Special Topics Course Descriptions

Biotechnology / Chemistry (Life Sciences)


This course covers selected topics and trends in science and technology that drive innovative approaches in healthcare as they relate to the development of therapies for different types of diseases. Current state of biotechnology in the US and worldwide, overview of the biotechnology industry from the bench to the bedside, from start-ups to global operations, drug development stages, biologics and small molecules, gene and cell-based therapies, diagnostics, regulations, and outsourcing models will be discussed. The overall goal of the course is to provide the students with a solid understanding of the processes, trends, cutting- edge technologies, as well as ethical issues around animal use and healthcare decisions in biopharmaceutical industry. Using individual, group, and whole class learning strategies, the course includes planned activities, while also providing students a forum to raise and address their own questions and learning issues that arise from lecture and outside assignments. Students are given the opportunity to work cooperatively as a team, and develop critical thinking skills, while applying scientific concepts to unique problems.


In this hybrid lecture and laboratory course students will learn the theory and practice of genetic engineering, particularly applications to advancing discovery in the biotechnology industry. The course will cover transfer of genetic material to host organisms and modification of the hosts themselves to achieve targeted metabolic and cellular outcomes. Topics include the practical assembly of genes, gene circuits, and genomes - from classical methods like PCR and restriction enzyme cloning to modern methods like CRISPR- Cas9 editing and DNA synthesis. Lectures may also cover associated topics like recombination, primer design, combinatorial and mutagenic library assembly, and the utilities of various established and novel host cell systems. In the laboratory, students will employ individualized design strategies to affect a genetic modification using techniques like CRISPR that will yield a specified biochemical outcome.


This course introduces students to the basic concepts of immunology and emphasizes the molecular and cellular interactions involved in immune responses. Topics covered include innate immunity, antibody structure and function; applications of monoclonal antibodies in biotechnology and medicine; gene rearrangements in T and B cells; cellular cooperation and the role of MHC; tolerance; and immunopathology (hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, transplantation, AIDS, cancer immunity and immunotherapy). Using individual, group, and whole class learning strategies, the course includes planned activities, while also providing students a forum to raise and address their own questions and learning issues that arise from lecture and outside assignments. Students are given the opportunity to work cooperatively as a team, and develop critical thinking skills, while applying scientific concepts to unique problems. Prerequisites: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology


Strategies for optimization of bioprocesses for scale-up applications will be explored. In addition to the theory of scaling up unit operations in bioprocessing, students will scale up a bench-scale bioprocess (5 liters), including fermentation and downstream processing to 55 liters. Specific topics include the effects of scaling up on mass transfer and bioreactor design, harvesting techniques including tangential flow filtration and centrifugation and chromatography. (Pre-req: BB 560. Protein Purification and BB 570 ST. Animal Cell Culture or BB 505. Fermentation Biology)


Students will learn the theory of genetic engineering and explore its potential applications for advancing discovery in the biotechnology industry. The course will cover transfer of genetic material to host organisms and modification of the hosts themselves to achieve targeted metabolic and cellular outcomes. Topics include the practical assembly of genes, gene circuits, and genomes - from classical methods like PCR and restriction enzyme cloning to modern methods like CRISPR- Cas9 editing and DNA synthesis. Lectures may also cover associated topics like recombination, primer design, combinatorial and mutagenic library assembly, and the utilities of various established and novel host cell systems.


The course provides instruction on statistical topics and tools focused on the manufacturing environment. This course is not intended to be an in depth or broadly general statistics course. The focus will be on process control within an industrial manufacturing environment. Discussions will include identifying data relevant to ensuring process control. Students will apply specific statistical tools to evaluate data generated from a typical manufacturing process. Students will design a qualification for a manufacturing system.


This course provides an overview of regulations that guide the drug industry. Primary focus is on the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and its associated regulations, in particular the Good Manufacturing Practices. The course covers the FD&C Act, including definitions, prohibited acts, penalties and general authority. Focus of the course will be regulations, registration and approval of drugs manufactured by traditional pharmaceutical methods as well as novel biotechnological processes. 


