Cornell Course Descriptions
This page contains short course descriptions of the select Cornell Engineering courses that appear on the Requirements page.
For information on how to submit course descriptions for your transfer application, please see: Transfer Course Submission.
For a complete list of Cornell University course descriptions, see: Cornell Courses of Study.
4 credits. Practical electronics as encountered in a scientific or engineering research/development environment. Analyze, design, build, and test circuits using discrete components and integrated circuits. Analog circuits: resistors, capacitors, operational amplifiers, feedback amplifiers, oscillators, comparators, passive and active filters, diodes, and transistor switches and amplifiers. Digital circuits: combinational and sequential logic (gates, flipflops, registers, counters, timers), analog to digital (ADC) and digital to analog (DAC) conversion, signal averaging, and computer architecture and interfacing. Additional topics may include analog and digital signal processing, light wave communications, transducers, noise reduction techniques, and computer-aided circuit design. At the level of Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill.
3-4 credits. This course provides an introductions to ecology, covering interactions between organisms and the environment at scales of populations, communities, and ecosystems. Ecological principles are used to explore the theory and applications of major issues facing humanity in the 21st century, including population dynamics, disease ecology, biodiversity and invasive species, global change, and other topics of environmental sustainability.
4-5 credits. Considers explanations for pattern of diversity and the apparent good fit of organisms to the environment. Topics include the diversity of life, the genetics and developmental basis of evolutionary change, processes at the population level, evolution by natural selection, modes of speciation, long-term trends in evolution, origins of humans.
4 credits. The course offers an introduction to biology at the cellular and molecular levels of biology that cover the chemical and cellular basis of life, including functional aspects of physiology, development, and genetics. The emphasis will be on key concepts that underlie living systems, rather than a myriad of unrelated facts. This is a lecture course that will have an integrated discussion section in which active learning and student engagement activities further emphasize the key concepts with compelling examples from living systems.
3 credits. An introductory physiology course intended for freshman and sophomore biology majors and other students majoring in life sciences. The course integrates physiology from the cell to the organism with comparisons among animals, plants and microbes. Emphasis is on understanding of basic physiological concepts, stressing structure-function relationships and underlying physio-chemical mechanisms.
4 Credits. Designed primarily for freshman and sophomore biology majors who desire an introduction to concepts of physiology. The course focuses on the understanding of how different biological organisms (animals, plants, microbes) perform common physiological functions. Because some study and testing involves the use of preserved specimens, students who object to dissections should pursue other course options. The course is based on individualized instruction and offers flexibility in scheduling. Completion of the course requires mastery of a set of core units. Testing is primarily by oral examination. Students who elect to take the course must be able to meet deadlines. Four formal laboratory sessions are offered with additional laboratory work incorporated into the core units.
4 credits. Patterns of diversity and processes of evolution. Topics include the diversity of life, the fossil record, macroevolutionary patterns, the genetics and developmental basis of evolutionary change, processes at the population level, evolution by natural selection, modes of speciation, long-term trends in evolution, and human evolution.
See the Undergraduate Engineering Handbook for more details on this requirement.
4 credits. Covers basic chemical concepts, such as reactivity and bonding of molecules, introductory quantum mechanics, and intermolecular forces in liquids and solids and gases. Attention will be focused on aspects and applications of chemistry most pertinent to engineering (Course includes a laboratory component.)
4 credits each. CHEM 3890 is an introduction to the quantum mechanics of atoms and molecules. The fundamental principles of quantum mechanics are introduced, and applications of the theory to atomic and molecular structure are covered in detail. CHEM 3900 is a continuation of CHEM 3890 and discusses the thermodynamic behavior of macroscopic systems in the context of quantum and statistical mechanics. After an introduction to the behavior of ensembles of quantum mechanical particles (statistical mechanics), kinetic theory and the laws of thermodynamics are covered in detail.
4 credits. Programming and problem solving using Python. Emphasizes principles of software development, style, and testing. Topics include procedures and functions, iteration, recusion, arrays and vectors, strings, an operational model of procedure and function calls, algorithms, exceptions, object-oriented programming, and GUIs (graphical user interfaces). Weekly labs provide guided practice on the computer, with staff present to help. Assignments use graphics and GUIs to help develop fluency and understanding.
