Contents: SummaryEnrollmentCostsGrading


Course Summary

Fall Semester 2007: 4 credit hours (3-4-4); Group III Distribution

  • Prerequisites: NONE; Open to all majors.
  • Lectures: Tuesday & Thursday, 9:25 - 10:40am; Room: Duncan Hall 1064
  • Laboratory: Wed. or Thurs., 1:00 - 5:00pm, Abercrombie Lab A141
    • This course is laboratory intensive, and you need to attend your lab session for the full time. If you have other classes, regular meetings, or athletic practice during lab, you may enroll only with permission of the instructor.
  • Qualification: Saturday, 2 December, 2006, 1pm, McMurty Auditorium
  • Final Contest: Sunday, 3 December, 2006, 1:30pm, McMurty Auditorium
    • You must attend both the Qualification and Final Contest to pass the course.
  • Grading: See the section below for additional course requirements, and the schedule on the Dates and News page for this year's due dates.
  • Any student with a disability requiring accommodations in this class is encouraged to contact the instructor as well as the Disabled Student Services Office in the Ley Student Center.

Limited Enrollment

Enrollment is limited to freshmen and sophomores of any major, and to junior and senior non-engineering majors. Because of space (and my sanity), enrollment is limited to 24 teams of three students, and sometimes more students sign up for the course. In that case, admission is determined by lottery within the targeted groups: undecided aspiring engineering majors, and non-engineering majors who need a distribution course before graduation. You must attend the first class session to enter the lottery for registration. Late admissions will be considered on a space-available basis. Top

Laboratory Costs

Your ELEC 201 kit of tools, LEGOs, and electronic parts has a value of over $750, even with donations from our industrial sponsor Freescale Semiconductor. The class is financed by the George R. Brown School of Engineering, and because of the strong financial commitment to the class from the Dean of Engineering, students do not have to pay a laboratory fee, provided they return all the materials. You will be required to pay the full replacement cost of all non-consumable items in the ELEC 201 kit that are not returned in good condition at the end of the semester. You may check out a key for the laboratory in order to work after hours. If you do not return the key, we have to rekey the lab and buy new keys; you will pay the $200 cost. Top

Grading Policy

Your grade will be based primarily on your attendence at, and effective participation in, all the activities of the course. Because ELEC 201 does not have regular problem sets, quizes, or a final, the grading is not as quantitative as most engineering courses. There is a formula, but most of the inputs to the formula are qualitative judgements; there is no one right answer to a design problem. The grading is similiar to a humanities course where your class preparation and discussion, several papers, and a significant final paper determine your grade.

Your grade will be determined by two factors: your team's performance, and your individual performance. These factors are summarized below; the weight of each factor is subject to change by the Instructor.

  • Team Performance is a combination of
    • The four team documents you will turn in describing your work, a planning report, a strategy report, a progress report, and a final report, all graded by the Instructor. (80%)
    • Meeting the progress milestones. (10%)
    • Your team's creativity and accomplishment (Excellent to Deficient) as assessed by the Labbies and the Instructor. (10%)
  • Individual Performance is a combination of
    • Your team citizenship, how well you worked with the team and did what you committed to do. This is assessed by two groups
      • Peer reviews from members of your team, including yourself. (50%)
      • Assessment by the Labbies and Instructor. (10%)
    • Your contribution to the final product of the team, as assessed by your team members. (10%)
    • Your individual design journal or notebook, graded by the Labbies and the Instructor. (15%)
    • Your attendance in lecture. (15%)

Your grade will be determined by your final score, computed as:

(0.75)*[(Team Performance)*(Your Team Citizenship)] + (0.25)*(Individual Performance).

As you can see, your Team Citizenship counts twice; it is a major part of your Individual Performance, and it determines how much of your team's performance score will be credited to you. Effective team work is a major part of design projects , of this course, and perhaps of life. Strive to be a good team citizen!

Other factors to note:

Contest: Your team must  "show" a robot at both the Qualification and the Final Contest, i.e., all team members must be present and you must have a finished robot with you. Your robot's functionality (or lack thereof!) and placement in the contest does not determine your grade (although we usually give some extra credit to the winners), but you must be present.

Lecture: The lectures will present the information you will need to design, build, and program your robot. Even if you are a LEGO Master, an experienced robot builder, or an expert programmer, you will not be sucessful in laboratory without both the general and the specific information presented in lectures. In addition, we present general information on the design process, the engineering profession, professional ethics, etc. I get to know the class quickly, and infrequent lecture attendance will lower your grade. On the plus side, besides being useful, most of the lectures are at least occasionally amusing (I could be biased), and we will reduce the number of lectures toward the end of the semester to concentrate on laboratory work.

Laboratory: ELEC 201 is a semester-long immersion into engineering design, and we require students put forth a significant effort. Designing, building and programming their robot will require most students to spend sixty to eighty hours during the semester, more than the scheduled laboratory time. On the other hand, people who make a real commitment to the class feel more involved, and have a lot more fun. Your participation and diligence in the laboratory will be noted by the instructor and the labbies, and their evaluations will be a significant factor in your grade.

Design Journal : Each individual must keep a chronological journal in a bound notebook. You should make entries, at least weekly, to record your ideas, design sketches, observations, and experience with designing your robot. You should use your journal as a general scratch pad in the laboratory, but you should also state explicitly what you have contributed to the progress of your robot. Your journal should provide a complete picture of your involvement in the project. We will collect and examine your journal during the course and at the end. The journal will be used to get a sense of what each person on a team is contributing to the design, so it is important to make sure we know what you have done.

Team Video Reports: Each week your team will record a brief (2 to 5 minutes) video presentation during your scheduled lab period. This presentation should focus on issues that the team has worked on together, such as the current state of the robot, your strategy, and how the team arrived at consensus (or not!) on particular issues. Later in the semester, you may wish to use the weekly video report to demonstrate interesting features of your robot on camera.

Design Report: Your team must submit a design report at the end of the course describing your robot and the path you took to achieve it. Much of the material will be generated during the semester in the various team reports. It will also include a description of the robot as-built, with a full copy of the control program. Figures, diagrams and pictures are an effective way to convey much of this information. An electronic report in the form of a web page/site will be accepted. Failure to turn in a complete design report on time will significantly lower each team member's grade, no matter which member is at fault.

Team Evaluations: Each student will be asked fill in a form at the end of the course, evaluating his or her partners and their contribution to the team's goals and sucess. These evaluations are considered in determining grades.

Parts and Key Return: In order to receive a grade for the course, your team must disassemble your robot, return all parts, tools, and LEGOs to the appropriate containers, return your lab keys, and turn in a Team Evaluation and a Journal. Top

Please see the schedule in the course Announcements page for this year's due dates for reports, etc. If you have any questions about your standing in the course at any time, feel free to ask the instructor for feedback.