Are you considering a career in engineering? Engineers apply knowledge of the properties of matter and energy to solving practical problems, whether of industry or human society.  Consider this: The demand for energy is expected to grow 30% by 2030; what role can engineers play in developing renewable energy sources?  In what ways can engineers help solve some of the most pressing medical challenges, including the national shortage of organs for transplantation?  How is nanotechnology being used to develop the materials to bring the concept of an elevator to space into reality?

This series of online pre-college courses is designed for students curious about how engineers use cutting-edge science to make our lives better.  The courses will challenge you to apply engineering concepts and principles as you learn how to address both theoretical and real-world problems.

Begin with Exploring Engineering.

In this free, open course that is a recommended prerequisite for others in the series, you will gain an understanding of the various fields of engineering and explore the engineering design process, from conceptual design and optimal choice evaluation to project construction and the need for engineering ethics.

  • Interpret data and use mathematics and science to solve complex engineering problems.
  • Evaluate problems and their solutions within engineering constraints, such as economic, manufacturing, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, or sustainability requirements.
  • Sharpen your problem-solving skills in virtual labs.
  • Practice effective communication through writing assignments and instructor-led discussion groups.

Learn more and register

After completing Exploring Engineering, choose from any or all of the following courses, in which you will work closely with Brown faculty and fellow students to explore specific fields of engineering.  These courses may be taken in any sequence, but all may not be offered in all terms.

Materials Engineering: Using Nanotechnology to Design a Space Elevator

Nanotechnology is one of the most cutting-edge fields of science and engineering.  It allows scientists to observe, touch, design, and fabricate matter as small as atoms and molecules.  Can you imagine working with material that is only 1/100,000 the width of a human hair?  Nanotechnology creates new materials and devices for use in a variety of applications, including physical science, medicine, electronics, and more.

This course will explore nanotechnology by looking at a specific challenge: how to get objects into space efficiently.  You will:

  • Consider the challenges to putting objects into space
  • Investigate how atoms are assembled into materials and how that atomic assembly changes for metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites
  • Learn how to control material properties (such as strength) by creating imperfections in atomic bonding
  • Identify when you would use metals, ceramics, polymers, or composites for specific applications
  • Apply your understanding of nanotechnology to choosing the best materials to build an elevator from the earth to space.

Learn more and register

Biomedical Engineering: Design of Tissue-Engineered Materials

Are you passionate about innovative approaches to improving human health?  Biotechnology engineers apply principles of biology, medicine, and science, along with problem-solving skills and critical thinking, to a broad spectrum of problems, from designing regenerative medicine and new methods of drug delivery to micro-devices and gene therapy.

In this course, you will explore how tissue engineering uses math and science fundamentals to the development of replacement cells, tissues, and organs – for example, to design, grow, and build the optimal artificial heart.  You will:

  • Formulate solutions to biologically-relevant problems
  • Explore the importance of mechanical and material properties in replacement tissue design
  • Apply fundamental biology, physiology, and math principles to analyzing the effectiveness of potential tissue-engineered materials
  • Interpret data from experiments involving natural and tissue-engineered materials to improve tissue-engineered designs
  • Consider the societal implications of decisions relating to the ethical design of tissue-engineered materials.

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Renewable Energy: Wind Turbine Design

The demand for energy is expected to grow 30% by 2030. What role can engineers play in developing renewable energy sources? In this course, you will explore some of the science, math, and technology that is used to extract energy from renewable resources. You will:

  • Apply engineering concepts and principles to solving renewable energy issues
  • Examine how wind energy systems work
  • Learn how to determine the efficiency of an energy system
  • Understand the concepts of energy conversion, work, and power
  • Investigate the power grid, and how the science of electricity and magnetism is used to deliver energy to end users
  • Explore how mechanical, electrical, materials, and civil engineering can improve renewable energy systems

Learn more and register

How you will learn:

  • Team design projects
  • Individual and group problem-solving labs
  • Self-paced online training modules and self-check quizzes
  • Online instructor-led discussion groups
  • Readings and graded writing assignments

Is this Brown University pre-college course right for you?

Students who have completed Algebra 1 and Trigonometry are best prepared to participate in these pre-college courses. Supporting materials will be provided, but an understanding of these concepts is suggested prior to enrollment.

The majority of your course time will be spent completing interactive self-study programs, participating in virtual activities with your student group, or in communication with your classmates and instructors.

Course duration and weekly assignments:

Each of these courses is 2 weeks long, and requires approximately 10 hours per week to complete coursework and assignments.

Additional course books and supplies: No additional books are required for this course.

Technical requirements for this online course:

  • Computer with an internet connection
  • Internet access
  • Internet browser
  • Headphones or speakers
  • Microphone
  • Valid and active Brown ID (you will receive these credentials upon registering for the course)

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