First-Year Seminars

Fall 2023

AE 124: Architectural Engineering Orientation 

Section 001: Tu 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

Section 002: Tu 3:05-4:20 p.m.

Section 003: Th 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

Section 004: Th 3:05 – 4:20 p.m.

Section 005: T 4:35 – 5:50 p.m.

Introduction to architectural engineering; lectures and discussions with special reference to the relation of architectural engineering to the building industry. This course is designed to help students decide whether they do or do not want to major in Architectural Engineering. It has four major goals. The first is to introduce the role of the architectural engineer in the building industry. The second is to introduce the concepts of integrated building systems design and construction management. The third is to familiarize students with the Architectural Engineering curriculum, department facilities, and faculty. The fourth and final goal is to develop an awareness and interest in the periodicals and publications related to buildings. This course will provide students with access to the regular faculty of the program, a feature that continues throughout the students' 5-year career in Architectural Engineering. Students and faculty will be connected through discussion of topics related to the building industry and the areas that future AE students will be studying. Since this program operates under enrollment control, this course will address entrance to the major, the requirements placed on the freshman year, and the selection process. Additionally, special features of the program will be discussed, including option selection, which takes place after 3 years, the study abroad program at the University of Leeds, and the integrated graduate/undergraduate program. Depending upon the semester in which the course is taken, students will be provided with either an opportunity to participate in the annual AE Career Fair or the 5th year thesis presentations. Students will take field trips to buildings and construction sites on campus to reinforce the material learned in class. As a result of this class, all students should be better prepared to make a decision as to whether or not the wish to apply for this major at the end of their first year.

AERSP 1:  Aerospace Explorer — First-Year Seminar

Section 001: M 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. 

Section 002: W 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. 

First-Year Seminar explores aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, rotorcraft systems, high-performance computers, air/space propulsion, and space systems. Aerospace Engineering deals with vehicles that fly—airplanes, sailplanes, jets, helicopters, rockets, satellites, the space shuttle, space stations, etc. Students with an interest in these subjects can learn more about the variety of challenges and opportunities in the aerospace field through the small-class environment of the Aerospace Explorer First-Year Seminar.  An introduction to both the academic major and career paths in Aerospace Engineering, this seminar deals with the design, analysis, and operation of aircraft and space vehicles. Students will learn about aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, rotorcraft systems, high-performance computers, air-breathing propulsion, space propulsion, and space systems. The classes will include presentations by the Aerospace Engineering faculty, tours of the Aerospace Engineering laboratories, and presentations by student officers in the Penn State chapters of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Helicopter Society (AHS), as well as introductions to the use of scientific plotting, graphing, and analysis software.

AERSP 97: Hands-On Helicopters

Section 001: Th 6:00 6:50 p.m.

Section 002: T 6:00 6:50 p.m.

This first-year seminar introduces you to the world of vertical flight. You will be introduced to the vocabulary that is unique to helicopters, will discuss the several vertical flight configurations, and will assess the strengths and weaknesses of those configurations. These discussions will be led by an experienced helicopter test pilot. You will have the opportunity to fly a helicopter simulator and will visit a Life Flight helicopter facility, get hands-on with their helicopter, and be briefed by its crew. You will, in addition, discuss goal setting, time management, resume construction, character development, library skills, and other topics intended to assure success in your studies at Penn State.

BE 1: Growing Your Future

Section 001: Th 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

First-year seminar to introduce students to the breadth of the agricultural and biological engineering profession, including bioprocessing, machinery, and natural resources. This first-year seminar introduces students to the university in general and to the breadth of the agricultural and biological engineering profession. Students participate in hands-on lab activities in the focus areas of the profession, including machinery systems, food and biological processing, and natural resource engineering. Through these lab activities and a group project, students learn how the profession is critical to providing a growing world population with food, fiber, fuel, and water under increasing environmental constraints. In addition to being introduced to Penn State as an academic community, students also become familiar with the resources, tools, and opportunities available to them. Through the lab activities and in-class discussions on research, internship, and international opportunities, students meet and establish relationships with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students affiliated with the Biological Engineering and BioRenewable Systems programs.

BME 100: Biomedical Engineering Seminar

Section 001: M 1:25 – 2:15 p.m.

Section 002: M 2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

Section 003: W 1:25 – 2:15 p.m.

