The Common Core presents a coordinated, common foundation essential to the education of all students. It includes three semesters of mathematics, two and one-half semesters of physics and an associated laboratory, one and one-half semesters of chemistry and an associated laboratory, an interdisciplinary or disciplinary "choice lab" selected from a changing set of offerings, a half-semester of college writing, a course in critical inquiry offered by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, and one course each in biology, computer science and engineering.
Core courses address three objectives: (1) acquisition of disciplinary knowledge and experience with disciplinary-related techniques, (2) skill development in the areas of oral and written communication, critical thinking, teamwork and collaboration, project management and/or leadership, and (3) explorations of either the interrelationship of technical work and society or the understanding of one’s own culture or other contemporary cultures.
All core courses must be attempted by the end of the fifth semester.
The 2010-2011 academic year marks the debut of a substantial revision of the Core. All students who enter the College in the fall of 2010 will be governed by the set of requirements that appear below rather than those appearing in previous catalogues. It is the case that students have the option of graduating under any catalogue (that is, fulfilling the set of requirements represented by any catalogue) that is in effect during their continuous enrollment at the College. Students who entered the College in the fall of 2009, for example, will be able to graduate under the 2009-2010 catalogue.
Core courses, except the Choice Lab, are listed below. Course descriptions are given in the course listings for the departments. Choice labs will be developed for the academic year 2011-12.
1. Introduction to Academic Writing (1.5)
A seminar devoted to effective writing strategies and conventions that apply across academic disciplines. The course emphasizes clarity, concision, and coherence in sentences, paragraphs, and arguments.
Laboratory course emphasizing experiential learning (starting 2011-12).
52. Introduction to Biology (3)
Topics in cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, and evolution. Prerequisites: one semester of general chemistry and one semester of calculus.
23S Structure (1.5)
Molecular and electronic structure, intermolecular forces, condensed phases, organic structure and properties, and biopolymers.
23E Energetics (1.5)
Phase behavior, equations of state, intermolecular forces, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry.
23D Dynamics (1.5)
Kinetics, equilibria, acid/base chemistry, and electrochemistry.
24 Chemistry Laboratory (1)
Applications of thermodynamics, equilibria, electrochemistry, structure/property relationships, synthesis, spectroscopy, and chemistry in the service of society.
5. Introduction to Computer Science (3)
Introduction to elements of computer science. Students learn general computational problem-solving techniques and gain experience with the design, implementation, testing and documentation of programs in a high-level language. In addition, students learn to design digital devices, understand how computers work, and learn to program a computer in its own machine language. Finally, students are exposed to ideas in computability theory. The course includes discussions of societal and ethical issues related to computer science.
59. Introduction to Engineering Systems (3)
An introduction to the concepts of modern engineering emphasizing modeling, analysis, synthesis and design. Applications to chemical, mechanical and electrical systems. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and concurrent registration in Physics 51.
HUMANITIES, SOCIAL SCIENCES, AND THE ARTS (HSA)
10. Critical Inquiry (3)
This course introduces students to inquiry, writing, and research in HSA, through focused exploration of a particular topic selected by the instructor in each section. To encourage reflection on the place of HSA within the HMC curriculum, the course begins with a brief unit on the history and aims of liberal arts education.
25B/25G. Calculus and Linear Algebra (3)
Theory and techniques of differential and integral calculus of a single real or complex variable; infinite series, including Taylor series and convergence tests. Theory and applications of vectors and matrices, including systems of linear equations; linear transformations in Euclidean space; determinants, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and diagonalization. An introduction to multivariable calculus, including partial derivatives, double and triple integrals. The topics covered in 25B are the same as those covered in 25G, but this course digs deeper into the theory and applications of the materials. Prerequisites: Mastery of single-variable calculus. A placement test administered during Orientation will determine whether students take Mathematics 25B or 25G.
35. Probability and Statistics (1.5)
Sample spaces, events, axioms for probabilities; conditional probabilities and Bayes' theorem; random variables and their distributions, discrete and continuous; expected values, means and variances; covariance and correlation; law of large numbers and central limit theorem; point and interval estimation; hypothesis testing; simple linear regression; applications to analyzing real data sets.
45. Introduction to Differential Equations (1.5)
Modeling physical systems, first-order ordinary differential equations, existence, uniqueness, and long-term behavior of solutions; bifurcations; approximate solutions; second-order ordinary differential equations and their properties, applications; first-order systems of ordinary differential equations.
60. Multivariable Calculus (1.5)
Review of basic multivariable calculus; optimization and the second derivative test; higher order derivatives and Taylor approximations; line integrals; vector fields, curl, and divergence; Green's theorem, divergence theorem and Stokes' theorem, outline of proof and applications.
64A/65. Differential Equations/Linear Algebra II (1.5)
General vector spaces and linear transformations; change of basis and similarity; generalized eigenvectors; Jordan canonical forms. Applications to linear systems of ordinary differential equations, matrix exponential; Nonlinear systems of differential equations; equilibrium points and their stability. Mathematics 65 will replace Mathematics 64A in Fall 2011.
22. Physics Laboratory (1)
This course emphasizes the evidence-based approach to understanding the physical world; students design, conduct, and interpret experiments to give quantitative answers to physical questions. Topics are drawn from a broad range of physics subjects, with applications to other technical fields.
23. Special Relativity (1.5)
An introduction to special relativity covering kinematics, energy, momentum, conservation laws, and applications to cosmology.
24. Mechanics and Wave Motion (3)
Kinematics, dynamics, linear and angular momentum, work and energy, harmonic motion, waves, and sound.
51. Electromagnetic Theory and Optics (3)
An introduction to electricity and magnetism leading to Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations in differential and integral form. Selected topics in classical and quantum optics. Prerequisites: Physics 23-24; corequisite, Mathematics 60, or concurrently.
Completing the Common Core
For many students the academic program in the first two years consists of the Common Core, two additional humanities, social sciences, or arts courses, two courses in the major and two electives. Usually it is possible for students to delay their choice of a major until midway through the sophomore year or even to the beginning of the junior year. Students should consult their academic advisors early in their program in order to ensure that their options will remain open. After the first year, students must register for all deficient first-year courses each time they are offered. All such courses must be passed before the beginning of the junior year. Sample programs for the first two years appear below.
Sample First-Year Program
|First semester credit hours||Second semester credit hours|
|Introduction to Biology||3|
|Chemistry 23S, 23E, 23D, 24|
|Computer Science 5|
|Introduction to Computer Science||3|
|Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts 10|
|Mathematics 25B/G, 35, 45|
|Calculus and Linear Algebra||3|
|Probability and Statistics||1.5|
|Introduction to Differential Equations||1.5|
|Physics 22, 23, 24|
|Mechanics and Wave Motion||3|
|Introduction to Academic Writing||1.5|
|Total Credit Hours||17||17.5|
The instructors in the first-year program meet regularly with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to insure that course material, major assignments and examinations are coordinated throughout the year.
Sample Sophomore Fall Program
|Introduction to Engineering Systems||3|
|Mathematics 60, 65|
|Differential Equations and Linear Algebra II||1.5|
|Electromagnetic Theory and Optics||3|
|Various departments||"Choice Lab"||1|
|Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts course
|Total Credit Hours||17|