Skip to main content
Header Image

Coursework in Applied Sciences and Engineering

The Department of Applied Physical Sciences (APS) is developing a variety of courses that will integrate into our undergraduate academic programs and make engineering and making concepts accessible to all UNC students. Beginning Fall 2020, students will be able to minor in Applied Sciences and Engineering. An undergraduate major will be offered beginning Fall 2022.*

Looking for available courses by semester? Click to view Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 courses.

*The undergraduate division of the Applied Physical Sciences department timeline is tentative.

Course Listing

APPL 101 – Exploring Engineering
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

Engineers help to design and build solutions to the world’s problems. This course will explore some of the fundamental skills and tools in engineering. You will get experience using engineering tools, and you will also develop a mindset so that you can “learn how to learn” because technology changes rapidly and the tools that you use today may be obsolete in 20 years. There will be an emphasis on developing strong professional skills, including work in a group setting and effectively communicating your efforts.

In addition, a goal of this class is to help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset so that you will understand the bigger picture. For example, while it may be easy to develop an engineering solution to a problem, what are the economic and ethical considerations of various solutions? These concepts are important to help engineers build a better world.

This will be an “”active learning”” class in which we spend much of our class time working. For example, we will write computer programs to model and simulate real world systems. We will debate the ethical issues that are associated with engineering innovations. Students should be prepared to come to class and participate in these activities!
Prerequisites: COMP 110, 116, or other programming experience.

APPL 110 – Intro to Design and Making: Developing Your Personal Design Potential
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

Students work in flexible, interdisciplinary teams to assess opportunities, brainstorm, and prototype solutions. Design thinking and physical prototyping skills are developed through fast-paced, iterative exercises in a variety of contexts and environments.

APPL 240 — Developing Your Sixth Sense: Designing Sensors and Electrical Circuits to make Measurements
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

How can you measure temperature, pH, heart rate, movement, distance or anything else in the physical world? First, you need a sensor! In this class, we will learn how to analyze, design, and build systems for the entire sensor to measurement process. We will use a variety of sensors that measure physical and environmental parameters. We will model these sensors and understand how they work and interact with electrical circuits. We will learn the basics of circuit design and analysis so that we can amplify and “clean up” the signals with filters. Finally, we will learn how to acquire these signals to a computer through data acquisition hardware and LabView software.
Requisites: ONE of the following – PHYS 105, 115, 117, or 119.

APPL 260 — Materials Science and Engineering: Living in a Material World
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

An introduction to a broad range of topics in materials science and with a strong focus on how materials, processing and engineering come together in design and vice versa. Why are some materials hard and others soft? Why can certain plastics be lighter than steel and at the same time be stronger? How do I select materials for a sustainable design?
Requisites: CHEM 102 and PHYS 116 or 118

APPL 285 – Fluid Relationships: An Intuition Building Approach to Fluid Mechanics
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

Fluids are literally all around us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, our bodies themselves — all primarily fluid. The purpose of this course is to lead you to an intuitive understanding of the fundamental properties and behaviors of fluids. This is an immersive treatment of the concepts and methods of fluid mechanics – the study of behavior of fluids at rest and in motion.

This course will provide students with solid grounding in the fundamentals and applications of fluid mechanics through extensive use of hands-on exercises. Areas covered will include pressure, pressurized flow, gravity flow, viscous flow, boundary layers, system losses, microfluidics, and measurement techniques. Equations of state for both liquids and gases will be explored as well as conservation of mass and momentum for moving fluids.The course will include exposure to standard fluid appurtenances such as pumps, blowers, gauges, valves, ducts, pipes, and fittings.
Prerequisites: APPL 110 and PHYS 118.

APPL 350 — Data Science for Applied Science and Engineering
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

This course brings together various topics in data science of particular interest for data analysis across different areas of applied science and engineering. Possible topics will include dimensionality reduction, transforms, clustering, classification, and neural networks.
Requisites: BMME 410 or MATH 528, or must be concurrently enrolled. Instructor approval required.

APPL 405 — Convergent Engineering: Team-Science Approaches to Discovery and Innovation
3 Credits.
Students will participate in various take-home and in-class activities, group discussion and problem-solving coaching to enhance understanding of how chemistry, physics, materials science and biology are applied to engineering. There will be special focus on BioEngineering, Chemical, Mechanical and Environmental Engineering. Discussions of relevant scientific literature introduce each topic. Guest lecturers and faculty will provide perspectives in fields like mathematical modeling, mechanical engineering or circuit design so students gain a true interdisciplinary view of topics.

APPL 412 — Design and Making: Turning Your Entrepreneurial Ideas Into Reality
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

Do you have an entrepreneurial idea and you would like to make a prototype to turn your idea into reality? Or do you want to experience the design and making process? In this class, you will go through this process for a semester-long project. The final outcome will be a prototype that meets an entrepreneurial need. Students from any major are welcome to take this class.
Requisites: Prerequisites, ECON 125, Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Orientation in the BeAM makerspace is also required.

APPL 430 — Optical Instrumentation
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

This course introduces principles of optical system design, covering a broad variety of imaging and microscopy instruments. The material will include computational methods for optical signal processing and basic principles governing light-matter interactions. The course will include theory and hands-on experience to implement and test methods. We will discuss recent publications and state-of-the-art optical systems which are task-driven, controlled by computers, tailored to specific applications, and optimized to monitor or manipulate complex systems.
Requisites: No prerequisites

APPL 435 — Nanophotonics
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

This course introduces the principles of nanophotonics – an emerging frontier at the nexus of nanotechnology and photonics that deals with light-matter interactions at the nanometer scale. The course will cover the theoretical foundations of nanoscale optical interactions, fabrication and characterization of optical nanomaterials, plasmonics, optical trapping and manipulation, electrodynamic simulations, and applications of nanophotonics.
Requisites: PHYS117 or CHEM251 or permission of the instructor

APPL 465 – Sponge Bob Square Pants and Other Soft Materials
3 Credits. Sample Syllabus.