This course addresses current topics in the Discovery, Development and Regulation of Biologics-defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medicines that generally come from living organisms, including humans, animals and such microorganisms as yeast and bacteria. Unlike conventional chemically synthesized drugs, that are easily identified and characterized, biologics are variable in nature, more structurally complex and more difficult to define and characterize. Consequently, development of biologics as therapeutic agents, can be far more challenging. Moreover, the development of generic versions known as “biosimilars” pose even greater issues over their drug counterparts. While generic drugs are approved on the basis of chemical and bioequivalence, biosimilars require a different less well-defined standard of “sameness.” This course seeks to unravel the complexities surrounding biologics and biosimilars and keep pace with the ever changing scientific and legislative landscape. Prerequisite Courses: This course provide a logical extension of material covered in CH555 Special Topics “Drug Regulations.”


This course will outline the mission, jurisdiction and enforcement powers of the FDA, and define the legal classifications for pharmaceutical and medical device products. The course covers the reporting requirements for reporting adverse events/errors for both pharmaceuticals and medical devices, appropriate company responses to adverse events, and the essential elements of pharmacovigilance and GMP.


This course will focus on molecular components which comprise cellular membranes, proteins which are both embedded and peripheral to these membranes as well as the mechanism by which ions and small molecules are transported across these membranes. Students within this class will use this information to learn and investigate how small molecule inhibitors and activators of membrane proteins can be discovered. (Prerequisite: A good understanding of protein structure and function.)


This molecular modeling class is radically different from many other computational courses. It requires very little math/physical background. Instead, the focus is on applying molecular modeling methods. Most of the applications are to proteins and related systems. The students will learn some basic information about the modeling techniques, but most of the time is spent in working with modeling software. The software is largely run via websites or with standalone programs with very user-friendly interfaces. The techniques include constructing molecules, running geometry optimization and molecular dynamics, homology modeling, and protein pKa calculations.


DNA encodes our genetic information and is passed through generations to maintain life. Emanating from DNA is RNA and proteins. Each of these biomolecules are essential. This course will provide molecular and atomistic level details of these three biomolecules, how they are made and the mechanisms that maintain fidelity of these molecules. In addition, this course will integrate new methodologies that can be used to address today’s critical issues in medicine, biotechnology and engineering. Together, this course will enable students to apply their newfound knowledge in DNA, RNA and protein synthesis to solve problems that are faced in society today. 


This course will cover interactions of molecules (principally, ionic interactions, polarity interactions, hydrogen bonding, and charge transfer interactions) within the context of molecular structure. Based on this general treatment, we will learn about a handful of empirical methods that can be useful for estimating physical properties such as vapor pressure, solvent-solvent partitioning, etc. In parallel, the course will cover some of the spectroscopic and chromatographic methods used to measure and understand intermolecular interactions. Following treatment of molecular systems, we will begin to delve into macromolecular systems (e.g., polymers) and then super-molecular systems (nanotechnology, colloids, etc.). Our focus will be on organic molecules, as these provide many opportunities to explore interesting behavior.

Computer Science


This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of computer and network security. Security architectures and protocols and their impact on computers and networks are examined. Critical computer and network security aspects are identified and examined from the standpoints of both the user and the attacker. Computer system and network vulnerabilities are examined, and mitigating approaches are identified and evaluated. Both the principles and practice of computer and network security are introduced. The basic issues to be addressed by a computer and network security capability are explored. The practice of computer and network security: practical applications that have been implemented and are in use to provide security are surveyed. Prerequisites: Working knowledge of computers, and basic computer networks. 


An introduction to the principles, practices, and tools of digital forensics, with an emphasis on data related to computer security. Topics include collecting, preserving, analyzing, and presenting digital evidence from multiple data sources (such as databases, operating systems, networks, and application software). An overview of legal considerations affecting data forensics is also covered. Assignments will involve a combination of reading, writing, and using forensics tools on system data. Prerequisites: Undergraduate preparation in Computer Science, including networks, operating systems, and databases.

