College of Engineering
Montana State University

ENGR 125CS: Technology, Innovation, and Society

Fall Semester 2009
Section 1 (CRN 23122), MWF 2:10-3:00PM, Wilson Hall 1-132

Prof. Robert C. Maher

610 Cobleigh Hall (northeast corner of 6th floor, inside ECE Main Office)


Office:  994-2505
Home:  587-5925 (but please do not call me at home)


Class Page:

Office hours:

Tuesday and Thursday 11AM - noon

Drop-in questions at other times are always OK if my office door is open.

Textbooks and Materials
  1. Society, Ethics, and Technology, 4th ed., Winston and Edelbach, eds., Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009; ISBN: 0-495-50467-X.
  2. Cullen, Katherine, Science, Technology, and Society: The People Behind the Science, Chelsea House Publishers, 2005; ISBN: 0-816-05468-1.
  3. One bound 9.75" x 7.5" composition book (college ruled)
  4. Handouts and notes (in class).
Class Objective
Course Outcomes

At the conclusion of ENGR 125CS, students will be able to:

Class Outline (subject to change:  SEE COURSE NOTES PAGE!)
Typical weekly plan:  Monday is activity day. Wednesday is lecture day. Friday is quiz and reading discussion day.

Week 1 (8/31, 9/2, 9/4)

“What” is engineering?

Course introduction and overview.

How is engineering portrayed in popular media? Why?

What is the difference between science and engineering? Is this distinction important to society?

Week 2 (Labor Day, 9/9, 9/11)

What is engineering? (cont.)

The key role of incremental improvement in engineering.  Examples from transportation, communication, energy system, public works.

Week 3 (9/14, 9/16, 9/18)

What is engineering? (cont.)

Working within constraints: finding the optimum solution to a need while balancing cost, safety, efficiency, availability, etc.

Week 4 (9/21, 9/23, 9/25)

What is engineering? (cont.)

Quality, cost, and value:  the economic basis of engineered systems.

Guest lecture: TBD

Week 5 (9/28, 9/30, 10/2)

“Why” do engineers do what they do?

What motivates engineering innovation? Seeking fame and fortune? To gain the esteem of humanity? Simple curiosity?

Week 6 (10/5, 10/7, 10/9)

Why do engineers do what they do? (cont.)

Engineering as a profession and as an academic discipline:  history since the 19th century.

Mid term paper to be assigned 10/7.

Week 7 (10/12, 10/14, 10/16)

Why do engineers do what they do? (cont.)

Mid term paper draft due in class on 10/16.

Engineering as a social force and an economic engine.  Defining progress in social terms.

Guest lecture: TBD

Week 8 (10/19, 10/21, 10/23)

Mid term paper due 10/21.

“How” do engineers accomplish their goals?

Applying scientific and mathematical principles.

Week 9 (10/26, 10/28, 10/30)

How do engineers accomplish their goals? (cont.)

The design process as a creative enterprise.  The role of creativity in engineering innovations.

Week 10 (11/2, 11/4, 11/6)

How do engineers accomplish their goals? (cont.)

Understanding the engineering process, its influence on society, and the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”

Week 11 (11/9, Veterans Day, 11/13)

How do engineers accomplish their goals? (cont.)

Guest lecture or field trip: TBD

Week 12 (11/16, 11/18, 11/20)

Project Assignment and Discussion

Week 13 (11/23, Thanksgiving)

Project Work

Week 14 (11/30, 12/2, 12/4)

Finish Project Work: Written Report Due.

Week 15 (12/7, 12/9, 12/11)

Project Presentations (in class)

Week 16 (Finals Week)

(NO course final exam:  final written group reports due 12/14)

Course Grading:
Homework, short essays, and in-class worksheets: 25%

→ Homework will be required periodically.  Homework is due on the due date at the BEGINNING of class.  No late homework will be accepted.

In-class quizzes: 25%

→ Weekly in-class quizzes and essays covering the assigned readings and other topics as announced.

Mid-term assignment: 25%

→ A WRITTEN REPORT is assigned during the semester.

Final Project and  Presentation:      25%

→ Final written and oral group presentations are due the last week of class.

Grade guarantee:  course letter grades may be higher (but will not be lower) than indicated by the following scale:
A- = 90%
B- = 80%
C- = 70%
D = 60%
F = 59%
A grade of F will also be given automatically if a midterm and/or final exam is not taken, regardless of the student's aggregate score total.