4 credits. Programming and problem soling using MATLAB. Emphasizes the systematic development of algorithms and programs. Topics include iteration, functions, arrays, and MATLAB graphics. Assignments are designed to build an appreciation for complexity, dimension, fuzzy data, inexact arithmetic, randomness, simulation, and the role of approximation.
4 credits. Honors-level introduction to computer science using camera-controlled robots using MATLAB. Emphasis is on modular design of programs and on fundamental algorithms. Extensive laboratory experiments with cameras and robots, including Sony Aibo. Example projects include controlling a robot by pointing a light stick and making a robot recognize simple colored objects.
4 credits. Programming and problem solving using MATLAB. Emphasizes the systematic development of algorithms and programs. Topics include iteration, functions, arrays, and MATLAB graphics. Assignments are designed to build an appreciation for complexity, dimension, fuzzy data, inexact arithmetic, randomness, simulation, and the role of approximation. Every assignment involves the design of a graphical user interface and highlights important aspects of computational science and engineering.
3 credits. Covers the mathematics that underlies most of computer science. Topics include mathematical induction; logical proof; propositional and predicate calculus; combinatorics and discrete mathematics; some basic elements of basic probability theory; basic number theory; sets, functions, and relations; graphs; and finite-state machines. These topics are discussed in the context of applications to many areas of computer science, such as the RSA cryptosystem and web searching.
4 credits. Advanced programming course that emphasizes functional programming techniques and data structures. Programming topics include recursive and higher-order procedures, models of programming language evaluation and compilation, type systems, and polymorphism. Data structures and algorithms covered include graph algorithms, balanced trees, memory heaps, and garbage collection. Also covers techniques for analyzing program performance and correctness.
4 credits. Introduction to computer organization, systems programming, and the hardware/software interface. Topics include: instruction sets, computer arithmetic, datapath design, data formats, addressing modes, memory hierarchies including caches and virtual memory, I/O devices, bus-based I/O systems, and multicore architectures. Students learn assembly language programming and design a pipelined RISC processor.
4 credits. EAS 2250 provides a broad math-, physics-, and chemistry-based introduction to the earth sciences, including geology, paleontology, oceanography, and atmospheric science. Topics covered include formation of the Earth, the chemistry and physics of the Earth's interior, plate tectonics, weathering and erosion, soil development, stream and groundwater flow, volcanism and crustal deformation, the evolution of life, ocean and atmospheric structure, circulation and heat transport, ocean waves and tides, generation of storms, seawater chemistry, mineral and energy resources, and climate change.
4 credits. Introduction to signal processing. Topics include frequency based representations: Fourier series and discrete Fourier transform; discrete time linear systems: input/output relationships, filtering, spectral response; analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion; continuous time signals and linear time invariant systems: frequency response and continuous-time Fourier transform.
4 credits. Covers principles of statics, force systems, and equilibrium in solid structures. Topics include: free body diagrams in two and three dimensions; frames; mechanics of deformable solids; stress and strain; axial force; shear force, bending moment, and torsion in bars and beams; thermal stress; pressure vessles; statically indeterminate problems; buckling and yielding.
4 credits. First course in electrical circuits and electronics that establishes the fundamental properties of circuits with application to modern electronics. Topics include circuit analysis methods, operational amplifiers, basic filter circuits, and elementary transistor principles. The laboratory experiments are coupled closely with the lectures.
3 credits. Intermediate programming in a high-level language and introduction to computer science. Topics include program structure and organization, object-oriented programming (classes, objects, types, sub-typing), graphical user interfaces, algorithm analysis (asymptotic complexity, big “O” notation), recursion, data structures (lists, trees, stacks, queues, heaps, search trees, hash tables, graphs), graph algorithms. Java is the principal programming language.
3 credits. Presents the definitions, concepts, and laws of thermodynamics. Topics considered include the first and second laws, thermodynamic property relationships, and applications to vapor and gas power systems, refrigeration, and heat pump systems. Examples and problems are related to contemporary aspects of energy and power generation and to broader environmental issues.
