Basic Info

Instructors: Anna Demeo and Dave Feldman
Offices: First Floor of Witchcliff and Second Floor of Turrets Annex
Office Hours: TBA and by appointment.
Tutors: Zak Kendall
Help Session:TBA


Your evaluation will be loosely based on the following:

  • Homework Assignments: 25 percent.
  • Mastery Quizzes: 25 percent.
  • Lab Participation and Write-ups: 10 percent.
  • Final Project: 40 percent (split roughly equally between the presentation and technical report).

I (dave) recommend against grades; I believe they are more likely than not to interfere with genuine, reflective learning. We will assign grades (for those who so opt) by following the guidelines in the COA Course Catalog. We 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. During the first part of the course there will almost always be homework due at the beginning of class. Every day. Evaluation on these assignments will be based mostly on effort. It is essential that you do these assignments.
  3. During the first part of the course you will be taking a number of mastery quizzes. These are short tests designed to make sure you have mastered key skills. The mastery quizzes must be completed without the help of others, and ideally without notes. You can re-take these quizzes if needed.
  4. We will accept late homework assignments. However, we will not grade these assignments thoroughly. Multiple late assignments will result in a lowering of your grade and a mention in your narrative evaluation.
  5. You are strongly encouraged to work together on homework. You can also consult us, class tutors, 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.
  6. During the second part of the course there will be a significant emphasis on group projects. You will be expected to fully participate in these projects and reserve Thursday afternoon lab time for group meetings during the second half of term. Presentations and final reports will be graded per group. To encourage sharing the significant workload, each student will complete a confidential peer appraisal reviewing each member's contribution to the group.
  7. As we plan on sending out homework assignments and other information via email, it is important that you check your email regularly.
  8. Unless we have made arrangements in advance, you are expected to come to class and lab and participate in discussion and group exercises.
  9. Academic misconduct -- cheating, plagiarizing, etc. -- is bad. Any cases of academic misconduct will likely result in a judicial hearing; see the academic handbook for details. Possible consequences range from failure of the assignment to expulsion.

Other Thoughts about the Class

  1. This is the fifth time we've taught the class, so we're fairly certain how it will go, but there are still some things we are experimenting with. In particular, the system of mastery quizzes is new.
  2. It will take us a week or so to get to know you and figure out the pace of the class. There are always topics that we would like to spend more time on but can't.
  3. We are in the very early stages of writing a book based on this class. We will be writing as the term progresses and sharing updated drafts with you. Although there will inevitably be some typos and omissions, we think this will be a useful resource for you. Feedback and suggestions are welcome.
  4. This class is a lot of work. It's very important to not fall behind. Doing well on your project will require a significant time investment. Most of this work will occur weeks 5-10.
  5. 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.

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