s efforts to implement sustainable actions; and the realities of being a first-year student. Through class discussion, activities, and readings, you will be asked to investigate the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our dominant ways of life. We will use field trips, guest speakers, readings, videos, assessments, research, and class discussions to engage in this endeavor. We will look at what Penn State is doing to address this mega-challenge. Over the course of the semester, you will create your own definition of sustainability and explore the various ways Engineers might work to address issues of sustainability in the global community. 

Section 176, 11776, W 10:10-11:00 am: Engineering Research

This First-Year Seminar prepares first-year students to succeed in engineering through the lens of research.  During the course students learn more about engineering research and majors, develop success skills including time management and goal setting, and become familiar with Penn State resources. At the end of the course, students will have an appreciation for the research happening here at University Park and tools to get involved on a research team during their undergraduate career. 

ENGR 100 Introduction to Engineering; Section 2, 11119, R 3:05-4:20 pm; Section 3, 26465, M 3:35-4:25 pm; Section 6, 11120, M 9:05-9:55 am

This course is a First-Year Seminar (FYS) designed as an introduction to the engineering field. More specifically, it is about studying engineering, succeeding in engineering, and the engineering profession.  In this seminar you should 1) learn if an engineering career is right for you; 2) develop success skills including goal setting, time management, effective studying, working in teams, library research, and oral presentations; 3) explore engineering challenges; 4) become familiar with the University, the College of Engineering, your responsibilities as a student, and the learning tools and resources; and 5) interact with and develop a relationship with your faculty member and other students.

EE 9.001, 11150, R 10:35-11:50 am: Intro to Ham Radio

This course will offer demonstrations and lectures to introduce the student to the world of Amateur "Ham" Radio. Additionally, this course will provide the knowledge necessary for the student to pass the FCC exam to obtain a first Ham Radio license.

EE 9.002, 11666, W 2:30-3:45 pm: WE Are … DUINO

Are you interested in electronics and computers? In this first-year seminar course, students will learn to create control systems, feedback loops, and fun gadgets using the Arduino microcontroller. This course will provide a gentle introduction to Electrical Engineering as well as provide a starting point for future personal projects using this inexpensive microcontroller.

IE 100.001, 11096, TR 12:05-1:20 pm, 1/7-2/15/19 (7-1/2 weeks): Discover Industrial Engineering

The objective of this first-year seminar course is to provide information on industrial engineering as a career choice and as a profession. It is a fact that most first-year students have never heard of Industrial Engineering (IE), or the many varied opportunities that exist within the IE major. This course explores the many aspects of the major and also offers the opportunity to interact with IE faculty and students, something that is an uncommon occurrence during the first year of engineering study.

ME 97.001, 11963, M 2:30-3:20: Intro to Mechanical Engineering

Students will learn about and discuss the wide breadth of research topics in mechanical engineering and how to prepare for an undergraduate research position. Throughout the course, students will participate in tours of state-of-the-art research labs in the MNE department, interact with undergraduate students currently involved in conducting research in the MNE department, practice writing correspondence, developing short videos, and making presentations.



The School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) delivers effective engineering education and unrivaled research opportunities through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. SEDTAPP offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs

213 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2952