First-Year Seminars

Fall 2020

AE 124 Architectural Engineering Orientation

Section 001, 11720, Tu 9:05-10:20 AM

Section 002, 11993, Tu 10:35-11:50 AM

Section 003, 11004, Th 9:05-10:20 AM

Section 004, 11005, Th 10:35-11:50 AM

Section 005, 12168, Tu 4:40 – 5:55 PM

This course is designed to help students decide whether they do or do not want to major in Architectural Engineering. It has four major goals. The first is to introduce the role of the architectural engineer in the building industry. The second is to introduce the concepts of integrated building systems design and construction management. The third is to familiarize students with the Architectural Engineering curriculum, department facilities, and faculty. The fourth and final goal is to develop an awareness and interest in the periodicals and publications related to buildings. This course will provide students with access to the regular faculty of the program, a feature that continues throughout the students' 5-year career in Architectural Engineering. Students and faculty will be connected through discussion of topics related to the building industry and the areas that future AE students will be studying. Since this program operates under enrollment control, this course will address entrance to the major, the requirements placed on the freshman year, and the selection process. Additionally, special features of the program will be discussed, including option selection, which takes place after 3 years, the study abroad program at the University of Leeds, and the integrated graduate/undergraduate program. Depending upon the semester in which the course is taken, students will be provided with either an opportunity to participate in the annual AE Career Fair or the 5th-year thesis presentations. Students will take field trips to buildings and construction sites on campus to reinforce the material learned in class. As a result of this class, all students should be better prepared to make a decision as to whether or not they wish to apply for this major at the end of their first year.


AERSP 1  Aerospace Explorer – First-Year Seminar

Section 001, 11170, M 2:30-3:20 PM

Section 002, 11938, M 3:35-4:25 PM

First-Year Seminar explores aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, rotorcraft systems, high-performance computers, air/space propulsion, and space systems. Aerospace Engineering deals with vehicles that fly -- airplanes, sailplanes, jets, helicopters, rockets, satellites, the space shuttle, space stations, etc. Students with an interest in these subjects can learn more about the variety of challenges and opportunities in the aerospace field through the small-class environment of the Aerospace Explorer First-Year Seminar.  An introduction to both the academic major and career paths in Aerospace Engineering, this seminar deals with the design, analysis, and operation of aircraft and space vehicles. Students will learn about aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, rotorcraft systems, high-performance computers, air-breathing propulsion, space propulsion, and space systems. The classes will include presentations by the Aerospace Engineering faculty, tours of the Aerospace Engineering laboratories, and presentations by student officers in the Penn State chapters of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Helicopter Society (AHS), as well as introductions to the use of scientific plotting, graphing, and analysis software.


AERSP 97.001, 11171, Th 6:00-6:50 PM:  Hands-On Helicopters

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 weaknesses of those configurations. These discussions will be led by 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. 


BE 001.001, 11137, Th 1:35-2:50 PM:  Growing Your Future

This first-year seminar introduces students to the university in general and to the breadth of the agricultural and biological engineering profession. Students participate in hands-on lab activities in the focus areas of the profession, including machinery systems, food and biological processing, and natural resource engineering. Through these lab activities and a group project, students learn how the profession is critical to providing a growing world population with food, fiber, fuel, and water under increasing environmental constraints. In addition to being introduced to Penn State as an academic community, students also become familiar with the resources, tools, and opportunities available to them. Through the lab activities and in-class discussions on research, internship, and international opportunities, students meet and establish relationships with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students affiliated with the Biological Engineering and BioRenewable Systems programs.


BME 100 Biomedical Engineering Seminar

Section 001, 11240, M 1:25-2:15 PM

Section 002, 11242, M 2:30-3:20 PM

Section 003, 11243, W 1:25-2:15 PM

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) taught about 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.