Civil and Environmental Engineering/Construction Project Management


The major objectives of the course are to learn basic negotiation skills; develop ability, using these skills, to mediate and resolve conflict over land use, development policy and critical decisions about design and construction; and explore the design and construction process as a medium through which to reconcile conflict. This course introduces students to the practice of negotiation and mediation in the context of design and construction. Learning from general theories of negotiation and conflict resolution, students will consider the role of Construction Managers as mediators and consensus-builders who must reconcile conflicting visions about how a specific project should be designed and developed. The course examines a variety of contexts and problems that create a need for negotiation, and raise questions about what it means to negotiate well. It examines how negotiators manage their interactions and ask, "Why do we get one deal rather than another?" The course reviews how negotiators create opportunities for mutual gains, how they construct relationships in which trust is possible, and to how they build sympathy in their interactions. The course also examines the ways in which expanding issues, adding parties, negotiating at multiple levels, and acting in a community context influence negotiation practice. It concludes by understanding how a third neutral party (mediator) could help in managing and solving conflicts


In recent decades manufacturing has favored the design of products with little consideration of raw material sourcing or end of life disposal. This has led to social, economic and environmental issues around the sourcing of materials, material use, hazardous emissions, material toxicity, and product end of life. This course introduces students to the wide variety of environmental issues and impacts associated with manufactured products in an industrial facility. We will explore the impacts that engineering design decisions have on the environment and how smarter, more sustainable decisions have the potential to improve a business’s environmental stewardship, financial prosperity, and social well-being. This is a project-based course where students will work independently or in groups to design a simple toy or tool while assessing and reducing the environmental impacts associated with the toy or tool. 


This course will cover environmental applications of nanotechnology as well as the impact of manufactured nanomaterials on the environment and human health.


The course focuses on environmental factors that govern the processes that determine the fate of organic chemicals in natural and engineered systems. It starts by covering fundamentals of organic chemistry such as physical-chemical properties of organic compounds and gas, solid, and liquid partitioning. Fundamentals are then applied to quantitatively assess the environmental behavior of organic chemicals. Emphasis will be on topics that address aspects of, adsorption, sorption, and chemical and biological transformations as related to environmental systems. The class also discusses case studies of pollutants that have shaped our knowledge of environmental organic chemistry.


This course will provide an overview of municipal solid waste (MSW) management with specific attention to municipal solid waste quantities and characteristics, refuse collection systems, landfilling, recycling and material processing, and energy recovery.


This course provides an in-depth exploration of the principles and applications of environmental health and engineering. It covers the fundamentals of environmental science, water quality and treatment, air pollution and control, solid waste management, environmental risk assessment, environmental health policy and ethics, and emerging issues in environmental health and engineering. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex interactions between the environment and human health, as well as the engineering strategies for mitigating environmental hazards.

Electrical and Computer Engineering 


This course will provide student the foundational knowledge and hands-on experience in design and validation of embedded systems, with a focus on embedded C programming and real-time operating systems for ARM® Cortex™-M microcontrollers. On the hardware side, this course reviews and expands upon all the major components of anembedded microprocessor system, including the CPU, buses, memory devices and peripheral interfaces. The software portion of this course focuses on solving real-world problems that require an embedded system to meet strict real-time constraints with limited resources. This course will also explore the frontier of embedded systems, including cyber-physical systems, internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics.


Cryptocurrencies have revolutionized our understanding of money, generating significant financial, socioeconomic, and technological impacts. This graduate-level course delves into the technical intricacies of blockchain technologies, consensus protocols, and cryptocurrencies. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of blockchain systems, enabling them to engineer their own systems and create cryptocurrencies. The course begins with an exploration of the fundamental concepts of blockchain technology, including distributed ledgers, cryptographic algorithms, and decentralized consensus protocols. Students will examine various blockchain designs and their associated bottlenecks, and critically evaluate proposed solutions aimed at overcoming these limitations. Moreover, the course delves into the fundamentals of Ethereum, a prominent blockchain platform, and provides a detailed exploration of smart contracts. Students will have the opportunity to learn programming techniques for creating and deploying smart contracts on the Ethereum network. In addition to theoretical study, this course fosters interactive learning through class discussions and paper readings. Students will engage in stimulating debates surrounding key topics related to blockchain, such as scalability, privacy, governance, and regulatory challenges. They will be encouraged to analyze cutting-edge research papers and industry developments, gaining insights into the latest advancements and trends in the field. To further enhance their knowledge and communication skills, students will be expected to deliver a presentation on a blockchain-related topic of their choice. This presentation will enable them to showcase their understanding of the subject matter and develop their ability to communicate complex concepts effectively. Upon completion of this course, students will possess a deep understanding of blockchain technologies, consensus protocols, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. They will be equipped with the necessary skills to design, develop, and evaluate blockchain systems, while also critically analyzing emerging trends and innovations in the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Prerequisite Courses: Basic knowledge on cryptography is preferable but not mandatory. The course projects will require coding, so basic knowledge of a programming language is required. We will mostly try to stick to Python, but some other programming language might be required (such as C/C++).