4 credits. This course provides an introduction to the design and implementation of digital circuits and microprocessors. Topics include transistor network design, Boolean algebra, combinational circuits, sequential circuits, finite state machine design, processor pipelines, and memory hierarchy. Design methodology using both discrete components and hardware description languages is covered in the laboratory portion of the course.
3 credits. This course introduces students to the chemistry, ecology, biology, geology, ethics and environmental legislation relevant to addressing environmental problems as an engineer. Students learn to apply basic biological and chemical sciences along with math, physics and engineering sciences to solve energy and mass balances. Emphasis is on solving case studies of contemporary environmental issues including contamination in natural systems, air quality assessment, hazardous waste management, and sustainable engineering solutions in developing countries.
3 credits. Focuses on the integration of biological systems with engineering, math, and physical principles. Students learn how to formulate equations for biological systems and practice it in homework sets. Topics range from molecular principles of reaction kinetics and molecular binding events to macroscopic applications, such as energy and mass balances of bioprocessing and engineering design of implantable sensors. Students will also experience scientific literature searches as related to the biological engineering topics, and critical analysis and evaluation of relevant information sources.
3 credits. Examines the mechanical properties of materials (e.g., strength, stiffness, toughness, ductility) and their physical origins. The relationship of the elastic, plastic, and fracture behavior to microscopic structure in metals, ceramics, polymers, and composite materials is explored. Effects of time and temperature on materials properties are discussed. This course emphasizes considerations for design and optimal performance of materials and engineered objects.
3 credits. Examines the electrical and optical properties of materials. Topics include the mechanism of electrical conduction in metals, semiconductors and insulators, the tuning of electrical properties in semiconductors, the transport of charge across metal/semiconductor and semiconductor/semiconductor junctions, and the interaction of materials with light. Applications in electrophotography, solar cells, electronics, and display technologies are discussed.
3 credits. Gives students a working knowledge of basic probability and statistics and their application to engineering. Includes computer analysis of data and simulation. Topics include random variables, probability distributions, expectation, estimation, testing, experimental design, quality control, and regression.
4 credits. Introduction to numerical methods, computational mathematics, and probability and statistics. Development of programming and graphics proficiency with MATLAB and spreadsheets. Topics include: Taylor-series approximations, numerical errors, condition numbers, operation counts, convergence, and stability, probability distributions, hypothesis testing. Included are numerical methods for solving engineering problems that entail roots of functions, simultaneous linear equations, statistics, regression, interpolation, numerical differentiation and integration, and solution of ordinary and partial differential equations, including an introduction to finite difference methods. Applications are drawn from different areas of engineering. A group project uses these methods on a realistic engineering problem.
3 credits. More than 125 different writing-intensive courses in the liberal arts. Seminars require five to eight writing assignments on different topics, totaling a minimum of 30 pages. For other courses to be substituted, students must demonstrate that they have done similar writing in a formal course. (It is not sufficient to write, for example, one 30-page paper.) For more information, see: http://knight.as.cornell.edu/fws-guidelines
Courses in humanities, arts and social sciences. Six liberal studies classes/18 credit minimum (not including writing seminars) are required for graduation. For more information, see: http://www.engineering.cornell.edu/academics/undergraduate/curriculum/liberal_studies.cfm.
4 credits. Introduction to ordinary and partial differential equations. Topics include: first-order equations (separable, linear, homogeneous, exact); mathematical modeling (e.g., population growth, terminal velocity); qualitative methods (slope fields, phase plots, equilibria, and stability); numerical methods; second-order equations (method of undetermined coefficients, application to oscillations and resonance, boundary-value problems and eigenvalues); and Fourier series. A substantial part of this course involves partial differential equations, such as the heat equation, the wave equation, and Laplace’s equation. (This part must be present in any outside course being considered for transfer credit to Cornell as a substitute for MATH 2930.)
4 credits. Linear algebra and its applications. Topics include matrices, determinants, vector spaces, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, orthogonality and inner product spaces; applications include brief introductions to difference equations, Markov chains, and systems of linear ordinary differential equations. May include computer use in solving problems.