CE 100 Topics and Contemporary Issues in Civil and Environmental Engineering:  First-Year Seminar

Section 001, 11239, W 10:10-11:00 AM

Section 002, 11241, W 1:25-2:15 PM

Section 003, 11825, W 12:20-1:10 PM

The first-year seminar in civil engineering will provide an opportunity for students to explore a specific topic or contemporary issue, which may fall within one of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering's technical emphasis areas, or include many of the facets of civil engineering. Civil engineers plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain the physical works and facilities essential to modern life: highways, streets, bridges, dams and levees, water distribution and wastewater collection, and treatment systems. Civil engineers work with architects and other engineers in the design and construction of buildings and industrial structures and facilities. They also have a major responsibility for identifying and remediating environmental hazards.  The specific course topic, chosen by the course instructor, will vary by section and semester and will be indicated by section subtitle. Examples of the topics that may form the core of a seminar section include droughts and floods, lessons from structural failures, engineers as environmental change agents, beneficial reuse of treated wastewater, highway accident reconstruction and engineering, and landmark civil engineering projects.  Within the context of the specific seminar topic, each section will provide students with an introduction to the civil engineering field, exposure to some of the professional skills and competencies associated with academic study and the practice of engineering, and access to relevant student and professional societies.  Each seminar section will include an active learning element that may include laboratory experiments, group projects, class discussions, and possible trips, providing close interaction with the faculty member teaching the course. This seminar course will help incoming students become acclimated to University life and become aware of available resources and support services.


CHE 97.001, 11742, M 9:05-9:55 am: Industrial Biotechnology

The biotechnology industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy, providing life-saving drugs to millions of patients while also leading the development of drought-resistant crops. This course will provide an overview of the field of industrial biotechnology, beginning with the basic science of recombinant DNA and moving to applications in medicine, agriculture, and industry. The class will be based largely on case studies highlighting advances in industrial biotechnology, with guest lectures provided by current researchers and practitioners from leading biotechnology companies.


CHE 100 Exploring Chemical Engineering First-Year Seminar

Section 002, 11328, W 10:10-11:00 AM

Section 003, 11538, Th 9:05-10:20 AM (8/24-10/15/20)

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. 


CMPEN 111 Computers and Computer Hardware

Section 001, 11122, T 4:35-5:50 PM

Section 002, 11123, Th 4:35-5:50 PM

Section 003, 11697, W 4:00-5:15 PM

This course contains two components: an orientation to University life and an introduction to the hardware aspects of computer engineering. In the orientation to University life, students learn about the responsibilities of and expectations on a student including ethical behavior and explore some of the academic and non-academic resources of the University. In the introduction to computer engineering students learn about some of the fundamental concepts, devices, and methodologies that are involved in the design and use of digital and computer hardware. This exploration begins with a foundation of logic and critical thinking. Logic is examined first from a theoretical problem-solving standpoint. The discussion then progresses to an implementation perspective examining how logic devices are created and used. Included is a look at some CAD tools and some logic design laboratory exercises. Using logic as a basic building block, the organization and design of a computer are then examined, ending in an exploration of some of the contemporary methods used to make computers faster and more efficient.

EE 9:  First-Year Seminar in Electrical Engineering 


Section 001, 11028, Th 10:35-11:50 AM 

Section 003, 30075, T 10:35-11:50 AM

This hands-on survey course introduces fundamental concepts in applied electromagnetics, communications, programming, data science, and autonomous vehicles through the lens of a scenario where autonomous ground vehicles (rovers) play out a cat and mouse game using wireless signal detection and electronic avoidance techniques. The scenario involves an eavesdropper agent (rover 0) using a simple software-defined radio system, with the goal of intercepting communications between two mobile agents (rovers 1 and 2) to determine their relative directions and locations. The goal of the mobile agents is to try to collaborate their use of directional antennas and radio platforms with different communication capabilities (WiFi, LoRa, etc.) to spoof their location and remain undetected as they move across a predetermined path through the area of campus around EE East.