Fire Protection Engineering


This course requires the student to demonstrate the capability to integrate advanced fire safety engineering analysis and design concepts into a professional business practice environment.  The practicum requires the student to develop an understanding of the financial considerations and business aspects associated with the profession of fire protection engineering.  Students will need to prepare professional quality business plans, project budgets, financial proposals, project budgets, timelines and technical reports.   Oral presentations to communicate the results of work will also be required. 


This class is intended to provide an engineer with the basic understanding of various combustion phenomena. It will begin by covering fundamental governing equations for reacting flow, chemical kinetics, and mechanisms of hydrocarbon oxidation. The theory of deflagrations and detonations will be studied. The course will touch briefly on themes of combustion diagnostics, environmental issues, and power generation. Emphasis will also be given on the recent research interest on micro-scale combustion applications. The primary goal of the class is to provide students with tools and understanding to solve the basic problems in combustion and to enable them to read and understand the literature in this broad field of study.  


This class focuses on the concept of selecting, applying, and assessing forensic techniques for fire and explosion analysis. Application of the techniques will involve understanding the theoretical basis for the technique, its limitations and associated uncertainty. The general concept of forensic techniques to derive reliable data will be developed with specific applications. The class will generally take up one topic per week, although at least one topic covers two weeks. Some videos will be used to see forensic techniques in action in the laboratory and in the field. Sample forensic techniques for the class may include: X-rays, SEM/EDS, FTIR, optical microscopy, water flow tests, etc. Students will be evaluated primarily through online assessments using quizzes and forum posts within WPI course system, Blackboard. The fourteen week (standard semester) class will include four additional case study weeks on related topics. There are no pre-requisites for the Forensic Techniques Course.


One of the biggest ways that you can influence the quality of your life is by improving the quality of your decisions. Complex Decision Making is intended for professionals in management positions and/ or those individuals, regardless of industry, who seek to enhance both their career potential and their overall quality of life.  Based on logical principles, and informed by what we know about the limitations of human judgment and decision-making in complex situations, the course trains managers how to think about and structure decisions. These decisions incorporate both their everyday decisions as well as the tough, complex decisions that involve uncertainty, risk, several possible perspectives, and multiple competing objectives, thus improving the quality of the resulting decisions. In addition to teaching formal decision theory and application, we will explore cognitive biases that prevent us from being completely rational in our thinking and deciding. Exit this course able to define the right decision problem, clearly specify your objectives, create imaginative alternatives, understand consequences, grapple with trade-offs, clarify uncertainties, and think hard about your individual values and risk tolerance. 


OThis course introduces general concepts of human behavior and response to fire and examines the assumptions regarding human behavior “hidden” within existing fire codes. More recent ideas and findings of human behavior are then presented to show how advanced knowledge of human behavior can be integrated into a design for safe egress. Concepts such as perception, cognition, information processing, decision making, and problem solving are studied.
Case studies of large loss fire events are used to illustrate how these concepts factor into a building evacuation along with the role of commitment, affiliation, familiarity, and panic. Further topics include hazard / tenability assessment, egress strategies, evacuation planning, mass notification and crowd management. Current research and knowledge will be presented in the course lectures; however, it is expected that the student will gain in-depth learning through their own reading, group discussions, and thorough use of tools for egress analysis and modeling. Limitations and uncertainty in these tools are discussed.
The primary course learning objective is that the student will be able to use advanced behavioral principles and computational tools to aid in developing a safe egress design and will have the ability to state the uncertainties in the calculations in a clear/ easily explainable way.

