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Undergraduate Coursework in Applied Sciences and Engineering

From big problems like global warming to focused needs in your home or community, engineering is all about solving problems. The Department of Applied Physical Sciences offers courses that make engineering and making concepts accessible to all UNC students. Check out our Minor in Applied Sciences and Engineering to see how you can learn to use technology to make a difference in the world.


Spring 2022 Course Listing

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.
Prerequisites: None
Meeting time:
Section 001: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30- 1:45 p.m.
Section 002: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30- 4:45 p.m.

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.
ONE of the following – PHYS 105, 115, 117, or 119.
Meeting time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30- 4:25 p.m.

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?
Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and PHYS 116 or 118, or permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites
Meeting time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30- 3:45 p.m.

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.
Prerequisites: APPL110
Meeting time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00- 3:15 p.m.

APPL 430: Optical Instrumentation for Scientists and Engineers
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.
Prerequisites: MATH383
Meeting time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30- 10:45 a.m.

APPL 435: Nanophotonics
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.
Prerequisites: PHYS 117 or 119
Meeting time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00- 12:15 p.m.

APPL590: Design and Making for Researchers
Design thinking is a popular buzz term in this age of Kickstarter, instant turnaround, and short time-to-market.  But what is design thinking really all about?   In many ways, it is a process that most of us were quite familiar with in our preschool years.  Observe an opportunity.  Take an action.  Assess the results. Laugh at the failures. Repeat.  In this graduate-level course, we will parallel the discovery process taught in APPL110 – learning about human-centered design, needs identification, and the iterative design and prototyping process.  In addition, we will provide practical overviews on several technical areas common to many research laboratories such as hardware selection, gas and liquid management, material compatibilities, electronics and data acquisition, etc.  In addition to the BeAM makerspace focused skills development activities conducted in APPL110, students will work on a personal project related to their work in the laboratory or research topic.
Prerequisites: None
Meeting time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30- 1:45 p.m.