engineering systems: critical infrastructure and logistics

This semester I am team teaching an introduction to engineering course for freshmen (EGR102 at UW-Madison). The course is designed to help students choose a major in engineering by exploring engineering grand challenges. In the course, students discover that there are thousands of ways to be an engineer, not just 10 ways to be an engineer (corresponding to the 10 engineering majors). I believe this approach helps to retain students in engineering, particularly women and minority students who may not have enough role models in engineering to help them feel like they belong.

138 students are enrolled this semester. Students have several common lectures in a large lecture hall. Then, we divide the students into sections (“themes”) of 20-24 students so they can explore a topic in more detail. Each theme must cut across all the engineering majors so it has something for everyone. Each student is assigned to 2 of the 6 themes for about 8 classes each:

Theme 1: Engineering Solutions for a Healthy World
Theme 2: Safety and Risk-Analysis of Emerging Technology
Theme 3: Critical Infrastructures and Logistics (mine!)
Theme 4: Megacities and Urban Engineering
Theme 5: Controlling Carbon: Powering our Future Societies
Theme 6: Global Engineering Challenges: Energy and Water

Here is my list of required and recommended reading for my theme on critical infrastructure and logistics.

Media about cities and the engineering challenges that cities provide:

Systems thinking and engineering design

Thinking about next-generation transportation, public transit, and the sustainability of public transit:

Self-driving cars

Smartgrid, the connected home, and cyber-security


Non-technical constraints

Here are the course learning objectives:
By the end of this class, students should be able to…
1) Identify a societal problem that requires an engineering solution and identify non-technical constraints.
2) Design multidisciplinary engineering approaches to societal problems.
3) Appraise and evaluate these engineering approaches.
4) Compare and contrast various engineering solutions.
5) Identify the different engineering disciplines and describe how each can contribute to the solution of grand challenge problems
6) Find, select, and correctly document credible sources for use in a group research project.
7) Summarize and discuss important facts, ideas, and arguments from different sources in well-crafted written assignments.
8) Present research findings on a coherent and defined topic to the class in a clear, organized, and persuasive manner using the appropriate media tools.

Related reading:

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