FALL 2009


Milind Tambe

Email: tambe@usc.edu [best way to reach me]



Office: PHE 410

Tel: 213-740-6447

Office hours: Thursday 3 pm – 4 pm (or send me an email to set up alternate time)


Two sections:

Monday:            11:00-12:50 pm  RTH 115

Coaches: Jeffrey Newman (jnnewman@usc.edu) and Bryce Toth (btoth@usc.edu)



Wednesday:      11:00-12:50 pm  RTH 109

Coaches: Jennifer Takasumi (takasumi@usc.edu) and Isaac Weitzhandler (weitzhan@usc.edu)

Course Goals & Objectives:

The main goal is to introduce freshman engineering students to various aspects of engineering, including the technical, political, ethical and societal impacts of the field.  There will be a focus on the following themes:

  1. Thinking like an engineer:  development of problem-solving and teamwork skills
  2. Social and historical context: understand social and historical context of engineering
  3. Potential of engineering: understand vast potential of engineering and rewards of engineering profession compared to others
  4. Ethics component: understand ethical issues and concepts related to engineering through discussion of real events and other related activities.
  5. Grand Challenges for engineers of the future:  understand through discussion and projects the 14 grand challenges for engineers as identified by the National Academy of Engineering.
  6. Transition to college: peer mentoring to achieve successful transition from high school to college



Schedule of classes: Freshman Academy

·         August 24/26, 2009: Lecture 1:  Introduction


·         August 31/Sept 2, 2009: Lecture 2: Introduction to Engineering topics series: Lecture introducing Computer Science “Intelligent agents, game theory and its applications”;


o   August 31, 2009: Societal benefits of Engineering: Chief Erroll Southers of LAX Police will give a presentation on use of latest technology in homeland security. Wednesday section students encouraged to attend this class. Class will be held in another classroom. Announcement will be sent by email.

o   Engineering sorority will Alpha Omega Epsilon Presentation



·         Sept  9, 2009: Lecture 3 [No class labor day]. Introduction to Engineering topics series: Tour of Labs USC Engineering, e.g. Earthquake engineering, Biomedical engineering…


·         Sept  14/16, 2009: Lecture 4: Engineering Roundtable: Undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral research associates: Experiences, Motivations and Grand Challenges in Engineering.

o   Also, Societal benefits of Engineering: Dr. Isaac Maya, Director of CREATE (National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events), on impact of Engineering in homeland security at CREATE


·         Sept 21/23, 2009: Lecture 5: Societal benefits of Engineering: Visit to Institute for Creative Technology (ICT), Marina del Rey. ICT is a major research hub at USC, combining our expertise in Engineering and School of Cinema for a variety of applications.


·         Sept 28/30, 2009: Lecture 6: Introduction to Engineering topics series: Prof. Michelle Povinelli on Nanotechnology.


o    Transitioning to college: Coaches discuss handling of exam pressure,  managing time, getting involved in other activities, any other advice.


[homework: prepare CV]

·         Oct 5/7, 2009: Lecture 7: CV preparation, powerpoint generation


·         Oct 12/14, 2009: Introduction to Engineering topics series: Prof. Roger Ghanem: An overview of civil engineering.

o   Oct 12 [Mon]: Lab tour [Earthquake Engineering, Aerospace]

o   Oct 14 [Wed]: Dr. Amos Freedy on starting up companies, entrepreneurship



·         Oct 19/21, 2009: Teamwork, Ethics of Engineering: DEBATE on HUMAN 2.0: Group project on future with technology, “our posthuman future” [biotech, biomed, nanotech, computer science, other robotics related disciplines]. Will it be disruptive? What are the consequences? Science fiction movie.

[Homework on Human 2.0]


·         Oct 26/28, 2009: Oct 26 only: Mr. Arif Alikhan, Assistant secretary for policy development, DHS will give a lecture on homeland security policy. Norah Xiao on library sessions (30 minutes)


·         Nov 2/4, 2009: Submit homeworks and progress report DEBATE on HUMAN 2.0:


·         Nov 9/11, 2009: Introduction to Engineering topics series Invited lecture from Boeing on Satellite Engineering: Panel discussion with Boeing Engineers


·         Nov 16/18, 2009: Human 2.0: Group project presentations from Oct 19/21 groups; Prizes


·         No class thanksgiving week


·         Nov 30/Dec 2: 2009: TBD


Textbook  None.  Reading material will be posted to Blackboard or handed out in class.


Class Requirements & Grading Policy

There will be one lecture per week.  The course will include readings, films, discussions, team activities or projects, and guest lectures.  The course will be graded CR/NC (credit/no credit), according to the following criteria:

(1)   Participation & Attendance (25%)

Students are required to participate in discussions, respond to email requests, and act as responsible colleagues to others in the class. Completion of all in-class assignments is also mandatory.  Because this course meets only once a week, attendance is vital. If you plan on missing a class meeting or activity, please let us know. You are responsible for any information covered in a class you don’t attend. Students allowed 2 unexcused absences throughout semester; coaches will be taking attendance.


(2)   Out of class activities (25%)

Students are required to participate  2 of 3 (or 3 of the 4  if 4 get scheduled) All Academy lectures and attend 50% of the out of class activities planned by the coaches.

·         All Academy Lectures will be held in SGM 123

·         Pizza will be served at 5:30pm; Lecture begins promptly at 6pm

o   Schedule:

o   Henry Petrovski (Duke University) October 1

o   *Peter Diamandis (XPrize Foundation) October 21

o   Christina Smolke (Stanford) November 18



(3)   Homework + Project (50%)

A limited number of homework assignments will be given and are due prior to the start of each class via submission on Blackboard.  Please follow the USC guidelines on academic integrity in completion of any and all homework assignments.   A collaborative, team oriented design project will be completed during the semester.  Topic/Project to be determined by class/group.



(4)   Replacement for ONE Homework assignment

You may substitute one homework assignment with participation in the Fall, 2009 Engineering Career Conference.   Visit RTH 218 to register for the event.  Submit a paper indicating you attended and have it signed off by Kristen Todd or Lilian Rivera.  Also turn in at least one business card from an employer who participated and who you met at the conference.


Statement for Students with Disabilities


Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester.   A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP each semester.  Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to coach) as early in the semester as possible.  DSP is located in STU 301 and is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776


Statement on Academic Integrity


USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. Scampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A: http://www.usc.edu/dept/publications/SCAMPUS/gov/. Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found at: http://www.usc.edu/student-affairs/SJACS/.