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Principles of Engineering  2012-2013

Instructor: Mrs. Sarah Wilson

Classroom: 145

Email: sjwilson@mcsdonline.org

Phone: 563-263-6141 ext. 1305

What is Principles of Engineering all about?

“POE” is part of a series of classes that belong to a national program called Project Lead the Way.  This program seeks to get students interested in engineering by providing a project-based curriculum that is both fun and challenging.  Each unit follows the same general format:

A unit starts with the introduction of a long term project goal, such as designing a robot that sorts marbles by color, or creating a ping-pong ball launcher that can hit a given target from 5-20 feet away.  With that goal in mind, daily lessons help students learn the math and science skills necessary to complete the project.  At the end of the skills lessons, students work in partners or teams to design, build, and test their creations.  They’ll finish the unit by writing and presenting a report on the entire process, including their original ideas, how those original ideas changed, what in the design worked, and what needs improved in the future.   The main focus of this class is not necessarily whether your design works or fails—we’re more focused on the process you used to try out the ideas and how you document that process.  

Major Objectives:

  • Use the design process to take an idea from a concept to a final product, documenting the process along the way with sketches and written descriptions
  • Formulate informed judgments about ideas under discussion and support those judgments with convincing evidence
  • Acquire a fluent technical writing style through the preparation of project reports
  • Write descriptively using precise language
  • Deliver oral presentations with poise and clarity
  • Understand the importance of revision & practice this process in order to produce high quality work, taking audience into consideration
  • Improve study skills & organization
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Improve research skills (including evaluation of sources & proper citations)
  • Develop as a self-advocate and responsible student
  • Become both a leader and team player  who consistently encourages and supports his/her classmates to do their best


Materials for Class:

·  3-ring binder

·  Composition notebook for engineering journal

·  Loose leaf paper and Graph paper

·  Pens (blue or black ink that doesn’t bleed through notebook paper) and pencils

·  Calculator – Minimum requirement: scientific calculator (it has the “sin” “cos” and “tan” buttons.)  Graphing calculators are nice to have but not necessary.


Students will be allowed to make up skills assignments, tests, and quizzes that are missed due to excused absences.  The number of days a student will have to make up the work is equal to the number of days the student was absent.  It is the student’s responsibility to get make-up assignments, notes, and find out what went on in class.  Tests or quizzes missed due to unexcused absences are not allowed to be made up.

Late Work: 

Skills assignments may be submitted one day late for 75% credit.  A skills assignment more than one day late will be worth 50% credit and will only be accepted until the end of the six-week grading period in which it was assigned.  A project report will lose 10% of its point value for each day that it’s late, up to 50%.  Late research assignments to be shared on a specific day not only affect the individual student’s learning, but the entire class’s experience as well.  Therefore, no late credit will be given to for shared research if it’s late. 

Extensions on a project deadline may be granted if a student submits a petition before half of the project timeline has expired. (For example, if the project takes 4 weeks to complete, the petition must be submitted by the end of the second week.)  Petitions should be submitted by email and contain the following information: project to be extended, reasoning for extension, new proposed due date for project.  Petitions may be approved or denied at teacher discretion.


Professionalism points are earned through responsible behavior.  All students will start with 100 points in this category of the grade.  Points are deducted at the teacher’s discretion for any behavior that does not contribute to or detracts from our learning environment, including unexcused tardies or excessive absences.   Required class materials should be brought every day. 


Your quarter grades are broken down as follows: 

  • 80% - Project reports, assignments, skills assessments
  • 20% - Semester Exam

A 90-100%      B 80-89%        C 70-79%        D 60-69%        F 59% and below

Some practice assignments will not be graded for use in the final quarter grades but will be used for diagnostic purposes only.  This doesn't mean that the assignments don't have to be completed, merely that students won't be punished for their learning process when we start new material.  Other times assignment re-do's will be allowed.

Grades are available at any time through the PowerSchool public portal.  Please call Student Services for information on how to login.  Because PowerSchool is available, I try not to use a lot of paper to print progress reports for the classroom or to send home.  Students are responsible for keeping track of their grade progress.  Grades are updated Mondays, though assignments with a lot of writing may take more than one week to assess. 

Classroom Procedures:

1.  Show respect for yourself, others, and school property.

2.  Be honest and fair.

3.  Follow directions the first time they are given.

4.  Practice self-control.

5.  Come to class on time, prepared to work, and ready to give 100%.

College Credit

Students enrolled in POE can register to receive dual credit through Muscatine Community College with no associated fees or additional classwork.  Registration will take place during the first two months of school during class time.

Credit at the University of Iowa or Iowa State University is available at the end of the year.  Students who wish to receive direct credit at either of these universities must maintain an 85% average grade over the course of the year and must score 70% or above on the end of course exam.  There is also a fee of $125 or $150 depending on which university you choose to get credit from.  More information on university credit will be available second quarter.



E-mail is a useful mode of communication, particularly during the school day when teachers tend to be busy and might forget information transmitted orally during the course of the day.  E-mails should be used when you have important information that you need to communicate.  For example, you should use email to communicate any of the following types of information: future excused absences, requests for extensions on projects, to schedule a meeting with a teacher, to ask questions you might have that have not been addressed during class, etc… Email should always include a clearly stated purpose, necessary background information, a recommendation or action plan, and clear, concise writing.

Communicating information through e-mail rather than a hurried conversation before or after class ensures that your message is explained in a clear manner and that the recipient of your message remembers your request/information and has a record of that data.

While email is a very convenient form of communication, please keep in mind that you are communicating with a teacher in writing about your work.  That means you should read over what you wrote before you send it out and correct any typos or errors.  Do not use text message abbreviations or emoticons.  I “m not ur bff,” so do not send me emails that read like text messages you would send to a friend. 


Tips for Success:

When in doubt, ASK QUESTIONS!  Ask me, your partner, your parents, an engineer, or look it up in a book or online.  If you find something interesting, share it with the rest of the class.  POE is all about teamwork and problem solving, but teamwork starts with individual drive and initiative. Take responsibility for your education and make the most of your time in this class.  If you’d like extra work time I have POE during 2nd and 7th periods.  You’re always welcome to come to the other class period as long as it doesn’t interfere with your other classes.  I’m also available before or after school by appointment (you’re welcome to drop in, too, but I might be tough to find me in one of my three classrooms or in a meeting with my team members.)

I can almost guarantee that at some point during this year you will feel frustrated, stumped, disappointed, or just plain angry about a project or lesson.  Don’t worry!  It’s all part of the engineering process and it will make your successes that much sweeter.  If a problem has you stuck, take a break and do something that you enjoy and find relaxing.  Sometimes the best ideas will come to you when you’re not stressing about it. 

Welcome to Principles of Engineering!  Let’s have a great year!