First-year seminar to introduce the students to the field of biomedical engineering, and related opportunities in research, and industry. BME 100S is a first-year seminar designed for students interested in pursuing a career in Biomedical Engineering. Through a series of lectures, demonstrations and problem-solving sessions, the multifaceted world of biomedical engineering will be explored. Students will be: 1) introduced to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of study and research with an emphasis on Biomedical Engineering 2) acquainted with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State 3) given an opportunity to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students interested in Biomedical Engineering 4) taught about their responsibilities as part of the University community 5) engaged in discussion about Biomedical Engineering and possible career paths that are available to Biomedical Engineering graduates.

CE 100S: Civil Engineering Topics/Issues 

Section 001: W 10:10 – 11:00 a.m.

Section 003: W 12:20 – 1:10 p.m.

The first-year seminar in civil engineering will provide an opportunity for students to explore a specific topic or contemporary issue, which may fall within one of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering's technical emphasis areas or include many of the facets of civil engineering. Civil engineers plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain the physical works and facilities essential to modern life: highways, streets, bridges, dams and levees, water distribution and wastewater collection, and treatment systems. Civil engineers work with architects and other engineers in the design and construction of buildings and industrial structures and facilities. They also have a major responsibility for identifying and remediating environmental hazards. The specific course topic, chosen by the course instructor, will vary by section and semester and will be indicated by section subtitle. Examples of the topics that may form the core of a seminar section include droughts and floods, lessons from structural failures, engineers as environmental change agents, beneficial reuse of treated wastewater, highway accident reconstruction and engineering, and landmark civil engineering projects.  Within the context of the specific seminar topic, each section will provide students with an introduction to the civil engineering field, exposure to some of the professional skills and competencies associated with academic study and the practice of engineering, and access to relevant student and professional societies. Each seminar section will include an active learning element that may include laboratory experiments, group projects, class discussions, and possible trips, providing close interaction with the faculty member teaching the course. This seminar course will help incoming students become acclimated to University life and become aware of available resources and support services.

CHE 100: Explore Ch E First-Year Seminar

Section 001: W 11:15 – 12:05 p.m.

Section 002: M 11:15 – 12:05 p.m.

Designed for students intending to major in Chemical Engineering (ChE), this course is an introduction to ChE. Discussions with faculty and visiting engineers on job selection, patents, licensing, and professional ethics. The exploration of Chemical Engineering and available career opportunities.

CMPEN 111: Computers and Computer Hardware

Section 001: Tu 4:35 – 5:50 p.m.

Section 002: Th 4:35 – 5:50 p.m.

Section 003: W 4:00 – 5:15 p.m

A brief orientation to university life and resources and an introduction to computers and computer hardware. This course contains two components: an orientation to university life and an introduction to the hardware aspects of computer engineering. In the orientation to university life, students learn about the responsibilities of and expectations on a student including ethical behavior and explore some of the academic and non-academic resources of the University. In the introduction to computer engineering students learn about some of the fundamental concepts, devices, and methodologies that are involved in the design and use of digital and computer hardware. This exploration begins with a foundation of logic and critical thinking. Logic is examined first from a theoretical problem-solving standpoint. The discussion then progresses to an implementation perspective examining how logic devices are created and used. Included is a look at some CAD tools and some logic design laboratory exercises. Using logic as a basic building block, the organization and design of a computer is then examined, ending in an exploration of some of the contemporary methods used to make computers faster and more efficient.

CMPSC 111: Logic for Computer Science

Section 001: T 3:05 – 4:20 p.m.

Section 002: Th 3:05 – 4:20 p.m.

An introduction to logic and its application to problem-solving and computer science. CMPSC 111S Logic for Computer Science (1) Computer Science provides the fundamental tools for analyzing problems and designing solutions to these problems which can be implemented on a computer. Logic plays an important role in this process, from a general-purpose tool for reasoning about knowledge to a special-purpose language for specifying the behavior of programs and designing hardware. This course examines the role of logic in problem-solving and its application to computer science and computer engineering. Example problems will be drawn from a variety of sources, including brain teasers, puzzles, and mathematics. We will show how these problems and their solutions apply to real problems involving computers. We will also explore a number of important areas of computer science and computer engineering including Boolean and Digital Logic, Designing Arithmetic Hardware, Cryptography and Security Programming Languages, Networking and Wireless Communication, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Ethics.