Mechanical Engineering / Materials Science / Manufacturing Engineering


This course is designed to introduce students to the field of fiber optics, with an emphasis of fiber optic sensors for mechanical measurements. It covers basic knowledge and working principles of optical fibers and fiber optic components, as well as practical design guidelines and applications of fiber optic sensing systems. The first half of the course will introduce different components of fiber optics, including working principles of optical fibers, single-mode and multimode fibers, properties of optical fibers, passive fiber optic devices, light sources and detectors. The second half of the course will focus on the fiber optic sensing systems, including working principles of fiber optic sensors, intensity-based and interferometer-based fiber optic sensors, fiber Bragg gratings, and low-coherence fiber optic interferometers. Specifically, design of fiber optic sensors for strain and pressure measurements will be discussed. Moreover, measurement characteristics and signal processing of fiber optic sensing systems for different applications will be introduced.


This class is intended to provide an engineer with the basic understanding of various combustion phenomena. It will begin by covering fundamental governing equations for reacting flow, chemical kinetics, and mechanisms of hydrocarbon oxidation. The theory of deflagrations and detonations will be studied. The course will touch briefly on themes of combustion diagnostics, environmental issues, and power generation. Emphasis will also be given on the recent research interest on micro-scale combustion applications. The primary goal of the class is to provide students with tools and understanding to solve the basic problems in combustion and to enable them to read and understand the literature in this broad field of study. 


This course is intended to serve as a general introduction to various aspects pertaining to the application of synthetic and natural materials in medicine and healthcare. This course will provide the student with a general understanding of the properties of a wide range of materials used in clinical practice. The physical and mechanical property requirements for the long term efficacy of biomaterials in the augmentation, repair, replacement or regeneration of tissues will be described. The physico-chemical interactions between the biomaterial and the physiological environment will be highlighted. The course will provide a general understanding of the application of a combination of synthetic and biological moieties to elicit a specific physiological response. Examples of the use of biomaterials in drug delivery, orthopedic, dental, cardiovascular, ocular, wound closure and tissue engineering applications will be outlined. In general,this course will: 

  1. highlight the basic terminology used in this field and provide the background to enable the student to review the latest research in scientific journals.  
  2. provide students with a greater familiarity with the biomaterials literature
  3. demonstrate the interdisciplinary issues involved in biomaterials design, synthesis, evaluation and analysis, so that students may pursue advanced, more focused graduate courses in biomaterials, address research problems, or seek a job in the medical device industry.


This course introduces students to design of small and large scale optimum thermal systems. The hardware associated with thermal systems includes fans, pumps, compressors, engines, expanders, turbines, heat and mass exchangers, and reactors, all interconnected with some form of conduits. Generally, the working substances are fluids. These types of systems appear in such industries as power generation, electric and gas utilities, refrigeration and cryogenics, air conditioning and heating, and in the food, chemical, petroleum, and other process industries


Natural and synthetic polymers are used extensively in medical devices. The purpose of this research oriented course is to describe the physical and mechanical characteristics of these polymers. A general understanding of the use of these polymers in the augmentation, repair, replacement or regeneration of tissues will be provided. The physico-chemical interactions of the polymers in a physiological environment will be highlighted. Topics to be covered include resorbable polymers, hydrogels, dendrimers, IPN’s and smart polymers. Examples of the use of biopolymers in drug delivery, orthopedic, dental, cardiovascular, ocular, wound closure and tissue engineering applications will be outlined. Prerequisites:  a) basic knowledge of materials science and mechanics at the graduate level b) undergraduate/graduate class in polymers that has provided a basic familiarity with the terminologies in macromolecules c) some experience with research methodologies, as this will be a research oriented class.


This course provides a foundation in material engineering for the subsequent three manufacturing process courses. The course will explore the classic interplay among structure-processing-properties-performance in materials, primarily in metals and some coverage of ceramics. The structure of materials ranging from the subatomic to the macroscopic, including nano-, micro- and macromolecular structures will be discussed to highlight bonding mechanisms, crystallinity, and defect patterns. Representative thermodynamic and kinetic aspects such as diffusion, phase diagrams, nucleation and growth, and TTT diagrams will be discussed along with dislocation theory. Strengthening mechanisms including solid solution strengthening and precipitation hardening, and grain boundary engineering will be emphasized. The relationship between alloy composition, microstructure, and property of commonly utilized engineering materials including steels, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, nickel, cobalt, refractory alloys and selected ceramics will be described in detail to illustrate the basic principles.


