Course: EGR 191
Instructor: Jim Olsen
F 2017

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

  • EGR 191 (the physics portion of the EGR191/192 sequence) is a general introduction to mechanical physics with applications in Engineering. EGR 191 covers basic mechanical physics as well as some topics that it's equivalent (PHY 103) does not cover, including fluids, wave mechanics, and thermodynamics.
  • The class is organized around one topic per week for the first half of the course and moves through the concepts very quickly; then the second half of the course is about two weeks per topic, covering the additional topics not covered by PHY 103. Each topic builds upon the material covered in the previous week, so it is important to keep up with the class and grasp the material before moving on.
  • The class meets for lecture once a week on Monday, and then another three times a week (M, W, F) as an extension to lecture. Lecture would introduce new material and have interesting demonstrations, while the tri-weekly meetings would be an extension to the lecture and works on problem solving and providing examples.
  • The class also has a 3-hour weekly lab, focused on constructing and programming a water bottle rocket with an accelerometer. Much of the lab is spent understanding the physics of the rocket and programming the accelerometer using Matlab. During lecture, the professor will guide you through using Matlab so there is no experience necessary.
  • There is a pset due every week on Monday. The psets will be posted with answers and so they are graded on the solution and how the work is done to get the right answer rather than just the answer alone. There is also an in-class, 20-minute quiz every Monday. The quizzes are similar to the pset questions that are due that same day and Professor Olsen would answer any questions in Monday precept before the quiz.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

  • The lecture and tri-weekly class meetings will cover important material, I suggest going to all the lectures and classes to learn the material and problem solve examples. It is very helpful to take notes on not only the concepts, but also the steps by which a problem is approached and solved. Also, ask questions in class because Professor Olsen teaches both the lecture and two of the tri-weekly classes so the tri-weekly classes are a continuum of what is covered in lecture.
  • In precept, you will mainly be solving example problems, so I would highly encourage that you participate and answer questions so that you can check to make sure you are getting the material and understand how to solve the problems.
  • It is helpful to read the textbook before going to lecture so that you have an introduction to the material that will be covered. Lectures and class meetings will move very quickly so it's helpful to prepare before class, especially if you don't already have a little background in physics (AP Physics 1 or C)
  • The lab instructor (Dr. Jarosik) and AI are very helpful and feel free to ask them questions and for help on your code during lab! They will guide you through using Matlab and programming the accelerometer.

Learning For and From Assignments

  • Psets really ensure that you understand the concepts deeply enough that you could apply them to real problems and even combine concepts together to solve a problem. It's very helpful to review concepts from lecture and look at examples in the textbook as it will often show you how to apply a concept to a problem.
  • Office hours are also so helpful for both content and for asking questions about the pset. Professor Olsen is wonderful at explaining concepts and helping to trouble shoot problem sets.
  • Psets are a wonderful way to prepare for not only the weekly quizzes, but also the midterm and final exam. The weekly quizzes will be two questions that are based off of the pset (very similar questions with numbers changed around and a slightly different approach to the same concept).
  • The midterm and final exam ask for application to more complex problems that work in multiple concepts. Working through the textbook/precept problems and old psets are a wonderful way to prepare for the midterm and final exam.
  • To prepare for the midterm and final exams, it's most helpful to do practice exams and go over all the problem sets and precept problems. The more practice you do, the better you'll understand how to use and apply the concepts you learned.

External Resources

There are a plethora of resources online (Youtube, hyperphysics, APlusPhysics, etc.) that you can use if you need extra help. It's always helpful to get a different explanation if you don't understand the way one person/resource explains it. Because the concepts are complex and the textbook can get very confusing, I found it helpful to watching a youtube video explaining the concept in more basic terms first and then going back and trying to understand the textbook or lectures.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

This course does move very quickly, so it's helpful to have a basic background in Physics (e.g. AP Physics 1 or C or A-levels). If you don't have any background in physics, the class is still do-able, but because it moves so quickly, it will probably require more attention and preparation before and after class to fully grasp the material. Calculus is also required for this course (AP Calculus BC or the A-level equivalent is perfect). The psets will take up a good amount of time, but if you work with other students and ask questions/go to office hours, it is definitely do-able. I really enjoyed this class because it teaches you to understand so much more about the way the world around us works.
(Physics) An Integrated Introduction to Engineering, Mathematics, Physics

Add a Strategy or Tip