EE 8: Introduction to Digital Music

Section 001: Th 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

First-year seminar that discusses digital music from an electrical engineering perspective; topics include sampling, digital filtering, compression, and music synthesis.  E E 008S is a lab-oriented first-year seminar course aimed at students interested in the field of digital music. Specifically, this course discusses how the various digital music formats (and other types of digital audio) relate to the electrical engineering sub-discipline of digital signal processing. Students will come out of this course with a more technical understanding of the digital audio formats that they listen to every day. This course is structured to have alternating periods of lecture and lab. New concepts are first covered in the lectures and then reinforced with a variety of laboratory activities. In the laboratory experiments, students will use various computer programs and will also get exposure to standard test equipment used by electrical engineers. Topics covered in the lectures/labs include investigating the physics of sound, sampling and quantization of music signals, generating audio special effects through the use of digital filters, compression techniques used in digital audio, and mathematically synthesizing instrument sounds. Current popular digital audio formats such as compact disc audio, WAV, MP3, and MIDI will also be investigated throughout this course. No musical experience/talent is necessary.

EE 9: First-Year Seminar in Electrical Engineering

Section 001: Th 10:35 – 11:50 a.m.

Section 002: T 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

Section 003: T 3:05 – 4:20 p.m.

EE 9S.001, Th 10:35 – 11:50 a.m.

This hands-on survey course introduces fundamental concepts in applied electromagnetics, communications, programming, data science, and autonomous vehicles through the lens of a scenario where autonomous ground vehicles (rovers) play out a cat and mouse game using wireless signal detection and electronic avoidance techniques. The scenario involves an eavesdropper agent (rover 0) using a simple software defined radio system, with the goal of intercepting communications between two mobile agents (rovers 1 and 2) to determine their relative directions and locations. The goal of the mobile agents is to try to collaborate their use of directional antennas and radio platforms with different communication capabilities (WiFi, LoRa, etc.) to spoof their location and remain undetected as they move across a predetermined path through the area of campus around EE East.This course is for first-year students only.

EE 9S.002, T 1:35 – 2:50 p.m.

Are you interested in electronics and computers? In this first-year seminar course, students will learn to create control systems, feedback loops, and fun gadgets using the Arduino microcontroller. This course will provide a gentle introduction to Electrical Engineering as well provide a starting point for future personal projects using this inexpensive microcontroller.  This course is for first-year students only.

EE 9S.003, T 3:05 – 4:20 p.m.

From the camera on your phone to the latest space telescope, from Virtual Reality headsets to the lidar atop a self-driving car, from solar energy to Qbits and quantum computing, optics and photonics are an integral part of today's world, and tomorrow's too.  This seminar is a great place to start your journey toward the light! This course is for first-year students only.

ENGR 100: Intro to Engineering

Section 001 M 9:05-9:55 pm

Section 002 Th 12:05-1:20 pm

Section 003 Th 1:35-2:50 pm

Section 004 Th 12:05-1:20 pm

Section 005 Th 3:05-4:20 pm

Section 006 W 10:10-11:00 am

Section 007 W 11:15 pm- 12:05 pm

Section 008 W 12:20-1:10 pm

Section 009 T 10:35-11:25 am

Section 010 M 3:35-4:25 pm

Section 011 W 11:15-12:05 pm

Section 012 W 10:10-11:00 am

Section 013 T 9:05-9:55 am

Section 014 T 12:20-1:20 pm

Section 016 T 12:20-1:10 pm

Section 017 Th 12:20-1:10 pm

Section 018 W 12:20-1:10 pm

A seminar providing information about different engineering majors, coping with college life, and exploring educational and career goals. ENGR 100S ENGR 100S Introduction to Engineering (1) (FYS)Engineering 100 is a First-Year Seminar designed as an introduction to the majors available to students in engineering. There are three main goals:1. To introduce students to the areas of study that the college has to offer - this is to assist students in deciding whether engineering is for them. It also helps students decide which major within engineering is for them. This introduction is accomplished through homework exercises and guest speakers - graduates in industry, graduate students, department heads, faculty, and current undergraduates.2. To introduce students to the university in general - what resources are available and what it means to be a student at a university instead of high school. This is accomplished through guest speakers, lectures by your professor, and homework exercises.3. To provide students with an opportunity to interact with faculty members, academic advisers, and other students. The class meets twice a week. All sections meet together once a week to listen to presentations from people representing each major. On the other class day, sections meet separately with their professor for presentations and activities unique to that instructor.