This course will begin by focusing on the fundamentals of the heat treating process with examples from the steel, aluminum, titanium, and nickel alloy systems. The importance of heat treating to the mechanical properties of alloys will be emphasized. Modeling methods for heat treating processes will be presented and discussed. Metal forming methods including sheet forming, forging, and extrusion will be presented and discussed and the alloy’s response to these processes will be emphasized. Finally, powder processing methods will be explored, including processes and techniques for manufacturing powder, forming shapes, sintering, and finishing.


This course provides the fundamentals of casting, joining and direct digital manufacturing processes applicable to UTC products, including process description sub-process steps, key process inputs, key process outputs, effect of process variables on material properties, and modeling of process. A review of casting processes sand, permanent mold, and investments will be provided. Directional solidification and single crystal growth will be explored. Modeling casting processes will be developed. The metallurgy of joining and direct digital manufacturing will be covered, including processes, such as fusion welding (GTAW, PAW, GMAW), high energy beam welding (laser, electron beam), solid state joining (friction, inertia bonding, friction stir welding, diffusion bonding), brazing, resistance welding, etc.


This 3 credit, graduate-level course provides the fundamentals of coating and surface treatment methods applicable to UTC products, including process description, sub-process steps, key process inputs, key process outputs, effect of process variables on material properties, and modeling of process. Coating technologies, including plasma thermal spray, PVD, CVD, ion implantation, cold spray, with focus on coatings of interest to UTC will be presented. Flame and plasma spray coatings will be included. Gas phase absorption and reaction processes, including carburizing, nitriding, aluminizing, chromizing, and boronizing, with focus on microstructural development will be covered. Process Modeling will be introduced. The topic of surface treatment used to enhance material property and manage residual stresses such as peening, laser shot peening, low plasticity burnishing and case hardening of steels will also be covered. (Prerequisite MTE 594[x] Principles of Metallurgy),


The purpose of this class is to provide a basic knowledge of the principles pertaining to the properties of materials. The basic aspects of elastic and plastic deformation in metallic alloys will be highlighted. Various yield criteria in ductile metals will be presented. The metallurgical fundamentals of dislocation theory and strengthening mechanisms will be discussed. Basic concepts of fracture mechanics including Griffiths and Irwing’s theories will be described. The effects of notches and notch sensitivity of various metallic alloys will be discussed. An overview of dynamic properties such as fatigue, impact and creep will be provided. The relationship between the structural parameters and the preceding mechanical properties will be described. Recent developments in the use of nanotechnology for improving mechanical properties of metallic alloys will be summarized. Various testing methodologies for estimating tensile, compressive, flexural, fracture toughness, impact toughness, fatigue and creep properties will be described. The importance of ductile to brittle transition in some metals will be emphasized. Property reinforcement through the use particles and fibers and basic composite theories will be discussed. Prerequisites: MTE 594  Structure, processing and properties of metallic alloys or MTE 594 Principles of Metallurgy.


This course will serve as an introduction to printed electronics and sensors, including flexible and stretchable devices, those that are fully printed, and hybrid devices that consist of printed circuits and attached components such as microchips. Processes for printing circuits and functional components, including microdispense, aerosol jet, inkjet, screen, and gravure, will be explored with consideration of their respective advantages and disadvantages in terms of printing resolution, reliability, and speed. Printed materials including metals, polymers, and semiconductors in the form of nanomaterials or reactive inks and pastes will be considered, as will flexible and stretchable plastic and elastomeric substrates. A number of printed sensor applications will be reviewed, including wearable physiological and medical sensors, automotive and aerospace sensors, and approaches to reduce size, weight, power, and cost will be considered. Energy storage and energy harvesting approaches will also be explored. The course will consist of lectures, reading of journal articles, and a course project. Prerequisites: None

Robotics Engineering


This course will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of robotics and artificial intelligence, with a focus on their applications in autonomous vehicles. Topics covered will include:

  • The history of robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles
  • The fundamentals of robotics, including sensors, actuators, and control systems
  • The fundamentals of artificial intelligence, including machine learning and computer vision
  • The application of robotics and artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles, including object detection and classification, obstacle avoidance, localization & mapping, and motion planning & control

Strong background in mathematics and physics is required. We will use Python and Jupyter-lab to go through examples and homework. If you have never used Python and Jupyter-lab programming before the class, we will cover the basics of them in the first week of the class.