What kind of material is Sponge Bob made of? What about the slime of his pet snail, Gary? We are taught that there are three states of matter: solid, gas, and liquid. However, in our daily lives we encounter materials that challenge this simple description such as foams, pastes, gels, soap, and rubber, as well as our skin, hair, nails, and cells. These are Soft Materials and in this course we will learn about their special properties and how to describe them mathematically. This class is an active one, everyone participates and everyone learns from and helps one another. We will use various in-class activities to make the class more engaging. We will discuss, take quizzes, and do presentations. We will also evaluate each other’s homework. Be prepared to come to class and participate in these activities! The technical material that you will learn will provide you with a valuable skillset. In addition, a goal of this class is to help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset so that you will understand the bigger picture; draw connections between the material in this class and what you have learned in other classes; recognize opportunities; and learn from mistakes to create value for yourself and others.

APPL462 — Engineering Materials: Properties, Selection, and Design
3 Credits.
This course will cover both fundamental and applied aspects of modern materials science. We will discuss how to select materials based on their properties and how they can be processed into products that you encounter in everyday life. A strong focus will be on the relationship between processing, structure (development), and properties of solid materials, such as metals, ceramics and polymers. Topics include crystal structures, imperfections, diffusion, mechanical properties, deformation mechanisms, phase diagram, phase transformations, material characterization techniques, and electrical, magnetic, optical and thermal properties of materials. In-class demonstrations and class projects will be a critical part of this course and involve the use of the UNC makerspace (BeAM) and the Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory (CHANL). One of the goals of this class is to bridge materials science and engineering disciplines and to make connections to real-world applications.

Maker Technologies for Everyone Series

APPL 112 – Practical electronics for everyone
1 credit.

Design and fabrication for practical electronics circuits, including interfacing with sensors and actuators. (Previously offered as APPL 411.)

APPL 113 – LabView for Data Acquisition
1 Credit.

Learn how your computer can interact with sensors or instruments using LabVIEW graphical programming. This software also makes it easy to develop a professional and sophisticated user interface. Programming experience is helpful but not necessary. (Previously offered as APPL 413.)

APPL 114 — Arduino bootcamp: A deep introduction for beginners
0.5 Credit.

Learn to create and program simple systems that allow coordination of real-world inputs (e.g. pushbuttons, light-level, noise) with real-world outputs (e.g. lights, sound, motion). No previous experience required.

APPL 115 – Raspberry Pi bootcamp
1 Credit.

Learn how to use the premier microcontroller platform known as the Raspberry Pi. This is for anyone with an interest in programing, microcontrollers, and basic electronics.

APPL 121 – 3D Printing Technology and Practice
1 Credit.

Delve deeply in each of the major existing and developing additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. Explore the elements of design for AM, motion control and imaging technologies, materials performance and selection, and the physics of parts production. (Previously offered as APPL 418.)

APPL 475Design and Fabrication of Fluids Monitoring Devices 
1 Credit.

Review of basic fluid mechanics theory including the fundamentals of pressure/flow relationships, fluid properties, and flow regimes. Class and laboratory time will be devoted to design and creation of physical prototypes that demonstrate specific concepts and measure defined parameters. Students will use the BeAM makerspace network extensively to make things that illustrate fluid device design concepts. Class time will include exercises to reinforce concepts and a guided design activity to create a physical device.

Courses Cross-listed with Chemistry

APPL 420Introduction to Polymer Chemistry
3 Credits.

Chemical structure and nomenclature of macromolecules, synthesis of polymers, characteristic polymer properties.
Requisites: Prerequisites,CHEM 261 or 261H; pre- or corequisites, CHEM 262 or 262H, and 262L or 263L
Same as: CHEM 420

APPL 421Synthesis of Polymers
3 Credits.

Synthesis and reactions of polymers; various polymerization techniques.
Requisites: Prerequisites, CHEM 251 and 262 or 262H
Same as: CHEM 421

APPL 422Physical Chemistry of Polymers
3 Credits.

Polymerization and characterization of macromolecules in solution.
Requisites: Prerequisites, CHEM 420 and 481
Same as: CHEM 422

APPL 423 — Intermediate Polymer Chemistry
3 Credits.

Polymer dynamics, networks and gels.
Requisites: Prerequisite, CHEM 422
Same as: CHEM 423

APPL 470Fundamentals of Materials Science
3 Credits.

Prerequisite, CHEM 482; or Crystal geometry, diffusion in solids, mechanical properties of solids, electrical conduction in solids, thermal properties of materials, phase equilibria.
Requisites: Prerequisite, PHYS 128 and pre- or corequisite, PHYS 441
Same as: CHEM 470

APPL 473Chemistry and Physics of Surfaces
3 Credits.

The structural and energetic nature of surface states and sites, experimental surface measurements, reactions on surfaces including bonding to surfaces and adsorption, interfaces.
Requisites: Prerequisite, CHEM 470
Same as: CHEM 473

APPL 590-001 and APPL 590-002 Laboratory Techniques for Biochemistry
3 Credits.

An introduction to chemical techniques and research procedures of use in the fields of protein and nucleic acid chemistry. Two four-hour laboratories and one one-hour lecture a week.
Requisites: Prerequisites, BIOL 202; pre- or co-requisite, CHEM 430
Same as: APPL 590-001 is the same as CHEM 530L-401. APPL 590-002 is the same as 530L-402.