SMS 416

Engineering literacy

Meeting times: Tuesdays: 11:00-12:15

Thursday: 11:00-12:15

Most class time will be devoted to work on projects.

Instructors: Emmanuel Boss, & James Loftin,

Office hours: by appointment. Don't hesitate to come by during class time if we can help.

Course goal: Introduce students to programming, sensors and robotics through hands-on projects. Additional goals include: 1. Students learn to work by themselves and in groups gaining confidence in their ability to learn and obtain skills on their own in the future. For some, this class will lead naturally to finding new and exciting capstone opportunities and even employment as technicians.

Student responsibilities: attend classes, be on time, maintain an active blog (write at least once a week), provide feedback via blog and via discussions with instructor, read reading materials, submit assignments on time. It is expected that you will spend, on average, 6-9 hrs a week on this class (this IS a 3 credits class).

Assignments: assignment consist of a series of projects accomplished about every week or two. Assignments will come with a rubric detailing what is expected of the students for a given grade. Extra credit will be awarded to projects that go above and beyond the rubric expectation.


Participation: 10% {points taken off for: 1. Not coming to class (w/o prior notice). 2. Coming late to class}

Assignments: 70%.

Blog (weekly): 20% (blog handout + rubric). Assignment: A blog entry needs to be entered every week by Friday night (11:59pm).

Reading: Reading (and/or viewing) materials will be provided as weekly to fill in knowledge gaps and to gain deeper understanding of concepts associated with projects and to expand your understanding of the larger issues associated with the technology and its role in marine sciences. You are expected to comment on ALL the reading in your weekly blog entry.

H1N1: In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to an H1N1 swine flu outbreak, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version.

A paper describing the class in its 2012 incarnation can be found at:

Below are the weekly list of activities and tasks. List will be updated weekly.




Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers, Dan O'Sullivan and Tom Igoe, 2004, Thomson Course Technology PTR; ISBN: 159200346X

Getting started in electronics, Forrest M. Mims III [link]

Sensors & electronics:

Sensors for robots [link]

The home page of Forrest M Mims III [link]

Introduction to electronics [link]

MAKE, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) resource [link]

Thingiverse, another Do-It-Yourself (DIY) resource [link]

Adafruit, a great resource for DIY projects [link]

Tutorials for electronics projects from sparkfun [link]

Instructables, a place where people share DIY instruction of many things [link]


A repository of lego mindstorm robots/projects, includes the programs [link]

Relevant courses on the WWW:

Slides of lecture on programming basics [link]

Designing animation and game with scratch teaching site (click on English to switch languages) [link]

Physical computing at NYU [link]

Other useful resources on the WWW:

A language to program visuals [link]

Lego project with additional sensors from Vernier [link]

Free college courses (including beginning courses in computer sciences:,,, and