ESC 120: Design for Failure

Section 001 – W 10:10-11:00 am

This seminar, through the utilization of commonly used examples, discusses the engineering principles which are exploited by such designs. Although an important facet of engineering design is to minimize the possibility of failure of a system component, there are many devices which actually protect a system by their controlled 'failure'. Further, some components are designed to "work" through failure. In the

former situation are such devices as: a shear pin in an outboard motor driveline, a fuse in an electrical circuit, a valve actuated by heat in a sprinkler system. In the latter situation, "tab tops " allow one to open a beverage can, perforations cause the paper towel to "tear" in a prescribed manner, plasticity/elasticity allows stamped parts, such as automobile hoods, to retain their new shape following stamping.

ESC 121: Fiction and Engineering Science

Section 001 – M 11:15-12:05 pm

Examines the technology predictions of authors in view of the engineering sciences on which the underlying devices of their stories are based. From the times of Jules Verne, books, then movies and TV, have utilized engineering/science and pseudo-engineering, in envisioning devices which were not then available, but perhaps became so in later times. From Verne's nuclear driven submarine to his voyage to the moon; to Mary Shelly's electrically created monster; to Dick Tracy's wrist radio (cell phone); to the warp speed of the Jedi, there are successes and failures as to predictions of what would some day be possible. These are examined and discussed.

IE 100: Discover Industrial Engineering

Section 001: T, Th 1:35 – 2:50 p.m. (6-weeks - starts 8/22/23 through 9/28/23)

Informational First-year Seminar on Industrial Engineering as a career choice and profession; lab exercises; guest speakers; real world problems. The objective of this first-year seminar course is to provide information on industrial engineering as a career choice and as a profession. It is a fact that most first-year students have never heard of Industrial Engineering (IE), or the many varied opportunities that exist within the IE major. This course explores the many aspects of the major and also offers the opportunity to interact with IE faculty and students, something that is an uncommon occurrence during the first year of engineering study. Class time is used for a variety of activities including: interactive class sessions where students work in teams to analyze and solve applied "real-world" problems in industrial and manufacturing engineering; IE faculty guest speakers addressing career opportunities in a particular area within IE; Lab experiences or demonstrations; Alumni guest speakers or panels; Plant tours (1 per semester); IE student panels on topics such as Co-op. The class atmosphere is relaxed and there are no examinations. Homework assignments are given throughout the semester on relevant topics.

ME 101: Toy Fundamentals

Section 101: T, Th 9:05 – 10:20 a.m. (8/28/23-10/13/23) 7 week mini course

Section 102: T, Th 9:05 – 10:20 a.m. (10/16/23-12/08/23) 7 week mini course

ME 101 Toy FUNdamentals is a hands-on first-year seminar that explores mechanical engineering design through toy products. This seven-week course engages students in toy dissection, design, prototyping, and field-testing. Students also engage in career development and explore careers and create a technical resume. Course will the first or second half of fall semester.

ME 190: First-Year Engagement Program - Special Topics in ME

Section 001: M 2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

Section 002: M 9:05 – 10:20 a.m. MINI Course (8/21/2023 - 10/23/23)

A First-Year Seminar focusing on issues related to Mechanical Engineering. M E 190S M E 190S Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering: First-Year Seminar (1) (FYS)In this First-Year Seminar, students will explore the Mechanical Engineering profession by means of treatment of a particular topic in M E. Students will be assigned pertinent readings and the professor will lead discussions on the ethical, professional, and societal aspects of the topic area. The seminar will also feature group activities and encourage participation in the classroom setting.

NUCE 297: Discovering Nuclear Engineering

Section 001: W 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. Nuc Sci Eng Res Ed by appointment

Learn what nuclear engineering is, what nuclear engineers do, and about new advancements in nuclear science and engineering and their impact on the society. Nuclear engineering at Penn State is an exciting, multi-disciplinary, landscape-changing field with a broad range of research topics, applications, and opportunities. From artificial intelligence, materials, policy, and law to national security, nuclear engineers work in many areas of life using nuclear science and engineering to make our society better. The nuclear engineering faculty at Penn State study advanced nuclear fission and fusion reactors, nuclear materials, thermal hydraulics in advanced reactors, radiation transport and detection, fundamental nuclear physics, and additive manufacturing solutions for many nuclear applications, to name a few topics of interest. This cutting-edge research portfolio forms the unique nuclear engineering undergraduate curriculum at Penn State, preparing students for thrilling careers or post-graduate study. NUCE 297 introduces the fundamental theories and applications that comprise nuclear engineering, as well as how nuclear engineering has impacted our society, and what the future holds for nuclear science and technology. Post-graduate careers and fields of study will also be covered.



The School of Engineering Design and Innovation delivers effective engineering education and unrivaled research opportunities through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. The school offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

School of Engineering Design and Innovation

213 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2952