Basic Info

Instructor: Dave Feldman
Office: Second Floor of Turrets Annex
Office Hours: TBA and by appointment.
TAs: Megan French and Anita van Dam
Help Sessions: TBA


Your evaluation will be loosely based on the following:

  • Homework Assignments: 100 percent.

Most of these assignments will be problem sets where you will practice skills and techniques that we learn in class. Toward the end of the course there will likely also be some short case studies and longer problems. There may also be a final synthetic problem set and/or some short take-home quizzes.

I usually recommend against grades; I believe they often interfere with genuine, reflective learning. But I am happy to assign grades if you wish. I do not have any quota of A's, B's, etc.

Class Structure and Policies

  1. The final version of this and related documents can be found on the course web page.
  2. This is my seventh time teaching this class, and the second time I've taught it on my own. In the past I've team taught the class with Anna Demeo, and the course has had a significant project. This version of the course is not project based. This will let us cover more material and go a bit deeper into some topics.
  3. This class will be quite large by COA standards. You and I will need to work together to make sure that this classtime is comfortable and effective, and that outside of class people are able to get all the help they need. I have taught other classes with more than thirty students and it worked out fine. So I'm not worried.
  4. Falling behind in this course is not a good idea. If you're confused about something, it's very important that you seek help sooner rather than later. There are many people around who can offer help. However, we can't offer assistance if we don't know who needs it when. You need to take responsibility to seek help if you need it. On a related note ...
  5. I do not expect all of the homework assignments to be easy; I don't expect you to be able to sit down and do them easily the first time. Don't let yourself get frustrated. I strongly suggest working with others and seeking help if you need it.
  6. This class, especially at the beginning, will move fairly quickly and there will be a lot of work. This course is about building quantitative and analytical skills, and the only way to do this is through lots of practice. It is essential that you not fall behind.
  7. If you need extra time for one or two of the homework assignments, it's not a big deal. But be very careful to not fall farther behind every week.
  8. I will accept late homework assignments. However, I may not grade these assignments thoroughly. Multiple late assignments will result in a lowering of your grade and a mention in your narrative evaluation.
  9. You are strongly encouraged to work together on homework. You can also consult me, teaching assistants, other faculty, friends, and family. However, the homework you hand in should represent your own understanding. This means that if your friends get a homework problem and you don't understand how they did it, you shouldn't just copy their solution and turn it in.
  10. As I plan on sending out homework assignments and other information via email, it is important that you check your email regularly.
  11. Unless we have made arrangements in advance, you are expected to come to class and participate in discussion and group exercises.
  12. Most homework assignemnts will include some problems assigned on WeBWorK, an electronic homework platform. There are several benefits to WeBWorK:
    • You get instant feedback while doing the work, so you can learn right away from your mistakes. You can submit solutions many times until you get everything correct.
    • Since the problems are automatically marked, the TAs and I can spend more time helping you and won't have to spend as much time grading.
    • Some problems are randomized so that you will all get slightly different versions of the questions. This means that collaborating with other students will be maximally effective, since you'll have to share solution methods and not just the final answer.
    WeBWorK takes a little getting used to. If you encounter any problems with the platform, be sure to ask for help.
  13. I am in the early stages of writing a book based on this class. I will be writing as the term progresses and sharing updated drafts with you. Although there will inevitably be some typos and omissions, I think this will be a useful resource for you. Feedback and suggestions are welcome.
  14. There may be a temptation to delve too deep into particular technology to the point that we're swamped with facts and details. There is also a temptation to get bogged down in debates about policy. We should collectively resist these temptations; there are a lot of important topics to learn about.
  15. I am required to remind you that: "By enrolling in an academic institution, a student is subscribing to common standards of academic honesty. Any cheating, plagiarism, falsifying or fabricating of data is a breach of such standards. A student must make it his or her responsibility to not use words or works of others without proper acknowledgment. Plagiarism is unacceptable and evidence of such activity is reported to the academic dean or his/her designee. Two violations of academic integrity are grounds for dismissal from the college. Students should request in-class discussions of such questions when complex issues of ethical scholarship arise."

What this Class Isn't

This course is not about the following things, although this course should help you do/think about the following things better and smarter.

  • Energy policy
  • Social impacts of energy technologies
  • Environmental impacts of energy technologies
  • Weatherproofing your house
  • Building your own wind turbine
  • An encyclopedic coverage of everything about energy
  • Climate change and global warming
  • A physics class