Soft robotics studies ‘intelligent’ machines and devices that incorporate some form of compliance in their mechanics. Elasticity is not a byproduct but an integral part of these systems, responsible for inherent safety, adaptation and part of the computation in this class of robots. This course will cover a number of major topics of soft robotics including but not limited to design and fabrication of soft systems, elastic actuation, embedded intelligence, soft robotic modeling and control, and fluidic power. Students will implement new design and fabrication methodologies of soft robots, read recent literature in the field, and complete a project to supplement the course material. Required Background: Differential equations, linear algebra, stress analysis, kinematics.


This course will provide a solid introduction to the field of Reinforcement Learning (RL). Students will learn about the core challenges and approaches including Markov decision processes, model based, model free RL, on-policy and off-policy learning, and approximate solution techniques. Through a combination of lectures and coding assignments, students will become well versed in key ideas and techniques in RL and its application in robotic systems. To get students familiarized with the state-of-the-art RL algorithms in robotics, research papers are provided, and students are required to give a presentation about the papers. In addition, an end of the term team project would allow the students to apply mastery of the subject to a real-world robotics application.

Prerequisites: A probability course is required, as well as proficiency in Python. RBE 500/Foundations of Robotics and basic knowledge of neural networks preferred, but not required.

RBE 595/Advanced Robot Navigation

In recent years, robots have become part of our everyday lives. Leaving the research labs to be part of the common tools of a household, tools such as robotic vacuum cleaners (iRobot Roomba, Kalorik), pool cleaners (Polaris, Maytronics), Lawn mowers (Landroid, LawnBott) and more abound. For navigating safely, these robots need the ability to localize themselves autonomously using their onboard sensors.

Potential applications of such systems include the automatic 3D reconstruction, 3D reconstruction of buildings, inspection and simple maintenance tasks, metric exploitation, surveillance of public places as well as in search and rescue systems. In this course, we will dive deep into the current techniques for 3D localization, mapping and navigation that are suitable for robotic applications. Required prerequisites: RBE 500 - Foundations of Robotics, RBE 501 – Robot Dynamics, RBE 502 – Robot Control


This course will cover deep learning and its applications to perception in many modalities, focusing on those relevant for robotics (images (RGB and RGB-D), videos, and audio). Deep learning is a sub-field of machine learning that deals with learning hierarchical features representations in a data-driven manner, representing the input data in increasing levels of abstraction.

The course will cover the fundamental theory behind these techniques, with topics ranging from sparse coding/filtering, autoencoders, convolutional neural networks, deep belief nets, and Deep reinforcement networks. We will cover both supervised and unsupervised variants of these algorithms, and we will work with real-world examples in perception-related tasks, including robot perception (object recognition/classification, activity recognition, loop closure, etc.), robot behavior (obstacle avoidance, grasping, navigation, etc.), and more.

The course will involve a project where students will be able to take relevant research problems in their particular field, apply the techniques and principles learned in the course to develop an approach, and implement it to investigate how these techniques are applicable.

Systems Engineering


Software has become the primary engineering mechanism for implementation. And while Systems Engineers may not write code (20% of work) , every other aspect of "software engineering" (80% of work) is vital to their success.
This hands-on course teaches the critical elements of software engineering through a class project. Requirements (using user stories), Design (using UML), Testing (using inspection) and Evaluation (using ODC). The scope is ambitious. You will learn, through working with a team applying the theory you learn in class on the work product that you are responsible to deliver. This is as close as it gets to an industry project with a coach who can teach theory and help you execute your tasks.

On completion of this course, students will:

  • Identify the pros and cons of each software process model.
  • Build an application as a team class project
  • Capture requirements in natural language, User Stories, and UML
  • Use UML to translate detailed requirements into Use Cases
  • Implement Class diagrams and Sequence diagrams
  • Inspect the work product, open defects and track closure
  • Learn and apply ODC: Orthogonal Defect Classification
  • Analyze data from cross-team artifacts
  • Understand the goals of Integration and the current practice of CICD
  • Contrast classical project management with current best practice