4 credits. In mathematics, the methodology of proof provides a central tool for confirming the validity of mathematical assertions, functioning much as the experimental method does in the physical sciences. In this course, students learn various methods of mathematical proof, starting with basic techniques in propositional and predicate calculus and in set theory and combinatorics, and then moving to applications and illustrations of these via topics in one or more of the three main pillars of mathematics: algebra, analysis, and geometry. Since cogent communication of mathematical ideas is important in the presentation of proofs, the course emphasizes clear, concise exposition.
3 credits. Newtonian dynamics of a particle, systems of particles, rigid bodies, simple mechanisms and simple harmonic oscillators. Impulse, momentum, angular momentum, work and energy. Two-dimensional (planar) kinematics including motion relative to a moving reference frame. Three dimensional rigid-body dynamics are introduced at the instructor’s option. Setting up the differential equations of motion and solving them both analytically and numerically with MATLAB. In-lecture laboratory demonstrations illustrate basic principles.
4 credits. A hands-on introduction to the mechanical design process, from conceptualization through prototype construction and testing. Design projects provide experience in basic prototyping skills using machine tools, 3D printing and laser cutting, as needed, as well as basic instruction in CAD and technical sketching.
Introductory Course. 3 credits. Nanotechnology has been enabling the Information Revolution with the development of even faster and more powerful devices for manipulation, storing, and transmitting information. In this hands-on course students learn how to design and manipulate materials to build devices and structures in applications ranging from computers to telecommunications to biotechnology.
Introductory Course. 3 credits. New technologies are urgently needed to fulfill projected global energy requirements. Materials properties typically limit the performance that can be achieved in generation, transport, and utilization of energy. This course will explore how new materials can increase our energy supply, facilitate transportation of energy, and decrease consumption. Materials issues in photovoltaic, fuel cell, battery, wind, transportation, lighting, and building technologies will be studied.
Introductory Course. 3 credits. Biomaterials are at the intersection of biology and engineering. This course explores natural structural materials in the human body, their properties and microstructure, and their synthetic and semi-synthetic replacements. Bones, joints, teeth, tendons, and ligaments are used as examples, with their metal, plastic, and ceramic replacements. Topics include strength, corrosion, toxicity, wear, and biocompatibility. Case studies of design lead to consideration of regulatory approval requirements and legal liability issues.
3 credits. This course covers the atomic and molecular structure of crystalline and noncrystalline materials as well as selected analytical techniques for structural interrogation. Selected topics include, basic elements of structure; order and disorder; crystals; semicrystalline materials; amorphous materials; molecular materials; x-ray diffraction; small angle x-ray scattering.
4 credits. First course in a three semester introductory physics sequence. Covers the mechanics of particles with focus on kinematics, dynamics, conservation laws, central force fields, periodic motion. Mechanics of many-particle systems: center of mass, rotational mechanics of a rigid body, and static equilibrium. Temperature, heat, the laws of thermodynamics. At the level of University Physics, Vol. 1, by Young and Freedman. (Course is calculus-based, and includes a laboratory component.)
4 credits. Topics include temperature, heat, the laws of thermodynamics, electrostatics, behavior of matter in electric fields, DC circuits, magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, AC circuits, and electromagnetic waves. At the level of University Physics, Vols. 1 and 2, by Young and Freedman, 11th ed. (Course is calculus-based, and includes a laboratory component.)
4 credits. For majors in engineering (including biological, biomedical, and biomolecular engineering), computer science, physics, earth and atmospheric science, and other physical and biological sciences who wish to understand the oscillation, wave, and quantum phenomena behind much of modern technology and scientific/medical instrumentation. Covers physics of oscillations and wave phenomena, including driven oscillations and resonance, mechanical waves, sound waves, electromagnetic waves, reflection and transmission of waves, standing waves, beats, Doppler effect, polarization, interference, diffraction, transport of momentum and energy, wave properties of particles, and introduction to quantum physics. With applications to phenomena and measurement technologies in engineering, the physical sciences, and biological sciences. As with PHYS 1112 and PHYS 2213, this course is taught in a largely “flipped”, highly interactive manner.