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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 2024 Course Listings

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: None.
Section 001: T/Th 11:00 AM – 12:15 AM

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.
Section 001: T/Th 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Section 02F: T/Th 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM (this section is limited to first year students and transfer students)

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.
Prerequisites: ONE of the following – PHYS 105, 115, 117, or 119.
Section 001: M/W 2:30pm – 4:25pm

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
Section 001: T/TH 2:30pm – 3:45pm

APPL 412 – 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: Prerequisites, ECON 125, Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Orientation in the BeAM makerspace is also required.
Section 001: T/TH 2pm-3:15pm

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: None.
Section 001: T/TH 9:30am – 10:45am

APPL 490 – Special Topics: Materials Design for Biomedicine
3 Credits.

The 21st century has already been marked with substantial discoveries in the interface of materials science, biology, and medicine that have a profound effect on our future. The course will focus on all classes of biological materials such as: biologically derived materials, natural and synthetic biomaterials, and bioinspired materials. In addition, the course will highlight the use of nanoscale materials and techniques to rapidly advance our understanding of human biology and the practice of medicine.
Prerequisites: None.
Section 001: T/TH 12:30pm – 1:45pm