Section 002, 11678, T 1:35-2:50 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.


ENGR 97.051, 12261, T 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), 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.


ENGR 97.167, 11937, T 10:35-11:25 AM: Success 101

A Roadmap for the Successful Student – you will learn more about the engineering profession and acquire the tools you'll need to succeed. And best of all, you'll meet other minority engineering students who share your hopes, dreams, and questions.


ENGR 97.172, 11688, T 12:20-1:10 pm; Section 177, 11764, 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. 


ENGR 97.175, 11486, W 9:05-9:55 am; Section 178, 11908, R 9:05-9:55 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 1, 11217, M 9:05-9:55 am

Section 2, 11218, R 12:05-1:20 pm

Section 3, 11219, R 1:35-2:50 pm

Section 4, 11220, R 3:05-4:20 pm

Section 5, 11638, R 3:05-4:20 pm

Section 6, 11695, W 3:35-4:25 pm

Section 7, 11946, M 9:05-9:55 am

Section 8, 11947, M 10:10-11:00 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.


ESC 97, 11186, W 12:20-1:10 PM:  Respect the environment: ‘cool’ technological advances for clean living

Our task as modern engineers is to keep the environment clean, free of debris, and highly effective in providing and maintaining productive lives of human beings. This FYS will discuss recent technological advancements focused on limiting the amount of ‘waste left behind’. We will learn about living in a passive house, designing cradle to cradle materials, and how to implement a circular economy in everyday life. We’ll use film clips, press releases, and social media in discussing these issues. Working in teams you will design a ‘clean life’ pyramid (think about food or energy pyramid).


ESC 120.001, 11090, W 9:05-9:55 am: Design for Failure

Although an important facet of engineering design is to minimize the possibility of failure of a system component, there are many devices that actually protect a system by their controlled "failure". Further, some components are designed to "work" through failure. In the former situation are such devices as a shear pin in an outboard motor driveline, a fuse in an electrical circuit, a valve actuated by heat in a sprinkler system. In the latter situation, "tab tops" allow one to open a beverage can, perforations cause the paper towel to "tear" in a prescribed manner, plasticity/elasticity allows stamped parts, such as automobile hoods, to retain their new shape following stamping.


ESC 121.001, 11089, M 11:15 am – 12:05 pm: Science/Engineering Fiction and the Engineering Sciences

From the times of Jules Verne, books, then movies and TV, have utilized engineering/science and pseudo-engineering, in envisioning devices which were not then available, but perhaps became so in later times. From Verne's nuclear-driven submarine to his voyage to the moon; to Mary Shelly's electrically created monster; to Dick Tracy's wrist radio (cell phone); to the warp speed of the Jedi, there are successes and failures as to predictions of what would someday be possible. These are examined and discussed.


IE 100.001, 11509, TR 1:35-2:50 PM, 8/25-10/1/20 (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 101.101, 11008, TR 9:05-10:20 am, 8/31-10/9/20 (7-1/2 weeks):  Toy FUNdamentals

Toy FUNdamentals is a first-year seminar designed to introduce mechanical engineering design and prototyping through a product type familiar to everyone: TOYS!  This 6-week class explores the engineering design process through dissection and design, discussion and application of products that appeal to children of both genders. Projects include prototyping, teamwork, and field-testing an original design.  This class will run the first 6 weeks of the fall semester.


ME 102.201, 11528, TR 9:05-10:20 am, 10/12-12/11/20 (7-1/2 weeks):  Smart Lego Robots and Design

In this course, we will explore mechanical engineering technology utilizing a product familiar to all: Legos! This class utilizes Lego Robotics, a sub-group of educational toys.  By constructing Lego robots, students engage in hands-on learning, a recognized method for enriching student outcomes. This class explores the engineering design process through prototyping, teamwork, and field-testing an original Lego robot design.  This class will run the last 8 weeks of the fall semester.



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